Our beloved country, Nigeria will celebrate her 62nd independence anniversary on October 1, 2022, though the country is heavily bedeviled with crises.

Sixty-two years ago, there were celebrations across the length and breadth of Nigeria.  People rejoiced at the prospect of this new nation – a nation born with heavy birth pangs and the struggles of leaders of the time to give freedom to their people. The founding fathers had big dreams for this nation, they were proud to be Nigerians and had great hope for the future.

Six decades after, there is more of retrogression than progression with the present crop of administrators pursuing personal gains over common good. The handlers of national affairs look clueless in managing practically all sectors of the economy.  Every regime seems to be worse than the previous ones. History taught us that in the beginning, it was not so. Where and how we got it wrong as a nation should be a focus of national dialogue if we rise beyond tumbling flood threatening to sweep away the labour of the past heroes.  This is definitely not the country, the British handed over to the fathers who fought for  the independence. The labour of our heroes past is gradually going into the drains, if not in vain, so much that one begins to question the need for independence.

Giving an insight into how the British governed Nigeria in his book, “There Was A Country”, Chinua Achebe writes “The British governed their colony of Nigeria with considerable care. There was a very highly competent cadre of government officials imbued with a high level of knowledge of how to run a country. This was not something that the British achieved only in Nigeria; they were able to manage this on a bigger scale in India and Australia. The British had the experience of governing and doing it competently…I recalled the day I travelled from Lagos to Ibadan and stayed with Christopher Okigbo that evening. I took off again the next morning, driving alone, going all the way from Lagos to Asaba…that was how it was in those days. One was not consumed by fear of abduction or armed robbery.” Those were the days when people could sleep with their two eyes closed and society had not been invaded by criminal elements in different shades. Indeed there was a country! 

Now we have come to understand the reality, that gaining independence was not enough without good leadership to steer the wheel of progress. Nigeria in its present frame has shown poverty of leadership, which is the bane of its problems. 

Unemployment is on the rise. Economic hardship is noticeable. Indices of growth and development are increasingly on the decline. Insecurity has worsened, bandits and gun men have become untouchable. The country is divided, many people are very poor. Every now and then, Nigerians disown their country with so much hatred, calling their motherland unprintable names. While people of means are seeking better lives overseas for themselves and families, others want a relief from untold hardship. 

These problems notwithstanding, Nigeria has undoubtedly made noticeable socio- economic progress, at least since 1999 when it returned to democracy after years of military interregnum.

Telecommunications in the country had grown substantially with the advent of mobile phones.

Despite the challenges in the education sector like poor funding, ASUU strike etc, Nigeria boasts of about 262  higher institutions, arguably the largest tertiary education sector in Africa. Millions of graduates are released annually, creating the most educated workforce on the continent. However, the energy of this mostly young ones need to be properly channelled.

On the whole, Nigeria is in dire need of a forward looking leader, who is also a unifier. A leader who can harness the available human and material resources for the peace and progress of the country. A leader who will make terrorism and banditry become a thing of the past. A leader who is sound physically and mentally. A leader who can recreate economically viable nation that will be the envy of all. A selfless leader who can restore our lost glory. 

As we approach the 2023 elections, let all well meaning Nigerians put aside ethnic and religious sentiments to elect the right candidates at the polls. Collecting stipends from incompetent politicians for “stomach infrastructure” to vote for them will lead to no where. Any decision at the elections next year will affect the country positively or otherwise for another four years. Enough of bad leadership.  Nigeria can be great again!

Akinyemi Seun

(c) Globetelly

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