Published on January 28, 2013 by pmnews · No Comments
BY ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGBE
A year-long chain of events and activities, lined up to celebrate the 100th year of Nigeria’s birth, kicks off
The formal flag-off ceremony for the celebration of Nigeria’s centenary starts on 4 February with a presidential dinner in Abuja. It will be a 12-month event that will peak on 1 January 1914 which will mark the 100 years of the birth of Nigeria.
On 1 January 1914, the Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated by Sir Frederick Lugard, the then Governor-General. It was then the name ‘Nigeria’ was coined from River Niger area by Flora Shaw, London Times correspondent in Nigeria and Lugard’s mistress.
At the 4 February dinner, there will be a presentation of the centenary programme and projects, unveiling of logo and theme, a documentary – Nigerians Speak on the Centenary – a centenary lottery, launch of its official portal, another documentary on Nigerian history, a presidential address to flag off the anniversary and lighting of the centenary torch by President Goodluck Jonathan.
February and March this year will witness the ground-breaking ceremony of the Centenary City and foundation laying of the Abuja Unity Square and Presidential Archives. There will also be building or re-designation of Unity squares in all the states and the Federal Capital Territory. Between April and May, there will be trade and investment road shows organised by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, and state governments, and a re-designation of natural heritage sites. While MDAs will do exhibitions in June, 100 years of Nigerian music will be celebrated in July. And in August, there will be Diaspora events in embassies and high commissions, a Miss Centenary pageant and youth celebration.
Between September and December, there will be unity rallies in all states and Abuja, public showing of some Nigerian films and the premiering of three centenary movies. In November, Centenary festivals will hold in Lagos, Calabar, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Sokoto and Kano; while the National Assembly will hold a special centenary session in December .
At meetings with the media last week, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke, highlighted the importance of the activities.
According to Anyim, the preparation would be private sector-driven. “We do not intend to bring government fund into the events. We will hold an investors forum, where companies are expected to decide commemoration projects such as the New Abuja City Gate, Ceremonial (Unity) Arcade and Presidential Retreat.”
Anyim also told the media last Thursday in Lagos that the events would be devoid of politics. “We have never celebrated the birth of Nigeria,” Anyim argued. “We have only marked milestones (Independence, Democracy Day etc). So, Nigerians must come together to celebrate the 100th birthday of their country.”
He took time to explain the Centenary City concept. While it will take after the Sundo business city of South Korea and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria’s version, according to him, would go a step further to include residency. This is because the vision for Sundo was only business while that of Dubai is transit.
Since the Centenary City will be private sector-driven, Anyim said, there will be an Investors’ Forum on 5 February, where interested companies will come together to form a consortium to build the city; the promoters will develop a master plan and government will regulate.
Significantly, the SGF pointed out, the activities would help lap up the army of the unemployed. As he told the House of Representatives on 22 January, the anniversary would provide 15,000 jobs.
As he put it, “With the support and active participation of the private sector, the Centenary will provide 5,000 jobs directly and 10,000 indirectly.” He added that it would provide an economic boost, especially to the informal sector, pretty traders and the hospitality sector services providers.
.This article originally appeared in TheNEWS magazine of 04 February 2013