Golden Jubilee Celebration: For What?
John Kennedy in defence of America's freedom and liberty reiterated 'Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and
success of liberty." These virtues of freedom and liberty are like to the oxygen of the soul. Since then America has pursued the freedom of her people with vigour, It is God's own State.
In Nigeria , right from independence, the centrifugal forces of tear and divide manifested very early. This could be corroborated in the statements of the nationalists. One of the founding fathers of Nigeria 's independence Late Nnamdi Azikiwe, December 1964 asserted "I have one advice to give to our politicians. If they have decided to destroy our national unity, then they should summon a round-table conference to decide how our national assets should be divided before they seal their doom by satisfying their lust for office. I make this suggestion because it is better for us and many admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, then I will venture the prediction that the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be a child's play if ever it comes to our turn to play such a tragic role."
Late Obafemi Awolowo " Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no 'Nigerians' in the same sense as there are 'English,' 'Welsh,' or 'French.' The word 'Nigerian' is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not." This statement was made in 1964 and 46 years after, the reality of Nigerian situation is reflective of that assertion. Zik and Awo were leaders with great foresight.
There are three major differences between the nationalists and the leaders thrown-up by circumstances in the past three decades. First, whereas the nationalists attempted to fight to unite the nation, the leaders of these later days do not contemplate any ideas that would forge unity in the Nigerian State . Secondly, the nationalists resisted the lure to large scale peculation, the present politicians and military men have no concern for the welfare of the masses, and hence they plunder the commonwealth with ravenous gluttony. Thirdly, during electioneering campaigns, those leaders operated on the basis of sound ideology but our rulers now favour laissez-fairism. Kleptocracy is another word for democracy in Nigeria .
It is therefore not surprising that 50 year after 1960, our leaders are still visioning, planning and forecasting; it may take them another fifty year to provide the template for implementation. Everything in Nigeria is in a state of near paralysis. The health system is decrepit; education is in a near-comatose state, our roads are short-cut to hell, insecurity metaphorically walks on four legs; and because of epileptic power supply, the whole nation is in darkness. No industry can function without power supply. The hitherto viable industries in Nigeria have all wound up and that is why unemployment has reached the roof tops. The home grown economic strategy NEEDS 1 and 2 have been abandoned and the same fate has befallen Vision 20: 2020 and the much orchestrated Seven-Point Agenda.
Since democracy resurfaced in May 1999, the economic indicators have been negative; inflation is double digit, unemployment has soared, the quality of education at all level has diminished, industrialization has taken a back-seat while work ethics has been deposited in the trashcan of lexicon of our bureaucracy. On the contrary the PDP lead administration has estranged corruption as a way of life in discipline in all spheres of life electoral malpractices and other sundry vices. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the 12th largest in the world but ironically, we rank 158 out of 177 on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Poverty Index. We need to celebrate about this poor HDI record.
We are the 6 th largest producer of crude oil in the Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) yet our refineries produce at an unenviable low capacity; hence about 70 percent of petroleum products consumed domestically is imported. We have one of the most fertile soils on earth yet we cannot grow enough food to feed the populace. Nigeria relies heavily on the importation of rice and other staple for her survival. The nation is blessed with some of the best brains in the world, yet the educational system is so decrepit that this high calibre manpower cannot be retained. Nigeria frustrates her brain power and gets them brain-drained out to develop other lands. The implication is that the nation is robbed of the much-needed quantum leap. On the contrary, the Nigeria runs a war economy because of the mindless ruination of the economy by the vampires and sorcerers.
Our collective deceptions over the years have completely lacerated the scant democratic credentials we had when our foreign policy was vibrant in the 1970s and the 1980s. The nation's political adventurism and posturing as Giant of Africa prompted the nation to fight for the freedom of Apartheid South Africa , Angola , Mozambique and Zimbabwe Nigeria has perfected the importation of what is in abundance and exportation of what is in acute short supply. Our questionable democratic credentials notwithstanding, Nigeria wasted human and fiscal resources to restore democracy in Liberia and Sierra Leone but democracy is a rare commodity on the delectable sheet of our political menu. A grandiose paradox!
