Nigeria is in another season of independence celebration, having just marked the 54th year of its existence some days ago. This writer does not believe in celebrating birthdays, be it that of a person, institution or a nation, but he agrees that it is desirable to take the stock of progress in an entity’s life at every strategic point to assess if the cumulative accomplishments are driving the entity towards its stated objectives and missions.
Today, we are battling with diverse problems including but not limited to acute unemployment, grinding poverty, rampaging criminality, uncontrollable corruption, morbid impunity and pernicious insurgency.
We have millions of able-bodied men and women who roam the street in despair of what to do, hundreds of thousands of youths have taken to crimes, no credible attempts is being made to harness their energies and co-opt their contributions into national productivity pools.
Subsidised health care delivery for Nigerians is too expensive, quality education is unavailable for lack of fund, good roads, potable pipe-borne water and regular supply of electricity are unaffordable luxury; in short, social provisioning has been non-existent in spite of trillions of petro-dollars earned over the past five decades and the prospects for improvement are not in the horizon.
Yet we have the greatest human resources in Africa hoist the flag of hope and inspiration for the black man anywhere in the world. Normally, a huge population should be an index of potential growth and scope of attainable development, provided of course, it is well harnessed and driven to generate beneficial ends. This is what the political class has been unable to do till date.
Nigerian are in despair concerning when things would improve and our leaders have always given us assurances. They have always made great speeches which are, no doubt, prolix in the great future that awaits us – a future anchored on a mountain of promises!
There is nothing wrong with promises, especially if they are well-intended, but if year-in-year out, what people keep having are promises upon promises with hardly any substantive positives, the soul becomes very weary.
That notwithstanding, Nigeria now has the largest market in Africa according to the current rebasing and, among other thing, the nation, is now scheming to be among the top 20 developed economies in the world by the year 2020!
We are, perhaps, the only nation that would set such gargantuan targets without any credible blueprints on human resource development and capacity building that would serve as the spring board for the explosive growth.
Well, maybe we are hoping to achieve the greatness through prayer warfare and night vigils, or some other ritual observances, goodluck!
Every Kobo spent to improve the lot of any Nigerian is a potential million, nay billon, the country will reap in concrete term in future. Every naira expended to rehabilitate the Area Boys, the Almajiris, the illiterate sellers of fake merchandise and the youthful kidnappers will go a long way in building human capacity for a renascent Nigeria.
The ideological concept of Nigeria is a lofty dream, but the substantive foundations were faulty right from the beginning. When the amalgamation was executed in1914 through foggy colonial engineering, the peoples were not prepared then to form a common nation; it was a case of forced matrimony.
1960 offered a golden opportunity to redefine the inherited union; to structurally rebuild the nation and put it on firmer and fairer grounds of equality, social justice and mutual respect, but we spawned it and simply rubber stamped the prevailing political paradigm.
As these things are at present, we have not evolved any pragmatic national ethic that could drive integrative processes. Those who want to be cynical would point to corruption, greed, tribalism, violence et al, as our national characters but that is not true as vices are not natives of any nation.
Nigeria should first strive to win the war against corruption and lay a foundation for sustainable development. We must first of all get people into believing in Nigeria.
This faith can only be fostered through adored collective experiences that spawned fond memories; through consciousness of common struggles culminating into treasured achievements and through self-belief anchored on credible virtues like love, mutual respect, selflessness and work ethics.
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