Nigeria is now to celebrate her 56th anniversary as an independent nation. Traditionally, every national anniversary brings with it reasons to roll out the drums in celebration. But across the country, the candid opinion of the citizenry is that there is nothing to celebrate in a country where the people are bogged down by several inadequacies. Nigeria – a place where nothing works, where political office-holders are there to line up their pockets with public funds, where graduates are wandering here and there with no job opportunities, where Boko Haram is having a field day; Niger-Delta Avengers are back to the creeks to bomb and vandalise our pipelines; where there is no security of lives and property; where fuel scarcity is becoming the order of the day and the only rich can afford to buy it; where the poor masses are down-trodden on daily basis. Such many are indeed wondering how they have survived the national rot for so long. As the October 1 date draws near, most Nigerians, rather than laying up celebration plans as it was the practice years back, are busy taking stock of their country’s journey from an optimistic point in 1960 to the valley of despondency it is at present.
Can a man be a toddler at 56? This is the question confronting Nigerians from all walks of life as the nation marks 56 years of independence from British colonial rule this Saturday. Though this is the longest run of civil rule in the country after the enthronement of democratic rule in May 1999, many ills still bedevil the sleeping giant of Africa 17 years on.
In the main, a family political system has led to the “selection” of incompetent ruling class that is bereft of ideas that can maximise the huge-but wasting–potential of Nigeria.
With an inept leadership, Nigeria, the seventh largest oil-producing nation in the world, massive corruption, insecurity, poor infrastructure (poor electricity supply, bad roads, and a moribund railway system for example), a dilapidating education and health system, have combined to leave Nigerians seeking redemption from their self-inflicted woes through several unorthodox means.
Indeed, assessing a country that has witnessed many military and civilian governments in her 56 years of existence cannot be a tea party. Nigeria has seen over 30 years of military regimes and a total of 26 years of civilian administrations. And while a total of eight soldiers had ruled the country, civilian administrations had produced only seven leaders. Interestingly, while the military rulers – Generals Aguiyi-Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammad, Olusegun Obansanjo, Muhammad Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sanni Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar – were believed not have impacted much on the growth of the country because they were soldiers whose regimes in modern language were termed aberration, Nigerians have not ceased to bemoan the reality of their faring badly under democratic administrations.
But for brief glimpses of hope demonstrated in the short-lived first republic manned mostly by nationalist figures, neither the administrations of Alhaji Shehu Shagari from 1979 to 1983, nor the eight years of Obasanjo as president, majority of Nigerians continue to submit that these administrations did not bring progress and positive change to the country. The four years of President Umaru Yar’Adua, categorised as a slow pace administration, only achieved amnesty given to the people of Niger-Delta region to reduce militancy in the region, and spent most of his term in Saudi hospital for medical treatment, and was eventually brought back to the country dead. The former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s six years in the saddle, critics argue, hold no promise of improvement, as it was characterised with influx of Boko Haram insurgents in northern part of the country who caused untimely death of many Nigerians.
The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari can be tagged as most unpleasant and unbearable for the people of the country with the way the costs of goods and services are sky rocketing, which is turning most responsible Nigerians to corporate beggars. Though the government’s promise of imminent change with the recently launched ‘change begins with me’ campaign which Nigerians are earnestly aspiring for.
But, they need to have it in mind that the patience and patriotism exhibited by Nigerians may not last for too long with the situation of things, as the people believe that the APC-led government is full of lies, deceit and propaganda. We need not to wait for too long before we see the change; Nigerians want to see food on their tables, have access to medical care and many more.
Indeed, it has been canvassed over time that the problem of the nation lies at the doorstep of bad leadership. Perhaps, for the exception of Nigeria’s first generation leaders in the class of the late Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahamdu Bello, nearly all who had subsequently held leadership positions, especially in the political realm, had been found wanting.
As the nation sets for her 56th independence anniversary, questions and more questions have cropped up. Has the country come of age? Is there need for celebration? Are there hopes of better tomorrow?
Attainment of 56 years as a sovereign nation is far more than attaining political age. Discreet analysts also frown at the level of infrastructure in the country in the last 56 years. In education, economy, sports, healthcare, agriculture, security and other socio-economic endeavors, it has been a long story of request.
Incidence of religious fanaticism, crisis in the Niger-Delta, political unrest, killings, maiming and kidnapping of innocent citizens in the country, nepotism, favouritism and the likes are the vices that easily spring up in the country at the snap of the fingers.
The nation’s political and electoral system is not what it’s supposed to be. There must be electoral reform in order to usher in stability in the polity. Economic development cannot be divorced from political stability. Nigerians must choose their leaders. Nigerian leaders are being imposed on the electorate.
Another school of thought has also questioned the nature of the nation’s unity since independence. Apart from series of religious and political crises, the country has between 1967 and 1970 experienced a 30-month civil war that resulted in the killing of many people of Igbo extraction. Interestingly, ever since after the war, and preachment of reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation by then leadership of General Gowon, the nation has not known true peace. This attestation can further be seen in the several agitations for a Sovereign National Conference, SNC, by perceptive political observers and analysts, which was after years of calls for such conference, organised by the Jonathan administration but later thrown into the dustbin by the new political vampires, all for their personal interests.
So, as the 56th anniversary begins, political commentators, analysts and other Nigerians look forward to the actualisation of the dreams and visions packaged by the founding fathers of this country. They also need to restrategise for a realistic improvement on the inherent inadequacies that have stood in the way of attaining peace, harmony, tranquility, progress and unity, in the first instance, and the accomplishments of all that needed to make room for true attainment of a Nigeria that would be the pride of all.
. Orunbon, a political analyst, writes from Ajanosi Street, Oke-Posun, Epe, Lagos State.

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