Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (right), inspecting the Guard of Honour mounted by a detachment of the Nigeria Police, before the National Day Parade to commemorate the 54th Independence Anniversary of the country at the Police College , Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (right), inspecting the Guard of Honour mounted by a detachment of the Nigeria Police, before the National Day Parade to commemorate the 54th Independence Anniversary of the country at the Police College , Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Full Text Of Gov. Fashola’s 2014 Independence Day Speech


Dear Lagosians, today, the 1st of October 2014, we are once again celebrating the anniversary of our independence from British colonial rule. 

Today marks 54 (Fifty Four) years since Nigeria became an independentsovereign nation, following the germination of a seed that had been sown seven years earlier, when in 1953, Anthony Eromosele Enahoro introduced a private member’s bill demanding self-government.

For emphasis and clarity, let me repeat that by records and history Nigeria is 54 (Fifty Four) years old irrespective of what the centenary revisionists say.

We have never celebrated amalgamation day. We have only celebrated Independence day.

When our first Prime Minister mounted the podium on the 1st October 1960 he spoke to an independent and newly born nation. That happened 54 (Fifty Four) years ago, not 100 (One Hundred) years ago.

We can only imagine the exultant joy felt by our Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa when he said in his Independence Day Speech:-

“This is a wonderful day, and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience, compelled to watch one country after another overtaking us … when we had so nearly reached our goal.”

Indeed he mirrored the views of millions of Nigerians and echoed their thoughts.

When the British “Union Jack” flag was lowered for the last time and the green-white-green Nigerian flag was hoisted in its stead, the crowd went wild with jubilation, filled with high expectations of a greater tomorrow.

Independence Day soon became easily the most significant day in our national life, accorded a pride of place that was difficult to surpass.

Independence day became synonymous with the Governor or President in open-top cars inspecting Guards of Honour; beautiful parades; exciting fireworks and National Day Award ceremonies.

As a school boy, I remember struggling hard to get selected to march for my school in the National Day Parade, the endless rehearsals, and the keen anticipation of waiting to see if I would be picked.

There was no prize given and none was expected. It was enough that your school had participated. Bursting with pride, we would milk our success for weeks and months afterwards, wearing our school uniform with pride, basking in the recognition as we went to and from school in public transportation and displaying a sense of superiority over other less fortunate schools.

October 1st also became the day on which political batons changed, and elected officials handed over to their successors. A day for inspiring speeches and sober reflection on our growth as a nation. 

Such was the depth of our civic pride.

Today sadly, the excitement has waned. October 1appears to have now become a hollow ritual. The flame of national pride seems to flicker.

October 1 has regrettably become no more than just another work and school free day.

This is not how it should be.

I know that our teeming youth and children, who now form a sizeable proportion of our population, expect more from Nigeria on a day like this. And so it is to you that I dedicate my remarks on this 54th Independence Day.

What is the importance of a day like this? What does it mean to you? What should it mean to you?

All over the world, Independence Day anniversaries are celebrated with great fanfare, splendour, respect for the nation and a deep sense of patriotism.

In some countries, festivities leading up to Independence Day start up to three weeks earlier. Some hold Independence Day beauty pageants; some re-enact their independence, others play the National Anthem on the dot of midnight on all radio and TV stations. All, put country before self, at least for that day.

We should not be any different.

As I said on Independence Day in 2007; my first Independence Day Address as Governor-

“Irrespective of our varied political temperaments, the occasion of our nation’s independence should serve as a rallying point for renewing faith in her capacity for greatness and a platform for the rededication of those of us privileged to exercise authority to the most important responsibility of the sacred mandate bestowed on us – SERVICE TO THE PEOPLE.”

These are the values that inspired and motivated our founding fathers. In his historic Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa also said:

“Words cannot adequately express my joy and pride at being the Nigerian citizen privileged to accept from Her Royal Highness, these Constitutional Instruments which are the symbols of Nigeria’s independence. It is a unique privilege, which I shall remember forever, and it gives me strength and courage as I dedicate my life to the service of our country.”

