Nigerian story not complete without Queen Elizabeth – Buhari

Nigerian story not complete without Queen Elizabeth – Buhari

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday, received with immense sadness news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth ll of the United Kingdom. He also condoled with the Royal Family and Great Britain over the loss of the longest reigning monarch. Buhari’s condolence message is contained in a statement signed late Thursday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled ‘President Buhari mourns the demise of the Queen of England.’ Queen Elizabeth II of England died at the age of 96 on Thursday at Balmoral Castle, the United Kingdom.

According to an official release by the Royal Family, the queen was said to have died peacefully. In his condolence message, the President said “My family and I, and the more than 200 million Nigerians have learned with immense sadness of the passing of the Queen and the end of her unique and wonderful 70-year reign. Her late Majesty was the only British Sovereign known to 90 percent of our population. “Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom and the entire Commonwealth as we join the entire world in mourning her loss. “The story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll, a towering global personality, and an outstanding leader. She dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth, and the entire world a better place.” Buhari also welcomed the heir to the throne, King Charles III saying, “Your Majesty’s ascension to the throne in line with tradition and prays King Charles the Third’s reign will witness the continuing robust and sisterly relations between our two nations.”

The 96-year-old monarch breathed her last on Thursday, September 8, 2022, after spending 70 years on the throne. The deceased was the world’s longest reigning monarch after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of  Thailand in 2016. Elizabeth was an iconic monarch whose era witnessed the liberation of many countries from the grip of British colonization to independence. As Nigerians join Britain to mourn the Queen’s passing, Pulse recalls a time when Elizabeth held the title of ‘Queen of Nigeria’ and the event that led to that title.

Nigeria’s Independence: One of the sweetest memories the Elizabeth era brought to Nigerians was the nation’s independence in 1960. Prior to that time, the colony and protectorate of Nigeria were being run by the British Empire which had Queen Elizabeth as the head. On October 1, 1954, the British Empire designated the Federation of Nigeria, but it remained a quasi-federal British colony until it gained independence within the Commonwealth of Nations on October 1, 1960. Nigeria’s independence was pronounced by the Parliament of the United Kingdom’s Nigeria Independence Act 1960. By this virtue, Nigeria was one of the realms of the Commonwealth that shared the same person as Sovereign and Head of State. This implied that, even though Nigeria had been presented with the Freedom Charter in 1960, the British retained a significant influence in the nation’s administration, which cuts across law-making and other important decisions.

Queen of Nigeria: As prescribed in the Nigeria Independence Act 1960, no British government minister could advise the sovereign on any matters pertaining to Nigeria, meaning the monarch only took advice solely from Nigerian Ministers. On the advice of the then Prime Minister, Tafawa-Balewa, Queen Elizabeth appointed Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, as President of the Nigerian senate and Governor-General, and the latter represented Her Majesty in the Federation. The monarch, the Senate, and the House of Representatives constituted the Parliament of Nigeria but all executive powers of Nigeria rested with the sovereign. All Nigerian bills required Royal assent which would be sought by the Governor-General. The monarch held her sovereignty by virtue of her “Nigerian Crown”, and acted on the advice of the Nigerian Government, which makes her the ‘Queen of Nigeria.’

The change: The government of Nigeria was officially known as Her Majesty’s Government. The system became so unpopular among Nigerians that all the political parties advocated for a change and agreed that the country should be a republic. Elizabeth ceased to be the ‘Queen of Nigeria’ on October 1, 1963, when the Federation of Nigeria became the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

chibueze Umeokolo

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