Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan led five former Presidents and Heads of State on Monday evening to inaugurate the nation's centenary anniversary celebration.
The anniversary will hold on Jan. 1, 2014.
The British colonial administration amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates which make up the Nigerian nation on Jan. 1, 2014.
Former military Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo also graced the occasion held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
The Senate President, Sen. David Mark, his Deputy Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, his Deputy, Chief Emeka Ihedioha and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukhtar also attended the event.
State Governors, Ministers, Presidential aides, captains of Industry, members of Diplomatic Corps were present at the occasion.
Speaking at the occasion, Jonathan said that the amalgamation of 1914 was not a mistake but an act of God.
He said that the amalgamation created ``a unique entity of the globe called Nigeria; a beautiful country richly blessed and which had turned out innovative people across the world.’’
The president said that beyond the endowed natural resources, ``Nigeria is blessed with unique collection of people specially created by God.’’
``The one Nigeria consciousness which has kept the nation together must be safeguarded.’’
The president said that it was a unique act of God that the country had survived a civil war and several other daunting challenges.
``The unity of Nigeria is indivisible and non-negotiable, we must remain the forward looking people that we are.
``I see a united, powerful and prosperous nation that will make the generation yet unborn very proud.
``Arise, we shall and prosper we will,’’ he said.
Jonathan, Buhari, a 120 year-old man from Zungeru in Niger state who witnessed the 1914 amalgamation and two children, representing the younger generation lit the centenary torch.
In a welcome address, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen.
Anyim pius Anyim said that in line with the directive of the President, the celebration would involve all Nigerians and its sponsorship would be wholly private sector driven.
He said that he was amazed at the response of Nigeria to support the celebration and make it strong, colourful and fascinating.
Anyim said that the centenary celebration would be used to replace pessimism with optimism to make the country rise above its challenges.
He said that the celebration would generate over 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Gowon described Nigeria as ``a unique nation, a nation of diverse, strong and hard working people.’’
He said that not many nations could survive 100 years of cohesiveness in-spite of the diverse nature of the nation and several challenges Nigeria had faced.
Unveiling the centenary logo, he declared: "May the emblem symbolise a rallying point for the unity of the nation.
``May it be a reminder of our, entity, unity and oneness of the nation which in not negotiable and serve as a symbol of peace, unity and prosperity.’’
Obasanjo recalled his 2003 national broadcast where he asked ``If you cannot love Nigeria and be positive about it and make contributions to its progress, then I should ask you what sort of Nigerian are you?’’.
He tasked Nigerian to remain focused in the quest for making Nigeria a ``humane, just and progressive’’ nation.
Obasanjo after the remarks presented the centenary theme: ``One Nigeria, Great Promise’’.
Speaking in same vein, Abubakar said that Nigeria was in the league of countries like, India, China, Egypt, Ethiopia and Amenia for surviving 100 years and more of co-existence in spite of daunting challenges.
He said that the nation should use the opportunity of the centenary celebrations to lay the foundation of a new nation.
``There is every reason to celebrate in songs and dances.
``One nation, indivisible Nigeria has come to stay,’’ he said.
Abubakar thereafter presented a centenary theme song titled: ``This Land, Celebrating 100 years of Nigeria" which was subsequently performed by a theme of notable Nigerian musicians led by Onyeka Onwenu.
NAN reports that Tambuwal launched the centenary web portal – ``www.nigeriacentenary.com.ng’’ while the Senate President launched the centenary lottery.
NAN reports that in a lucky dip a State House correspondent for Peoples Daily Newspaper, Abdurahaman Abdulraheem won an I-pad while another guest won a I-phone.