NIGERIA AT 53: IS THERE STILL HOPE?

Five decades and three years have elapsed, but the teething problems of nationhood lingers. For fifty three years, we have lived in the unending optimism that our day of liberation as a nation is lingering around. However, with every bomb that explodes in Borno, we are reminded of the deterioration in our security system. With the universities under lock and key for more than three months, we are brought to a rude reminder that the cankerworms that have feasted on the fabrics of our turf, are yet to have their last bites. For every day we live in darkness and in the quagmire of noise pollution steaming from generators, we are flogged with the harsh reality that hope for the Power sector is like clutching on straws. Yet, with all these avalanche of odds, the only thing that seem to matter to those that we pay to show concern, is the 2015 elections. Whatever was the spell that the forces that be had casted upon us, it surely has complete potency. It’s another independence anniversary, one to usher in the centenary celebration next year. Yet, almost every where one turns to, there are a plethora of challenges to wrestle with. These challenges and nagging problems that have bedevilled us do not require a rehash here. We live with the menace everyday, and hardly anyone will require a reminder. The numerous policemen that will continue to thrive on 20 naira bribe irrespective of the dismissal of their colleague that was caught on camera, enunciates the rot in the system. The bickering between the President (Goodluck Jonathan) and the Rivers state governor (Rotimi Ameachi), tells a lot the crude and “dog eats dog” politics that we are practising. The myriads of public officials that will always treat their duties with sheer negligence no matter whose ox is gored, helps to beg the question: How long do we continue on this path? In more ways than one, so much depends on leadership. Without mincing words, leadership at all levels have failed our nation. At the national level, the shenanigans of those elected to steer the affairs of this nation is legendary. We have the most expensive tiers of government. A fortune of tax payers money, and the spoils of our “oil” goes into the pockets of men and women who don’t know jack about transformation (forget that they sing it as a slogan). These are men and women that don’t give a damn about what happens to the well-being of average Nigerians. They come cap in hand every four years, demanding for our votes. If we don’t give them by refusing their dangling carrot, they take it by a sleight of force that can only be described as broad day light robbery. A majority of these leaders have been around for donkey years; dating back to 1960 when we became a sovereign state. Something keeps telling them that they have a divine mandate to rule this nation forever. They have destroyed their own generation, they are seizing ours, and they are threatening to rule that of our unborn children. At 53, we are still a nation grappling with the basic things of life. Our roads remain in a state of debacle. Portable water is still a luxury. Proper health care remain a distant dream. Adequate power supply is still a mirage for us. Our educational sector continues to take a nose dive. And yet, Jonathan and his array of ministers will have us believe that we are making progress? Unless progress has taken on a new meaning, we are still fighting with our chains. Having said that, what is the way forward? Though the incessant criticisms, punditries, analysis, editorials, tweets and diatribes we see in different platforms about the state of nation helps our democracy, so much is needed to actually make it work. Genuinely concerned Nigerians cannot simply fold their hands and expect that that “lady luck” will someday smile upon our nation. Such scenario only exists in the world of fantasy. It is about time that the citizenry become more involved. This is in no way a call for a revolution in the mould of the Arab spring of 2011. All those that still believe that a bloody revolution is the way out should always remember history. Egypt has not fared any better since the bloody revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power. Rather, that revolution has only begets more killings. For Nigeria to cross the Rubicon, we don’t need thousands of Nigerians to lose their lives. The thirty months carnage we witnessed in the 1967 Civil war has left enough miseries that we still grappling with. We don’t need another. Rather, we require a mental purge; a watershed in the resolve of the followership. We need men and women that will stand up for what is right, even if they stand alone. Instead of our youths pitching tents with corrupt politicians, they have to stand up and demand good leadership. It is no gainsaying that though our challenges are daunting, they are not beyond us. However, we must awake from the delusion that change will come searching for us. The passivity of many Nigerians towards national change must be eroded. If our leaders will not steer us in the path we should go, we must hold them to ransom. One of the ways to do this is by ensuring that the election in 2015 does not become the charade almost all previous elections have been. Pen ultimately, it is of utmost important that we keep faith with the Nigerian Dream and the Nigerian project. Giving up on the greatest of this country will not help anyone. We have to hope beyond hope that Nigeria will flourish again. It is with this mindset that we the people, can drive for that lasting change we crave. One last word for our leaders: There is such a thing as posterity, and remember that you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

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