Daily Trust - Independence: Zungeru, Baro and the story of forgotten colon
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Independence: Zungeru, Baro and the story of forgotten colonial headquarters

At the midnight of 1st October, 1960, a young Nigerian Army Officer, named Lt Col David Ejoor, lowered the British flag, the Union Jack and hoisted the Nigerian Green White Green Flag, signaling the beginning of self-rule.

By midnight of Wednesday, 1st October, 2020, Nigeria clocked 60 years of journey of nationhood.

In annals of the Nigerian history, one state that has remained indispensable is Niger State.

To begin with, apart from serving as a hinge that connects the south and northern part of Nigeria, the history of the creation of Nigeria, is weaved around Zungeru and Baro towns of the state.

Also, Niger State, no doubt has contributed immensely to the leadership development and dynamics of Nigeria.

Two illustrious sons of the state, Generals Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar both served as heads of state at strategic juncture of Nigeria’s journey of nationhood.

.As Nigeria clocks 60 years of Independence which signifies the commencement of freedom from the Colonial rule and the beginning of a sovereign nation, it is a landmark achievements that should not be overlooked.

However, the Nigerian story cannot be succinctly told without the mention of Zungeru and Baro towns.

Zungeru an ancient town in Niger State, North Central Nigeria is known to be the former seat of the colonial government in Nigeria, where the proclamation of the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 1914 was made by Sir Lord Fredrick Lugard.

The town is specifically located in Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State; Zungeru, the glorious past of Northern Nigeria and indeed the country, is surrounded by Tegina to the Northwest, Kagara to the North, Minna to the Northeast and Wushishi to the South. River Kaduna remains its faithful neighbour for years.

Zungeru played a prominent role in the political history of Nigeria as it functioned for 14 years as Northern Nigeria’s capital city.

It was also there that the name Nigeria was first proclaimed more than 100 years ago by Sir Lord Fredrick Lugard.

Hence it is the birth place of the nation called Nigeria.

The name “Nigeria” was coined by the British Journalist who covered Anti-slavery in Brussels and wife of Lord Lugard, Flora Shaw in 1897 during the colonial period.

Although the town was without trappings of modernity, electricity, tarred roads potable water, concrete buildings roofed with corrugated iron sheets etc., before the colonial rule as all these amenities and many more came with the colonial government but were however limited to the British quarters.

This formed the platform and the beginning of rapid transformation to modernity in Zungeru town.

Having tasted modernity more than a centenary now, and coupled with the fact that it is the nation’s cradle, the sleepy and serene linear settlement despite its past glory has been reduced to one of the many neglected villages in the country, lacking in basic social amenities.

Baro on the other hand, is also an ancient town in Agaie Local Government Area of Niger State, located 650 Kilometres up the Niger River.

The name Baro was coined from a Nupe word Gbaro which means “standing”.

The community is endowed with surface and underground water resources with lush vegetation that has remained a major attraction till date.

All these are critical and sensitive areas worthy of commanding the attention of the relevant federal authorities towards facilitating rapid growth and development of the entire state.

Alas, the state has not been receiving the motherhood treatment from the center of authority as expected.

It is worthy of note that successive federal governments had attempted to fast track development in these ancient towns and by extension, the state; the efforts which even saw the immediate past Administration at the centre embarked on ground breaking ceremony of 700 Magawatts Zungeru Hydro Electric Power Plant Project in addition to the three (3) existing ones situated in the state and the award of contract of the Baro Inland Port as well as the roads leading to the port.

The Zungeru hydro power plant is expected to create employment opportunities for an estimated 7,000 population after completion; the Baro Inland Port is also hoping to provide 2,000 direct and 2,500 indirect jobs to the people.

While the Zungeru power plant is expected to be completed in December, 2021, the first unit is expected to start power generation to the National grid in December, 2020

The completion of Baro Inland Port project on the other hand is yet to be sighted even as the federal roads that lead to the port and also link the port with other parts of the country which should have served as catalysts to the operation of the port are in bad shapes.

However, the facility is still lying dormant since its commissioning over one year ago.

With the situation getting bad, a book of remembrance was however opened for Zungeru town by the Governor Abubakar Sani Bello-led administration who amidst tremendous challenges demonstrated an uncommon leadership capacity by setting precedence of good governance according to people’s needs.

Knowing the significant role Zungeru played in the political history of Nigeria, the present administration saw the need to initiate projects that could help in bringing back the lost glory of the famous town after been abandoned for several decades.

Among the projects carried out by Sani Bello’s government in the ancient city is the recently completed 6.5km road project from Zungeru bypass to Zungeru main town.

The road project which was inspected and assessed by the state infrastructure, projects monitoring and implementation committee set up by the state government to monitor all ongoing infrastructural projects so as to ensure compliance with agreed terms between the government and contractors certified that the Zungeru road project meet the requirement of a standard road.

Another area of interest for the administration of Governor Sani Bello towards the residents of Zungeru is electricity.

While efforts are on to make the epileptic power supply in the town a thing of the past, the State Governor had appealed to the people to continue to be patient as government is resolute to once again develop the famous town.

Though with the efforts made by the present administration in Niger State, more needs to be done by government at all levels to bring back the lost glory of the two ancient towns in the state.

Beyond the rehabilitation of roads and commencement of operation at the Baro Port, provision of electricity at the port is also crucial to accelerate economic activities which would bring about the desired development of the town, even as the nation celebrates its 60th year of Independence.

And with the beautiful theme for this year’s Independence celebration as unveiled recently by the Federal Government thus; “togetherness” signifying that despite our religion, ethnic, social and political differences, we are still together. Government at the centre should therefore treat its birth town and state with renewed and redefined concerns.

