The Federation of Nigeria became a sovereign independent state and ninety- ninth member of the United Nations less than two years ago. Our entrance into the arena of international politics marked an epoch in our history, made even more memorable by the good will and affection with which we were received from all sides. Everyone hailed the appearance of Africa's largest state. To the leaders and people of Nigeria, however, this event was also a grim reminder of the fact that, for the first time in our history as a single unified state, we now have to fend for ourselves, and to sustain and consolidate our unity and freedom. We have to give real meaning to this freedom by making it an instrument for a better and more prosperous life for our people.
But determined as we were to shoulder our internal responsibilities, it was our added task to demonstrate that democracy could work not only in our own country, but in the other parts of the continent, if there were a will and determination to do so. We have not shrunk from the belief that our greatest contribution to Africa and the world at large would be in the example we show of good sense and reasonableness in our approach to problems, and the projection of those qualities into our conduct of external relations.
National unity is, naturally, uppermost in our minds, as it is self-evident that planning and prosperity can thrive only in conditions of peace and orderliness. It is less than 50 years since Lord Lugard amalgamated into one country what were then the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria, and it was not until 15 years ago that a constitution was introduced which for the first time brought Nigerians from every part of the country into a common legislature. National unity has made remarkable progress since then; a feeling of common citizenship has developed and has been increasingly sustained by the challenge of independence. However, we have not trusted
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