Saturday, October 01, 2005

NIGERIA AT 45


Happy 45th Independence Anniversary to Nigeria and I greet all my fellow compatriots at home and abroad. Let us keep the Nigerian flag flying in flying colours in love, peace and unity.

Below is a modified version of the editorial from The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria, the flagship of modern journalism in Nigeria.

Nigeria at 45
ANOTHER Independence Day Anniversary is here, as Nigeria marks that glorious day of October 1, 1960, when she successfully established herself as a sovereign, independent country. Considering that the country had been under British colonial rule for a couple of hundred years or so before then; and that full independence was not obtained without a committed fight and a lot of sacrifice by our nationalists, another Independence Day is worthy of celebration and proper commemoration. The realities of the country however, as reflected in the political, economic and social conditions are not exactly in favour of such celebration.

Without mincing words, Nigerians are worse off today than they were on October 1, 1960. The quality of the average Nigerian life is drastically reduced and ranks among the lowest in the world, going by international yardstick provided by global organisations including the recent World Bank report that classified Nigeria as the second poorest country in the world. Yet this is a country abundantly blessed in natural resources including large expanse of arable land, varied and enviable climate and huge, potentially productive population.

Added to this is the fact of her being the sixth largest producer and exporter of crude oil in the world. That fact alone should ordinarily put the country in the league of the world's richest countries. Unfortunately, the opposite is what we have to show for it. For these reasons, therefore, Nigeria's 45th Independence Anniversary should be an occasion for sober reflection; a time to look inward and ask: What went wrong? More importantly, to seek to halt the creping lawlessness and anarchy in the society including government.

Forty-five years in the life of a country is a short period by general standards. But it is long enough for a focused nation to count its blessings, identify its current obstacles and pursue reasonable solutions with set objectives. The major problem with Nigeria is that forty-five years on, we do not seem to have started the work of nation building. What is even more lamentable is that practically all the infrastructural and institutional development achieved during and immediately after the colonial administration have been destroyed.

The legacies of our founding fathers have been replaced by visionless policies derived from selfish, greedy interests and foisted by corrupt and inept rulers who have not the faintest idea of what leadership is about. Take for instance the issue of public transportation. In the immediate post-colonial days, this was solidly reflected in the efficient operation of the railways, which network connected the vital corners of the country and provided cheap means of transportation for goods and human beings. Today, the railway is dead and needs a whopping $5 billion to resuscitate it. This situation would not have arisen if government had not neglected the sector over the decades. We can tell similar tales of woe in respect of development of agriculture, infrastructure, education and health sectors as well as a dozen other areas.

Governments at all levels in the country are traditionally inclined to enumerate their perceived achievements during Independence Anniversary days. They spend hours making long statements to praise themselves and to highlight what in real terms constitutes only marginal growth with almost imperceptible positive impact on the populace. Much as we recognise the difficulty in successfully governing a country with Nigeria's multi-dimensional, multi-ethnic and diverse-interest background, we believe that the country's rulers have taken their subjects for a ride for too long. It was easy for us to blame military aberration of the past for much of our national follies. Undoubtedly, the military did a lot in destroying the political, social and economic fabric of the society. Heaping all the blame on them is however no longer tenable.

Six years into the present civilian administration, the politicians have been compounding the problems inherited from the military. The present rulers are not behaving like democrats, as they want to have their say and their way at all cost. The spirit of politics is that of winner takes all. Political parties and groups, including the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) operate in rancour and treachery with greedy intention. Intra-party relationship is mired in envy, hatred and ego trips that have been manifesting in character and physical assassination. These are not progressive ideals. They cannot take the country to the dreamland envisioned by her founding fathers. Politicians must search themselves and put their house in order.

