Nigeria at Sixty

By Khalifa Musa Muhammad

“The ruin of a nation begins in the home of its people” – Ghanaian proverb

On 1st October 2020, Nigeria marked sixty years of independence from Britain. During these years Nigeria has faced a lot and we have had parliamentary system, military rule and presidential system. We have failed to use the three to prudently manage our resources and steer us in the right direction. We are currently in the fourth republic and have had democracy for the twenty-first year running.

A democracy where the political parties and its members lack principles and government is not really seen as a continuum. From independence to date Nigeria has progressed and had a facelift. This progress is not adequate and cannot be considered as satisfactory. Only those milking the country dry will be satisfied with the state of affairs in Nigeria.

Nigeria is dubbed as the giant of Africa but unfortunately we have not lived up to this. We have not been able to capitalize on our potential. Nigeria has what it takes to be a leading, strong and powerful country globally but we are lagging behind. Human resource is regarded as the best resource but it is undervalued in Nigeria. The bulk of the population is made up of teeming unemployed youth. Surprisingly, while the children are unemployed their parents are benefitting from reappointment. The selected few that are employed are dissatisfied with working conditions. While those into businesses frown at the environment which is not conducive.

The size of Nigeria is big. Our soil is rich and it engages the bulk of the rural community but we have failed to make agriculture technologically driven. Most states in Nigeria are blessed with natural resources but how many states are judiciously benefiting from these resources? The lack of much needed attention has led to Illegal miners having a field day at the detriment of Nigeria. On industrialization, despite having the prospect to manufacture and produce a lot of goods we are heavily dependent on imported goods.

Crude oil is the mainstay of the economy and our performance in this sector is poor. The amount of revenue that can be generated from petroleum and petrochemical industries is much. Unluckily, we have not taken necessary measures that will rejig the petroleum industry to perform effectively. Our refineries do not run efficiently and this makes us rely heavily on refined petroleum products that are imported.

Maximizing the use of our size, resources and potential would have taken us to greater heights. Unfortunately, we are far behind and the Nigerian state is being threatened by numerous challenges like insecurity, corruption, banditry and kidnapping amongst others. The dire economic situation in the land fuels most of the criminal activities we are facing. The once peaceful northern Nigeria is plagued with insurgency, kidnapping and banditry. Travellers move with their hearts in their mouths. Plying the Abuja-Kaduna road is now a non-starter for some people due to incessant kidnappings. The alternative is the train but ticket fare is high and getting the ticket is difficult at times due to alleged racketeering.

Nigeria is blessed with water bodies but access to clean water is a challenge in some communities. Our road networks are in bad shape. Electricity is inadequate and access to healthcare is difficult. Nigeria needs to do more on social amenities. Furthermore, we are the poverty capital of the world with not less than 13 million children out of school. In 2016, we were tagged as fantastically corrupt by, David Cameron, a former Prime Minister of Britain. Most countries we were on par with at independence are light years ahead of us today.

There is hunger in the land and people are living in penury. This has been worsened by the recent increase in price of petrol and electricity. The children of the poor enjoy scholarships no more. We cannot go to farms peacefully and even after harvest to bring farm produce to the city we ply the roads with fear. We have more graduates and schools but the impact of education on our system is not fantastic. The progress we have witnessed is far below standard. We need to step up and tighten our belts. Calling Nigeria a giant nowadays is more of mockery. We did this to ourselves and we have to right the wrongs.

As citizens we have to be more patriotic. Let us be the change we wish to see in our dear nation. We should not be blinded by self-interest or greed. For us to go far we have to be united and not allow ourselves to be victims of divide and rule. This is paramount for us to tackle the challenges we are facing. The ills in the society do not inflict pain and anguish based on ethnicity or religion. So, there is strength in numbers and we have to use these numbers wisely. By 2050, projections state that our population will hit 400 million. To cater for this mammoth population Nigeria has to take a quantum leap in terms of economic development.

With no strong institutions there will be no quantum leap. It is our duty to collectively work towards building strong institutions that will drive our politics and accelerate growth and development. This cannot be achieved without competent political leadership. The politicians decide what happens and what we get at the end of the day. They hold the key to unlocking our potentials. Once we leave the political arena in the wrong hands then we are doomed. We have to join the political train whether actively or passively to contribute to robust policies that will take us to the Promised Land. Success will not come to our doorstep if we fold hands and the more we shy away from politics the more we keep deteriorating.

Our dear nation has not lived up to expectations but it can be polished and packaged. This will result to glitters which will cause a glint and more people will not mind a glance. The youth have a vital role to play in restoring and redeeming Nigeria’s image. The vigor and energy of the youth should be channeled in the right direction. Youth should spend more time on activities that will enhance their capacities. Nigeria needs to be driven by individuals with capacity. There is need for more competent hands on deck -may God give us men.

Khalifa Musa Muhammad writes from Kaduna

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