On Sunday (September 27), Nigeria began a week of celebrations to mark its tenth anniversary of independence with an open-air church service in the centre of Lagos.
On Sunday (September 27), Nigeria began a week of celebrations to mark its tenth anniversary of independence with an open-air church service in the centre of Lagos. Head of state Major-General Yakubu Gowon and other Nigerian leaders attended the service in Tafawa Balewa Square, where most of the week's activities will take place.
The Federal government has proclaimed a three-day public holiday beginning September 30 and has announced it will grant one month's salary in advance to all government workers.
A military tattoo on the evening of September 30 will highlight the celebrations, and a massive military parade will take place on Independence Day, October 1.
Workmen were out in force in Lagos for days before the celebration, preparing the capital for the arrival of dignitaries from all over the world. About 20 heads of state are expected, and more than 30 countries will be represented.
At the racecourse, new grandstands were erected, road signs were freshly painted and large signs erected in the national colours of green and white proclaiming in three-foot (one metre) high letters "One Nigeria", the theme of the celebrations.
The main bridge linking the city with the international airport at Ikeja was recently re-painted, and roadworks were rushed through to alleviate the usual heavy congestion on the 16-mile (24 kms) route.
Volunteers with rakes, shovels and brooms have been titying streets in response to a state government campaign to "Keep Lagos Clean".
To help accommodate the extra number of visitors during the celebrations, a 5,500-ton Greek cruise liner was chartered to be used as a floating hotel. The government also bought a large fleet of green-and-white painted cars for visitors' transport.
In other parts of the country similar festivities -- including tattoos, fireworks displays and parties -- will take place in state capitals.
A "Flame of Liberty", lit in Lagos, will return to the capital at midnight on September 30, after being taken on a 3,000-mile (4,800 kms) tour of the country's 12 states.
This is the first time Nigeria has marked Independence Day since the 30-month civil war broke out in July, 1967.