By Akanimo Sampson
Sixty eminent Nigerians are currently being profiled to scale-up the country’s 60th independence anniversary coming up on October 1.
It is an independent event being promoted by a group that calls itself Project 6060.
The objective is to make Nigerians understand one another so that they can live together peacefully as a country. Nigeria is a plural society of diverse cultures of around 300 ethnic groups.
The country over the years, has been troubled by its problematic national question leading to undying agitation for the restructuring of its twisted federalism.
The arrowhead of the project, Dr. Abubakar Sani, a publisher and authors, says their venture will help to promote mutual understanding, foster inter-group harmony and tolerance, advance national cohesion and integration, and encourage peaceful co-existence as well as inspire the younger generation.
According to him, ‘’with our Nation Builders at 60, we are out to celebrates the gorgeous mosaic that is Nigeria.
‘’Nigeria has survived a lot and part of the challenges we have survived as a nation is the prophetic projection of disintegration and, it’s with great joy that we have witnessed the passing of this so-called prophecy. We have remained united as a country, 60 and still standing.
‘’The Nation Builders at 60 is a special publication which is aimed at celebrating outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavors and contributed immensely to the Nigerian project.
‘’These individuals share a common bond with Nigeria by their birth in 1960, the year Nigeria gained independence from the British colonial rule. It is also aimed at educating Nigerians about the rich and diverse cultures and experiences of the various people in Nigeria.
‘’Diamond Jubilee is not a simple achievement. The shortlisted 60 Nigerians to be featured in Project 6060 compendium will have distinguished themselves through diligence, hard work, and patriotism to their fatherland and most importantly, contributed immensely to national development.’’
Though the initiative is not about them, Project 6060 Spokesperson, Halima Nuradeen, says ‘’we cannot talk about Nigeria without mentioning our past heroes Sir Ahmadu Bello, Margaret Ekpo, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Herbert Macaulay, Gambo Sawaba, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Professor Eyo Ita, Madam Fumilayo Ransom Kuti, Nnamdi Azikwe, Tafawa Balewa, in no particular order.
‘’These heroes of ours gave their youth, their future, for the future we are enjoying now. Although we cannot talk about the future while neglecting the gory, Nigeria has gone through: civil war, coup d’etat, and annulled elections.
‘’Yet still, Nigeria was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity which is now known as the African Union. Through our strong military force, Nigeria spearheaded the founding of ECOMOG which oversaw military assistance in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
‘’Our love for oneness and goodwill for Africa has brought us thus far and gave us the title the Giant of Africa. We have a tenancity to always be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, Together we have risen, and together we stand a chance to be the greatest country in the world. United We Stand, Divided we fall.’’
However, in March 2019, a group of experts that comprising members of the academia, media, politics, the military, and some elder-statesmen were part of those who either vetted or recommended the names of numerous Nigerians they considered worthy to be included in the Nation Builders at 60 compendium.
The panel tried its best to see that every nook and cranny of Nigeria, or at the least every region, and religion is fairly represented in the shortlist. Nevertheless, attention was devoted to competence, contribution to national development, obstacles surmounted by the individual, and track record.
A total of 97 names were either recommended or submitted to the panel but somewhere dropped to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria.
The project researchers say it was a ‘’very rigorous exercise’’ but the selection panel was able to come up with a list they think will be acceptable to Nigerians although it was cumbersome getting enough women on board.
Some the 60 eminent Nigerians the project identified include, Sheikh Muhammad Albani, Dr. Mohammed Dikwa, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, Prof. Labode Popoola, Prof. Charles Soludo, Mrs. Hadiza el-Rufai, Bright Chimezie, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Kingsley Osadolor, Prof. Enefiok Essien, Ned Nwoko, Zack Orji, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, Dr. Abdulazeez Ibrahim, among others.
‘’By no means are the 60 names all the Nigerians who have played strategic roles. But, for the purpose of our maiden project we have selected and approved the 60’’, Sani says.