Although millions of Nigerians have wondered if there was indeed anything to celebrate about Nigeria hitting the 50 years mark.
Yes, millions of Nigerians have for months questioned the huge amount of money set aside for the celebration of what amounted to them as a non-event against the backdrop of mounting external debt, infrastructural decay and sundry failures in the system- Nigerians had expressed their reservations about the entire celebration.
But they couldn’t have imagined anyone expressing their opposition to the celebration in the very violent manner that we all witnessed on October 1. Nigeria was suddenly cast in the light of an unsafe territory, one of those countries in Asia or the Middle East in the firm hold of terrorists.
That the bombs went off so close to Eagles Square says something of the daring confidence of those who planted the bombs. There couldn’t have been any doubt they wanted to make a statement, made it and very loudly too.
They could well have detonated their lethal devices in the very heart of the elaborate parades going on at the time of the attacks, they would appear to be saying.
Or, if they so wished, they could have walked right into the parade venue and launched an attack right in the presence of the foreign guests invited to the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Then would we have had a playback back or replication of the sort of attack that ended the life of Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president that was assassinated in 1981 in the wake of the 1978 agreement he signed with Israel. Sadat was killed by a soldier right on the parade ground.
But planners of the Eagles Square attack mercifully spared us the scandal, to say nothing of the tragic enormity, of such attack. But nevertheless, their coming so close to the venue of the celebrations to launch the attack must have been enough to scare the wits out of the foreigners who, unlike some Nigerian politicians, knew they had not been declared persona non grata in their different countries and could well go back home.
And so home many of them returned not minding the ECOWAS regional meeting that was to have held in Abuja and at which many of them had been expected.
President Goodluck Jonathan was abandoned to handle that part of the matter alone. But the curious thing about the whole attack was the announcement of it and how that announcement was received.
I first heard it as breaking news on African Independent Television (AIT), the television arm of the media ‘behemoth’, owned by Raymond Dokpesi, Director General of Ibrahim Babangida’s campaign team.
AIT had broken into its transmission of the Golden Jubilee celebrations to make the announcement. Initial report said that five people died, among many more that were injured. Current reports put the number of dead at between 10 and 18, including civilians and security personnel.
What appeared like normal news report would take a curious twist several days later when Raymond Dokpesi would be detained by the State Security in connection with the Eagles Square attack.