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Remembering history on 60th anniversary

The celebrations were topped by a grand ceremony hosted by the prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. At the time, Nnamdi Azikiwe was Governor General. Queeen Elizabeth II was represented by Princess Alexandra.

October 1 is an official national holiday in Nigeria. It marks Nigeria’s proclamation of independence from British rule on 1 October 1960.

In 1914, the Southern Nigeria Protectorate was combined with the Northern Nigeria Protectorate to create the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, which has the borders of modern-day Nigeria.

The story of Nigeria’s journey to nationhood began in Lagos at the old Race Course, Tafawa Balewa Square on a rainy October 1, 1960. Lagos served as the cradle of our sovereignty and the capital of Nigeria as a protectorate, then a republic (from 1914 to 1991). Just before the stroke of midnight, lights were switched off as they lowered the British Union Jack.

Seven years after independence, a civil war erupted as the eastern region tried to form the Biafra state. The three-year conflict, resulted in the death of more than two million people.

After 16 years of military rule, interrupted by 82 days of a civilian government in 1993, democracy returned to Nigeria in 1999 when head of state, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar transferred power to Olusegun Obasanjo, who had won nationwide elections.

Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe (Born 16 November 1904 – died 11 May 1996), usually referred to as “Zik”, was a statesman and political leader who served as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. He is considered a driving force behind the nation’s independence, he came to be known as the “father of Nigerian Nationalism”.

In New York, Nigeria’s Independence Day has been marked by celebrations in the streets since 1991. The celebrations in the U.S. are the largest celebrations outside of Nigeria, and usually attract around 75,000 people every year.

Saadatu Albashir

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