Nigeria marked its 51st independence day on Saturday, but instead of having the ceremony at the center of the capital, Abuja, it was held away from the center in the secure presidential villa.
In a speech by President Goodluck Jonathan, he assured the nation that the current spate of violence in parts of the country ‘will surely be overcome.’
According to him: “We condemn all acts of violence and declare that such acts of mindless savagery shall not be allowed to define our country. We will not be deterred. Our resolve is strong. Already, we are beginning to do things differently. I believe that integrity, honor, patriotism, selfless service and fear of God, must be the hallmarks of leadership at all levels.”
He also pledged to strengthen the economy and food supplies, and fight rampant corruption.
The heightened security around the ceremony, which included a military parade, came after a militia group this week threatened to attack the official celebrations.
On October 1, 2010, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, exploded two car bombs in central Abuja, killing 12 people. In an email sent to journalists, the group threatened a repeat attack this year.
Many residents left Abuja on Friday afraid of bomb attacks.
Nigeria also faces a growing threat from the Boko Haram Islamist group, which was blamed for an attack in August on the United Nation’s headquarters that killed 23 people.
Africa’s most-populous nation gained independence from Britain in 1960.
As Nigeria marks her 51st independence celebration, Jonathan said he was aware that a great number of people are joining hands with him and the Administration, in the great task ahead.
“I value all Nigerians. I see our youth who are looking for jobs and yet remain hopeful. I see the farmer, and fisherman, toiling everyday to earn a living. I see the teacher, working hard, to train our future generations, with much sacrifice. I see the market women whose entrepreneurial spirit helps to generate income for their children and families. I see our sportsmen and women training hard to bring glory to our nation. I see our resilience and commitment, as a nation, to defend our democracy and secure our future”.