Spain Takes Control Of ‘Independent’ Catalonia

FILE PHOTO: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a press conference at La Moncloa Palace in Madrid. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

Spain on Saturday moved to seize direct control of Catalonia, sacking its police chief a day after the Catalan regional parliament’s independence declaration sent shock waves through Europe.

The firing of Josep Lluis Trapero, the highest-ranking officer of the Mossos d’Esquadra regional police, follows Friday’s dismissal of Catalonia’s president, his deputy, all ministers, and the entire parliament.

Moving to quash what he termed an “escalation of disobedience”, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called December 21 elections in the region under sweeping powers granted by the Senate in response to Catalan lawmakers voting to declare an independent republic.

The dismissal of Trapero, seen as an ally of his region’s separatist leaders, was announced in Saturday’s official government gazette.

Madrid accuses Trapero of disobeying court orders to block a banned October 1 independence referendum.

Instead, the ballot was disrupted, violently in some cases, by officers from Spain’s national police and Guardia Civil paramilitary forces.

All eyes this weekend will be on whether Catalonia’s separatist executive, led by Carles Puigdemont, will willingly step aside for caretaker envoys from Madrid.

Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria is due to meet later with secretaries of state who will likely take charge of Catalonia’s regional ministries.

– Competing rallies –

Tens of thousands celebrated in Barcelona and other Catalan cities after Friday’s independence declaration, which analysts say the region has no legal power to execute.

But anti-secession rallies have been called for the capital, Madrid, on Saturday, and for Barcelona on Sunday.

The move to quash Catalan powers under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution is likely to anger many in a region of some 7.5 million people that enjoyed considerable autonomy, with control over education, healthcare, and police.

It is the first time the central government has curtailed autonomy in the region since dictator Francisco Franco’s repressive 1939-75 rule.

Independence supporters have warned they will resist the temporary measure, implemented under a constitutional article devised to rein in rebel regions.

“We won’t cave in to Rajoy’s authoritarianism nor to 155,” the far-left CUP party, an ally of Puigdemont, tweeted on Friday.

A motion to declare Catalonia a “republic” was passed Friday with 70 votes out of 135 in the regional parliament, where pro-secessionists hold sway.

Catalan leaders point to the “Yes” vote in the deeply-divisive October 1 referendum as a mandate for independence, even though less than half of voters took part.

Echoing widely-held fears, Federico Santi, Europe analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, warned the crisis could become violent, with “more serious clashes between national police and pro-independence activists.”

Speaking after the parliament’s proclamation, Puigdemont urged activists to “maintain the momentum” in a peaceful manner.

– Unwavering support for Spain –

The Spanish government has received unwavering support from the United States and its allies in the European Union.

The bloc is increasingly wary of nationalistic and secessionist sentiment, particularly after Britain’s dramatic decision last year to leave the bloc.

EU President Donald Tusk insisted Madrid “remains our only interlocutor” in Spain, but urged it to exercise restraint.

“I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not an argument of force,” he tweeted.

AFP

Madrid Stocks Slide As Catalan Parliament Declares Independence

FILE PHOTO: Catalan Regional Government President Carles Puigdemont PAU BARRENA / AFP

The Madrid stock market sank on Friday, bucking an upward trend in Europe and the US as Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence from Spain but Madrid immediately moved to quash the breakaway bid. 

A motion declaring independence was approved with 70 votes in favor, 10 against and two abstentions, with Catalan opposition MPs walking out of the 135-seat chamber before the vote in protest at a declaration unlikely to be given official recognition.

Madrid’s benchmark IBEX 35 index of major companies ended the session around 1.5 percent lower.

Shares in Catalan banks were among the biggest losers. CaixaBank, Spain’s third largest lender, fell by around five percent while Sabadell, the country’s fifth biggest bank, fell roughly six percent.

“We are likely to see more sustained unrest, possibly including strikes, as well as more serious clashes between national police and pro-independence activists,” Eurasia Group analyst Federico Santi predicted in a note.

Nevertheless, elsewhere in Europe, the other main stock markets extended the previous day’s rally after the European Central Bank said it would soon start to taper its monetary stimulus program.

