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Nigerians Weigh in On a Proposal to Change the Country’s Name

For two weeks, federal lawmakers have been traversing the country collating citizens’ views to amend the constitution. The idea was to gather suggestions for amendments such as electoral reforms and the system of government. But Adeleye Jokotoye, a tax consultant, dropped something of a bombshell at the hearing in Lagos. He wants the name of the country changed as it was an imposition by Nigeria’s past colonial masters. The name Nigeria was suggested in the late 19th Century by British journalist Flora Shaw, who would later marry the British colonial administrator Lord Frederick Lugard. It is derived from the River Niger which enters the country from the north-west and flows down to the Niger Delta where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean through its many tributaries. Mr Jokotoye wants the name changed and his choice of United African Republic – to reflect the hundreds of ethnic groups that comprise the country – has blown a storm.