It is on record that the monies that have accrued to Nigeria for the past 11 years is more than all the monies the country has received from 1960 to 1999, yet the ruling class has deliberately mismanaged that the nation cannot even provide basic security of lives and property. It is also on record that since democracy resurfaced in the number of high profile political murders is unprecedented in Nigeria . Every year Nigeria votes billions of the tax payers' money for security yet majority of Nigerians are not safe. Government initiated the police, prisons and criminal justice system reforms but nothing has been achieved. The police establishment is becoming more corrupt by the day and our prisons are like the torture chambers of Nazi Germany, yet we are reforming. Reforming what?
The top echelon of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party shows that the terrain is inundated with impetuous 'belly conscious' Kleptocrats. In Nigeria , politics is no longer a game that ennobles the human soul; but stigmatizes even sane people with the rapacity of 'petty thieves.' Democracy dividends in Nigeria are interpreted to mean poverty for the people and affluence for the political class. It also means the entrenchment of grand larceny. Democracy dividends in our landscape mean empty promises for the people and primitive accumulation for the elite.
The PDP has an impressive, superlative profile of highly politically motivated assassinations that are yet to be unravelled. The PDP administration has not unravelled the death of death of Dr. Marshall Harry Chief A.K. Dikibo, the Igwes, Funsho Williams, Dipo Dina and scores of others. The Freedom of Information Bill is confined to the morgue by the National Assembly, as more and more journalists are paying the ultimate price in practising the flotsam-jetsam profession. The several journalists that have been assassinated and the Police do not feel a sense of duty to de-mystify such knotty cases.
Our collective deceptions over the years have completely lacerated the scant democratic credentials we had in the 1970s and the 1980s. Nigeria wasted human and fiscal resources to restore democracy in Liberia and Sierra Leone but democracy is a rare commodity on the delectable sheet of our political menu. A grandiose paradox! The democracy we practice in Nigeria was designed for the people, has veered into the hands of mafia bosses and empire builders. Even President Goodluck Jonathan bows to the Mafioso hence he kowtows to the Governors and their godfathers on PDP election time-tabling, adjustment of PDP primaries and other decisions, which most Nigerians thought he could veto with executive fiat.
It is unfortunate that 50 years after independence, Nigeria remains in quandary with essential infrastructure virtually in comatose. The education sector is in disarray while the health sector has virtually collapsed. We export virtually everything we consume. Perhaps the only commodity we export is crude oil and the service we render to the wide world is 419 or advanced fee fraud. 419 has demonized the nation and by extension instituted bad governance.
The second verse of our national anthem betrays the nation's leadership. It reads: Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause, Guide our leaders right, Help our youth the truth to know,
In love and honesty to grow , And living just and true, Great lofty heights attain, To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.
From the behaviour of our leaders, it is germane to hazard the guess that God has not been directing our leaders because they do not embark on any cause that is noble. The youths are supposed to be leaders of tomorrow, but the elders want to be leaders forever. This implies that Nigeria is not a just society. In a land where there is no justice nation building becomes problematic. This has been the national malaise 50 years after flag independence.
Nigeria is 50 years but she can neither manufacture anything nor feed her population, why can't we celebrate our non-achievement? Warning! Any Nigerian who is against the jubilee celebration is unpatriotic, and Dora's rebranding PLC will blacklist all such people. We the celebrants of mediocrity will also ensure those enemies of Nigeria do not benefit from the N6.6 billion only, we will squander on October 1, 2010 . We must ensure that no wrapper, abada or T-Shirt is distributed to their wives and Children. After all, the ruling class derides the masses, rejoice at their poverty and relish the growing hiatus between the haves and have-nots. Idumange John, is Fellow, Institute of Public Management, Nigeria