Nigerians are rolling out the drums today to celebrate the country’s political freedom from British rule, which many believe was handed to us on a platter of gold by the then outgoing colonial masters.
But beyond the banality and yearly rituals of the celebrations, it is usually a time for stock-taking; a time for showcasing the country’s scorecard since that moment on October 1, 1960, when the flag of the British Union Jack was lowered and the Nigerian green-white-green was hoisted in its stead.
And talking about real stock-taking and scorecard, the country has not fared well, if we need to tell ourselves the home truth.
In the run-up to every October 1st and few days after that date, Nigerians would only whine and whinge while our leaders wine and dine, savouring every drop and bit of choice wine and exotic foods; oblivious of the fact that majority of the hapless citizens are having a running battle with abject poverty and hunger.
Days after the celebrations, the country returns to status quo ante and life continues, without both the ordinary citizens and those luckier ones holding the reins of governance, thinking about how to move the country out of its seemingly static situation by the next independence anniversary. Various supposed visionary programmes have been used by successive governments to rob the country blind.
Things have continued to move from bad to worse for Nigeria and God forbid, the current tenuous situation does not degenerate beyond the bearable level. This is a country where centrifugal forces in the North, South, East and West have continued to gnaw at the tiny line precariously holding the pieces of the Federation together.
It beats one’s imagination that our leaders seem contented with just comparing the country with its peers around the globe without taking any concrete step or action to ensure it really measures up with these ‘age mates’ of hers. India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the other Asian Tigers started the race towards development at about the same period with Nigeria, but today, the so called ‘Giant of Africa’ and the big brother of the continent has been left far behind.
It is disheartening that 58 years after independence, the basic amenities of life that are taken for granted, even in less developed countries such as neighbouring Benin Republic and Togo, are still being hankered after and agitated for by Nigerians. Almost six decades after independence, most Nigerians still grope in the dark due to almost total lack of electricity supply. Access to potable water remains a luxury only the rich can afford. This is not to talk of other basic needs that should have been in place for the convenience of the citizens.
Today, the stark realities of the Nigerian situation have continued to stare us in the face -our expressways remain death traps with potholes, gorges and all what not dotting the roads; goods and services have gone beyond the reach of an average Nigerian, and above all, our naira is just some notches worth more than a tissue paper, when placed by the almighty dollar and other foreign currencies. For the ordinary Nigerian citizen, the litany of woes is endless!
The perennial shambolic state of the economy has now plunged the country into the abyss of economic recession because successive administrations woefully failed to halt recklessness in all facets of governance. The country has been milked dry and the hapless citizens now have to pay the price.
But in the face of all these basic challenges of life confronting Nigerians, our leaders merely pay lip-service to everything. Their words have never been their bond. To them, promises can be made but not necessarily kept. They have perfected the art of talking from both sides of their mouth, believing that Nigerians would forever remain gullible. The change mantra touted by the ruling All Progressives Congress during the 2015 elections has, unfortunately, merely given birth to despondency.
The country has been milked dry and the hapless citizens now have to pay the price. But in the face of all these basic challenges of life confronting Nigerians, our leaders merely pay lip-service to everything. Their words have never been their bond. To them, promises can be made but not necessarily kept
In spite of the enormity of the situation that should have been of the greatest concern to our leaders, all we are assailed by daily is one crisis or the other in the polity and particularly the corridors of power. Our government, nay the National Assembly, has been in perpetual crises, which, unfortunately, often bear on trivial matters. For us in Nigeria, it is one day, one trouble. It has become the norm that politicians purportedly elected into office by citizens only get in to pursue selfish personal agenda.
To the average political office holder, the interest of his constituents is secondary. Often, after being elected into office, they make themselves inaccessible to the same people who have entrusted them with their mandate. They quickly change their phone numbers and shield themselves with the public office until the run-up to the next election, when they emerge from nowhere with the belief that they can always cheaply buy votes with rice, sugar and other foodstuffs.
It is unfortunate that 58 years after independence, the country is still saddled with a clueless government apparently lost in the maze of the economic and other pressing challenges confronting its people.
With the situation as it is now, Nigerians may soon be asked by our leaders to wait till the country clocks 100 years before the basic necessities of life would be guaranteed. It is baffling that despite their being well-traveled, they have failed to replicate all those basic necessities of life that make life meaningful for the average citizen in those countries they often scurry off to, when Nigeria becomes too hot or boring for
Happy Independence, Nigeria.