Today marks exactly 60 years since Nigeria got her Independence from the British colonial stronghold. The government has outlined programmes to commemorate this day, at least, to remind the nation about its checkered history. But what is not very certain is whether Nigerians are actually celebrating their independence this day.
Or are Nigerians throwing a street party with loud drums, singing, dancing and harmonious orchestra? The mood of the country at the moment is rather terse and frenetic. Nigerians are angry with government and labour leaders who failed to fight government on their behalf for bad policies and insensitivity.
At 60, Nigeria remains an adult toddler that has refused to grow as a result of a protracted pathological case. How can any society that has consistently failed to develop its abundant potentials grow into a virile nation in this fiercely competitive world?
Nigerian history is strewn with dramatic fatalities, absurdities and inexplicable vagaries. Since independence in 1960, Nigerian economy has continued to meander like a ship without a ruder on a stormy sea. As a nation, Nigeria is characterized by failed generations of leaders, repeated economic misdirections, collapsed national security, generic and endemic corruption, wobbling democracy, break down of rule of law, religious bigotry, ethnic jingoism, etc.
Is this the Nigeria of patriarchal dream of Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Albert Ikoku, etc, when they fought for Independence? Certainly no. These men were great outstanding mobilizers and managers of material and human resources. They were men of extraordinary vision and purpose. Inspite of their imperfections, they accomplished wonderful feats; they left tangible values and wealth enough to be remembered by history.
Some of these men brought development to the regions they had the privilege to administer, especially Awolowo, Azikiwe and Bello. In terms of solid foundation for economic, infrastructural and educational development, they shook hands with history. But at the moment, not a single legacy of vibrant socioeconomic edifices built by these legends across the regions is still standing and functioning.
Those invaluable assets have been squandered by avaricious and prodigal successive generations of leaders – civilians and military – who have no interest of the people they govern at heart.
The country has passed through turbulent seasons, including a civil war that almost destroyed the country. Though Nigeria has seen a few good times, but it has also experienced some of the lengthiest and painful seasons in human history under Aguyi-Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan, Sani Abacha, Abdulsami Abubakar, Obasanjo, Umar Musa Yar’adua, Goodluck Jonathan and now Buhari.
But is it not sadder that today’s Nigeria leaves little or no optimism at all for the future generation? What is the status of our country’s educational, health, agricultural, electricity, technological and democratic status in the comity of nations? Presently, university lecturers are still on strike; Nigeria has the highest number of infant mortality among countries in the world; suddenly, Nigeria is the global capital of hunger and poverty, all because of lack of sense of leadership mission.
This not as a result of COVID-19; it is simply because no one can give what he does not have. If not, why should Nigerians be subjected sundry multiple taxes and insensitive hikes of petrol and electricity tariffs at such a time like this?
Is it not a vicious circle of history that just like in 1983-1985, Nigeria is back to the days of food scarcity and poverty popularly christened “essential commodities”? National security is tipping off, economy is dwindling, the country is polarised along ethnic and clannish lines, there is a widening gap of disunity, wanton killings by insurgents, bandits, Fulani herders who want to claim all land by destroying any farm on the path of their grazing cattle, violent separatist agitations, etc.
However, all hope is not lost if the present government is willing and ready to run an inclusive and not an exclusive government. Let us use this auspicious moment to patriotically reflect on our essence as a people defined by common history; the only way out is to commonly agree and plan for the kind of future we all want or desire otherwise, it is not yet uhuru.
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