Despite the challenges Americans face, they continue to live as one nation. Nigeria has lessons to learn from the US as 241-years independent country. JULIANA AGBO writes.
The US embassy in Nigeria marked its 241st Independence anniversary hursday, June 29, 2017. The Independence Day is annually celebrated on July 4 and is often known as “the Fourth of July”. It is theanniversary of the publication of the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776.
The celebration started with parades, Nigeria and US anthems, followed by the ambassador’s speech. This years’ anniversary is coming at a time the integrity of the Nigerian state is been questioned by cession agitations by the components that makes up the Nigerian federation. Both the developed and under developed nations have voiced their views on the status of Nigeria.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, W. Stuart Symington, sized the occasion of his country’s Independence Day, to challenge the leadership and other stakeholders in Nigeria to preserve the nation’s unity.
According to him, Nigeria is blessed with visionary and dedicated leaders. The Ambassador said, he believe Nigeria was capable of facing and overcoming its challenges. The envoy said that both the US and Nigeria shared incredible diversity as nations.
The unity of Nigeria has always been a subject of twists and turn. Butthe twists took worrisome dimension, recently, when the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, escalated. This was compounded by the ultimatum handed Nigerians of Igbo extraction to vacate the nineteen states of northern Nigeria, by a so-called Coalition of Arewa Youths.
Since then, the various ethnic groups in Nigeria have managed to maintain ‘peace of the graveyard’.
The ambassador said that the anniversary was an opportunity to underscore how much Americans shared with Nigerians. Just like the United States, Nigeria is a wonderfully diverse nation whose differences and diversity are sources of strength and a reason for pride.
“We share families, friends, interests, and principles. All across this land, from Birnin Kebbi to Calabar, from Maiduguri to Badagry, Nigerians have welcomed me warmly and showed me the wonders of this country and its people. In almost every place, I have also met Americans whose lives are dedicated to their work with and for Nigerians.” He said.
He continued, whenever I meet a Nigerian, I ask, “What do you like the most about your country?” The invariable reply, from more than a thousand Nigerians, is “I like the Nigerian people.” I like our diversity, our resilience, our energy, our warmth, our spirit, our food.”
Symington cited some of the difficulties the United States has faced in order to preserve its union as he credited its success to the resilience of visionary leaders and citizens committed to ensuring justice for all.
He said , “I believe Nigeria is capable of achieving same because the country is fortunate to have great leaders and citizens, and together,they are dedicated to keeping Nigeria united and just and to ensuring every Nigerian is heard and taken into account and treated fairly.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama who was represented by Ambassador Vivian Okeke, the Director, American and Caribbean Division
in the ministry appreciated the US support to Nigeria in its efforts to implement policies and programmes that impacted positively on the lives of Nigerian citizens.
Onyeama expressed confidence that the long existing relationship
between Nigeria and US would be sustained.
The celebration was witnessed by current and former government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, business, political, and traditional leaders among others.
The celebration featured entertainment by American singer, song-writer and State Department Arts Envoy Andy Allo.
In retrospect, US Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.
In the US, the day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain in 1776 actually occurred on July 2, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain rule. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it two days later on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought tov be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
Adams’s prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.
Historians have long disputed whether members of Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed
it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.
Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, another Founding Father who was elected as President, also died on July 4, 1831. He was the third President in a row who died on the anniversary of independence. CalvinCoolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872; so far he is the only U.S. President to have been born on Independence Day.