February 17, 2013

What Nigerians must know about Nigeria’s centenary celebrations!

The following are the activities lined up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to celebrate Nigeria’s Centenary.  The objectives, the need for celebration, the legacy initiative and the commemorative events are outlined.

The Centenary celebrations are designed around the key concepts of unity, indivisibility, virility, progress and promise of the Nigerian federation. It is against this background that the following are put forward as nodal anchors for its delivery.

THEME: One Nigeria: Great Promise
VISION: To project a united, vibrant, progressive and respected nation eager to lead in world affairs.

MISSION: To re-inspire the unity of Nigeria
BACKGROUND: Modern-day Nigeria came into being on January 1, 1914, with the formal amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of the former British colony. Therefore January 1, 2014, marks 100 years of the union. The Centenary celebration offers a unique opportunity to focus global attention on Nigeria, her history, peoples, achievements, and aspirations.

• Celebrate Nigeria’s history and unity
• Celebrate our diversity, hopes and great promise that inspires our people
• Reinforce our hopes and express our shared values, to strengthen national consciousness and patriotism
• Preserve our heritage, and document our history, achievements and progress
• Institute legacy projects as a lasting reference for the Centenary
• Promote enterprise development, wealth and job creation
• Promote women and youth empowerment, sports and tourism
• Promote environmental awareness
• Promote our national image and enhance our prestige

The Centenary celebration will present an opportunity for us to count our blessings as a nation, celebrate our dexterity and resilience as a people, and resolve to launch into the next century with renewed determination, hope and expectations. Accordingly, we must make bold to advance the following reasons as why we must celebrate:
1. This is 100 years of a cohesive nation that is rich in human resources, uncommon biodiversity, diverse cultural offerings and economic opportunities that few countries can boast;

2. The Centenary celebrations offer us a unique opportunity to affirm the obvious truth that Nigeria is not a historical accident, rather “the product of a long and mature consideration”;

3. Our Unity symbolizes our common destiny, continued existence and development; it is also the basis for our rising global profile;

4. Our country is the largest black nation, the 7th most populous country in the World, and the most diverse collection of languages under one sovereign territory in Africa;

5. The social tensions of our national evolution only made us more united as a people, with the aggregation of human and material resources that has enabled us play historically significant roles in world affairs;

6. Nigeria has made very consequential contributions to the decolonization of Africa and to post-independence global peace operations;

7. The size of our domestic market, our human resources and awesome capacity for transformation is the basis for the prediction that our economy is on track to becoming the largest in the continent in the next decade;

8. It is also because of our size and awesome transformational capacity that, in a little over ten years, Nigeria now has over 100 million active cell phone lines and the largest Internet traffic in Africa both of which are having a monumental impact on our national integration, social relations and economic productivity;

9. Nigeria has over 24 million pupils in primary schools, over 6 million in secondary schools and over one million in tertiary institutions.1This figure of 31 million of Nigeria’s school population is larger than the population of several countries. While this does not represent 100% enrolment at these levels but taken together they represent major investments in human capacity development;

10. Nigeria has over 100 million literate people. 2Nigeria’s literate population is larger than the national population of many countries, and represents a major national accomplishment worthy of celebration that cannot be undone by the habitual focus exclusively on the problems of the education sector;

11. As a cultural melting pot, Nigeria has embarked on a major process of global cultural expansion with consequences that were simply unimaginable at Amalgamation. This cultural expansion in the entertainment industry – with specific reference to the Nigerian home video film industry commonly known as Nollywood – is monumental in its significance. This film industry took off in the early 1990s and in less than 15 years, as attested to by UNESCO, have grown to become the second or third largest home video film industries in the world;

12. Very importantly, these Nigerian movies represent the first time in world history that Africans are telling the story of Africa by Africans from Africa;

13. Our rich biodiversity, with its varied flora and fauna, allows Nigerians to make significant scientific research breakthroughs in various spheres of human endeavor. The formulation of pharmacologically-certified herbal medicines for the management of sickle cell anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, prostate and reproductive health, etc. only confirm our capacity for using human intelligence to make the best of our natural endowments;

14. Why can’t we celebrate that spirit that builds great nations and civilizations – the unfailing optimism and resilience of Nigerians who remain proud of our National Identity and strive daily to rediscover that special spirit that enables us to triumph over every adversity as a people?

In summary, the Nigerian story is one of admirable and remarkable progress. Nigeria’s 100th birthday provides a wonderful opportunity for all Nigerians to proudly celebrate and share in the nation’s story of freedom, achievements and aspirations. Nowhere, and no time, can history achieve total justice. The question is how to make the best of the present. And the first step is to get the history right. Since January 1, 1914, the effort to move Nigeria to a higher realm of unity and progress is the common thread that links the story of Nigeria’s nationalist movement, our founding fathers, and later generations of leaders and all of us together. We are blessed with a vibrant population and our democracy is maturing. We must therefore remain together to enjoy the benefits of our unity.

Our celebrations will be strong and forceful. It will be colourful and rich, harnessing and projecting our diversity in culture, the distinctiveness of our vibrant population, joyously proclaiming the journey to a new national order for future generations and the world to note. The Centenary celebration is expected to inspire confidence in our ability and determination to rise above our present challenges to build a strong and united nation. It will signify the beginning of something new, a celebration of a new future for Nigeria. A major component of the ‘how’ of the Centenary anniversary is The Nigerian Centenary Project. This will involve the active participation and involvement of:
1. Nigerians at home and in Diaspora;

2. Corporate organizations in Nigeria and abroad; and

3. Friends of Nigeria all over the World.

It will hold in Abuja, all State Capitals, some historic towns and cities in Nigeria and in other cities around the World.