Service to our country. Noble words indeed and the words upon which the foundation of our nation was built.

It seems to me that there is no better time to rekindle the flame of Nigeria’s promise than now.

We should reflect on Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa’s words and re-dedicate ourselves to the service of Nigeria.

We ought to see October 1 as a day to rekindle our national pride.

Being young Nigerians, you may well ask, how do I serve my country?

Let me answer by telling you about the Spirit of Lagos.

The Spirit of Lagos embodies all the values that should make us good citizens of this wonderful country called Nigeria.

The Spirit of Lagos is the embodiment of all things good about Lagos and Nigeria, and the lifeline that connects our glorious past with the bright future we all desire.

Having the Spirit of Lagos means having the understanding that we all have a part to play in the wellbeing of our country, by doing the right thing in every and any little way we can.

For example: by disposing of waste properly and observing basic rules of sanitation and hygiene, by obeying traffic rules and using pedestrian bridges, by offering a helping hand to the elderly, the young and the less able, by being honest and acting with integrity, by being safety and security conscious, by protecting public property because it is your own property, by being courageous and law-abiding, and setting good examples and by being considerate and looking out for one another – one for all and all for one.

That is the spirit of Lagos.

These were some of the values that coursed through our veins in Lagos and by extension, Nigeria, in what we commonly refer to as “the good old days”.

Nigeria of those “good old days” has not changed. It is us who have changed, and it is us who must again change.

Some of the changes that we need has already started happening. And this is why one of the things I would like to do today is to publicly acknowledge the heroic efforts of our health workers in the management of the Ebola epidemic.

Because of their service and heroism, we were able to declare Lagos State Ebola-free on the 18th of September, 2014.

I have heard some stories emanating from campaign podiums with claims of conquering Ebola.

The question we must ask is whether those who make these claims saw Ebola?

It is women like Stella Ameyo Adedevoh to whom such a claim rightly belongs.

It is young Nigerians like Dr. Morris Ibeawuchi, who first made contact with the index case patient and continued to treat him who saw and conquered Ebola.

He got infected, from doing his job, got sick, survived and is back to his job.

It is first responders from the Lagos State Ministry of Health like Dr. Jide Idris, Dr. Yewande Adesina, Dr. Wale Ahmed, Dr. Kayode Oguntimehin who saw Ebola.

They responded to the call from First Consultant Hospital. They spent 12 (Twelve) hours daily in the early days supervising the construction of Ebola containment facility when the epidemic broke.

The Lagos State Infectious Disease Hospital which later became the epicenter of Ebola management used to house tuberculosis patients and patients with infectious diseases.

Those patients vented their anger on these people when they had to be moved to create room for the Ebola centre. I know they spat at Dr. Adesina for doing her job.

Dr. Abdul-Salam Nasidi of the National Disease Control Centre in Abuja saw and conquered Ebola. He helped in no small way to co-ordinate the containment.

Dr. David Brett-Mayor of the World Health Organization saw and conquered Ebola. He single handedly started the Ebola isolation ward having cleared and cleaned the room. He admitted and cared for the patients before any Nigerian doctor joined him.

Professor S. A. Omilabu, the dedicated virologist at LUTH, saw Ebola and conquered it. He coordinated the fault free testing for Ebola and managed all the samples professionally.

Peter Adewuyi saw Ebola and conquered it. He led the contact tracing team of many dedicated officers for the first 2 (two) weeks.

Mrs. Funmi Lagbokun, Mrs. Modupe Aiyedun Davies, Mrs. Basirat Adeoye, Ms F. O. Bamgboye, Mrs. K. O. Oshisanya, Mrs. Kazeem Abioye, Mrs. Abiola Lasaki and Mrs. K. Adeshina all saw and conquered Ebola.

