By Muhammad Al-Ghazali
What exactly is wrong with Nigeria, or rather, what truly is wrong with us, Nigerians?
The independence we cajoled the British to grant us in 1960 has not yielded the unbridled socio-economic progress and development our founding fathers thought it would.
If anything, we have contrived to ensure that we remain firmly in the grip of imperialism and under-development on a scale that suggests that even the quest for independence was a bad idea. The old excuse of sabotage by our past colonial masters was worth patronising but is no longer tenable.
India, like Malaysia and Singapore, were all former prized colonies of the British, but don’t even try to compare them with Nigeria today except you are prepared to shed a tear.
Today, more than 60 years after our so-called independence, the antecedents of our thieving elites and political class suggests that we have continued to wear the tag of a miserable Third World country with unqualified pride and justification.
Totally bereft of patriotism, the same leaders and elites invest their questionable fortunes to enrich the economies of nations that were behind us on promise and the development index at independence such as Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai! They see no hope in their own nation, or its long suffering people forced to bear the brutal consequences of their nauseating incompetence.
Under their callous supervision, the functional health, public school, and even the rail transportation system the British grudgingly bequeathed to us after using same to exploit our natural resources were allowed to collapse with unforgiveable nonchalance less than 30 years after their departure.
We were gradually subjected to the inevitable consequences of their collective failure at strategic reasoning, and our collective foolishness and embarrassing gullibility. Like sheep, we danced to every tune they played for as long as it was spiced with petty primordial sentiments.
Under their watch, our best students, much like our most prized doctors and and scientists, sauntered abroad and are now located in the United States, Canada, the UK and even South Africa, to name only a few.
Like the trillions stolen from the nation, our failure to build a prosperous nation devoid of greed in high places has placed their invaluable services and expertise at the disposal of our erstwhile tranducers.
Meanwhile, everywhere you look, unparalleled debauchery in the corridors of power, has now been matched with the celebration of rascals and erstwhile street urchins like Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and Asari Dokubo.
They have suddenly emerged as the new cultural icons for millions of Nigerians.
And the same elites welcome it because their activities provide a welcome distraction from rigorous interrogation of their collective stewardship which coincided with the brutal and primitive theft of our progeny.
One thing will always work for them. The serial gullibility of Nigerians will ensure that they escape any charges for their high crimes.
If the theoretical definition of leadership relates to the ability of “Leaders” to unite and harness the collective aspirations of diverse people towards the achievement of common strategic goals; our leaders think and reason in the opposite direction. It serves their narrow interests. They thrive in our disunity.
They are the reason why anarchists like Kanu and the other misguided separatists are able to their raise their ugly heads in their calls for the balkanization of the nation without questioning the misgovernance of the kleptocrats in their respective regions. The logic behind their actions is not rocket science really. They enjoy tacit support from irresponsible quarters. And like their not so hidden collaborators, they sneer at the big picture our founding fathers reflected on before our independence.
And while we continue to indulge the anarchists in our midts, Cuba, with a population that is less than 12 million, and a shoestring annual budget compared to ours, has produced its own indigenous COVID-19 vaccine.
Clearly, the argument that we lacked the critical technological backbone to produce vaccines of the same scientific value, and importance, cannot hold.
Cuba is still officially classified as a Third World country. Google it. I hate to use the other painful terminology that is used by the West to describe nations in the same category; which is a Banana Republic.
But am humbled and equally happy that in Cuba, at least, we can see the fruits of a collective vision and strategic direction, even if we mimick the West in sneering at its alleged poor human rights records. Cuba’s leaders have at least succeeded in the provision of basic health care for Cubans and also exported doctors abroad to both the Developed and underdeveloped nations at times.
And Cuba’s expatriate doctors do not belong in the category of economic migrants like their Nigerian counterparts which tells another pathetic story about our nation. Cubans seem to have higher self esteem. Most of their doctors working overseas are there based on bilateral agreements at the highest levels. They are usually placed on contracts for specific periods. Self esteem matters among Cubans.
The development of a functional COVID-19 vaccine by Cuba, which coincided with the time Nigeria, like the rest of Africa, waited on the West to come to their rescue with vaccines should not surprise us.
Even the version of the COVID-19 vaccine available to serve a fraction of our people is not even the preferred choice for Americans for instance! But what if they had refused altogether?
Who did this to us! How did a nation with a population of over 200 million – which naturally conferred the leadership of the black race on us – manage to so hopelessly under-achieve? How did we squander all the earnings that accrued to this nation in the past 60 years? Why have we have developed the unfortunate habit of borrowing from the Chinese in return for social infrastructure and technology that belongs to the past?
Do we even need any reminder that we must be the laughing stock of the world? What kind of people are we?
Certainly, our tragic history calls for deep and sober reflection. We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves.
I am equally horrified at what the future portents for our future generations if we proceed on the same trajectory.
I am a sad man this morning. Will the real Nigeria envisaged by our founding fathers please stand up!
Al-Ghazali is reachable via firstname.lastname@example.org