Cry Of A Sleeping Giant
The recent demonstrations that characterized the Nigeria's 60th independece day's anniversary and the continuous persecution of Nigerians in some countries abroad show that the country needs to wake up from her slumber and regain her rightful position in the comity of nations.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had on 13th September, 2020, described Nigeria as a country slowly becoming a failed State and a basket case that urgently needs to be pulled from the brink of collapse. Though, this was countered by the presidency and those who have reservations for the comment, but the reality on ground shows that the man is not too far from the truth.
Particularly, looking at the level of poverty, insecurity, number of children out of school, unemployment, underemployment, police brutality, noise of secession and others that have nearly reduced Nigeria Independence to a paradox.
Infact, it seems the gain made by the nation's founding fathers at the independence in 1960 is gradually dwindling with the incessant calls by most ethnic groups to leave Nigeria.
In the south west region of the country for instance, there were people that threatened to declare Oduduwa republic on the independence day before they were warned of the consequences of their action by the police.
In support of this declaration, the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) also declared a sit down at home for the people living in the Biafran land. Though, the declaration seems to be like a comedy organized by a group of comedians because the nation still remains as one despite the threat, but it is a great departure from the pact signed at independence by the heroes past.
Based on the vision of those that fought for the independence of Nigeria, October 1, ought to be a day when Nigerians ought to renew their commitment to the unity of Nigeria by celebrating Independence secured from colonial masters in 1960. That was one of the reasons those that were alive during civil war in 1967 used the available resources at their disposal to prevent the country from collapsing.
In order to cement this gain, the country embarked on a big brother gesture by using her influence to help liberate other African countries from the vestiges of colonialism which set the tone for Nigeria’s Afrocentric foreign policy.
Nigeria mounted pressure on the apartheid government of South Africa and took on western powers by backing the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). And in West Africa, Nigeria offered herself as the economic and military machinery of ECOWAS and ECOMOG in attempts to quell civil wars in Liberia and numerous offshoots of conflict.
As a result of this great effort, Nigeria became the giant of Africa till after the doom in oil and leadership, which made the gallant giant to degragaded to the sleeping giant gasping for help.
In 2019, the media was flooded with the news of Xenophobic attacks in South Africa where Nigerians were sacrified on the alter of hatred for the foreigners.
Just of recent, the Ghanaian authority whose citizens benefited greatly from the oil boom economy in Nigeria before they were sent parking in 80s due to the oil doom that followed the boom also imposed a levy of one million dollars on foreigners doing business in the country including Nigerians.
Not only that, under the watch of the Ghanaian government some buildings that belong to the Nigerian High Commission were seized and demonlished in a suspicious manner. Though, the government alleged irregularities in their documentation, but deducing from the statement that followed, it is obvious that the action goes beyond the issue of documentation.
For instance, the Ghana's Minister of Information, Endkojo Nkrumah, after justifying the actions taken by his country, blamed Nigeria for closing Seme Krake border which seriously affected Ghanaian business men and had gravely impact on other countries in the Region.
However, this seems not to be strange to those that have been following the trend of events in the domestic affairs of Nigeria because for a country to be a gallant giant in a continent or the world, it must have strong economy, stable security, population, military strength among other ingredients that create diplomatic influence for a country in the international sphere.
Though, Nigeria had recorded notable victories in her foreign mission but the growing insecurity within the domestic sphere raises serious concern. The Nigerian military has been unable to completely wipe out Boko Haram in the North East. While the numbers of potential terrorist group tagged banditry continue to increase in the North West.
Similar story is told of the level of insecurity in the North Central, South West, South East and South South regions of the country. Recently, a sizeable number of security personnels attached to the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State were killed by the Boko Haram terrorists while on duty.
Also, through police brutality, so many lives have been loss. Even, despite the ban on Federal Special Anti-Robbry Squad (FSARS), some police officers still continue use fire arms against peaceful protesters.
At the heart of this urgly situation is the issue of poverty which has sent so many people to the early grave and increased the number of out of school children in the country. Due to the pain of this deadly disease, many Nigerian youths have turned to fruadsters while some are enrouting dangerous routes to Europe in looking for greener pastures.
Unfortunately, the government that ought to salvage this situation is also creating poverty through the "back door" by disengaging some workers even at the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, between June and July, the Federal Government disengaged 500, 000 N-power volunteers without given them exist package to start up the business of their dream and promise to engage another set of 400, 000 graduates to fill the gap.
These 400, 000 volunteers will also be thrown back to pool of poverty like currently 500, 000 volunteers swimming in the pool due to the disengagement by the Federal government after serving the nation for two years. Meaning that, by 2023, close to 900 000 of those participated in N-power programme would have been disengaged back to the league of graduates unemployed.
No wonder Nigerians are persecuted and called different names abroad. It is high time the nation wakes up from her slumber by returning to the pact of sufficient job creation, business friendly environment, peace, prosperity and unity signed at the Independence so that the labour of heroes past will not be in vain.
Femi Oluwasanmi writes from Ibafo, Ogun State.