Nigeria marked her 56 years of independence only few days ago. Making it to another year in any endeavour, whether human or otherwise, is worthy of celebration and remarkably so, such celebrations are laced with fanfare and attendant milestones and accomplishments. Can this be said of Nigeria, the giant Africa which regrettably celebrates lamentation and hopelessness each year she graciously makes it to another year? So many countries, if not all sovereign nations, celebrate every year of independence with much of achievements to show while this probably is not the case with Nigeria at 56. The country is laced with signs and straits of a state not moving on a straight and smooth path but wobbling on undulating plains. The dreams of the founding fathers of Nigeria, no doubt, may be far from being realised more than half a century after she became a sovereign nation. This fact is undisputed if indeed dreams and self-fulfilment can come true and become actuality. Since 1960 when the country got her independence from British colonial rule, not much can be recorded as gains from the leaders and the country, except few steps forward and many wobbling feet backwards. True to type, Nigeria has been plagued by rhetoric, deceit and policy summersaults from her leaders, whether past or present. Save for the first republic parliamentary government, politicians and the key players, it cannot be said that the country recorded so much achievements in terms of development – economically, politically and socially. In all spheres, it was wastage, an unfulfilled dream of a growing entity. But to be fair to the first set of politicians, technocrats and bureaucrats, especially those of the Ziks, Awos and the Sardauna’s ilk who knew, perchance, their selflessness and pan-Nigerian disposition may have been the missing lines and the point where the country actually lost its radar and plunged into a directionless wilderness, coupled with long reign of darkness, despotism and military interregnum. It is to say the least that over 30 years of military rule in the country’s chequered 56 years of servitude accorded the country no good and this is not trite talk but a common place jargon that posit “that the worst civilian government is far better than all the military regimes put together.” Even though this assertion is arguable, but as a cleat fact, Nigeria as a country is still faced with the same challenges of wastages and lack of progress in democracy. Particularly, between 1979 till 1983, and from 1999 till date, the liberal system of government has not put the country in the right stead. Nigeria is still wobbling and shuffling, and disappointingly so, after over five decades of existence – with brazen poverty and citizens in despair and living on less than a dollar per-day – degenerated, dehumanised and displaced. As can be argued, the Nigerian nation is nothing but an entity full of ups and downs, galloping like sheep devoid of shepherds. A state identical with corruption, ethnic and religious bigotry, prides in kidnapping, terrorism and lately, the gradual genocide targeted at the innocent populace by herdsmen suspected to be of Fulani extraction, who kill and maim farmers on their farms and ancestral homes. Without
doubt, Nigeria can be described an absurdity. This is not an understatement or hype but just the way she is, awry. Though needles to take one administration after the other since 1960 to analyze their failures which far outweigh their achievements, what hope stares at us at 56? Incidentally, in a new administration of hope and change led by President Muhammadu Buhari, questions on how the country plunged into recession is a matter for another day but what matters is what went wrong with Nigeria nay our leaders such that everybody appears to have lost a sense of direction. We must interrogate this puzzle to find out where the mistakes were made, what is often wrong with the leadership and maybe the followership. Is it self-centredness, tribalism, secular jingoism or sheer politics? Whereas this harmful characteristic inhibits national cohesion and accomplishment, time has come to fashion out a nationalistic approach to solutions to the country’s problems, be it economic, social and political. Yet it is convenient to say that America with 200 year of democracy and historic development is a cynosure of eyes and a world class model worthy of emulation. Truly speaking, Nigeria does not need to be 200 years old both in democracy and as a nation to become a civilised country like America, if we do simple things like attitudinal change, embrace patriotism, shun corruption, nepotism, ethnic, religious bigotry. Nigeria can develop with her ideals, aspirations, whims and caprices of her founding fathers. If the current and future leaderships negate religious, ethnic chauvinism, politics of non-inclusiveness, reduce cost of governance, lead by practical examples rather than rhetoric, accept all Nigerians as one and serve the people as one entity, regardless of north, south, east, west dichotomy as noticed in previous and this current administration, this country can be great and at 56, she can begin again. If we are truly one in the way this administration was voted, then the Buhari administration may be the messiah. This administration can only salvage the country from the present economic, political and social recession and infrastructural deficit by being patriotic, incorruptible, firm, fair and equitable in the discharge of his duties. Buhari must be non-tribal, non- partisan. He must distance himself from despotism. The administration must be all-inclusive and all-embracing. Things can still turn around for good. It is not too late, there is time to begin again and pick the crumbs. If Singapore, Indian, Malaysia , Brazil , all once third world countries could launch all over again, who says Nigeria cannot begin again with sustainable health care delivery, good roads and rails, affordable housing, power, industrial growth, sustainable agriculture where youths, unemployed graduates, idling local government workers take to aggressive farming in all the 774 local areas in the country. Who says at 56 Nigeria cannot grow her own food and feed her teeming populace without importing rice, palm oil, groundnut oil, chocolate, bar soap and detergent. What can stop the country at 56 from manufacturing own cars and trucks with abundant work force, steel and seeming natural endowments. Must Nigeria continue to wobble? The answer is no, we can begin all over again at 56.