Independence Day: 5 things you should know about this holiday not taught in school
October 1, 1960 is not just a public holiday, here are some of the things you should know about Nigeria's Independence Day.
The only memorable thing most pupils in primary and secondary schools know about the Nigerian Independence is that October 1 of every year is a public holiday.
Dear students the date is much more than a public holiday. The date is significantly tied to the history of Nigeria and every Nigerian youth deserves to know everything that surrounds this holiday.
Here are five things you've probably not been thought about Independence Day at school.
1. The Golden Voice of Tafawa Balewa
The history of how Nigeria became an independent nation is never complete without mentioning Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and his golden voice.
Born on October 1, 1912, Balewa, who was a trained teacher rose to fame from being a school teacher to a respected politician. He represented the northern interests in the colonial government and held different positions. He eventually became the first and only Prime Minister of the country in 1960.
Aside from being a respected statesman, Tafawa Balewa was also famous for his eloquence. His oratory skill earned him accolades among international communities. And that was the main reason he was nicknamed the Golden Voice of Africa.
On his 48th birthday which coincided with the independence of Nigeria in 1960, Tafawa Balewa, as the PM of the country declared Nigeria's independence and also delivered a hope-filled speech that set Nigerians alight with joys and celebrations.
Sadly, on January 15, 1966, soldiers who were executing Nigeria’s first military coup kidnapped and killed the first Prime Minister.
2. Race Course, Lagos
Race Course is a 14.5-hectare ceremonial ground in Lagos Island. It was the foremost venue for government events when Lagos was the capital of Nigeria.
This place might look empty and deserted today, but the ground played a significant role in the independent Nigeria history.
On October 1, 1960, Race Course was the birthplace of Nigeria Independence where Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa declared the country as a sovereign nation.
After the gruesome killing of the Prime Minister, the Federal Government of Nigeria renamed the ground to Tafawa Balewa Square.
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3. Why October 1, 1960?
The elections of 312 Nigerians into the Federal House of Representatives on Saturday, December 12, 1959, and the first motion the elected parliamentarians passed on January 14, 1960, led to the choice of October 1, 1960, as Nigeria's Independent Day.
Before his death on October 9, 2013, the former Governor of Plateau State, Chief Solomon Lar, who was a member of the parliament in an interview with the Vanguard said after passing the motion, the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa known for his rhetorical brilliance went to London to finalise talks for the actualisation of October 1, 1960, as the Independence Day.
''This came to reality when, just before the midnight of September 30, 1960, we all gathered at the Lagos Race Course awaiting the birth of an independent and emancipated new nation called Nigeria'', Lar said in the interview.
4. Who is Jaja Wachukwu?
Apart from National heroes like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello little is said about Jaja Wachukwu, who was also a prominent figure during the Independence struggle.
Jaja was the first indigenous Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria who replaced the British Speaker of the House, Sir Frederic Metcalfe.
On October 1, 1960, Jaja received Nigeria's instrument of Independence from Princess Alexandra of Ken as the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the newly independent nation. He died on November 7, 1996, in Enugu.
5. The last British Governor-General
The reign of the British colonial masters in Nigeria came to an end with the administration of Sir James Wilson Robertson in 1960.
Robertson was said to have been sent to Nigeria to serve as the head of the British colony because of because of his good work in England. He was Governor-General of Nigeria from 15 June 1955 to 16 November 1960.
In his memoir published in 1974, Robertson narrates his 40 years of experience in Africa. He admitted that the colonial masters left their colonial territories in Africa partly because of the pressure on them to go.
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