By Segun Odeleye
Nigerians are still reacting to the entire Centenary celebrations put together by the federal government this week, especially the award night on Friday in which all former heads of state including the brutal dictator, Sani Abacha, were honoured.
Living former heads of state who were honoured included Generals Yakubu Gowon; Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Chief Ernest Shonekan.
The rest received post-humous award. They included Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Gen. J.T.U Aguyi Ironsi, Genera Murtala Mohammed, General Sani Abacha, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar”Adua, and Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who was the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 elections but cast into jail by Abacha. The family of Abiola however rejected the award on his behalf.
Some of the former leaders reacted to their recognition and award. They called on succeeding generations to endeavour to ensure that Nigeria remains one united entity.
In their words:
Olusegun Obasanjo: “The award means Nigeria is making progress. If Nigeria survived the first 100 years, it means that Nigeria has come to stay. All that needs to be done is to works sustaining its unity.”
Muhammadu Buhari: “To be qualified to be recognised by Nigerians is no mean achievements. My wish for Nigeria is security.”
Ibrahim Babangida: “The award means a lot. Most of us that were awarded today, the younger generation should try to emulate us because they will drive their sources of inspiration and aspiration.”
Abdulsalam Abubakar: “Nigeria has come a long way and we thank God. The future generation should try and do better than what we have done and keep this country together.”
Ernest Shonekan: “The award means a lot to me. It makes me feel to work harder for the unity and progress of the country.”