US markets were also upward bound, as blowout earnings by Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet and other tech giants propelled the Nasdaq 2.2 percent higher to an all-time record of 6,701.26.

Amazon alone surged 13.2 percent, adding nearly $62 billion in market capitalization in a single day after reporting only a modest rise in third-quarter profit but a 34 percent jump in revenues to $43.7 billion.

“Equities remain positive into the weekend, building on the recent recovery in bullish sentiment and rebounds from recent lows,” said Accendo Markets analyst, Mike van Dulken.

– Dollar strengthens –

The greenback shot up after the ECB said Thursday it will reduce from January its purchases of government and corporate bonds to 30 billion euros ($35 billion) a month, from 60 billion at present.

Policymakers, however, left themselves a nine-month horizon to decide on the next step for the quantitative easing (QE) policy.

The dollar added to those gains on Friday after US third-quarter economic growth came in at a better-than-expected 3.0 percent as the US economy absorbed the shocks of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Traders have also gotten more bullish on the greenback in light of progress in Washington on President Donald Trump’s tax cut, which has cleared a few preliminary hurdles in Congress but still faces many steps.

Next week’s US schedule of events is busy, with a Federal Reserve meeting and key data, including the October jobs report.

“Political developments may dominate the headlines, but there are also many US economic reports on next week’s calendar that will shed light on how well the US economy snapped back after the hurricanes,” said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.

– Key figures around 2100 GMT –

New York – DOW: UP 0.1 percent at 23,434.19 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.8 percent at 2,581.07 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 2.2 percent at 6,701.26 (close)

Madrid – IBEX 35: DOWN 1.5 percent at 10,197.50 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,505.03 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.6 percent at 13,2217.54 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 5,494.13 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,652.23 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.2 percent at 22,008.45 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 28,438.85 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3416.81 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1604 from $1.1652

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3131 from $1.3160

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.67 yen from 114.00 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP $1.26 at $53.90 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP $1.14 at $60.37 per barrel

AFP

Catalan Bank Shares Fall After Regional Parliament Declares Independence

Shares in Catalan banks fell sharply on Friday, dragging the entire stock market with them after Catalonia’s regional parliament declared independence.

CaixaBank, Spain’s third-largest lender, fell by around five percent while Sabadell, the country’s fifth-biggest bank, fell roughly six percent.

Shares in the two banks have fallen since Catalonia’s separatist government went ahead with an independence referendum in the wealthy northeastern region on October 1, despite it having been deemed illegal by Madrid and the courts.

Some clients withdrew their deposits from the banks, prompting the two lenders to move their legal headquarters out of Catalonia to other parts of Spain.

Neither CaixaBank nor Sabadell have revealed how much money was withdrawn, but they said the flow stopped after they moved their headquarters.

Nearly 1,700 companies have moved their headquarters outside of Catalonia since the referendum.

The International Monetary Fund warned earlier this month that Spain’s strong economic recovery could be dealt a setback if the political turmoil over Catalonia’s independence push continues.

Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people in the region bordering France, generates about 20 percent of Spain’s economic output.

As a separate country, its gross domestic product would be about as big as Portugal’s or Finland’s.

AFP

Catalan Parliament Declares Independence From Spain

Protesters wave pro-independence Catalan Estelada flags during a demonstration in Barcelona on October 21, 2017 in support of separatist leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who have been detained pending an investigation into sedition charges. Spain announced that it will move to dismiss Catalonia’s separatist government and call fresh elections in the semi-autonomous region in a bid to stop its leaders from declaring independence.
LLUIS GENE / AFP
Catalonia’s parliament voted Friday to declare independence from Spain and proclaim a republic, just as Madrid is poised to impose direct rule on the semi-autonomous region to stop it in its tracks.

 

A motion declaring independence was approved with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two abstentions, with Catalan opposition MPs walking out of the 135-seat chamber before the vote in protest at a declaration unlikely to be given official recognition by Madrid and abroad.

