Nigerians would continue to witness low key independence anniversary till 2014 when there would be an extravagant carnival, President Goodluck Jonathan has said.
The President made the disclosure at a press conference in Urugwiro Village, Rwandan Presidential Villa, shortly before he concluded a two-day visit to Rwanda.
According to him, “Nigeria’s independence anniversary in 2012 and 2013 would not be different from the low key celebration of Nigeria’s 51st independence anniversary last Saturday, October 1, just as the 2014 independence anniversary would be merged with centenary celebration to mark 100 years of amalgamation at the twilight of his administration on May 2015.”
The Federal Government had opted for a low key celebration of Nigeria’s 51st independence anniversary at the forecourt of the President’s office in the Presidential Villa instead of the Eagle Square which had been the venue of major national events.
Sources said, “The Government had insisted that the low key celebration was to cut cost having spent huge amount of money on Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary celebration as well as the inauguration ceremony of the President and Governors of the 36 States in less than one year.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, denied that the low key celebration was due to threats by the violent Islamic Sect, Boko Haram and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to bomb the Eagle Square on the day of the celebration.
Jonathan had disparaged the antics of politicians who faulted the government, whereas the action was in the best interest of the country and to save cost, claiming that neither MEND nor other groups were responsible for the recent low key independence anniversary.
Assuring that Nigeria is safe for investors as notable dignitaries like Bill Gates had visited the country without fear, the president said, “I received Bill Gates in Nigeria, if not the richest, one of the richest people in the world. So if Bill Gates could come to Nigeria and move freely that tells you Nigeria is safe. It is a very wrong notion that is being painted that we celebrated our independence anniversary in the State House we did not celebrate in the State House; we had a low key celebration.”
And no country, you are journalist you can tell me, no country that celebrates their national day every year. Even an individual from the age of 40 and above if you celebrate your birthday every year nobody comes again, nobody values it.
“What happened was that Nigeria was 50 last year 1st October because for you to celebrate your national day, you must invite your colleagues heads of state and government, if you are not doing that then you are celebrating in low key which is we did. Last year’s celebration was huge and so many heads of state all over the world attended, very senior dignitaries. Then May 29th this year was my inauguration, we invited all heads of states and government again and if you look at photograph is almost like an AU meeting, most African heads of state were there and then October 1st this year you want to call them again? It will not be fair.
“Even in the history of Nigeria, there is no time that any President celebrated the National Day every year, just like your own birthday you take flash points maybe 40, 45, 50, you begin to give gaps of about five years interval to make it more meaningful. So we decided not to celebrate this year 2011, that decision was taken long ago.
“I think the confusion is that towards the independent anniversary, an individual or group of individuals from a militia organization called MEND, an organization based in the Niger Delta, incidentally the region I come from and we know with the Amnesty Programme, the challenge in Niger Delta has almost be taken care of, so is either one individual using the name of MEND to issue a threat that nobody should go to Eagles Square for celebration whereas we had taken the decision long ago before the independence anniversary not to celebrate to conserve funds.”
let me use this opportunity to tell my country men and women who may be discussing this issue, even next year 2012 and 2013 we will not celebrate our independence anniversary, it will be low key. But 2014 we will celebrate it because Nigeria will be 100 years as a nation when the northern and southern part amalgamated in 1914. So we are going to combine centenary celebration which took place in January 2014 and the October 1st independence celebration. Also, this present administration which I head will end 29th of May, 2015, we will not get to October 1st before we leave and so is good we celebrate our national day once before the administration leave.”