Mary Noel-Berje is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger State

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Independence: Zungeru, Baro and the story of forgotten colonial headquarters

At the midnight of 1st October, 1960, a young Nigerian Army Officer, named Lt Col David Ejoor, lowered the British flag, the Union Jack and hoisted the Nigerian Green White Green Flag, signaling the beginning of self-rule.

By midnight of Wednesday, 1st October, 2020, Nigeria clocked 60 years of journey of nationhood.

In annals of the Nigerian history, one state that has remained indispensable is Niger State.

To begin with, apart from serving as a hinge that connects the south and northern part of Nigeria, the history of the creation of Nigeria, is weaved around Zungeru and Baro towns of the state.

Also, Niger State, no doubt has contributed immensely to the leadership development and dynamics of Nigeria.

Two illustrious sons of the state, Generals Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar both served as heads of state at strategic juncture of Nigeria’s journey of nationhood.

.As Nigeria clocks 60 years of Independence which signifies the commencement of freedom from the Colonial rule and the beginning of a sovereign nation, it is a landmark achievements that should not be overlooked.

However, the Nigerian story cannot be succinctly told without the mention of Zungeru and Baro towns.

Zungeru an ancient town in Niger State, North Central Nigeria is known to be the former seat of the colonial government in Nigeria, where the proclamation of the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 1914 was made by Sir Lord Fredrick Lugard.

The town is specifically located in Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State; Zungeru, the glorious past of Northern Nigeria and indeed the country, is surrounded by Tegina to the Northwest, Kagara to the North, Minna to the Northeast and Wushishi to the South. River Kaduna remains its faithful neighbour for years.

Zungeru played a prominent role in the political history of Nigeria as it functioned for 14 years as Northern Nigeria’s capital city.

It was also there that the name Nigeria was first proclaimed more than 100 years ago by Sir Lord Fredrick Lugard.

Hence it is the birth place of the nation called Nigeria.

The name “Nigeria” was coined by the British Journalist who covered Anti-slavery in Brussels and wife of Lord Lugard, Flora Shaw in 1897 during the colonial period.

Although the town was without trappings of modernity, electricity, tarred roads potable water, concrete buildings roofed with corrugated iron sheets etc., before the colonial rule as all these amenities and many more came with the colonial government but were however limited to the British quarters.

This formed the platform and the beginning of rapid transformation to modernity in Zungeru town.

Having tasted modernity more than a centenary now, and coupled with the fact that it is the nation’s cradle, the sleepy and serene linear settlement despite its past glory has been reduced to one of the many neglected villages in the country, lacking in basic social amenities.

Baro on the other hand, is also an ancient town in Agaie Local Government Area of Niger State, located 650 Kilometres up the Niger River.

The name Baro was coined from a Nupe word Gbaro which means “standing”.

The community is endowed with surface and underground water resources with lush vegetation that has remained a major attraction till date.

All these are critical and sensitive areas worthy of commanding the attention of the relevant federal authorities towards facilitating rapid growth and development of the entire state.

Alas, the state has not been receiving the motherhood treatment from the center of authority as expected.

It is worthy of note that successive federal governments had attempted to fast track development in these ancient towns and by extension, the state; the efforts which even saw the immediate past Administration at the centre embarked on ground breaking ceremony of 700 Magawatts Zungeru Hydro Electric Power Plant Project in addition to the three (3) existing ones situated in the state and the award of contract of the Baro Inland Port as well as the roads leading to the port.

The Zungeru hydro power plant is expected to create employment opportunities for an estimated 7,000 population after completion; the Baro Inland Port is also hoping to provide 2,000 direct and 2,500 indirect jobs to the people.

While the Zungeru power plant is expected to be completed in December, 2021, the first unit is expected to start power generation to the National grid in December, 2020

The completion of Baro Inland Port project on the other hand is yet to be sighted even as the federal roads that lead to the port and also link the port with other parts of the country which should have served as catalysts to the operation of the port are in bad shapes.

However, the facility is still lying dormant since its commissioning over one year ago.

With the situation getting bad, a book of remembrance was however opened for Zungeru town by the Governor Abubakar Sani Bello-led administration who amidst tremendous challenges demonstrated an uncommon leadership capacity by setting precedence of good governance according to people’s needs.

Knowing the significant role Zungeru played in the political history of Nigeria, the present administration saw the need to initiate projects that could help in bringing back the lost glory of the famous town after been abandoned for several decades.

Among the projects carried out by Sani Bello’s government in the ancient city is the recently completed 6.5km road project from Zungeru bypass to Zungeru main town.

The road project which was inspected and assessed by the state infrastructure, projects monitoring and implementation committee set up by the state government to monitor all ongoing infrastructural projects so as to ensure compliance with agreed terms between the government and contractors certified that the Zungeru road project meet the requirement of a standard road.

Another area of interest for the administration of Governor Sani Bello towards the residents of Zungeru is electricity.

While efforts are on to make the epileptic power supply in the town a thing of the past, the State Governor had appealed to the people to continue to be patient as government is resolute to once again develop the famous town.

Though with the efforts made by the present administration in Niger State, more needs to be done by government at all levels to bring back the lost glory of the two ancient towns in the state.

Beyond the rehabilitation of roads and commencement of operation at the Baro Port, provision of electricity at the port is also crucial to accelerate economic activities which would bring about the desired development of the town, even as the nation celebrates its 60th year of Independence.

And with the beautiful theme for this year’s Independence celebration as unveiled recently by the Federal Government thus; “togetherness” signifying that despite our religion, ethnic, social and political differences, we are still together. Government at the centre should therefore treat its birth town and state with renewed and redefined concerns.

Mary Noel-Berje is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger State

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