The journey to independence in Nigeria

His Royal Majesty, Oba Adetokunbo Okikiola Gbadegeshin Tejuosho the Olu of Orile Kemta Adabonyin of Egba Land has charged every Nigerian to do away with actions, utterances and other factors that are capable of endangering the unity of this country. The monarch made this known in his independence message to celebrate the occasion of the 59th Anniversary of our dear nation. He also charged all the citizens to support the government towards bringing good governance to the grassroots and top most level of the country.

Our history in Nigeria can be traced to prehistoric settlers (Nigerians) living in communities as early as 1100 BC. Numerous ancient civilizations such as the Kingdom of Nri, the Benin Empire and the Oyo Empire settled in this region that is today Nigeria. Islam was introduced through the Borno Empire (1068 AD) and Hausa States (1385 AD) while Christianity came to Nigeria in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal. (Clarification needed)

The history of Nigeria has been crucially impacted by the Transatlantic Slave Trade which started in Nigeria in the late 15th century. At first, Europeans captured Nigerians who lived in coastal communities. Later, they used local brokers to provide them with slaves. This dynamic escalated conflicts among the different ethnic groups in the region and disrupted older trade patterns through the Trans-Saharan route.

Nigeria revealed a 9th-century indigenous culture that created highly sophisticated work in bronze metalworking which was independent of any Arab or European influence.
Microlithic and ceramic industries were also developed and were continued by subsequent agricultural communities. In the south, hunting and gathering gave way to subsistence farming around the same time, relying more on the indigenous yam and oil palm than on the cereals important in the North.
The stone axe heads, imported in great quantities from the north and used in opening the forest for agricultural development, were venerated by the Yoruba descendants of Neolithic pioneers as “thunderbolts” hurled to earth by the gods.

The history of natural rubber production in Nigeria began in 1894 with the exploitation of Funtumia elastic, indigenous wild rubber. The wild trees that yielded rubber were, however, ruined by poor tapping systems, and the export of wild rubber dropped. In a search for sources of natural rubber to supply the demand of a rapidly expanding automobile industry, Heavea brasiliensis (Muell Arg.) was found to be the best source of the plant because of its singular ability to renew its bark and thus ensure a sustained harvest. It was introduced into Nigeria from Kew Gardens, England around 1895 with the first rubber estate planted at Sapele in 1903 and a second one at Nkisi in the then eastern region in 1912. By 1925, some 1,000 hectares of European owned estates existed in Southwestern Nigeria (Uraih, 1980).

Rubber is grown in Edo, Delta, Ondo, Ogun, Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Ebonyi, and Bayelsa States where the amount of rainfall is between 1,800 mm and 2,000 mm per annum (Aigbekaen, Imarhiagbe, & Omokhafe, 2000). It serves three main functions in Nigeria’s economy: it provides raw materials for the agro- based industries and foreign exchange earnings, places the country in the world map as a net exporter of rubber, and lastly, it offers employment to a sizeable segment of the Nigerian farming population.

In 1990 Nigeria overtook Liberia as the largest rubber producer in Africa. Production rose from 60,000 tons in 1986 to 147,000 tons in 1990. It dropped to 125,000 tons in 1995 and 107,000 tons in 2,000 but went up again in 2003 to 142,000 tons and remained at 142,000 in 2004.
The economy history of Nigeria in the 19th Century would not be complete without making mention of Cocoa. The earliest cocoa farms in Nigeria were in Bonny and Calabar in the 1870s but the area proved not suitable for cultivation.

In 1880, a cocoa farm was established in Lagos and later, a few more farms were established in Agege and Ota. From the farms in Agege and Ota information disseminated to the Yoruba hinterland about cocoa farming, thereafter, planting of the tree expanded in Western Nigeria. Farmers in Ibadan and Egba land began experimenting with planting cocoa in uncultivated forests in 1890 and those in Ilesha started around 1896. The planting of cocoa later spread to Okeigbo and Ondo Town both in Ondo State, Ife and Gbongan in Osun State and also in Ekiti land.
Before 1950, there were two main varieties of cocoa planted in Nigeria, the major one was Amelonado cacao which was imported from the upper Amazon river Basin in Brazil. The second was a heterogeneous strain from Trinidad. The Amelonado pods are green but turning yellow when ripe but the Trinidad variety was red.

The rich history of the country in commerce and economy shows a country that can be described to be flowing with milk and honey. This should be a source of pride for every Nigeria and motivation for improvement. President Ram Nath Kovind of Indian said and I quote, ” Nation building is about creating that optimal partnership between voters and their representatives, between citizens and their government, and between civil society and state” ; We are first Nigerians before other things, let us never forget that.

Dear Nigerians,
I have always wondered if attaining our sovereignty was a curse, since every individual desires a certain level of independence and freedom. Then, should there be a cause for eternal celebration by a Nation like Nigeria? Fellow Nigerians, we are not Nigerian by hating on one another, not a Nigerian by creating a down fall plot for each other but the real interpretation of Independence today is not where we are but we will surely get there.

Today, I join millions of Nigerians to preach peace, unity, love, tolerance and commitment to the development of our country as we have no other place to call our home than our country – Nigeria. We rise by helping others to rise, we grow by helping others to grow while we are also growing. The most important factors we need in Nigeria and as Nigerians are: ‘Unity, Love, Tolerance and Peace’.
Nigerians need to be united the way we unite during football matches of our national team. When the national team scores, we all shout goal and jump for joy. So, let’s inculcate this in our everyday life. United we stand, divided we fall.
The moment we inculcate love as citizens of Nigeria, we will have a better Nigeria. A Nigeria free of ethnic hate, religious hate, etc. Love makes the world go round, lets inculcate this virtue of love as Nigerians.

Tolerance is the ability to endure pain or hardship. Nigerians have been known tolerate each other despite our diverse ethnic groups and religion in the past. We will have a great and better country if we continue in this enduring light. Christians should tolerate the Muslims and vice versa. Same as ethnic groups and all other segregating factors.
Peace is a state of tranquility, quiet and harmony. This is the absence of civil disturbance, oppression and war. Our father’s land will only reach its full potential when there is peace. I implore us as Nigerians to preach and accept peace as people who want the growth and development of Nigeria.
This is a nation with several ethnic groups, religious practices and even varying status, we will always have disagreements and misunderstanding but with love, unity and tolerance, we will overcome all our challenges and move forward as a nation. Don’t curse the nation but ensure to bless this land by saying, “God bless Nigeria.”

Independence portrays that people, tribe, religion, or culture should not be divided but united as one. We still need to hold on to the strength of this country which is unity, love, tolerance and peace. We will surely overcome our ample challenges and be great as a nation and we will be the cynosure of all eyes for positive reasons as Nigeria would be great.
Finally, I hereby implore Nigerians to be patient with the government of the day and give them the maximum support they need to run a successful administration in other to meet the needs of the people. I also implore our government to empower more youth and provide their essential needs to curb bad characters in our society. Our youths are not lazy, they are only short of opportunities to showcase their strength.

I wish us happy 59th Independence Anniversary.

God Bless our nation

Long Live Nigeria!!

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