50th Independence: We Still Have Many Battles to Fight - Fashola
LAGOS, Oct 1, (THEWILL) - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has said a number of socio-economic and political challenges would require the proactive response from the country’s leadership at all level to address Nigeria’s shortcomings.
In view of this, Fashola urged Nigerians "to remain steadfast and look beyond the mistakes of past leaders in order to catalyze massive growth and development as the centenary journey begins."
Fashola said this at Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary held in the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos Island where he expressed displeasure over the current situation of the country. He said the country still has many battles to fight.
The governor also tasked Nigerians to make input to nation-building, saying although "we have freed ourselves from imperialism, we have not freed ourselves from underdevelopment" adding that "there are many battles yet to be fought and won."
Fashola described Nigeria’s 50th independence as a season of mixed blessings, saying the country had proved every pessimist wrong by successfully transiting, first from military to civilian governance and later from civilian to civilian governance.
He said in spite of the odds, it "is now eleven years since 1999 as we have learnt how to govern ourselves. I know the expectations are high, but if we pause to think how many times we have got up when we stumbled, how many times we have confounded those who let us off, we have seen something in it; an ability that lies in us to make things work, if we decide to do so."
The celebration of the 50th independence in the venue excited Lagos residents, who attended the anniversary. A Lagos resident, Mr. Funsho Bamidele said Tafawa Balewa Square had been neglected for about 20 years since the country’s administrative was moved to Abuja.
Bamidele said despite that the flag of Nigeria "was first hoisted in the place, since 1991, the federal government had rejected the place for Abuja while the state government used the Police College Ikeja as venue. But we are happy now that the government has brought back the glamour to TBS."
On the choice of the Tafawa Balewa Square, Fashola explained that the state government deemed it fit to use Tafawa Balewa Square, instead of the police college because it was a soil of freedom.
He said the Race course "was a sight where the British flag, flew for the last time as a symbol of imperial authority over Nigerian territory before it was lowered for the final time as a sign of victory and freedom brilliantly fought and won by our patriotic heroes.
"It is fitting and proper that the grounds have appropriately been dedicated in honour of one of those heroes, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as a tribute and symbol of our freedom and one of the things we must never do, is to desecrate this grounds in the pursuit of any commercial venture.
"This is a national monument belonging to this state and we hold it as a symbol of pride for the principle of this story and the memorial of where we came from and how we got here. Our past must remind us that this soil, the beautiful city state and the island of Lagos, was a battle ground for liberty pursuits of our heroes and that this very ground TBS must be honoured."
However, no fewer than fifty thousand residents of Lagos State turned out en masse to the Tafawa Balewa Square in celebration of Nigeria’s 50th anniversary from British colonial rule.
The jubilee celebration began at 10 .am and was attended by top government functionaries and traditional rulers such as Deputy Governor Adebisi Sarah Sosan, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu I; Secretary to the State Government, Princess Aderenle Adeniran-Ogunsanya and commanding officers of the Armed Forces in the state.