Nigeria At Fifty: A Story of Grand Failure.
I drew inspiration to write this report in the deep crevices of Ore , Ondo State . Date was Monday, 27 th September 2010 and I found myself on the much talked about Benin-Ore Road. Because that road has become intractable, at least, from the perception of the locusts that have raided this country as leaders in fifty unfortunate years, we had to navigate from the road to the discarded bush traps, and otherwise we would sleep on that road. We struggled with overlapping tree boughs and creeping bushes to see if we could pass through one of the thickest forests just because the nation, in fifty years, cannot guarantee passable roads, even of the worst standard, to its citizens. What came to mind as we struggled to sneak out of that crevice that advertises our woeful failure as a nation was how low we had dragged humanity, how deep down we had sank and how further low we are still bracing to go .
We were three days from celebrating our fiftieth independence anniversary and here we are groping hopelessly in deep forests and amidst gorges to find our ways. I know that on the part of the present marauders in power, several billions of Naira has been budgeted for revelry. I know that some party faithful and collaborators are smiling to the banks and that these pests are planning to have another orgy at our collective expenses but here we are, wallowing in a thick forest to get to our respective destinations at the eve of our fiftieth independence anniversary. I began to worry that we have been saddled by a completely failed and irreparable country that stands as eternal threat and rebuke to humanity at this turn of the century. I became agitated that fifty years after we happily waved bye to the Union Jack , we had worked ourselves into a frankeistian hell hole; a country that devours its inhabitants, a living nightmare that has become a huge embarrassment to humanity.
At fifty, Nigeria has bequeathed chaos, anarchy and disorder to human race. It is looked at more from the fallouts of its failures to human order than the prospects it holds for humanity. Nigeria has in fifty years, wrecked its citizens, made them mental cases and shrank life expectancy of its people to intolerable lows. At fifty, Nigeria has succeeded in unleashing mayhem and vices on humanity and its leaders have, at best, been locusts that have taken away a great proportion of its citizens lives through audacious stealing of public resources and unchecked impunity and avarice. Of course a land that devours its inhabitants!
Yes, we are fifty and only those who have done their great bit in compromising the growth of the country feel there is something to rejoice about. Of course they have budgeted billions of Naira to waste in a land cringing with enough human disasters to last a continent. They have sufficient reasons to gloat and dance but the majority of Nigerians see enough reason to ask God why He deigned to punish us with this bedraggled country. Our collective persecutors feebly try to seduce us to dance and rejoice with them and for lack of a more convincing reason; goad us to thank God that we are still one country. What a cheeky balderdash!
But then, no one, not even our prodigal leaders and their cahoots, is debating that Nigeria as a country, in fifty wasted years has failed all indices of progress. The roads are perennially bad. Hunger and malnutrition whack the citizenry with endless frenzy, corruption and nepotism have become second gods, deified by the citizens of a country that is oil rich. The country has become one huge prison where sundry criminals, both within and without power, hold suzerain court. Unemployment, horrendous misery, high mortality rate of all cadres of the population, want, disease, and all other negative vicissitudes pillory the malnourished citizenry to no end while incompetence and official buffoonery are celebrated as directive principles of state policy. Hyper inflation, crumbling standard of living and high cost of living maul Nigerians with increased fervor each passing day. Indeed, majority of Nigerians have given up on the country, which is why they besiege embassies of foreign countries, and even modest African countries, to enlist as economic refugees and escape the vagaries of Nigeria.
Fifty years after independence, our health sector writs in death throes, the vicious circle of poverty makes its rounds freely among the citizenry. Fifty years after independence, our educational sector has completely collapsed making way for private hatcheries and profit making incubators that go pass as private schools. Fifty years after independence, Nigerians are prisoners to kidnappers, armed robbers, hired assassins and all manners of rough heads and the country's heavily compromised security agencies have thrown their hands in fearful surrender to these impudent ghouls. Fifty years after independence has seen a near complete de-industrialization of the country as the few foreign investments that came into the country have been frightened off by unflagging man-made tempests and leadership calamities.
Fifty years after independence, Nigeria still gropes rudderlessly in the dark as the power sector has almost completely gone kaput, after endless years of fruitless promises and several trillions of Naira washed down the drain. Fifty years after independence and hundreds of billions of petro-dollars after, Nigeria has sunk into an intractable quagmire where the only constant factor straddling the nation is progressive degeneration. It is fast gobbling up every sector and the witless mandarins that have conscripted power have no fair idea of how to steer the ship of state aright. Fifty years after independence, Nigeria still hovers in the dark ages, complete with every delimiting tendencies; poor life, poor hygiene, brutish and short life, internecine poverty, hunger and disease. Poor and bankrupt leadership has sown dread, mistrust, sectarian and religious friction and there is no letting down the negative ennui that hunts every Nigerian.
Fifty years after independence, our political sector has gone full circle to become a play thing for thugs, shibboleths, criminals, rough necks, hustlers, dregs, layabouts, scoundrels, pimps and scavengers who can muster enough muck to wrestle their ways to power. The process itself stinks as it has excelled in every manner of intrigue to throw up horrible leaders that have diligently prosecuted the defenestration of the country. It wobbles from one grave pitfall to another graver morass.
Fifty years after independence, disillusionment and despair have displaced the high hopes that prevailed in October 1960. Who would have thought fifty years ago that the wave of nationalism that surged to force out external colonialist would be completely obliterated and replaced by an acute sense of despondency, paranoia and cynicism? When we were lowering the Union Jack and hoisting our green, white, green flag, who would have known that regret and nostalgia would be our lot fifty years after as a leadership disaster has made Nigeria a despised and loathed nation; the butt of the ribaldry of the outside world and a sick and deranged joke to all human race. Yes, the raiders that have taken turn to prosecute this awful result want to goad us to rejoice because they have lifted a huge cache of our national patrimony and have gone scot free. They want us to join them in a deceptive orgy of wastefulness for no reason at all than that they have made good for themselves with the resources that would have been employed to better the lots of the commonwealth.
We are fifty years but a mere midget that excels only in vices and negative attributes. We are fifty but still a huge liability to humanity who suspect our every move and wastes no time in putting us down. When it pleases our raiders to humour themselves, they waffle through the illogic that it will take eternity for us to get it right. They try to confuse us that fifty years is not enough for us to start doing things right even when they have supervised the wasting of the largest chunk of humanity in fifty nightmarish years. But then, you begin to wonder if God created Nigerians after creating Americans, Europeans, Asians and other races.
So it is understandable, even as it is amazing that at fifty, Nigerians are mourning and gnashing their teeth in misery. It is disheartening that at fifty, we are practically lying prostate while humanity races to the moon. It is understandable why Nigerians openly regret our independence from external colonialists only to fall unguardedly into the luscious laps of internal predators. I understand why Nigerians are gloomy, dreary and sad as they celebrate their fiftieth independence anniversary. Besides the grand failures of the past fifty years, they see no hope of success in the next fifty or neon years because all indices point to the fact that reality. That, more than the profound failure of the past fifty years, makes the story more fearful.
Peter Claver Oparah.