The evening of 10th October 1970: Celebrations at Albert Park to mark Independence earlier that day: Pictured are Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Mrs Amina Koya and Leader of the Opposition Siddiq Koya. Sitting on Mr S M Koya’s lap is his younger son Faizal Koya, now a Vice President of NFP.
The National Federation Party today paid tribute to the founding fathers of Fiji, hailing them as gigantic leaders who put national interest above everything else to negotiate Fiji’s Independence 47 years ago.
As we celebrate 47 years of our Independent history, it must not be forgotten that it was the NFP’s founding father and Leader of the Opposition Ambalal Dahyabhai Patel (A D Patel) and his successor Siddiq Moidin Koya (SM Koya), together with the then Chief Minister and later the first Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (Ratu Mara), who put aside their deep personal and political differences to give Fiji true nationhood and sovereignty.
A peaceful transition from 96 years of Colonial rule to Independence on 10th October 1970 and constitutional and parliamentary rule is a monumental achievement and above all a monumental achievement through genuine dialogue, consensus building, negotiation, resulting in unanimity amongst our founding leaders for Fiji’s future.
This fundamental principle is a cornerstone of NFP’s foundation. We have always achieved solutions to our national problems, which to many people may have seemed insurmountable, through genuine dialogue, goodwill, consensus and bipartisanship.
Independence, a thriving sugar industry that was Fiji’s economic mainstay for 30 years of our independent history and will still remain vitally important to the livelihood of some 200,000 of our people and the 1997 Constitution are a few but perfect examples of what can be achieved by working together.
We should not also forget the 14 years of our Independent history during which we were under military rule due to 4 military coups since 1987.
We should not also forget that the most important symbol of our nation following Fiji being granted its Instruments of Independence, our noble banner blue flag, would have been changed had it not been for the widespread opposition of our citizens.
Unfortunately, consensus, goodwill, dialogue and bipartisanship are missing from our national political landscape. We believe it is time to re-dedicate ourselves to One Nation, One Destiny just as we did 47 years ago.
Let us all remember the giant strides made by our country’s founding fathers and to hold true to the spirit of unity and understanding of our Independence because freedom, hope and glory is still ours if we grasp it.
Let us in the spirit of unity and harmony through genuine Talanoa, so ably demonstrated by our founding fathers, bequeath to our future generations a nation of boundless hopes, endless dreams and aspirations and above all a Fiji that once again becomes a symbol of genuinely united, harmonious and a beacon of hope.
God Bless Fiji
Professor Biman Prasad Pio Tikoduadua