Welcome to Nigeria, a country with a population of over 150 million People – The most populous black nation in the world. A country where street hawkers and even an Okada-man believes in the mantra – “one day, e go better”. That’s how passionate Nigerians are. Some people say out of every five black men in the world, one is a Nigerian. Now if you’re a Nigerian, None of these is new to you.
This month, we celebrate 53 years since Nigeria gained independence from the British. People say Naija has developed to a commendable degree; others share the opinion that Nigerian politicians have wasted and embezzled Nigeria’s resources to the detriment of the nation’s development. Nigeria’s major source of income is oil, yet the average Nigerian lives on less than one dollar per day.
Having abundant oil and not being able to refine is a shock many Nigerians are yet to recover from. As usual, the Independence Day routine should go this way: The President holds a live telecast and speaks to Nigerians (who are lucky to have power or functioning generators at that time) and probably congratulate Nigerians then of course proceed to throw a party that would be graced by the crème de la crème of the society.
Yes, Nigerians love to party. But the question is; should Nigeria really celebrate its independence? Especially with the following things plaguing us
• Evident epileptic power supply across the country(records showed recently that power generation capacity suffered a significant decline from an all-time high of 4,517 megawatts recorded last December to a miserable level of about 3,300 megawatts in the middle of April.)
•Poor social infrastructure
• Pathetic Educational System(with ASSU strike still ongoing)
•The Insurgence of Boko Haram
•Current political crisis (even in the ruling party)
• High rate of unemployment(with Nigeria’s unemployment rate for 2011 at 23.9% with youth unemployment rate at over 50%)
• And all other issues facing the nation?
The finance minister says the economy is making progress and of course I’m forced to believe her because obviously I know little or nothing about the economy. But the fact remains that its impact on the people of Nigeria is almost invisible. Even the people who are willing to contribute to the society (a perfect unemployment excuse for the government) by either creating jobs for themselves or in any other way are constantly frustrated by the lack of social amenities. And even some others who choose to be inspired by great minds that dropped out of school in “developed countries”, by dropping out of school in a “developing country” have had their fair share of frustration. Nigeria is great country! – I hear it all the time and I believe it strongly, but I think it’s time Nigerians began to see the greatness and enjoy the dividends of being a citizen of a great country. A great country is not just about winning the Nations Cup and constantly claiming the self-acclaimed “Giant of Africa” title etc. There’s more. Good governance, peace, unity, security of lives and property amongst others.
We have a President who has continuously reiterated his intentions to better the lives of Nigerians – some believe in him and the “Nigerian Dream”; others are gradually running out of patience. But patience is key, they say.
Some Nigerians have quickly taken to the social media to make all sorts of jokes about Nigeria. Others have confidently adopted the cliché “a fool at forty is a fool forever” to describe the Nigerian situation and ridicule the Independence Day celebration. It leads to the big question – is Nigeria Really a fool at 53?
Even though there’s no electricity as I write this, my honest prayer for Nigeria remains better leadership, peace and unity.
Emeka Obia is a Social scientist, writer, blogger, speaker and a passionate Nigerian.He blogs at Emeka Talks.