10 remarkable achievements since Nigeria's Independence in 1960
Here are some remarkable achievements Nigeria has recorded since becoming an independent nation in 1960.
Today, Sunday, October 1, 2023, marks the 63rd anniversary of Nigeria's independence and, while it can't be argued that the nation has achieved everything it was primed for at inception, there are certain milestones that not just the country but also the citizens can be proud of.
There is no gainsaying that Nigeria continues to struggle to attain the heights befitting of her abundant human and natural resources but, some remarkable achievements have come along the way that make the October 1, 1960, feat worthy of celebrating.
In the spirit of Nigeria's 63rd Independence Day anniversary celebrations, Pulse has compiled some laudable feats the country has witnessed.
- Nigeria became a Republic in 1963
Although the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, it remained under the indirect rule of the British government via Queen Elizabeth II, who was the titular head of state until 1963.
Under this arrangement, Nigeria didn't enjoy full sovereignty as internal policies and decisions were still subject to the approval of the British monarchy but a new constitution in 1963 pronounced the nation as a Federal Republic, effectively ending any colonial interference.
- Transition to democratic rule in 1999
Nigeria returned to a democratic form of government in 1999 after spending the preceding 16 years under different military regimes. While the nation was not alien to military interventions, especially in the years after independence, the 1983-1999 spell of the military was the longest and the most tortuous in the country's history.
With military rulers leaders like General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida, and late General Sani Abacha succeeding one another in that order, the period plunged Nigeria into a brutal socio-economic crisis. However, it was the high-handedness of the latter that gave Nigerians the oomph when his death eventually paved the way for the return of democracy in 199.
- Establishment of first-generation universities
Nigeria made a significant leap in education between 1960-1970 when it established its first-generation universities.
With the need to encourage the citizens to acquire tertiary education, the government of the time built five universities, including the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1960; the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife); Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; the University of Lagos in 1962; and the University of Benin in 1970.
- Nigeria's foreign diplomatic feats
Being Africa's most populous country comes with responsibilities, some of which include playing a leading role on the continent, and Nigeria has never been found wanting in this aspect.
Over the years, the country has firmly established its influence on the continent by spearheading campaigns that liberated African nations from repressive regimes and, in some cases, helped to restore democratic rule.
To mention a few, Nigeria led the movement to end apartheid rule in South Africa and other neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia. Also, Nigeria pushed for the resolution of the devastating conflict that engulfed Liberia in 1992.
Nigeria was credited for its roles in the restoration of democratic governments in Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, and Sao Tome and Principe, after the military takeovers.
Nigeria also spearheaded the ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), a regional peacekeeping mechanism that facilitated the resolution of the civil wars and restoration of democracy to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Nollywood became second-largest film producer in the world
In 2000, Nigeria's film industry recorded a remarkable feat by becoming the world's second-largest film industry behind India's Bollywood.
Various data sources have quoted the annual output of films from Nigerian shores to be around 2,500, making Nollywood the second largest film producer in the world ahead of the United State's Hollywood.
- Achievements in Arts, Culture and Literature
Despite the challenges confronting the nation, Nigerians have dug in their feet and continued to excel in different areas of endeavour, including arts, culture, and literature.
Wole Soyinka became the first black African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.
Also, the late Chinua Achebe's debut novel, Things Fall Apart, became the first novel by an African to receive global critical acclaim. Apart from other remarkable successes of the piece of work, it is also a staple book in schools throughout Africa and is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world.
Afrobeats artiste Damini Ogulu, aka Burna Boy, won the Best Global Music Album award for his album ‘Twice as Tall’, becoming the first Nigerian solo artist to achieve the feat. Model and beauty queen Agbani Darego also brought honour to the country by becoming the first black African to win the Miss World contest in 2001.
- Sporting achievements
From its first African Cup of Nations triumph in 1980 to winning the maiden Under-17 World Cup in 186, Nigeria has had some sporting excellence over the years.
Nigeria's Dream Team I was the first African country to win a gold medal in a football event at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, U.S. In the same competition, Chioma Ajunwa won gold in the long jump event, becoming the first Nigerian and first black African woman to win Olympic gold in a field event.
- Transition from one democratic government to another in 2007
In 2007, outgoing president Olusegun Obasanjo handed over power to another democratically elected president, the late Umaru Musa Yar'adua, making it the first time a civilian would hand over the baton to another civilian in Nigeria as previous regime changes had come through military interventions.
- Nigerians leading respectable multinational bodies
Nigerians have continued to break boundaries both at home and abroad, and some have gone on to become leaders in respectable multinational organisations.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) currently has Nigeria's former Finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as its Director-General. She's the first woman, first Nigerian, and African to head the international organisation.
Former Agric minister Akinwumi Adesina was elected to head the AfDB in 2015 and was re-elected for a second term of five years in August 2020.
Nigerian diplomat and politician Amina Mohammed became the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) in 2017, a post she's still occupying today.
- Impactful businessmen and women
Nigeria may not be the wealthiest nation in the world, but it boasts successful businesspeople whose establishments and influences transcend the shores of the country.
These individuals have not only run successful businesses, but they have also impacted lives across the continent in the process.
Without prejudice to anyone not mentioned in this piece, below are some Nigerians who have made their mark.
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