independence day

PBA Editorial: …That Independence Anniversary May Make Sense To All Nigerians

10 months ago
4 mins read

The national day of any country is when sincere conversations around nationalism cannot be avoided. Independence Anniversary really affords the opportunity for national introspection on the journey to nationhood and the need for course correction where necessary.

The question begging for answers is whether Nigeria has become a nation after 63 years of existence or has remained a country. It gets even worse as many would insist that she is yet to shed herself of the toga of mere geographical expression as the late premier of the western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo once described the country.

Indeed, there are those who still blame Lord Frederick Lugard for the “forced marriage” of 1st January 1914 when he as the Governor of both the Northern Nigeria Protectorate and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, signed a document consolidating the two, thereby creating the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

This heightens the disappointment over the rife divisiveness among Nigeria’s various ethnic nationalities as they have had over a centenary, not 63 years to blend into nationhood.

While the story has been mostly that of doom and gloom, there is an element of bloom amidst it all. Mindless political leaders have driven the nation to the edge of the precipice but somehow the country pulls itself back in a show of uncommon resilience.

This was a country that an American think-tank had predicted would disintegrate on or before 2015 yet has continued to trudge on. Even in the face of various internal contradictions, Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa. Political stability in the country gives another reason to cheer, courtesy of the 24 years of unbroken democracy.

The fact that periodic elections are held is heartwarming because that was what freed the country from the underperforming immediate past administration. Although it was a spectacular feat that the same disastrous government ousted an entrenched incumbent administration through the polls and not by a putsch.

While the highly controversial 2023 election didn’t allow a repeat of the defeat of an unpopular party in power at the center, the people used their ballots to effect some changes to leadership at the sub-national level. It is also good to know that Nigerians can easily be rallied into believing in their country as the buildup to the 2023 election showed.

At the whiff of an improvement in the electoral system and processes, citizens trooped out en masse for voter registration. It is regrettable that the uncommon mass enthusiasm and interest were eventually dealt a heavy blow by managers of the election as well as the odious miscarriage of justice by the electoral petitions tribunal.

A country that is serious about the quest for nationhood isn’t one a candidate standing for a national election will be flagrantly shortchanged on account of his ethnicity. Neither is it one where thugs will be deployed to prevent people from voting based on their facial features and complexion. Politicians and their underlings must stop preying on Nigeria’s faultlines. If the founding fathers had played that game, Nigeria wouldn’t exist today.

READ ALSO: Nigeria @63: Why We Must Endure Subsidy Removal, FX Crisis Pains – Tinubu

The country fought a bloody civil war that ended over 50 years ago. Unfortunately, the war is still being fought in the hearts and minds of the populace as wars of grim bitterness, hatred, and vengefulness. No serious effort has been made towards a true national healing as cleavages of ethnocentrism, sectionalism, and parochialism are now the order of the day.

What the National President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu said about the Independence Anniversary is quite instructive as it is a widely-held view. According to him, “We have retrogressed in so many ways.

After we gained independence and Gowon came in after the coup that removed Ironsi, we went to civil war, and after the war one important statement was made by Gowon – no victor, no vanquished.
“But till today, some groups in Nigeria feel they are superior to others. Rather than move the country forward, they are busy pulling the country down. Today for no reason we have insurgency in this country.

“Why would Fulani militia be attacking people? Why would Boko Haram be there in Borno and the northeast attacking innocent Nigerians. And then we had 8 years of Buhari instead of moving forward we retrogressed.

The economy has gone down, everything has gone down and we are living from one falsehood to another falsehood. Today all of us are languishing because of ways and means of revamping the economy according to President Tinubu.”

As positive and optimistic as this newspaper intends to sound, the truth remains that one would be hard-pressed to find bright spots in Nigeria’s journey to nationhood these 63 years.

The desperation of young Nigerians to migrate to the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, United States and Middle-East countries is a telling verdict on how their country has failed them.

In fact, the rate our people troop to the UK despite all the hurdles placed on their way reveals that these persons would have preferred that the colonial masters remained in charge of Nigeria’s affairs up till now! UK student visas to Nigerians surged by 73 percent in just one year yet they weren’t deterred. Data from the Home Office of the United Kingdom in May 2023 has it that 66,796 dependants accompanied Nigerian UK students in one year.

Are Nigerians who believe that the country is better off under British rule to blame given how successive governments have run the country aground? The value of the national currency has dropped by 161,266 per cent in the past 50 years with rising debt and decayed infrastructure dogging the country.

Naira currently exchanges for over N1,000 against the American greenback! As of 2020, the unemployment rate stood at 33.3 per cent and now hovers around 40 per cent. Among the youth, it is about 53.4 per cent. Public infrastructure are a write-off so much so that the Minister of Works, Engr Dave Umahi recently disclosed that he shed tears over the decrepit state of Nigerian roads.

According to Trading Economics, inflation rose to 25.8 per cent in August, and food inflation by 29.1 per cent. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the Composite Consumer Price Index stood at its highest in 15 years last month. Misery is pervasive in the country with 133 million persons trapped in multidimensional poverty.

Nigeria ranks 164th out of 191 countries, based on health, education, and living standards on the UNDP’s Human Development Index 2023. While WorldData puts the average global GDP per capita in 2022 at $12,607, that of Nigeria stood at $2,184.

This is just a scintilla of the sorry pass that the country has been brought to, no thanks to corruption, ineptitude, nepotism and below-par leadership that Nigeria has been yoked with. Prime Business Africa therefore challenges the present leadership to show more patriotism in stirring the ship of state.

Good governance is sorely needed at this time for the survival of the country. This is not just for the federal government but the federating units as well. It is this good governance and ensuring the welfare and safety of citizens that will make Nigerians proud of their country’s flag independence as the Chinese and Cypriots whose countries also have 1st of October as their Independence Day.


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