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Published On: Fri, Sep 29th, 2017

Nigeria: Gains and pains of a nation at 57

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In a few days, Nigeria will be celebrating her 57th anniversary. By all standard, 57 is an age of adulthood but it is doubtful if the country can be said to have attained such status considering myriads of challenges dogging her corporate existence.
Nigeria, an amalgam of several nations which transformed to become the biggest black nation in the world, which gained independence from her British colonial masters in 1960, has had her fair share of glorious and tempestuous days. It is however a state that has continued to trudge on even though it has been severally taken forth and back to the doldrums.
Nigeria is a nation that came into being with the expectation of showing black civilization to the world. The nation started off on a golden note holding hope to the generality of black race with a parliamentary system of government only to later adopt the American Presidential system in 1979. Even though there were teething problems in the administration of the country in the early years of the nation’s independence, the leadership then demonstrated required capacity to address the challenges .
With the advent of the military through coups, several seeds of discord planted to ensure their continued dominance of the political space have begun to bear their ugly fruits. Things are now no longer at ease. Seeds of unbridled corruption, ethnicity, waste, lasciviousness, ineptitude, and several others planted by the military are now threatening to wrest the country aground.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki

Senate President, Bukola Saraki

Successive civilian administrations, since the advent of fourth republic, have only struggled to manage the myriads of challenges posed by those vices engrained into the polity by the military. These vices were however suppressed with military might until the coming of democracy in 1999.
The question of how far the country has gone since independence leaves one with ambivalent answers. While it is undeniable that the nation has moved forward, there are also enough evidences to show retrogression especially in the failure of the leadership to transform the country into a nation state.

Political evolution
Politically, the nation has learnt to employ democratic means in her political transition. So, four democratically elected presidents have passed baton since the beginning of the fourth republic in 1999. Even when cynics predicted the extinction of the country in 2015 owing to the volatility of the campaigns of the two major contestants of the Presidential polls, it came out unscathed like a cat with a thousand lives.
This political development indicated that Nigerian politicians may have come of age when the then President Goodluck Jonathan, sensing that he had lost the election, put a call across to the imminent and eventual winner, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has since assumed power.
Though Nigeria is a multi party state, political evolution has thrown up a two-party system of one strong party in power and the other playing the role of opposition. This development ensures seamless transition, unlike in those days of bloody coups, as Nigeria now has the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the ruling party with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) assuming the role of the opposition.
Thus, the formation of the mega APC and its eventual ascendancy into power by beating the incumbent in a free and fair, rancour-free election is a development that is worthy of celebration in the country at 57.

On the economic front, there has not been much good news to celebrate. Successive administration in the country have failed to deepen the nation’s economy as they have depended solely on oil revenue. Feeble efforts were made by previous administrations under the PDP to diversify. With the fall in the price of crude at the international market, the economy snapped and straight the nation glided into recession.
The recession in the land brought with it the aggravation of the woes of unemployment and inflation. A nation dependent on importation of items from the sublime to the mundane struggled in the labyrinth of recession with the hapless citizens being the worse for it. Doing business in Nigeria became unprofitable and the nation’s industries took flights to neighbouring countries with clement investment atmosphere.
The consequence of this development is at the root of all crises facing the country today as some army of graduate and non-graduate unemployed youths roaming the streets have taken to crime. Those who could not have taken to destitution in a land supposedly to be streaming milk and honey.
But the Buhari’s administration has vowed to chart a new course with specific policy direction encouraging the people to take to agriculture as a means of refocusing the economy from oil. The administration has also prioritized investments into solid minerals sector which has been neglected in the past.
With assurances coming from thus administration, the country may be on course to economic stability and prosperity.

The challenge of corruption has been plaguing the nation since independence. Each successive administration, including the military, came with the mantra of fight against corruption and ineptitude of their predecessors but left the nation worse for it on their exit.
The administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan seems to be the most brazen in corruption rating index in the country. Incidentally, Jonathan happened to be the luckiest leader whose tenure witnessed economic prosperity owing to the billions of dollars it raked in during the oil boom.
Several political and civil officials in Jonathan’s administration were alleged to have helped themselves with billions of local and foreign currencies belonging to the commonwealth. Though Jonathan’s administration made some impacts in infrastructure, many of which were uncompleted by the time Buhari succeeded him, he could have done more with the resources at his disposal but for the unbridled corruption that reigned in his administration.
Unemployment was an issue under Jonathan, but it has currently assumed a frightful dimension as the nation slipped into recession with inflation attaining double digits status. Life has become so unbearable that the President jocularly said he had wanted to bolt when confronted with the nation’s economic realities as he took over.
But the President had enlivened the spirit of the citizens with his determination to recover all loots traced to the kleptomaniacs who served in the previous administration. Already, he had entered into treaties with foreign countries harbouring the ill gotten wealth of men and women of yesteryears who impoverished the country by their greed.
Already, several billions of foreign and local currencies have been recovered from alleged looters and this is expected to be expended infrastructure for the benefit of the people.

Each administration in the country has been bedeviled with at least a peculiar challenge of insecurity or the other threatening to tear the nation apart. But the most severe in recent times has been the challenge posed by the Boko Haram insurgents and the gang of kidnappers across the country.
Those who lived in the sixties through the seventies are anonymous in their submission that Nigeria is now more insecured than it used to be. The Boko Haram insurgents in the north east have been waging war against the federal authorities for some years now and the end seems not to be in sight.
Though the Buhari administration has been able to neutralize this group by restricting their activities to the dreaded Sambisa Forest and its environs, the cost of the war is considered outrageous.
On the issue of kidnapping, armed robbery and herdsmen/farmers clashes across the country, a lot still has to be done to rejig the nation’s security infrastructure.

Agitation for restructuring
Restructuring has become the new mantra in the polity. But this concept means so many things to so many people. While a proscribed group was agitating for secession of the South East, others are calling for devolution of powers to constituent units.
The President had done the needful by proscribing the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) and ordered troops to the South East to maintain the peace, he however needed to look into agitations for restructuring in order to stabilize the country.
The good news, however, is that the debate has been brought into the front-burner with the ruling APC currently conducting town hall meetings on the matter across the country.
So far so good, Nigerians have reasons to celebrate its unity and the government of a man with zero tolerance for corruption. The country may as well be on her way to greatness again.

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