They were the dedicated team of nurses, nursing aid, care giver, health assistant and hygienist who commenced work voluntarily in the Ebola containment ward without any demand other than the sense of duty.

Yemi Gbadegesin and Abdulsalam saw and conquered Ebola.

They coordinated the de-contamination, removal and burial of the index case and other cases, and it is because of them that First Consultant can re-open for business.

Dear Lagosians, these were the people who saw and defeated Ebola. Let no person tell you otherwise.

These men and women, who showed courage, who risked their lives are our true champions and heroes.

They showed the spirit of service, the spirit of Lagos and the spirit of our “good old days”.

Nobody should take this credit away from them.

They are not celebrating because they know that the work is not finished. They are already working with our people and planning to volunteer to go and give help in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Their reward for hard work will be more work and they tell me that they are ready.

You and I also know that Dr. Adaora Igonoh, Dr. Akinniyi Fadipe, Mr. Dennis Echelonu and Mrs. Kelechi Enemuo also saw Ebola and conquered it.

They are the survivors whose stories you have read about. Whose anxiety we saw live, when they agreed to visit me in the office at the risk of stigmatization.

At great personal discomfort, they stepped out and forward, to help you and I find our feet. To re-assure us that all was well.

They saw and conquered Ebola.

Businesses like First Consultant Hospital, and hotels that have suffered cancellations and yet have not laid off their staff are the heroes of our Ebola experience, and we all must rally round them in the spirit of Lagos to help them get back on their feet.

Words will never be enough but bringing back those values they represent, will. This is the spirit that used to course through our veins; the spirit that made us the great nation that we are. And we can bring that spirit back. By changing our thinking.

How can you serve your country? I say, take the spirit of Lagos everywhere you go. From Badagry to Bayelsa; from Shomolu to Sokoto; from Epe to Ebonyi; Alimosho to Adamawa; from Lekki to Lafia; From Ikeja to Ijebu-Ode, all of us, Nigerians all should serve our country by changing our thinking and striving to give our best for collective benefit.

By making a conscious determination to changing the way we act. We can serve our country by doing something good and positive in our homes, in our schools and in our communities.

It doesn’t matter how little it is. Together it makes a whole. We can serve our country by pledging in our hearts to restore, share and protect our communities, our States and our nation.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will begin to celebrate ordinary Nigerians doing extra-ordinary things. And on a dedicated day in the near future we will come together to celebrate and honour our heroes, and hold them up as shining examples. Heroes recognised and chosen by you and I for the things they are doing for the benefit of others and the society at large without expectation of reward.

Let the arm bands you are wearing be a constant reminder to change your thinking. We will distribute wrist bands all over Lagos and beyond. Wear them with pride but more importantly, let them remind you to act with integrity.

As I have said before, I know that the temptation to focus on our failures and lament our national deficiencies is great. I know that the temptation to compare our achievements with our potentials and conclude that we could have done much better is perhaps inevitable. But I say to you the Nigerian youth, choose to take on a more positive attitude. It is a choice and that choice is yours.

Let us see the cup as half full rather than half empty. Let us thank God even for the mistakes of the past, from which we can learn invaluable lessons to face the future with hope. Let us count our blessings, address our weaknesses and harness our strengths, so that we can courageously turn yesterday’s shortcomings into tomorrow’s successes. Let us change our thinking.

Fellow Nigerians, next October 1, I will not have this opportunity to address you. The lot will fall on my successor. So while I have this opportunity, let us thank God for endowing us with undying faith in our innate capacity to fulfil our divine destiny as a people.

Let us patriotically reaffirm in our hearts that Christian or Muslim, we are one nation under God; that North or South, we are one indivisible nation; that PDP or APC we are all Nigerians and that what binds us together far outweighs what little divides us.

We will yet attain those great lofty heights we sing so gustily about in the 2nd stanza of our National Anthem. And it will happen in my lifetime. So help us God.

Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Governor of Lagos State

October 1, 2014

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