AFP

Iraq Kurds Offer To Freeze Independence Vote

Iraqi Kurds fly Kurdish flags during an event to urge people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 16, 2017. SAFIN HAMED / AFP

Iraqi Kurdish leaders offered Wednesday to freeze the outcome of last month’s vote for independence, taking a step back in a major crisis after Baghdad delivered a body blow by seizing swathes of disputed territory.

The proposal came as world powers scrambled to avert any further escalation of the conflict between the key allies in the fight against the Islamic State group that has seen more than 30 combatants killed.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi did not respond to the proposal during a visit to Ankara but once again slammed the Kurdish authorities for pushing on with the referendum “unilaterally and without any consideration for the rest of Iraq”.

Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) force, whose mainly Iran-trained Shiite paramilitaries played a major role in the operation against the Kurds, said a freeze did not go far enough and demanded the outright annulment of the independence referendum.

Washington, Moscow and the United Nations have all pressed Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani to open talks with Baghdad on a way out of the crisis sparked by the fateful September 25 vote that he called.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, led by Barzani, said it would propose to the federal government “the freezing of the results of the referendum… and the start of an open dialogue” on the basis of the constitution.

It also called for “an immediate ceasefire and cessation of military operations in Kurdistan”.

Since early last week, Iraqi federal troops and allied militia have retaken virtually all of the territory held by the Kurds outside their longstanding three-province autonomous region in the north.

There were clashes on Tuesday between government and Kurdish forces close to the frontier with Turkey as Baghdad made a push to reclaim control of key border crossings around the region.

– Vote must be annulled –

The Hashed al-Shaabi, which has taken a hard line in the dispute with the Kurds, demanded that they annul the independence vote as a precondition for any dialogue.

“The Kurdish proposal is worthless because freezing the referendum means recognising it and the position of the Iraqi government is clear — the referendum must be annulled,” Hashed spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told AFP.

The independence referendum deeply divided Iraqi Kurdish leaders and many commanders ordered their forces to pull back without resisting.

The loss of so much territory, including the major city of Kirkuk and lucrative oil fields, dealt a huge blow to Kurdish dreams of economic self-sufficiency and eventual independence.

“Today nobody is with us except for God,” lamented Mohammed Ali, 59, a trader in the Kurdish capital Arbil.

Barzani’s longtime political rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, had opposed the independence vote and backed a UN plan for negotiations on wider Kurdish autonomy.

The Iraqi constitution adopted during the US-led occupation of 2003-11 provides for plebiscites in the disputed areas on their possibile incorporation in the autonomous Kurdish region.

Washington has made clear that while it will not take sides in the conflict between its Iraq allies, it does not regard Baghdad’s reoccupation of the disputed areas as a fait accompli.

“The reassertion of federal authority over disputed areas in no way changes their status — they remain disputed until their status is resolved in accordance with the Iraqi constitution,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Friday.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani casts his vote in the Kurdish independence referendum at a polling station near Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 25. AHMED DEEB / AFP

– UN bids for talks –

The United Nations said on Tuesday that it stands ready to broker talks.

UN envoy Jan Kubis “expressed confidence that despite the recent tensions, Iraq will be able to ride this crisis”.

“Both sides publicly expressed their willingness to engage in dialogue and negotiations on the basis of the Constitution. The UN is ready to assist, if requested,” he said.

Abadi, whose domestic prestige has been sharply boosted by the return of the disputed territories to federal control, has been on a tour of regional countries which share his hostility to Kurdish moves towards secession.

He also held talks in Baghdad on Monday with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

During his visit to Turkey, which is fiercely opposed to Kurdish independence, he was expected to push his demand for the federal government to retake control of border crossings.

As Abadi was looking to press his advantage against the Kurds, Iran — another neighbour opposed to the vote — reopened one of its three border crossings with Kurdistan.

Iran closed the crossings in response to the referendum and, like other governments around the world, last month halted flights to Iraqi Kurdish airports at the request of the Baghdad government.

AFP

Catalonia Set For General Strike Over Independence Poll Violence

People hold Catalan pro-independence ‘estelada’ flags outside the high court in Barcelona. Josep LAGO / AFP

Large numbers of Catalans are expected to observe a general strike on Tuesday to condemn police violence at a banned weekend referendum on independence, as Madrid comes under growing international pressure to resolve its worst political crisis in decades.

