56th Independence Commemoration: Look Inwards, End the Blame Games

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Fifty six years after Nigeria was granted the right to be ruled by Nigerians, how has the country fared? Are we as a people, happy with the way things are? Has this so called self rule or independence paid off?

Has the country really fared in such a way that would make Nigerians proud to be identified with it? Who independence epp, someone may be tempted to ask? Or do we organise an inter-denominational deliverance for the country as suggested by the anchor a radio programme I listened to recently?

The painful truth is that we have not fared better. Within the last fifty six years, we really do not have anything to show. The quality of life and standard of living of the people has not ceased to depreciate, security of life and property is a mirage. ‎Leadership is at an all time low. Nigerians no longer see a reason to be proud of their country.

We have degenerated so bad that we are now a "used-to be people". Often times, the younger generation are told stories of how things were once working in the country; how students were paid for going to school,‎ how without knowing somebody, your just and fair due is guaranteed and protected; how education was almost free at some point, how graduates were confused about which or what job to settle for, etcetera!

At independence, Nigeria was not without prospects. The country was doing very well in agriculture, we were then an exporting country; Rubber, Cocoa, Oil Palm, Groundnut, etc. We were once a respected and an enterprising country globally. Unfortunately, all that prospect has frittered away. Today, her peers have all made significant progress while she trudges behind, ‎with a slim chance of getting there. One question that has remained unanswered is, how did we get here?

There have been attempts at explaining how we got this decrepit and stagnated stage as a country. Some blame it on leadership. Many a leader of Nigeria has been without patriotism. Shortly after independence, our nationalist became ethnic warriors and preferred to ‎champion the ethnic course rather than national course. Flowing from the non-challant attidue of our nationalists is the problem of corruption ochestrated by leaders whose major pre-occupation is sleaze and looting. Political leaders view leadership position as a means to wealth and not a call to service. Nigeria as a nation has been striped naked by the massive looting of her leaders.

Another group claim it is the after-effect of the civil war. This group believe that the country is yet to recover from the silent consequences of the war. This has thus led to the mutual suspicion with which Nigeria‎ns view themselves, and is has also led to the rise of ethnicism and tribalism.

In all these analysis, Nigerian share the highest brunt. Hunger, strive, poverty, poor infrastructural facilities,‎ decayed educational system, unemployment, the list is just endless. There is absolutely nothing positive to feel proud about. While the country urges its citizens to be there for her, she is doing nothing to be there for them.

One understands that feeling because one is not immune to them‎. The effect of the crass and systemic failure in leadership and by extension Nigeria, is thoroughly felt by all of us.

Should we lose hope, fold our arms and accept our destiny or fate? I think not. We need to feed our faith with hope and optimism that things would get better. Doing so, is not living in denial that things are not bad. It is accepting that things may not be rosy right now, but we are determined to keep striving because what lies ahead is a great future.

We cannot achieve our dream of a country where everything works unless we show interest in what affects her and undertake to do our part as citizens by making our modest contributions with the aim of making Nigeria great. The current situation where everybody is waiting to get his/her share of the national cake is unacceptable.

Yes, Nigeria has really retrogressed, ‎we are taking more steps backwards than we are forward; but, whose fault? Typically of our attitude of blaming the other man, we put the blame on our leaders. But leaders are not gotten from the sky or moon. They are gotten from the society! It is the orientation of the society that they go to act while in power. Leaders are a reflection of their societies. Society must changes it's orientation if we must attain the country of our dream.

Patriotism must also be taken to a new level. ‎ We must exorcise every shackle of ethnicity, nepotism, religion. Loyalty should be to country and not to where we come from or some individuals. Good deeds should be rewarded regardless of who does it and bad deeds should be condemned regardless of who is involved.

When we do these, we just may be laying the foundation for the country ‎of our dreams. God bless Nigeria and happy Independence!

Frank Ijege
Network for Democracy and Human Rights
[email protected]

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Articles by Frank O. Ijege