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Today in history

July 15, 1960 - the second reading of Nigeria Idependence Bill took place on this day at the British Parliament. Iain Mcleod, Secretary of State for the Colonies, who kicked off the reading also set the tone for discussions by describing the occasion as a happy one for the Parliament because Nigeria, being the most populous state in Africa and extraordinarily diverse in race, religion and socio-economic development, its progress towards independence as a model for the continent. He praised Nigerian leaders for choosing a federal of three self-governing regions and central control of security, defence and external affairs. On the two days Parliamentarians focused on the Bill, (reading continued on July 28), all the speakers were similarly effusive about Nigeria's progress and stature as a Western-style democracy in Africa even though they all expressed caution about Nigeria's independence being the "greatest transfer of responsibility within the British Commonwealth and Empire since the independence of India." There was above all, a prevailing sense of satisfaction, not self-congratulation, about the role of British administrators in shaping the country. What was completely absent was any sense of the seething strife that led to the imposition of emergency rule in Western Region, mass riots and the nightmare that started with the coup of January 1966 and ended with the Civil War in 1970.