This is conceived as a Private Sector Driven Initiative, anchored on three main pillars, as follows:
• Enduring Legacy Projects
• The Commemorative Events
• The History and Heritage Programme

This is a collective name for a number of specially selected initiatives. These are needs-driven, socially impactful projects and events designed around strategic national institutions/assets and or local communities in each state of the federation. New projects and restoration/rehabilitation of existing projects in our communities are involved here and will be carefully chosen to enhance and complement the Centenary celebrations. Areas of high interest will include:
*New Abuja City Gate;
*Abuja Centenary City;
*Unity Squares recommended in every state capital;
*Medical Diagnostic Centres, one in each geo-political zone;
*ICT Centres in all the Universities that are yet to have one;
*Modern Libraries in 6 Universities, one in each geo-political zone;
*Science Laboratories in 6 universities, one in each geo-political zone;
*Building/Renovation of Sports Facilities, one in each of the Federal Universities in the country;
*Upgrade and naming/renaming of historical sites in the country.

This second component of the Centenary celebration begins in February 2013 and peak in the actual Centenary month of January 2014. It will then taper off with the formal Independence Day Celebration of 1st October 2014 at the Centenary City. Envisaged programmes and events include:
1. The Official Flag-off Ceremony by Mr. President;

2. Military and Paramilitary Parades,

3. The Grand Ceremony with music and Fireworks;

4. Special Legislative Sessions,

5. Unity Rallies in all the State Capitals and Abuja;

6. Special Centenary Prayers (Christian/Muslim);

7. Exhibitions, Symposia, Youth and Children Programmes;

8. Women-Related Programmes;

9. Programs for the Physically-challenged;

10.Awards, Recognitions and Honours;

11. Music, Entertainment and Sports, including Fashion Shows, the Nigeria Centenary Beauty Pageant and the Centenary Ball;

12. Scholarships and Academic recognitions;

13. Trade and Investment Shows to promote Nigeria’s vast Trade and Economic potentials; etc.

There will also be carefully chosen Diaspora programmes to enable Nigerians outside the country connect and share in the centenary.

This third component of the Centenary celebration draws from the fact that Nigeria is a beautiful mosaic with a national identity defined by its history and culture. It draws out the nation’s soul for the world to see and creates a new understanding of our history, strengthened by our art, culture and shared history. This component of the celebrations will feature the following:
1. Art Expos and Literary festivals, Essay Competitions for students;

2. Photo exhibition, festivals and carnivals, a film festival;

3. Presentation of some of Nigeria’s landmark plays;

4. Re-enactments of our story through captivating poetry and an interpretation of Nigeria’s globally acknowledged music;

5. Acknowledgment of the exploits of our young people, through sports, science, inventions and literature;
Other support activities will include:

1. A strong Publicity and Media programme; and
2.    The Lottery Project, which shall provide opportunities for mobilization, inclusiveness and supplementary funding for the Centenary Project;

The Centenary will be a multifaceted and multi-location event. It holds much promise for product commercials, more so provide unique opportunity for corporate organizations to properly present themselves as part of Nigeria’s success story. It is an opportunity to express such organisation’s faith in the unity of Nigeria and love for her people. With the support and active participation of the private sector, the Centenary celebration will provide potentially 15,000 jobs. It will also provide an economic boost especially to the informal sector, the petty traders and the hospitality sector service providers.

Strong local and international media is imperative, focusing on mobilization and national branding. The emphasis will be on our unity, diversity, strengths and promise. The platforms to be used include:
1. International press conferences and media engagements;
2. TV Series and Talk Shows;
3. Radio programmes, commentaries and discussions;
4. Documentaries, Publications, Coffee Table book, Road Shows etc; and
5.    Robust branding, Licensing and merchandising initiatives, for visibility and impact of the Centenary Mission.

There are national and international days/events, to be celebrated in alignment with the Centenary spirit. Some examples are:
1. International Women’s Day (Mar 8)
2. Labour Day (May 1)
3. World Press Freedom Day (May 3)
4. Democracy Day (May 29)
5. World Environment Day (June 5)
6. International Justice Day (July 17)
7. International Youth Day (August 12)
8. World Tourism Day (September 27)
9. Nigeria’s Independence Day (October 1)
10.World Food Day (October 16)
11. International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17)
12. World Television Day (November 20)
13. International Day for Persons with Disabilities (December 3)
14. Programme with Traditional/Religious Leaders
15. Dinner with Former Presidents and Heads of State

True to our Federal structure, all states shall design their own Centenary programmes and celebrate it in their unique way, within the period allocated for this purpose. The national calendar provides 6 months within which states may mark the Centenary.
Each State is encouraged to build a Unity Square in its capital or designate an existing public area for that purpose, to be unveiled during the proposed nationwide unity rallies.

The Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission has designed a strategy to enhance popular participation and support of the Centenary celebrations through a lottery scheme. The schemes will raise considerable interest in the Centenary and help provide supplementary funding for the programmes of the celebration.

The activities of the Centenary offer a best-fit, as platforms for product and service brands to identify with Nigeria and support the Centenary celebrations. The sponsorship engagement strategy will run on a partnership model, wherein brands will enjoy the flexibility of adopting the Centenary programmes and implementing same in accordance with laid down principles. The sponsorship leverage benefits will include having brands fly the Centenary logo on their products.