By Etuka Sunday
Nigeria is a nation blessed with both human and natural resources, and that calls for celebration. However, in order not to celebrate mediocrity, an assessment of the present must be done with the past achievements. That would place us in a better position to properly evaluate our progress as a nation.
If we are to be guided by history, the contributions of Dr Nnandi Azikiwe, Chief Obefemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and others would ever be remembered in the freedom we celebrate today as a nation.
Going deeper into the history, before the colonial era, our people were at peace. Nigeria had various Kingdoms that occupied different parts of the country.
However, the British came with their military might to take over the Kingdoms and tried to unify them for their own personal aggrandisement. Our native leaders objected to that initially because of the way of life and foreign culture that was introduced, but they later succeeded in 1914 by subjugating them with their superior firearm.
In 1960, October 1 to be precise, independence was granted and Nigerians were happy. But shortly after the independence, crisis ensued. It was about who controls the power. From there, the political wills of the country erupted, and that led to the Military take over.
Like the Israelites of old, no sooner were they freed from the land of slavery that they designed and worshiped the ‘Golden Calf’ as the God who brought them out of the land of Egypt-a replica of the Nigeria experience.
The Military came and refused to go back to the Barracks. It was a question of dominance. So, there were coups and counter coups among the Military top hierarchy.
However, on the 27th of May, 1999, democratic system of government was reintroduced. First, Second, Third and Fourth year were gone yet, the dividends of democracy was not experienced because of corruption. As a result, Nigerians were disappointed.
Just like Olumide Lawal once puts it, “democracy in Nigeria means a different thing entirely. Here, it is a government of the people but not for the people…it is democracy fought for and won with the blood of thousands of innocent Nigerians, but the dividends of which are now the exclusive preserve of the privileged few who contribute nothing to its emergence.”
What we have today in Nigeria is a politics of deception. During elections, Nigerians are deceived with empty promises by the leaders to get their votes. But once they are voted into power, they quickly forget their promises and display affluence with growing poverty, misery, and degradation among the mass of Nigerians. Consequently, Nigerians have lost hope on their leaders.
After 54 years of independence, the ‘Giant of Africa’ has not found its feet on development. That shows that Nigeria is still in search of leaders, not rulers. Leaders with unquestionable credentials, cerebral in articulation and are brave enough to lead the country to prosperity.
The present day corruption, terrorism, killings in whatever disguised names, unemployment, fallen standard of education, poor electricity rationing instead of supply, lack of potable water and incessant strikes are clear indices of underdevelopment in Nigeria.
The worst is that, none of the leaders can boast of clean hands when it comes to financial dealings. Admittedly, Dr. Reuben Abati once wrote that, “Governance in Nigeria is still about what you can steal for yourself or what you can help other people to steal on your behalf. …the easiest way to become a millionaire in country is through government.”
To be fair to this government, little improvements have been recorded in some sectors like Power, Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Roads, Aviation, Housing and recently Health. But, rather than celebrating mediocrity, the leaders should direct their energies to other sectors that are far from starting.
Again, Nigeria will be celebrating without some of its citizens-the Chibok girls which will be a minus to the leaders. Additionally, it was reported that more than 5,000 civilians were so far killed by Boko Haram between July 2009 and June 2014 which should be of serious concern to any government in power.
Just as Rev. Fr. Anthony Efeturi Ojakaminor in his book ‘Nigerian Ghana- Must- Go Republic’ said, “using the journalists to judge the performance of government when the right thing to do would have been to know from the people whether the projects impacted on their lives is a misapplication of common sense”.
Some leaders must be escorted home to have a face-to-face talk with the people they claimed they are representing, to know rightly whether some of the projects that were advertised on Radios and Televisions were truly executed.
However, posterity would definitely not judge in favour of some leaders. Even the children yet unborn would be told of their greed and how they contributed to the underdevelopment of the country.
Obviously, Nigeria is blessed by God. But since one is not God, one is justifiably ignorant of divine rituals and judgments. However, one thing is clear, one is not satisfied with the level of development we are experiencing in Nigeria, and that is the position of God.
Although, nation building has not been easy for us as a country because of the traumatic episodes we have passed through, but all hope is not lost, we can still make things right. We must be bold and ready to remove all square pegs from round holes during coming elections.
Because, when you have square pegs in round holes, financial crimes, unemployment, militancy, hostage taking, religious unrest, institutionalised killings, corruption, election malpractice, insecurity and economic decay is the result.
The government if not having perennial shortage of ideas must be wise enough to dedicate this year’s independence anniversary to those who sacrificed their lives for the unity of this country.
Again, if this administration must remain relevant, then it must be ready to fight the current insecurity challenges to a standstill. More so, the power revolution promised Nigerians must not be politicized, or used as lip service or used to impoverish Nigerians through high tariffs. We look forward to a better Nigeria after 2015 general elections. God bless Nigeria!