NIGERIA AT 52: FEW GAINS, MANY PAINS.
By an act of the British Parliament Nigeria became an Independent country within the Commonwealth on October1, 1960 , Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was installed as governor general of the federation and Balewa continued to serve as head of democratically elected parliamentary, but now completely sovereign, government. The governor general represented the British monarch as head of state and was appointed by the crown on the advice of the Nigerian prime minister in consultation with the regional premiers. The governor general, in turn ,was responsible for choosing a candidate from among contending leaders when there was no parliamentary majority otherwise, the governor general's office was essentially ceremonial.
In February 1961, a plebiscite was conducted to determine the disposition of the Southern Cameroons and Northern Cameroons, which were administered by Britain as United Nations Trust Territories. By an overwhelming majority, voters in the Southern Cameroons opted to join formerly French-administered Cameroon over integration with Nigeria as a separate federated region. In the Northern Cameroons however, the largely Muslism electorate chose to merge with Nigeria's Northern region.
Eight Military regimes succeeded, beginning in 1966, interspersed between the fourth and fifth military regime by a return to civilian rule with the second Republic between October 1979 and December 1983. The final military regime left power on May 29, 1999, when the current fourth Republic was installed and the President was democratically elected.
It was under the second Military regime ( July,1966 to July 1975) that some of Nigeria's major development programmes were established, such as the extensive expansion and exploitation of Nigeria's mineral resources culminating in the oil Boom' which in no small measure changed the economy, the taste and living standard of many Nigerians. It was also, unfortunately, a time of war, on August 9, 1967, Nigeria declared full-scale on 'Biafra” after its forces had invaded and captured the Mid-west state. With Biafra's collapse in 1970, the region was reunited with the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a period of reconciliation and reconstruction followed.
The government also introduced various forms of bursaries, scholarships and students loan scheme in the 1970s, a government review programme for the improvement in salaries and wages; the Nigerianisation Decree compelling all foreign firms operating in Nigeria to nationalize or leave; the changing of road traffic from left to right hand drive, the changing of the national currency to naira and kobo and the establishment of organized federal councils for the arts, sciences, Universities, sports and Agriculture, corruption was a major cause of strife under the military regimes and it took years for Nigeria to get its house in order.
In the history of Nigeria's independence, the Northern region have ruled the country for 37 consecutive years while the Southern region is just 15 years which the present leadership of president Goodluck Jonathan is at decimal point of envious. On May 29, 1999 Nigeria returned from the Military interregnum to civilian government which brought the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to power. Through out the rulership of the military regimes, Nigeria experienced several military bloody coups that almost divided the country into two, if not God's intervention. The Military government came to power in pretence of restoring sanity in the government which was gravely disabused by the powers-that-be. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was in power for eight consecutive years with little achievements which Telecommunication was restored totally from the ramshackle of bad Military leaders. Though OBJ almost transited his government into third term bid which was thrown into the waste can by the National Assembly senators. The Likes of OBJ, IBB and Abacha almost thrown the country's leadership into verbal war which was narrowly overcame through God's intervention and some political leaders.
Come to think of Nigeria's independence from 1960, Nigeria has been embedded with high profile corruption which is traced to public office holders in the country. The independence only gives us monumental freedom from foreign policies while the living standard of Nigerians sill remains where it is because of bad leadership that entangled the entire process. The purpose of this political independence has been totally defeated. No government has able to provide adequately for its citizens. Though the Military regimes did well in uniting Nigerians after the bloody civil war that lasted for three years. Every Nigerian leader that has ruled the country had its own shortcomings which overshadowed the positive achievements. At 50. Nigeria was lavishly celebrated which many achievements were attested to Nigerians that cares to listen. That celebration of Nigeria at 50 also experienced innocent killings of Nigerians through Boko Haram insurgence which one Niger Delta activist claimed responsibility of that infamous act.
Moreover, Celebrating Nigeria at 52, it is worthy to be celebrated because Nigeria has able to sustain civilian government to civilian government without interruption of the Military government. Nigeria presently has 124 universities, Polytechnics and colleges of Education but the standard of the educational system has drastically dropped in all ramifications. Even the high brain-drain in our Nigerian universities is nothing to write home about. President Goodluck Jonathan is gradually restoring the power sector with high bills to the electricity users. The attempt to introduce #5000 note by CBN governor Sanusi is an unjust policy but was thrown out of the system by the National Assembly senators. Thus, Nigeria is greatly battling with insecurity threats where thousands of Nigerians have been abruptly killed in the north while property worth billions of naira destroyed.
It is time for present Nigerian leaders to see the Independence celebration as time to reflect our past leaders that took time to
fight for the political emancipation of the country. President Goodluck Jonathan should use this independence celebration to critically looked at the ailing sectors of the economy that needed urgent attention especially oil and gas sector where the current fuel scarcity is plaguing on Nigerians, Aviation, Education, Health, Sports and just mention but a few.
BY GODDAY ODIDI. 08058124798,08063458693, Public Affairs Commentator. @20 oro Street Ajegunle