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‘Why govt will mark centenary’ (Why mark the amalgamation of death?)

AWAY from the threats of Boko Haram, political strife and opposition politics, the government is embracing next year’s Centenary celebrations as “a unique opportunity to focus attention on its history, peoples, achievements and aspirations for the next century.”

At an interactive session with journalists in Lagos Thursday, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim, noted how in defiance of the various threats, insecurity, the civil war, growing distrust among the entities, Nigeria has remained united, forged ahead and looks forward to prove doomsday prophecies wrong as it plans to celebrate its 100th birthday.

Anyim said that the celebrations of the forthcoming centenary to commemorate the amalgamation on January 1, 1914 of the Northern and Southern Protectorates to form modern day Nigeria “is a unique opportunity to celebrate Nigeria. It is not a time to celebrate any administration. We will celebrate the foundation, advantages, future, and as we stay together, we will celebrate what it portends to stay together.

“It is a time to celebrate the foundation of our unity, the beginning of our nation, and to rethink the reasons the different entities that make up Nigeria were brought together.

“As a nation, we have experienced challenges that have severely challenged the unity of our nation leading to call for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), re-negotiation of the basis of our co-existence and so on. Many have blamed the country’s woes on incompatible ethno-cultural groups and so on. How many countries in the world do not have multi-ethnic groups constituting its citizenry?

“The essence of this celebration is to tell our own story ourselves. We will tell the world why it is not possible for us to break up in 2015 as predicted, just a year after our centenary. In 2014, we will tell the world why it is only in a Nigeria that our future is better.”

Ahead of the flag off ceremony of the centenary celebrations on February 14, the former Senate President, whose office is fashioning out the organisation of the Centenary Project, said that the Federal Government has precluded itself from the scope of the celebration to make way for a private sector-driven initiative.

Explaining that the private sector initiative means that the project will be self-funding, Anyim said “with the support and active participation of the private sector, the centenary celebration will provide potentially 5,000 jobs directly and over 10,000 jobs indirectly. ”

Anyim, who was accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. Edem Duke, stated that the amalgamation gave birth among other things to “what is today the largest black nation and seventh most populous in the world that boasts of huge domestic market size and natural resources, and an economy on track to become the largest in Africa in the next decade. It is because of Nigeria that we have the aggregation of resources that have granted us the capacity to play a leading role both in the economic and political affairs of the comity of nations.”

The Centenary Project with theme: “One Nigeria: Great Promise” would be celebrated over 20 months in Abuja, historic towns and all state capitals and cities of the world. It is to restore hope, reinforced shared values, break persisting national stereotypes, celebrate our diversity and collective experience, highlight achievements and successes, among others.

According to Anyim, the commemorative events, will peak in January 2014 and continue till Independence Day on October 1, 2014 at the Centenary City.

-Guardian

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