Perhaps the major dividend of democracy that has taken place in the last six years is improved observance of human rights. This has reflected for instance in enhanced freedom of expression of citizens. Sadly, government officials who frequently disregard the expressions and instead, implement anti-people policies have rendered that freedom nugatory. A raging example is the incessant increase in prices of petroleum products in the name of deregulation and appropriate pricing. It is noteworthy that this time last year, workers were on the verge of embarking on a national strike over a 25% increase in fuel prices. Now workers are on mass rally over a similar increase. Freedom of expression that does not translate into improved quality of life for the ordinary citizens is no freedom at all. Failure by government officials to bring the dividends of democracy and good governance to people's doorstep is fraught with danger that may imperil the democracy itself.

And instead of catering to the interests of the long suffering Nigerians, our leaders openly pursue their selfish agenda and seek to foist same on the whole nation. For instance, the President and Vice President are locked in a fratricidal battle on the direction the country should take in 2007. Never before in our history have we witnesssed such a dangerous theatre of the absurd. The only persons who do not see the disgraceful conduct and the threats they portend for the entire polity are the combatants themselves. In the event, they have opted for anything but due process in seeking to unseat or unsettle each other. Such lawlessness is condemnable and must stop in the interest of this country. For, what would such leaders be celebrating as they stand to take the salute at the independence anniversary parade tomorrow?

The Nigerian people have been patient. They have been courageous and persevering. They certainly deserve better treatment than the poverty and hopelessness to which they have been subjected. They deserve praise for their endurance and resilience. But they also deserve to partake in the dividends of democracy and good governance. This thinking, rather than any expensive or elaborate ceremony ought to dominate the thoughts of anyone in position of leadership on this occasion.

In conclusion, I appeal to all my compatriots who are true patriots. To eschew all forms corruption and self-destruction indoors or outdoors. Let us protect, preserve and save the values of our sovereignty and uphold the unity of Nigeria.
Let us join hands together in love, peace and unity for the nation building of a New Nigeria in the leadership of Africa among the comity of nations in the world.

5 comments:

diakim Online said...

Happy New Independence Anniversary. I pray that the Almighty God will visit and heal our nation.

T. Willie said...

Happy New Independence Day. 45 years is not so very old for a country. Growing pains are difficult yet neccessary. No country makes that transition gracefully. It is my fondest hope that your nation will be able to move past them and allow it's citizens to flourish.

Thanks for the comment. We have family friends in Ghana. Small world:-)

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

Thanks be to God.

God bless.

Nneka's World said...

To improve situation of that country will need divine intervention and also people who are not afraid of the rulers. Yes nigerians are very enduring, infact we are is it the first or second enduring country in the world, but our killer is that we love money too much than making our nation great.
Are these people not ashamed of the state of the country, the dirt, disease, economy, people, transportation,hospitals,education,roads to name but a few. The leaders travel out cant they emulate what they see in the western world. Okay lets just say that corruption will never be wiped out, but atleast make Nigeria a nice place to be in, repair the roads, provide good health care, transportation system,a decent education system where the students know that they get in due to hardwork and not by paying lecturers off, pay the civil servants on time so that it will reduce the corruption. What Nigeria needs is someone who is not afraid to say no, listen to views and also be a good leader, not greedy, cause that is why our nation is like that, can you imagine, 45years on and we have actually gone backwards not foward, who has heard of that! I went to buy food on friday and the man behind the counter asked me where was i from i said, Nigeria, do you know what he said, he said hmm you guys are the richest country in africa! I was like even these people know it, i said we are rich but there is nothing to show for it. I dont like politics, at all, but maybe a few years down the line, i may contribute to making nigeria a better place to be in, starting with the roads.

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

Nne,
Our corrupt rulers who have been to Western countries would rather migrate to these countries than emulate them. That is why they steal our money to buy mansions in America and Europe and also to send their children and mistresses to top colleges and universities in the West and to continue the vicious circle of their evil tyranny of corruption.

Well, you could prepare to contest for the senatoral seat of your local government area in Nigeria and I will give you all my support to succeed.

Until power changes hands from the powerful to the powerless, Nigeria will remain in the state of abuse of power.