By Sylvia Akpan, Government House Correspondent
As felicitations continue to roll out on Nigeria’s 63rd Independence anniversary across the country and beyond, the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Bassey Otu said every October should be a period for deep reflection on individual patriotic contribution towards nation-building, rather than an occasion for fanfare and media razzmatazz.
The Executive Governor of the State made the assertion in a message he made available to Cross Riverians and Nigerians to mark the 63 years of the once colonized British empire – Nigeria.
While recognizing the flaws the nation has recorded along the way, he enjoined all and sundry to bridge the fault lines of ethnicity, crime, and criminality, hate and rancor, and instead; imbibe the true spirit of brotherhood, patriotism, and commitment to protecting the nation’s democratic experience to enable political leaders to continue to provide the needed leadership.
Message reads in full: “My dear Cross Riverians, today we take a retrospective view and celebrate the arrest, intimidation, incarceration, and other forms of human indignity our heroes of conscience suffered in order to set Nigeria free from the shackles of colonialism. The continuous reminiscence of who we were under Britain – our colonial masters and who we ought to be as an independent country, leaves much on our heads to ponder and much on our hands to do in order to justify our independence.
“Our independence therefore ought to be the celebration of our self-determination, independent thought, and action. Every 1st October of a year is, therefore, a period for deep reflection on our individual patriotic contribution towards nation-building rather than an occasion for fanfare and media razzmatazz.
“When the Nigeria Green-White-Green flag was being hoisted on 1st October 1960 and the Britain Union Jack lowered, that was a symbolic elevation of the consciousness of Nigerians to take their destiny into their hands by way of patriotic zeal and action.
“While we applaud the patriotic consciousness of the late Mike Enohoro for moving a motion for Nigeria’s independence in the British Parliament in 1953, we should realize the fact that the action was borne out of sheer sacrifice and patriotism. On this auspicious occasion of our independence anniversary, I urge everyone’s watchword to be “the country first”. Our collective resolve and the sacrifice we make as a people will make the country greater than what it was prior to 1st October 1960. It is the only driving force towards a better Nigeria. For it is our sense of unity that will guarantee the indivisibility of our country, sense of ingenuity will give us technological breakthrough while our sense of patriotism will be an enabler of peace and security of our nation.”
He continued: “The past sixty-three years of our nation’s independence, has seen us record some modest achievements in the political sphere, infrastructure, and importantly, We have had twenty-four years (still counting) of unbroken civilian democratic governance.
“In order to consolidate on these gains, I enjoin all of us to bridge the fault lines of ethnicity, crime, criminality, hate, and rancor, and instead, imbibe the true spirit of brotherhood, patriotism, and commitment to protecting our democratic experience so that our political leaders can continue to provide the needed leadership,” he added.
“My administration will continue to work selflessly and sacrificially to take the Cross River of our collective dreams. I wished everyone a joyous 63rd independence celebration and prayed to God to bless the state and the country.”
The event climaxed in UJ Esuene Sports Stadium with a ceremonial parade by the Cross River State of the Nigerian Force, as well as the cutting of the 63rd-anniversary independence cake.
The exercise witnessed dignitaries including service chiefs, top government functionaries, members of the State Executive Council, students, and the public.