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Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko: Nigeria at 59 – Tale of sadness, missed opportunities



Sadly, Nigerians will humour themselves once more as usual,celebrating the anniversary of our independence from Britain. Political, religious, opinion and business leaders will trump our achievements in 59 years, that earned us the unfortunate sobriquet of MOST CORRUPT country in the world.

A sad tale of missed opportunities, brazen mismanagement, bad leadership and mutually destructive hate, defines the painful story of Nigeria at 59.

Nigeria held better promise than Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, Ghana etc by 1960.

Ethnic divisions, military intervention, poor governance and the emergence of a predatory political class that thrives on the sheer exploitation of religious and regional differences to cover their mindless mismanagement of our collective future, has regrettably been our lot as a people.

Mutual distrust, unending suspicion and an unhealthy desire to dominate others fuelled an unhelpful political and social culture that has finally given the giant of Africa an unenviable image in the world.

Her citizens are disrespected globally, at every Airport, dominate population counts at prisons all over the world and feature prominently amongst floating corpses of migrants found on the Mediterranean every week, whereas her elite club( who represent less than 5% of the population, but control 90% of her resources) celebrates the “good times ” with glasses of choice cognac in Ikoyi,Victoria Island, Lekki,Maitama Maitama and Asokoro.

These same gluttonous and conscienceless elite, whose kids notoriously paint red the night club circuits beside every ivy league institution, even as they shamelessly sustain every unreasonably super expensive health care facility in the world with their unearned Nigeria oil wealth cash, will undoubtedly take over our media space this week to tell us how well Nigeria has done and is doing. Pity.

Reality, however screams out stark facts. One, that the nauseating culture of prebendalism has laid bare the truth, which is that the immoral orgy of bad leadership, has lasted for too long, inflicting unacceptable wounds on the psyche of the younger generation who has in no uncertain terms rejected Nigeria, as presently constituted. Two, that the pretense by the political class that all is well with Nigeria, has become unsustainable as a large chunk of easterners, want out of Nigeria and makes no pretence about it. Three, that the arrogance of power, as unintelligently displayed by those delaying the restructuring of the polity has only succeeded in making them lose respect of the people. Finally, the economic challenges, insecurity and anger in the land simply confirms that the era of monthly sharing of oil rent,did not and will not grow Nigeria, because entrenched impunity and corruption will not let oil rent grow Nigeria.

Therefore, the annual ritual of massaging and caressing our ego every October 1,to the effect that WE HAVE NOT DONE BADLY is simply taking self deception to a higher level. We have failed on all fronts. We are a huge disappointment to humanity. We wasted resources that would have turned Nigeria into a first world nation to the horror of the world and we shamelessly make excuses, even as we console ourselves. Sad.

Nigeria’s political parties evolved along ethnic lines in the first republic, simply because some leaders found it difficult to accept the emergence of Azikiwe as Herbert Macaulay’s replacement in 1946.Had a northerner replaced Macaulay, the NPC would not have been formed and had a yoruba man replaced Macaulay, Action group would not have been formed.

Nigeria made it impossible for her citizens to assume nationalistic posture in their thinking through the undeserved punishment meted out to Ndigbo since 1970. Everybody knew that millions of Ndigbo whose bank accounts were seized (and a paltry £20)allowed them in 1970, were not informed by Nzeogwu,Adegboyega,Ifeajuna and co about a coup in January 1966.Everybody knew that they were slaughtered all over northern Nigeria and in Lagos, Ibadan and Abeokuta in their thousands all through the repulsive and horrendous well planned pogroms of 1966 that inspired secession and outright war. Yet everybody tacitly approved or at least condoned the war of attrition and scorched earth policy visited on Ndigbo by successive governments since 1970.Both the oppressed and onlookers know for a fact that, there is no JUSTICE in Nigeria. It against the law nature for the oppressed to patriotic and nationalistic. The oppressed will only remain aggrieved, bitter and angry until Justice and equity is enthroned. Even the oppressor himself and the minorities are not nationalistic because the winner takes all attitude of the oppressor ensues a dog eat dog culture of every man to himself. A great bane of nation building.

Even today, Igbo land is deliberately removed from the railway modernization plan. The only Airport shut for repairs(but no sign of repair work, 4 weeks after shut down)

No passable road in the zone, all the roads are clearly broken and impassable. Fulani herdsmen having a field day raping, beheading, kidnapping and terrorizing the entire zone,while Nigerians remain quite over the suggestion by the government, that no Igbo man is qualified to head any military or paramilitary agency.

When they complain, they are told to wait for their turn to rule Nigeria, while in another breath, they are mocked that they will never rule Nigeria. Do you still ask why it’s difficult for people to be nationalistic and patriotic? Everybody knows the solution to the problems. Those keeping the solution in the archives are probably enjoying the chaos.

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