Growing up, 1st of October was a day I always looked forward to. As Christians, after the New Year, Christmas and Easter celebrations; Independence Day came next. It was a day for showcasing new cloths, sharing special meals and having lots of celebration activities. However, this is no more in recent times. It is disheartening that children of today do not feel what I felt, as the day has gradually become a shadow of itself.
Now, every 1st of October is simply another Independence Day with the normal rituals of speech delivery and empty promises on government television and radio across the country from the Aso Rock Presidential Villa and State Government Houses.
It has become a day for the politicians - a day of high fives, rigorous hand shakes, back slapping and in what has become an unneeded practice, cutting of the Independence Cake. It will amaze you to know that a sum of $11.26 million was spent between 2010 and 2015 to mark Independence celebrations 'which only takes place in the Aso Rock villa!'
It is no news that Nigeria has not lived up to expectations, and the state of the nation today would surely make the fathers of Independence turn in their graves.The fathers who bled for the nation to attain self-rule - to lower the Union Jack for the Green and White colors of the newly independent nation to be lifted up.
Although the nation had gone through fire over and again since 1960, it has refused to refine and there is a general consensus that her growth has been largely stagnated. The human development index and quality of life of the average Nigerian has steadily declined since 1960.
The figures say it all. The divide between the rich and the poor gets broader by the day with greedy and unrepentant political Comprador Bourgeoisies, the many who fall within the first category.
Nigeria, despite its large human and mineral resources, and ranking as sixth largest oil producing country on the globe is the current poverty capital of the world!
According to a report published in June, 2018:
"Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extremely poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot.
“At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall."
Is there any moral justification for this? What analogy can explain the plight of a country that sits on wealth and yet, her citizens die of hunger? The only analogy that denotes this is that of the average citizen in Nigeria, and sadly so.
Nigeria, which was once regarded as the Giant of Africa and backbone of the continent is not even on the Top 10 List of Growing Economies in Africa today as shown in the projections released by the World Bank and International Monetary Funds (IMF). The most shocking fact is that Nigeria was once the Number One fastest growing economy in Africa! Should such a country be celebrating Independence today?
The countries that made the List of Top 10 growing Economies in Africa will surprise you. Check them out!
At independence, the nation had a thriving middle-class that was also growing. Apart from that, public institutions like schools and hospitals were providing quality services that made consulting private ones largely unheard of.
Also, the country was competing very well with other countries that were at par with her at independence. These were countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Pakistan among others. It should be noted that none of these countries were even in Africa.
The fact that Nigeria was being compared with these countries showed that the outside world did not see Nigeria in the league of other African countries due to her potentials; that was why the rest of the world thought Nigeria would be competing with the Asian tigers. Unfortunately, this was not so. These nations that were seen as Nigeria's peers at independence have already left the country behind. Today, they are home to many Nigerians who have migrated in search of greener pastures.
As the nation marks another Independence Anniversary, there will be celebrations of mediocrity as it has been in recent times. Rather than embark on sober reflections and seek ways out of the present predicament, the political class will use the opportunity to send goodwill messages and list their ‘achievements’ which seem only visible to them.
At 58, is there still hope for Nigeria? The answer is yes, but this is only possible if Nigerian leaders shun corruption and work to make the country great again.
Happy Independence Nigeria!
Image Credit: Nigerian Scholar