TODAY marks Nigeria’s 55th independence anniversary. On October 1, 1960, the Union Jack was lowered and our national flag, the Green, White, Green was hoisted for the first time. Prior to our independence, the nation was a colony of Britain and since then, we have managed our affairs as a people and one nation in ways and manners that has left the country with many daunting challenges.
IT will be recalled that Nigeria gained political freedom from Britain in 1960. But in less than seven years of independence, the country experienced a military coup on January 15th 1966. Another coup followed shortly after the first one on July 29th, 1966. And yet another one after nine years on July 29th, 1975. Eight years after, another coup took place on December 31 1983. This coup was followed by a palace coup on August 27, 1985. Because of this instability since independence, Nigeria has had sixteen Heads of State and government in fifty-five years of her existence. The heads of state and government were Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Belewa, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi, General Yakubu Gowon, General Murtala Muhammed, General Olusegun Obasanjo. Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, General Sani Abacha, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari.
THESE records show that Nigeria has been very unstable since independence in1960. The above situation notwithstanding, the country has made progress since 1999 till date which has witnessed unbroken civilian administration. This is helping to consolidate democracy and the rule of law in the country.
WE are glad that there have been progress in some sectors since independence. For instance, there is progress in the education sector. At independence, the country had two universities only-University College, Ibadan and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Fifty five years after, the country now has over 120 federal, state and private universities that have been churning out graduates in various disciplines. This is a pleasant progress in the education sector.
IN the health sector, the country has made some significant impact. For instance, Nigeria has developed more active policies in health planning and training as well as in medical research. Some billions of naira had been allocated to the health sector for eradication of such diseases as smallpox, malaria, tuberculosis, and recently, the Ebola disease. Meanwhile, more than 5000 health institutions including teaching hospitals have been established in the country.
THESE progress notwithstanding, it is a matter of deep regret that Nigeria has squandered its God-given potentials to be great among comity of nations over the years. We have wasted our oil wealth through greed and avarice. Some Nigerians believe that oil wealth is a curse and not a blessing. Apart from making us to fight a bitter civil war, it has also made us lazy that we go to Abuja at month end to share oil money. Now that the oil money is not quite forthcoming, the governors could not pay workers’ salaries and the Federal Government doles them bailout funds.
APART from celebrating for the reasons enumerated above, there are many reasons for deep introspection in the face of massive hunger, insecurity, lack of electricity, massive unemployment , decayed infrastructure, brazen corruption, impunity, threat of insurgency, weak leadership, etc Nigerians are experiencing.
NIGERIA has been having it really rough, because, none of our previous leaders had zero tolerance for corruption, as none over the years was incorruptible.
WE believe that unless politicians in the country change their social lifestyle in which they display affluence and waste public funds on frivolities, Nigeria may continue to be backward rather than progress. He emphasised that the lifestyle of politicians in the country has been a major reason why the nation has not been making progress but argued that such wasteful spending and reckless lifestyle of politicians can only come to an end if Nigerians decide otherwise.
AGAIN, we believe that the problem of Nigeria is not only bad leadership but also bad followership as Edward R. Murrow (1908 – 1965) wrote that “A Nation Of Sheep Will Beget A Government Of Wolves”. The corrupt leaders know precisely well how much oppression the Nigerian public is willing to endure, that’s why the rape of the land and the people, literally and figuratively, may continue unless they join President Muhammadu Buhari now to rebuild the nation.
WE, therefore, call on Nigerians to use our 55th anniversary to take stock of our existence so far and see what we have done wrongly and those that we have done rightly and make amends for a glorious future. We cannot keep making the same mistakes and think that we shall get it right some day.
HOWEVER, Nigeria still has a long way to go. Majority of the citizens are poor. Nigerians in positions of authority should endeavour to create a social security scheme to tackle the problem of poverty, armed robbery, epileptic power supply, kidnapping, illegal oil bunkering and drug trafficking are the problems that are still with us that need to be tackled. We urge all Nigerians to work hard to find solutions to them.