Independence celebration: A new Nigeria is possible

In 2010, former US President Barack Obama said that Nigeria “is vital to the rest of the continent and if Nigeria doesn’t get it right, Africa really isn’t going to make any further progress”. This speaks to what the world expects of Nigeria. Around the world, Nigeria is perceived as Africa’s natural leader. The world has pinned its hopes on Nigeria for Africa’s freedom from stagnation, underdevelopment, illiteracy, hunger and unemployment. The general belief is that if Nigeria were to free itself from these evils, it would free other African countries from their shackles.

Given the country’s natural resources, the hope is not misplaced. Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country; it is also one of the best equipped in the world. Nigeria is rich in crude oil, natural gas, gold, bitumen, tin, coal, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. The land is blessed with an arable land that facilitates the cultivation of money and food crops. Nigeria also has a stock of great people who excel in various aspects of human endeavor. This is a rare combination that should have made Nigeria a superpower. But for all these gifts and the benefits to be derived from them, misery has become the regular companion of the average man.

Nigeria is a paradox; so rich and yet so poor; so gifted and yet so disadvantaged. Nigeria earns more money than many countries in the world but unfortunately it is among the poorest because many Nigerians live below the poverty line earning less than two dollars a day. According to the Brookings Institution report The Start of a New Poverty Narrative, Nigeria today has the second highest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world.

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Similarly, a United Nations report on Nigeria’s Common Country Analysis says youth unemployment is 42 percent, while the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) puts the number of children out of school at over 10 estimated at .5 million. The infant mortality rate is 85.8 per 1000 live births, while the country has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world. The prevalence of malnutrition ranges from about 46.9 percent in the southwest to 74.3 percent in the northwest and northeast, according to the UN.

But that wasn’t the case in the beginning. Nigeria wasn’t the laughing stock of the world at first; Nor was she the poster child for failure and misery. Nigeria beat France in the race to found a television station in 1959. According to Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics, the poverty rate at independence in 1960 was very low. The unemployment rate was pretty negligible in 1960. At independence, the education system was excellent, as was the healthcare system. Life and property were safe. When Nigerians had to leave the country for any reason in the 1960s, they quickly returned home. But not anymore, life in Nigeria has lost its luster. Life in Nigeria is hell. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s 2019 Global Peace Index Report, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The health sector is so bad that Nigerians are among the world’s health tourists as they seek healing in various hospitals from Ghana to Togo, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Israel, United Kingdom, France and United States of America .

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how did we get here With all the treasures under its belt, why is Nigeria unable to shake off the underdeveloped country label?

The difference between the First Republic of Nigeria and Nigeria today is planning. Nigeria’s slide from the sublime to the ridiculous began with the country’s failure to plan its development. This is the main reason for the poor economy, the deplorable lack of infrastructure, the high levels of poverty and unemployment, and the rising school-age syndrome.

But that doesn’t have to be the story. We can change our history. We can change our experience. We can have a re-enactment of the First Republic of Nigeria or even something better. To change the current trend, we need to retrace our steps and do the right things. Great countries don’t just come into being, they are born. The process of birthing a great country begins with planning and taking concrete steps to bring the plans to fruition. When countries plan and execute their plans, they become great. On the contrary, if a country doesn’t plan, it can only go under.

As disappointed as I am by the current state of the country, I believe a better Nigeria is possible. When our leaders stop being politicians and become statesmen, they will focus more on the welfare of the nation than their personal comfort.

Managers make things possible. When Nigerian leaders eschew cognitive dissonance, when they act in accordance with their expressed vision, take over the country and run it profitably; If they work with great plans and implement the plans, if they provide the needed infrastructure and a healthy environment, then the narrative of the country will change, productivity will escalate, poverty will decrease, the life of the average Nigerian will get better, the slumbering giant will be awakened and Africa will experience liberation.

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If we start doing the right things now, our country, although it’s down at 60 today, will stand tall at 65 and excel at 70. Yes, a great and prosperous Nigeria is possible. Now is the time to begin so that the nation’s 70th anniversary of independence can be a departure from its current harrowing experience.

It is possible. It is achievable. The time to start is now!

Re: A descent into bestiality

Indeed your listing of the above title in the Sunday Tribune is a must for all persons of conscience and due concern for humanity. The cases depicted in it are somber with a sense of foreboding! To answer your final question, it is a duty of all of us: parents, religious leaders, traditional rulers, teachers at various levels, opinion leaders such as journalists, leaders at various levels of society; and of course political leaders! And may God infuse all these classes of people and more with the right framework and perspective of life, for herein lies the path to reorientation, right value system and reason.

I am particularly excited by your dismayed declaration: “It is the loss of humanity and the degeneration into bestiality”. The statement qualifies for WORD ON MARBLE. Hats off!

— Olaitan Makanju – [email protected]