Nigeria at 61: Time for introspection -GCFRNG
On Friday, October 1, Nigeria will turn 61 years old. Whether in the life of an individual or a nation, the Diamond Jubilee is a milestone. Adding one more year is even more consistent and ideally the drums should unfold. But that would be a bad idea. Why? Because there is nothing to celebrate right now.
Granted, there are those who will argue that the fact that Nigeria still remains united even after a brutal 30-month fratricidal war is reason enough to push the ship outward. But when a country is held together by force of arms and not with the consent of the federated units, the sense of unity becomes illusory.
Others use the incredible achievements of Nigerians, men and women, in the arts, sciences, sports, technology and commerce, as a totem to elevate the greatness of the country. But while it is true that Nigerians, individually, are excelling globally, they are accomplishing those extraordinary feats despite, not because of, the opportunities the country provides.
The truth is that Nigeria, 61 years after independence, has become a graveyard of creativity and innovation. Instead of promoting excellence, the country rewards indolence and stifles ingenuity. Nigeria is a killjoy, which explains why most professionals (doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, journalists, etc.) flee abroad in droves.
But this has not always been the case. There was a time when the country was a beacon of hope for the rest of not only Africa, but also the black race. Today, the countries with which we were on the same level or even better in independence have left us behind. At 61, the countries that are not as well endowed in terms of human and material resources are now far ahead.
Something went tragically wrong. Blame it on selfish leaders using the country’s dividing lines as a weapon by selfish leaders. The problem did not start with President Muhammadu Buhari, but his lack of ability to manage the country’s diversities has exacerbated it.
So even if the government is inclined to celebrate, most citizens are not in the mood. Faced with an existential crisis, an average Nigerian would rather think about how to survive than celebrate a country that has offered nothing but tears, blood and pain in the last six years.
Nigeria is not working. The country is more fractured today than ever in the last half century with all the primordial flaws that define our interactions as a people of diverse ethnicities and religious leanings in full parade. We are amused when we affirm that Nigeria is still the giant of Africa. It used to be. Not anymore. At 61 years old, Nigeria today is nothing great.
A country where the leadership of the national integration agency, the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, is advising young people who serve their homeland to always allow their people to save money for the payment of ransom to kidnappers in case they being kidnapped while traveling to places of their primary assignment is a failed state.
A country that is the poverty capital of the world is not great. In October 2019, the World Poverty Clock stated that Nigeria, with an estimated population of around 205 million people, had overtaken India with a population of 1.366 billion people as the country with the most people. living in extreme poverty, that is, with less than $ 1.90 or less. per day.
In 2020, data provided by the same group showed that instead of helping people, more Nigerians had plunged into extreme poverty and the numbers rose to more than 105 million, representing 51% of the population.
The case of Nigeria is pathetic because poverty is actually declining globally, as statistics indicate that since 1990, a quarter of the world has overcome extreme poverty and global poverty estimates are around 8.6%. In fact, India’s population in extreme poverty of 84 million people in 2019 is shrinking. Here the opposite occurs. And it can only get worse because, as economists say, poverty is a cyclical trap. For people to overcome it, they need education, adequate medical care, access to clean water, and job opportunities.
Nigeria is deficient in all of these. Today, the country has the highest number of children out of school in the world and one of the lowest life expectancy rates due to inadequate medical care. Nigeria, aged 61, plunges into the depths of misery and destitution because none of the main indicators of the Human Development Index, HDI, life expectancy, expected years of schooling, Gross National Income per capita for the standard of living, are is currently in the green zone.
When Nigerian leaders insist, as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo did on Sunday, that although the country currently faces security, economic, religious and ethnic challenges, the collective vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria remains undefeated 61 years after the independence, play the main role. ostrich.
There is no collective vision like the one Osinbajo defends at this time. There used to be, but it’s been locked for a long time.
Building a united, prosperous and peaceful country requires more than absurd cliches. While the vice president’s exhortation that “our current trials cannot draw the curtain on our history … because this country is greater than the sum of its parts and the sum of its mistakes,” is good music to the ears, it is empty rhetoric. His bombast may have impressed his audience, the political and religious elite, but it made no difference on the streets, where it matters most.
The streets are boiling. Students are no longer able to go to school in some parts of the country. Many are still in captivity in various wicked forests in the Northwest. Traveling the roads of Nigeria has become suicide. Dr. Chike Akunyili, widow of Prof. Dora Akunyili, former Minister of Information, was horribly murdered in Anambra on Tuesday. She went to Onitsha to present a work and receive an award at the commemorative conference organized by some civil society organizations in honor of her late wife. She never came back alive.
The bloody stories are many. And nobody pays for these heinous crimes. Some people rationalize this anarchy by saying that many more people die on the streets of New York, the United States, and Johannesburg, South Africa, than in Nigeria. Assuming, without admitting that this is true, the difference is that there is a chance that such heinous crimes will not go unpunished in those countries, no matter how long it takes. In Nigeria, there is no justice for the dead.
At 61, Nigeria remains a country torn by religious and ethnic strife, grisly insurgencies and banditry and crippling economic challenges – a country in darkness. Sixty-one years after independence, Nigeria is on the brink. Some people think that saying so amounts to demarketing the country. Maybe!
However, the flip side is that not admitting that Nigeria is facing an existential crisis is burying one’s head in the sand believing that no one is watching. That is a silly game to play under the circumstances.
Those who howl against the agents of secession without acknowledging the reasons for such upheavals are not sincere. Why would a man of Professor Banji Akintoye’s position suddenly become a Yoruba self-determination enthusiast? Why has disintegration become an option for many 51 years after the search for Ndigbo was collectively stifled?
The fact that incalculable damage has been inflicted on the national psyche cannot be argued. Nigerians should take the opportunity of the 61st anniversary of independence to do some introspection. Where did the rain start to hit this once promising country? This should be a time to take stock.
What are the prospects for lifting the country off the brink? Can Nigeria Rediscover Itself? These are the questions that all minds should focus on.
The national response to the Buhari presidency and the demons it has unleashed in the country may be the last chance to get it right. But it will not be by mere illusion. As 2023 approaches, there must be a conscious effort to move away from the tunnel vision and nepotism of Buhari.
All must make a conscious effort to build a nation around a vision that promotes the common good. Fairness, equity and justice must be the axis around which any program to save Nigeria revolves because the livelihood of the Federation of Nigeria demands a union of equals.