Flights and train services could be disrupted as well as port operations, after unions called for the stoppage to “vigorously condemn” the police response to the poll, in which Catalonia’s leader said 90 percent of voters backed independence from Spain.

Barcelona’s public universities are expected to join the strike, as is the contemporary art museum, football club FC Barcelona and the Sagrada Familia, the basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi and one of the city’s most popular tourist sites.

“I am convinced that this strike will be widely followed,” Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said ahead of the protest.

The central government has vowed to stop the wealthy northeastern region, which accounts for a fifth of Spain’s GDP, breaking away from Spain and has dismissed Sunday’s poll as unconstitutional and a “farce”.

Violent scenes played out in towns and cities across the region on Sunday as riot police moved in on polling stations to stop people from casting their ballots, in some cases charging with batons and firing rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was “very disturbed” by the unrest while EU President Donald Tusk urged Madrid to avoid “further use of violence”.

The European Parliament will hold a special debate on Wednesday on the issue.

“We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics,” European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said, breaking weeks of virtual EU silence on the Catalan issue.

Residents in many cities briefly stopped work at midday on Monday and descended onto the streets in silent, solemn protest.

In Barcelona, municipal police said about 15,000 people stopped traffic as they rallied, many draped in the blue, yellow and red Estelada flag used by Catalan separatists, shouting “the streets will always be ours”.

“This was the norm under Franco!” the crowd chanted, referring to former dictator Francisco Franco whose 1939-75 regime repressed Catalan language and culture.

– Emergency talks –

The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy held emergency talks after Puigdemont declared Sunday that Catalonia had “won the right to an independent state”.

Puigdemont has appealed for international mediation to help solve the crisis and called for police deployed to Catalonia from other parts of Spain for the vote to be removed.

The regional government said 2.26 million people took part in the poll, or just over 42 percent of the electorate.

But any attempt to unilaterally declare independence is likely to be opposed not just by Madrid but also a large section of the Catalan population, a region of 7.5 million people that is deeply split on the issue.

Puigdemont has said he will now present the results to the region’s parliament, where separatist lawmakers hold a majority, and which has the power to adopt a motion of independence.

The Catalan leader said close to 900 people had received medical attention, though regional authorities confirmed a total of 92 injured. Four were hospitalised, two in serious condition.

Videos posted on social media showed police dragging voters from polling stations by their hair, throwing people downstairs and attacking Catalan firefighters protecting polling stations.

Magdalena Clarena Dabant, a 70-year-old grandmother, described a “brutal” incident when she decided to join “passive resistance” in her village to prevent the Guardia Civil police from seizing a ballot box.

“To stop them, many voters sat on the floor, I sat on a chair. They told me to go away, I responded I wouldn’t move.

“They grabbed me by the arm, strongly, and I fell on the floor. In hospital they told me I had the wrist broken.”

AFP

Seven Killed In Cameroon As Anglophones Declare ‘Independence’

Cameroon police officials with riot equipment patrol along a street in the administrative quarter of Buea some 60kms west of Douala on October 1, 2017. A young man from Cameroon’s English-speaking region was shot dead by security forces in the city of Kumba on the eve of an expected symbolic declaration of independence by anglophone separatists, medical and security forces told AFP. STRINGER / AFP

At least seven people were killed in Cameroon’s restive anglophone belt at the weekend as a separatist group made a symbolic declaration of independence.

The separatists chose October 1, the anniversary of the official reunification of the anglophone and francophone parts of Cameroon, to declare independence for “Ambazonia”, the name of the state they want to create.

Since November, the anglophone minority has been protesting against perceived discrimination.

The government deployed security forces at the weekend in English-speaking regions, notably Buea in the southwest and Bamenda, the main town in the northwest and a hub of anglophone agitation.

Several people were admitted to hospital in Bamenda Sunday after clashes between demonstrators and police, according to a medical source.

“At least one person was injured by live fire” in Bamenda, where the situation was “very tense”, a source close to the local authorities told AFP.

