CELEBRATING NIGERIA AT 50
Come October 1, Nigeria will add one more feather to her cap as the nation marks its golden jubilee. This year's anniversary, it seems, will be like no other before it since the country got her independence from Great Britain in 1960. In this connection, the Federal Government has been making elaborate plans to make the anniversary a remarkable event.
Understandably, some individuals, groups, and in particular, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have criticized some aspects of the anniversary plans, especially the financial. No doubt, organized Labour may have expressed the feelings of some Nigerians who are calling for a low-key celebration, devoid of pomp and circumstance.
However, the fact that our country is still together despite many fault lines and differences that could have torn us irretrievably apart is worth celebrating. Moreover, it is in line with the vision and aspirations of our elder statesmen who championed the quest for nationhood, and got it without shedding blood.
More importantly, we should not gloss over the fact that 50 years represents a milestone, a threshold in any nation's history. The enduring significance of the anniversary will find its true meaning if it is used as a platform for deep reflection, a period of soul-searching on how far we have come collectively as a nation, what we have been able to achieve, our failures, pains and how to chart a new course for a better Nigeria.
Beyond the fireworks, the joy and clinking of glasses that come with this year's epochal event, we urge that this anniversary be used to provide the right pathway for cementing our unity and turning our weaknesses into strength.
More than at any other event, the forthcoming anniversary should be used to engender the spirit of nationalism among our different peoples. Let it also be another opportunity to find solutions to our nagging national problems.
Whether Nigeria as a nation has achieved much to warrant rolling out of the drums at 50 remains arguable. Nevertheless, we insist that our gains far outweigh our losses.
The enduring impact should be the opportunity it affords the citizens, especially the political leadership, to articulate our challenges and connect with the people and their aspirations. Therefore, the present administration should see the forthcoming jubilee as a veritable platform to walk the talk. Real action should take the place of promises. That is what the tempers of these challenging times demand. Government should strive to get its priorities right. Governance is a human enterprise, which makes sense only if it is focused on how to improve the fortunes of the people and make them have abiding faith in the nation. This has been one of the areas in which our successive governments have been found wanting.
We advise governments across the country to use this unique occasion to reflect on the challenges before them. Let them gauge public opinion, desires and demands, and direct their energies and resources towards fulfilling them. Attention should be focused on the different areas of our economy that need urgent attention. These include prudent management of resources, poverty alleviation and provision of gainful employment and infrastructure such as electricity, good roads and medical facilities.
The forthcoming anniversary should be used as an occasion to prioritize our needs against competing demands as a nation. If we fail to plan well, we unwittingly plan to fail. Our governments, at all levels, must not allow this to happen.