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Nigeria marks 60 years of independence amid COVID economic woes

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari called for national healing as the country celebrated 60 years of independence on Thursday.

He said Nigeria was “bound by destiny to be the largest and greatest black nation on earth” but it faces major economic and security problems.

“Today, we grapple with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200 million,” Buhari, 77, said.

“Our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.”

Six decades since independence from Britain, there’s been coups a deadly civil war and a 30-year military dictatorship.

Today, Africa’s biggest oil producer has been battered by the global economic fallout from the pandemic and the drop in crude prices.

Nigeria’s north, meanwhile, is plagued by a deadly insurgency and almost half the population is believed to live in extreme poverty.

Britain’s divide-and-rule strategy also continues to pit regions and ethnic groups against each other.

Buhari is facing popular discontent, especially after his government recently scrapped a petrol subsidy.

“We need to begin a sincere process of national healing, and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions.”

Buhari first ruled Nigeria as a military leader in the 1980s.

But he has failed to make good on pledges to uproot corruption and end insecurity since he was elected in 2015.