The “security forces had to resort to tear gas and sometimes to shots to disperse the protesters”, the source said by telephone.

Bamenda residents contacted by AFP reported “shooting” by the security forces without giving further details.

– ‘Real bullets’ –

One of the leaders of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), Joshua Osih, told AFP the security forces were “firing real bullets at the protesters” but stressed that he was not a supporter of the secessionist movement.

In Ndop, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Bamenda, two people were “shot dead”, according to sources, while one was killed in Kumbo on the sidelines of the protests, city mayor Donatus Njong said.

Also in Kumbo, three prison inmates were shot and killed trying to escape while security forces were mobilised for the deployments in anglophone regions, a source close to regional authorities said.

A young man was shot dead by security forces on Saturday in the southwest town of Kumba, known as a rebellious city since the start of the protests, sparking clashes between security forces and the local population.

“They fired at him during a security operation,” a nurse who requested anonymity told AFP. The incident was confirmed by a security source and several local residents contacted by phone.

Cameroon’s long-serving president, 84-year-old Paul Biya, took to social media Sunday to condemn “all acts of violence, no matter where they come from or who is responsible.”

The European Union called on all sides to be responsible and “respect the rule of law and avoid any act of violence.”

The crisis provoked by the protests, which was exacerbated at the start of 2017 when internet access was cut for three months, has intensified in recent weeks with the push to symbolically proclaim independence of the English-speaking regions.

On September 22, “between 30 and 80,000” people demonstrated across Cameroon’s anglophone regions, according to estimates by the International Crisis Group (ICG).

– ‘No longer slaves’ –

The symbolic declaration of independence was made Sunday on social media by Sisiku Ayuk, who describes himself as the “president” of Ambazonia.

“We are no longer slaves of Cameroon,” he said.

“Today we affirm the autonomy of our heritage and our territory.”

Ahead of the declaration, Cameroonian authorities announced a temporary curb on travel and public meetings across the Southwest Region, adding to a curfew in the neighbouring Northwest Region, also English-speaking.

Internet access has been disrupted since Friday, according to an AFP journalist, despite government assurances that there would be no cutting of access in the anglophone areas.

The majority of Cameroon’s 22 million people are French-speaking, while about a fifth are English speakers.

The legacy dates back to 1961, when a formerly British entity, Southern Cameroons, united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960.

The anglophone minority has long complained about disparities in the distribution of Cameroon’s oil wealth.

Since November, the anglophone minority has been protesting against perceived discrimination especially in education and the judicial system, where they say the French language and traditions are being imposed on them, even though English is one of the country’s two official languages.

Most anglophone campaigners want the country to resume a federalist system — an approach that followed the 1961 unification but was later scrapped in favour of a centralised government run from the capital Yaounde. A hardline minority is calling for secession.

President Biya opposes any such changes.

AFP

Catalonia Has Won ‘Right To An Independent State’, Says Leader

Students gather at the historical headquarters of the University of Barcelona during a pro-referendum demonstration on September 22, 2017, in Barcelona. LLUIS GENE / AFP

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said Sunday the northeastern Spanish region he governs had “won the right to an independent state” after “millions” turned out to vote in a banned independence referendum.

“With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic,” he said in a televised announcement.

[email protected]: 10 Great Songs About Nigeria

 

Nigeria’s Independence from Britain on October 1st, 1960 is a significant day in the history of the country. Nigeria is home nation to different tribes, culture, languages, ethnic groups and religion making it a great nation with diverse strength. Popularly called the Giant of Africa, it is also, the ‘Heart of African Music.’ Nigeria is blessed with great musical talents who have taken Nigerian music across the borders of the country. These music arts have also sung about continuous unity, strength and greatness of the country.

 

Which Way Nigeria – Sunny Okosun

This is a love song about Nigeria our Fatherland. Sunny Okosun in this song calls for the way out of corruption, inefficiency confronting the nation deeply showing concern and calling for a way to save the country.

