By Owei Lakemfa
THE Federal Governmentâ€™s hosting in London last week of the two-day summit on our 50thÂ independence anniversary continues to draw fire from critics. The summit which saw an impressive outing by ministers, state governors, National Assembly members and leaders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is being characterised as a waste of federal and state government resources; a needless depletion of our foreign exchangeÂ paying for travels, upkeep and generous foreign travel allowances.
They wonder why after 50 years, issues affecting the country have to be discussed on foreign shores, not in the country. To them, this is just a jamboree.
The chairman of theÂ PDP, the largest party in Africa which is destined to rule for the next 50 years, DrÂ OkwesiliezeÂ NwodoÂ like a good father took time to explain why the summit was held in London which accounted for its success. First he said London was the best venueÂ because the gathering was meant to promoteÂ Nigeriaâ€™sÂ investment potentials and woo investors. Secondly, it was to assess how far we have gone in developing our country.
I do not think government need apologise for the well thought out summit which from Nwodoâ€™s report is already yielding gains by way of investors renewed interest in Nigeria. Yes, we have good hotels and retreats where such a summit can be held, but we all know that hangers on, and pressing state matters will distract our leaders from their noble objectives.
Let me quickly add that attaining fifty years of independence is no mean achievement. We need to let the world know we are celebrating such a milestone, and where better to celebrate than in London, capital of our mother country. It is an undisputable fact of history that Great Britain,Â the land where the sun will never set, mothered Nigeria; she put together our disparateÂ and atomistic societies, and like a good blacksmith, welded us into a country in 1914. That is what we call the amalgamation of Nigeria.
As our mother, we needed to return to her for our birthday. This is what is called the Oedipus Complex in psychoanalysis. The complex as we know, is the theory thatÂ Â a son has an unconsciousÂ attraction towards his mother; it is about how a boyâ€™s childhood affection for his mother greatly influences his adult life.Â So, no matter how old we become, we still crave for our mothers. We still believe that we are children in their presence. In the case of women and their attraction to their fathers, this is the Electra Complex.Â So since 150 million of us cannot go to our mother (forget colonial) country to celebrate, it makes sense for a handful of our leaders toÂ represent us.
There are those who argue that there is little or nothing to celebrate because atÂ 50, we should no longer be crawling; that our acclaimed greatest achievement which is, running the country along democratic lines is unworthy of celebrationÂ because that was where we started from half a century ago.
Yes, they have a point, but what they fail to realise is that we need to celebrate our survival as a country especially after the locust years of corrupt, bankrupt, rudderless and ruthless military rule. Again, the Americans predicted a short while ago that Nigeria will disintegrate within fifteen years. We should use this anniversary to assure ourselves that we shall remain one country even fifty years from now. Otherwise, how will the PDPâ€™s prophesy that it will rule Nigeria for theÂ next fifty eight years come to pass?
We need to declare to the world that at fifty, Nigeria â€œhas come of age. It is no longer under the orbit of any extra continental power(except that of our mother country and her allies)â€ That we will no longer take orders from any country except those of our foreign masters. In any case, what better wayÂ to rebrand Nigeria than call its friends together and in the cosy atmosphere of London, cling glasses.
It is true that millions of us were not in London for the celebration, but is it not said that the masses drink champagne through the throats of their leaders? Once our leaders have eaten, then we the people are full. We need to praise those who courageously represented us at the London meet for it is no mean achievement.Â For these noble Nigerian leaders, to paraphrase one of our surrogate fathers, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill â€œThis Was Their Finest Hourâ€
Yet another controversy on the anniversary shows no sign of abating. It has to do with the N10 billion appropriated for the celebration. The normal criticism is that it is too much money to spend enjoyingÂ our birthday. Are these critics serious? That an oil rich country should not dip hands in its own coffers and for once, enjoy and let loose? Are we going to take all this money to heaven?
The poor and other Nigerians should be rest assured that the whole populace will be part of the main celebrations on October 1 when the real party will be held; our children will file out to the different stadia across the country, we the adults will be there too while our leaders will take the salute and make well laid out speeches.Â There will be applause from many well-wishers, including foreign dignitaries and the diplomatic corps who will be at the Abuja version of the celebrations.
Lest I forget, the members of the Armed Forces and other agencies will be there to add colour as the Police, and even the Army bands belt out beautiful tunes beginning with the National Anthem. If we are lucky, the Police outriders may exhibit their dexterity on their motorcycles.Â After all these, we will retire to our homes while our leaders prepare for the usual dinner or Independence Day Gala Night. The day after, we shall return to reality; grappling with existential living while our leaders resume the thankless task of