Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, at the weekend disclosed that most Nigerian pre-independent leaders were not prepared for independence when the British government granted it to them in 1960.
Yakassai stated this in Benin, Edo State, at the 90th birthday celebration of the Esogba of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri.
He noted that although Nigeria has achieved political independence, but it is yet to attain economic independence, which he said Chief Edebiri proposed immediately after attainment of independence.
“We fought for Nigeria to be independent. Unexpectedly, Britain agreed in 1957 to give us independence in 1960, but most of our leaders were not prepared [for independence], because we didn’t expect that they will grant it.
“So, we sat down and said after independence, what next? Edibiri then said after political independence, we should fight for economic independence. But, unfortunately, we have not achieved that,” Yakassai said.
He, therefore, stressed the need for Nigerians to fight for and sustain the fight for the unity of the country in order to achieve economic independence, so that the nation could be as economically rich as any other country in the world.
“We will continue to fight for the unity of the country because without unity we are nothing. United States of America is great in the world today because of its population and large territory which only Nigeria has in African. So, we have to fight for unity, otherwise, we will not achieve what we are looking for.
“Nigeria is the biggest market in African, with a population of 200 million people. We should make sure that the market serves the interest of our people, and that is the struggle ahead of us.
“We started it after the independence, but could not hold far because the military scuttled it. So we will continue the fight till this is achieved,” he said.
Yakassai described Chief Edebiri as a man who believed in the unity of the country and few Nigerians alive today that fought for the independence of the country.
On his part, Chief Edebiri, who commended Nigerians for gracing his birthday celebration, assured that he would continue to fight on the side of truth and unity of the country.