 

One Love- Onyeka Onwenu

Onyeka Onwenu is a music legend who is passionate about the unity of Nigeria. She has to her record many Nigerian themed songs including “One Love Keep Us Together,” “Peace Song, “Unity Song”, among others. These songs emphasize the theme of love and unity in a world of struggle and dreams of staying alive.

The Way Forward – Sunny Ade

In 1993, King Sunny Ade brought together many Nigerian artistes to sing The Way Forward (Part 1 and 2).  The track was sung in Yoruba, English, Igbo, Hausa, Pidgin English, among others.  The song was sung after the annulment of the June 12 elections but re-composed in 2003 as a reminder of what the country passed through as the aftermath of the annulment. The song calls for unity from all tribes, calling collaborative effort of every Nigerian to make the nation great.

 

 

Nigeria My Beloved Country – Funmi Adams

This song by Funmi Adams was a household anthem in the 80s. Adams who appeared to have disappeared from Nigerian music scene was popular in the 80’s and 90’s. Her songs were aimed at teaching culture in young children. Another of her songs about Nigeria is ‘All we need is love,”

 

Nigeria Go Survive – Veno

This song expresses hope in the survival of Nigeria. Rendered in Pidgin English, the song boasts about the rich agriculture and oil in the country. It emphasizes the rich natural resources in the country including Cocoa, Timber, Rubber, Cotton, among others.

 

Let’s Live Together- Kush

Kush, a Gospel and R&B music group released Let’s Live Together. The song which was a household anthem in the early 2000s song, is a heartfelt appeal to Nigerians to live together in peace and unity and a reminder that there is strength in our diversity.

 

Motherland – Sound Sultan

Sound Sultan popularly called “Naija Ninja” in 2006 dropped this song, appealing to Nigerians in diaspora not to forget their Motherland. Singing in Yoruba language, Sound Sultan in the song says one may travel far and wide, there is no place like home.

 

Green Land – Ty Bello

TY Bello in 2008 released her debut studio album ‘Greenland’. The song with the theme of love, family and nation expresses optimism in the future of Nigeria. It inspires Nigerians to liberate themselves from a place of despair to a place of hope.

 

Great Nation -Timi Dakolo

This soulful song by Timi Dakolo was released in November 2012 has since remained a household anthem. The song express confidence in the greatness of this nation and how we can defend the greatness through peace, unity and Justice.

 

Song of Unity – Nigeria Leaders

Song of unity was sung by past and current Nigerian leaders. It was led by the vice-president Yemi Osinbajo, past Heads of State Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ernest Shonekan and former Vice-Presidents Ebitu Ukiwe, Alex Ekwueme, and Oladipo Diya.

Although many people who are not pleased about Nigerian leaders will disagree with the inclusion of this song on the list of great songs about Nigeria. But seeing Nigerian past and present leader team up to sing about our country expressing hope in God as the ultimate help of the country is worth recognising.

 

Nigerians In South Africa Pray For The Country At 57

In South Africa, Nigerians are participating in a number of activities to celebrate their nation at 57.

At the Consulate General in Johannesburg, different religious and socio-political bodies converged to pray for peace and unity in Nigeria.

President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in South Africa, ArchBishop Benson Uwha said Nigeria is a great country united in diversity.

READ ALSO: Why Federal Government Will Not Consider 2014 Confab Report – Garba Shehu 

“As demonstrated here today, it means that we have great unity in diversity. Prayer has bond us together and I believe that the 57th independence of Nigeria will usher the country into a new horizon of life.”

President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria in South Africa while speaking also emphasised the unity of the country.

“We can’t allow ourselves to be used by anyone, Nigeria is one, and Nigeria will remain one.”

Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Ahmed Ibeto called on Nigerians to live in peace and harmony.

“Let us live in peace, let us live as our brother’s keepers. We have no other country than Nigeria, I believe we can go a long way to make it a pride of Africa.”

[email protected]: Defining Moments In Nigeria’s History

As Nigeria marks the 57th anniversary of her independence from the ex-colonial master, Great Britain, it is worthy to note that the years after; the country has been able to remain united, regardless of her cultural differences.

