The year-long centenary celebration by the Federal Government has been lampooned by Lagos State Governor; Babatunde Fashola who questioned the rationale behind the jamboree. Fashola also vowed that the state government would defy any plan by the Federal Government to tax petrol through the FERMA Act.
Fashola who was speaking at a public lecture in commemoration of the 80th birthday anniversary of the former Federal Commissioner of Works and Housing, Alhaji Femi Okunnu yesterday, said:
“What is the historical benefit of celebrating the day and year that a colonial Governor General merged us together without consultation in a bondage that lasted 46 years; until October 1st, 1960.
“I raised this question because I really seek answers and understanding because we have never celebrated the amalgamation day or the 99th year of amalgamation. So did the centenary just become attractive?
“My worry today is that after we rolled out the drums in 2010 to celebrate 50 years of freedom from colonial rule; why then is the country celebrating amalgamation day? And this worry is heightened because I have been privileged to read the confidential memo by Lord Lugard containing the proposal on the amalgamation of Nigeria submitted in May 1913. It seems clear that the imperial interests were more of the compelling reasons rather than our interest.
“I think we should ask ourselves, which other African state has celebrated such an event or the Berlin Conference that balkanised our continent. What specific example are we setting for Africa?”
Fashola, who delivered a lecture entitled: “The Essence of Patriot and Federalist,” at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Lagos, also described the attempt by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, to embark on repair of the road the state was already rehabilitating as misplaced priority.
Present at the celebration were former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, former Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State and the former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who extolled Okunnu’s virtues and the role he played in the country’s development.