Ben Agande, Abuja.
Activities marking the centenary celebration of the country kicked off Monday night with an elaborate ceremony which included the lighting of the Centenary Torch, the unveiling of the logo and theme song.
President Goodluck Jonathan Who was joined by five other former Presidents and Heads of State for the flag off which had in attendance, captains of industries, entertainment celebrities and other Nigerians extolled the virtues of the country saying its greatness does not lie in the wealth of its resources but in the diversity of its people.
The kick off of the celebration will climax on January 1, 2014 which will be one hundred years since the British colonial administration amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates to create the modern Nigerian nation.
President Jonathan told the capacity filled audience at the Banquet Hall of the presidential Villa that the amalgamation of the two protectorates in 1914 was not a mistake but an act of God which created a unique entity called Nigeria; a beautiful country richly blessed and which has turned out innovative people across the world.
According to president Jonathan, apart from the natural resources in the country, the nation is blessed with a unique collection of people specially created by God and enjoined Nigerians to safeguard those things that have kept the country together for this long.
“The unity of Nigeria is indivisible and non-negotiable, we must remain the forward looking people that we are. I see a united, powerful and prosperous nation that will make the generation yet unborn very proud. Arise, we shall and prosper we will,” he said.
Monday’s flag off was attended by former military Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Maj. General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) and General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) as well as former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo.
Other dignitaries at the occasion include the President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark, his Deputy Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, his Deputy, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukhtar.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim said the centenary celebration would be used to replace pessimisn with optimism to make the country rise above its challenges, disclosing that the celebration would generate over 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.
While unveiling the anniversary Logo,former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon described Nigeria as “a unique nation, a nation of diverse, strong and hard working people” which has remained united despite the challenges it has faced.
He said “May the emblem symbolise a rallying point for the unity of the nation. “May it be a reminder of our entity, unity and oneness of the nation which in not negotiable and serve as a symbol of peace, unity and prosperity.”