A year-long celebration of Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary began on Wednesday with the unveiling of a theme and a logo by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Federal Government hinted that the curtains won’t drop on the celebration until September 30, next year.
The President performed the brief ceremony before the commencement of the week’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja.
He, however, said the celebration would be held low-key this year because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaking after Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha had given a background to how the logo was adopted and the modalities guiding the anniversary, Buhari said his administration would henceforth ensure more inclusiveness.
He explained “Together shall we be” was arrived at as theme for the anniversary to forge a more united and cohesive Nigeria.
The President said: “Today, we stand on the threshold of history as we formally begin a series of activities commemorating Nigeria’s Diamond Anniversary. The task history has saddled me with today is to proclaim a theme that will keep us united, help us forge ahead and unveil a logo that will form the critical pillars, which are eleven months modest commemoration activities will rest on.
“Celebrating 60 years of Independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act differently, has also forced on us the imperative of a low-keyed celebration.
“Operating within the limitations placed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we created an internet challenge for Nigerians to make a choice from a set of four pre-selected logos that will appropriately define theme.
“Of these four options, Nigerians from all walks of life participated in making a choice and I’m happy to let you know that the logo I will be unveiling is a product of choice from the Nigerian people.
“I’m informed that the selected option depicts our togetherness; a country of over 200 million people, whose natural talents, grits and passion glitter like the precious diamond we are.
“This to me is a sufficient appreciation to our most precious assets; our people. Everywhere you go, Nigerians are sparkling like diamonds in the pack, whether in academia, business, Innovation, music, movie, entertainment and culture.
“Furthermore, I’m also made aware that the neatly encrusted diamond on the Nigerian map symbolises our age of treasure, the worth of the Nigerian people, who are sparkle to the admiration of the world.
“In the same vein, the fair green and the dark green colours should respectively remind us of our warmth, welcoming spirit and love, as well as abundant wealth inherent in our human capital and the richness of our land.
“All these properties made us, unarguably, the most prosperous black nation in the world and Africa’s largest economy. It is therefore with a deep feeling of national pride and I hereby announce to you that ‘Together shall we be’ shall the theme of our nation’s 60th anniversary celebration.
“Our founding fathers, in spite of differences in faith, tribe and tongue, came together to fight for Nigeria’s Independence. This shall be a befitting tribute to the struggle of our heroes past.
“It is to the glory of God and in celebration of the attainment of the diamond age of 60 by our great nation that I hereby unveil the preferred anniversary logo for this momentous occasion in our national history.
“At this juncture, let me thank members of the inter-ministerial committee on Nigeria’s 60th anniversary celebration for the work they have done so far and remind them that this is just the beginning. As we celebrate this anniversary, this government will work towards greater inclusiveness and look forward to the participation of all Nigerians.”
Explaining the process that led to the choice of logo and the reason for a year-long celebration, the SGF, who doubles as Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Nigeria’s 60th Anniversary, said the aim is to make the country heal.
“Your Excellency, Mr. President, upon your approval of the inter-ministerial committee on Nigeria’s 60th anniversary and directive for a low-key celebration that will be highly inclusive, the inter-ministerial committee went to work and agreed on the theme to drive the celebrations.
“One major agreement also was the need to deviate from the norm of celebrating our landmark events with a conclusion of the day of such event. Thus it was agreed that to make the diamond anniversary very inclusive and create opportunities for internalisation and buying by all sectors of Nigerian people, a year-long celebration will be pursued, starting from the date of launching a web portal, to September 30th, 2021.
“Mr. President, members of Council, I am happy to inform you today that the unveiling of the logo is the second milestone of the celebration, but it actually marks the official takeoff of Nigeria’s 60th anniversary celebration.
“The inter-ministerial committee had a robust discussion and argument on the theme and finally settled on the one that recognises our sojourn in nationhood, identified challenges faced all through and what is required to move Nigeria to its enviable stage among the comity of nations,” he said.