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Published On: Mon, Oct 5th, 2020

Nigeria At 60: A moment of joy or moment of sober reflection?

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By Muhammad Sagir Bauchi

Nigeria is a country located in the West Africa Region, with an estimated population of about over 200million people.
Prior to 1914, the state is divided into several regions, before the colonial masters merged it into a single state. The country got herself free from the grip of its colonial masters in 1960 and became a republic in the year 1963.
Nigeria as a nation, witnessed a civil war that consumed lives of thousands of it’s citizens, the war was fought by the agigators of Biafran State from the extinction of Igbo rank and file of the state military institution and it’s tribesmen.
As a nation, the country witnessed the rise and fall of successive leaders that emerged through democratic setting and rulers from military junta. Some where overthrown, while some answered the call of their lord while in office.
Despite all the odds, the state witnessed a lot of developments that weren’t in existence prior to the independence. Amongst the appreciated development was the workers movement of Hassan Sunmonu, the first indigenous president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in 1978. Prior to that, there was no standard national minimum wage in the country, but that indigenous workers union struggle led to adoption of #125 as the minimum wage by the then Shagari led administration in 1981.
A decade later, another round of negotiation in 1989/90 took place, then the NLC President was late Pascal Bafyau. Negotiations with the government was conducted with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who happened to be late Bafyau’s deputy as the head of NLC negotiation team. The discussions resulted in minimum wage pay rise to N250 per month.
Increment of workers minimum wage continued periodically with successive labour leaders, until the it reached N18,000 and presently, to N30,000.
Of its education sector, most of its universities and other tertiary institutions were established after the independence. These institutions gave rise to the birth of western education educated intellectuals in various fields, today, they are occupying all the levers of governance.
Therefore, as there are a lot to cry for the present under development of the state, there are a lot to celebrate which came after the independence.
A question that is well bedded in the minds of many citizens is that, what are the causes of these underdevelopment, is it a continuous poor leadership or unsupportive/ungrateful proletariats?
Answers to these questions requires a lot of time and space to explain, but this short article will summarise them without been bias.
In European and other developed countries, leadership is a burden, and leaders are elected to serve the masses, but in our case, leadership is a privilege and a means to live above the law. And also, leaders are elected to enslave the citizens. Leaders use the national wealth (cake) to enriches themselves, their family, and their cronies, leaving the overall majority of citizens in abject poverty and lacking in basic amenities of life. Few among these leaders are enrolling their wards in government-owned public schools, they mostly send their children abroad for elementary and tertiary education to acquire qualitative education. Even the tiny fraction of these leaders children that are studying here at home are studying in high-cost private schools that, are either owned by the leaders themselves, their elitist friends, or foreign affiliated schools.
Corruption, nepotism, and lack of patriotism are the major ills of the Nigerian leaders.
In a country where masses normalized selling their votes to elected leaders during election seasons for a meager amount due to the abject poverty they are forced to live with, how does one expect leaders to think about making a positive impact in transforming the state into a great and prosperous one? Capitalism is all about profit maximization and by their nature, most of our leaders lean towards capitalism. Therefore, they used the little they give in order to have the opportunity to attain power, to get access to the state coppers in order to enrich themselves, and to recovered what they spent during their political journey to power at the expense of their subjects and the helpless state.
However, had it been that the masses wuld seriously reject this bad governance and sincerely demand good governance, reject that meager amount of vote-for-cash incentive and hold their leaders accountable for their stewardship, surely, our politicians would be mindful of their corrupt practices and change for a better tomorrow.
In a state, where numbers of out of school children and dropouts are outrageously alarming, youths are abandoning their educational pursuit in droves to engage in all sort of crimes and terrorism to make a living, how can such a nation move decently to prosperity?
Lately, during a presidential national speech marking the 60th independence anniversary of the state, the Nigerian President in the course of defending his government’s recent decision to abolished the petroleum pump price subsidy and price hike, he made a comparison between some African and Non-African states petroleum pump prices. To some extent, the president is right to make a pump price comparison between states that are oil-exporting economies, but his scriptwriting team is either too out of touch with reality or ill-informed about such indexes: standard of living, infant mortality rate, death rate, GDP and Per capita income of these compared states, which in no way they can be compared to Nigeria due to a wide disparity!
Saudi Arabia, which is an oil-producing (the biggest) and also a member of the world 20 states with the biggest economies/industries, G-20 as an example, has a per capita income of 20.542.20 US dollars, as at 2019. While their current infant mortality rate is 5.901 deaths per 1000 live births and a GDP of USD 792.97 billion in 2019.
At the same time, it’s inflation rate as of August, 2020 is 6.2%.
Unfortunately, the president compared Saudi’s pump price with that of Nigeria, not mindful of the fact that the former’s standard of living is by far more than that of Nigeria!
It is ironic, how can a state with such a high development index be compared with a state ravaged with daily banditry, kidnappings, terrorism, daily road accidents on bad roads, epileptic power supply, a daily national strike by university lecturers, high rate of unemployment, high inflation rate, etc?
It is only in Nigeria whereby an incumbent governor’s (state’s number one chief security officer) convoy can attack twice within a space of a week by terrorists, how does one expect this state to be on the same level with a county that is security-secured and an economic hub?
That presidential pump price comparison is a goof, insensitive to this period of national economic plight which is deeply squeezing the majority of the Nigerian population and is an anniversary spoiler.
Nigeria is our fatherland, we have no nation other than her, we must all work together to solve her problems and make it a better country for all.

Muhammad Sagir Bauchi can be reached at ibrahimsagir1227@gmail.com

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