Nigeria on Thursday commemorated the 60th anniversary of its independence under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the West African country.

As part of events commemorating the anniversary, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation from Eagle Square in the capital Abuja.

“Fellow Nigerians, let us collectively resolve to continue our journey beyond the 60 years on the clear understanding that as a nation we are greater together than being smaller units of nationalities. By the special grace of God, we shall come through any transient challenges,” Buhari said.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria gained independence from Britain on Oct. 1, 1960 under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary government and a substantial measure of self-governance for the country’s three regions.

Buhari said he is aware Nigeria’s economy, “along with every single economy in the world, is in crisis.”

He said in addition to public health challenges to contain the virus’ spread, Nigeria has suffered a significant drop in foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to a 40% drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60% drop in government revenue.

Nigeria has recorded 58,848 coronavirus cases, with 50,358 recoveries and 1,112 deaths in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Nigeria accounts for about half of West Africa’s population, with approximately 202 million people and one of the largest populations of young people in the world.

Nigeria is a multiethnic and culturally diverse federation which consists of 36 autonomous states and the Federal Capital Territory.

With an abundance of natural resources, it is Africa’s biggest oil exporter, and has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent, according to the World Bank.

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