First Independence Day:

The late Anthony Enahoro in 1957, moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence. It, however, suffered a major setback following the resistance of some Northern lawmakers who greatly opposed the motion, stressing they were not ready for the nation’s independence. Nigeria finally got the nod for independence from Britain in 1960 with the nation formally receiving freedom from British stronghold.

The Independence Day witnessed lots of celebrations around the country especially in the then capital, Lagos.

The celebrations were topped by a grand ceremony hosted by the prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. At the time, Queen Elizabeth II, who was still the country’s sovereign and she was represented by a member of the British royal family, Princess Alexandra.

 

Festac ‘77:

Festac 1977 is also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture. It was a major international festival and memorable event in Nigeria’s history. It was held in Lagos, Nigeria, from 15 January 1977 to 12 February 1977, celebrating African culture and showcasing to the world African music, fine art, literature, drama, dance and religion. The event had about 16,000 participants, representing 56 African nations and countries of the African Diaspora.

 

The Civil War:

The civil war, also known as the Biafran War started on July 6, 1967. It was one of the major trying period of Nigeria as the country was confronted by the secession of Biafra from the Republic of Nigeria. It was part of the implication of the 1966 coup. The war lasted thirty months and ended in January 1970. In accepting Biafra’ unconditional ceasefire, Gowon declared that there would be no victor and no vanquished. Nigeria is still confronted by the agitations from this war till date.

 

Return To Civil Rule In 1979:

Nigeria enjoyed the beauty of democracy when on October 1st, 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari became Nigeria’s democratically elected president. General Olusegun Obasanjo on February 13, 1976, promised to hand over power to a democratically elected President. He kept to his promise when in 1979, he formally relinquished power to the then incumbent.

The election, however, portrayed the image of Nigeria positively in the limelight within the international community through the rare show of sportsmanship exhibited by the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo.

Obasanjo’s rise to becoming the nation’s leader came after the death of the former Nigerian leader, General Murtala Muhammed, under whose regime he (Obasanjo) was the Second-in-Command.

 

World Stands Still For Nigerian Laureate:

The world of Literature stood still in 1986 for Professor Wole Soyinka who emerged the first African to win the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka was recognised for his wide cultural perspective and poetic overtones that fashions the drama of existence in his writings.

This singular feat of Soyinka, a Professor of Comparative Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University from 1975 to 1999, was made possible owing to him being a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies.

 

Nigeria At Olympics ’96:

Football, they say is a unifying sport that brings everyone together irrespective of the race, cultural or religious affiliations.

This perhaps explains why the Super Eagles of Nigeria wrote their name in a gold, as generations yet unborn would still remember their electrifying performance in the Olympics games hosted by the United States of America.

Although it has been over 20 years since then, the memories remain evergreen among lovers of sports, especially those that witnessed it then. Nigeria’s football team made Olympic history and the defining memories remain vivid in the heart of many Nigerians.

 

Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego Cliches Miss World Crown:

In November 2001, Agbani Darego became took Nigeria’s name to the world stage at the Miss World Competition. She emerged the first native African to claim the Miss World title. Her victory, however, was widely welcomed at home, and her one-year tenure included goodwill trips and scheduled appearances on behalf of the pageant. In appreciation, the Federal Government under the Obasanjo presidency honoured her with a prestigious Member of the Federal Republic (MFR).

 

Nigeria’s $18bn Debt Is Erased:

On the 21st day of April, 2006, Nigeria’s debt was being pardoned by the Paris club. This action earned Nigeria respect within the African soil being the first country in the continent to successfully offset her debt. The initiative was made possible under the leadership of Dr, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who served as the Finance Minister during President Olusegun Obasanjo civilian tenure.

Kano Residents Mark Independence Anniversary With Gov Ganduje, Emir Of Kano

Hundreds of Kano residents on Sunday converged on the Sani Abacha Stadium to mark the 57th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.
They were joined by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II and other government officials, traditional rulers and members of civil society organisations.

At the stadium, the Emir of Kano asked government to intensify efforts towards reviving the Nigeria’s economy as the Nation mark the 57th Independence anniversary.

The Emir made the call in response to questions by journalists.

See photos from Kano below: