Rage over government's plan to mark independence for 365 days

President Muhammadu Buhari (right), Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the unveiling of the logo of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary at the Presidential Villa in Abuja…yesterday.

• Middle Belt forum, PANDEF kick
• Our public officials are jokers, Afenifere tells Buhari
• President unveils anniversary logo
Federal Government’s plan to mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary for a whole year — beginning on October 1, 2020 and ending September 30, 2021 — became subject of controversy yesterday, with ethnic nationalities and socio-cultural organisations taking a swipe at the official decision.

The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the Middle Belt Forum, Arewa leaders and stakeholders within the Aka Ikenga, an Igbo socio-cultural organisation condemned the plan as “a joke.” Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, described President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet members as complete jokers who lack focus on what Nigeria actually needed to progress and unite.

Buhari had, yesterday, unveiled a logo and theme for the 60th independence anniversary celebration in a brief ceremony conducted just before the weekly virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. In what appeared a contradiction, the President said the anniversary celebration would be held low-key this year for reasons of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President, who spoke after the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, gave insight into how the logo was adopted and the modalities guiding the anniversary celebration, added that his administration would henceforth ensure inclusiveness.

The President disclosed the theme of this year’s anniversary celebration as “Together Shall We Be,” saying it was chosen to forge a more united and cohesive Nigeria.

“Today we stand on the threshold of history as we formally begin a series of activities commemorating Nigeria’s Diamond Anniversary,” he said. “The task history has saddled me with today is to proclaim a theme that will keep us united, help us forge ahead and unveil a logo that will form the critical pillars, which (our) 11 months modest commemoration activities will rest on.”

Buhari explained that, although celebrating 60 years of independence called for pomp and pageantry, the global COVID-19 pandemic, which had forced all nations to think and act differently, had also forced on Nigeria the need for a low-key celebration. According to him, operating within the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government had created an Internet challenge for Nigerians to make a choice from a set of four pre-selected logos that would appropriately define the theme.

“Of these four options, Nigerians from all walks of life participated in making a choice and I’m happy to let you know that the logo I will be unveiling is a product of choice for the Nigerian people.

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