:By Mmesoma Nicole
Quoting the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi “Far a nation to be free, it needs to and must be a home of the brave”. The cause for today’s celebration is more than enough evidence to describe Nigeria as a home of the brave. Congratulations to her on the 63rd celebration of her freedom; though to keep in mind that love without truth is hypocrisy.
Nigeria is a nation with an approximation of two hundred and twenty-three million, eight hundred and four thousand, six hundred and thirty-two (223,806,32); and ranking number six in the list of most populous countries in the world. With a current land mass of 923,770km√ (356, 669m√) and a total coastline of 8.53km (530.0m), her land area is approximately 133℅ of the area of Texas, making it the largest African country and the 32nd biggest country in the world. Incredible!
Also, founded on the 1st of January, 1914 by Lord Lugard, forty-six years later, on the 1st of October 1960, Nigeria got her independence; and became a republic in the year 1963 under the auspices of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as the first republican president. Thus, going down memory lane, Nigeria had had a pretty rough time rising ranging from the indelible incident of the 1967-70 civil war, among other unprecedented challenges, but just like the Phoenix bird, she always rose from the flames of destruction. Nigeria has continuously been projected onto the global maps of countries endowed with both human and natural resources. Nigerians from different walks of life including health, sports, education, etc., are excelling in different countries and continents of the world. However, a lot of issues have relentlessly continued to deal with the country, posing an existential threat to her sovereignty.
*First and foremost, Nigeria is threatened by incessant cases of severe insecurity, which needs to be addressed with immediate effect. The lives and property of the citizens are not secured while they go to bed with their eyes open. People are terrified of traveling even in broad daylight let alone at night time. There are worrisome cases of banditry in the country, kidnapping, herders/farmers onslaught, terrorism, and lots more other unimaginable menaces ripping the entire nation apart. Consequently, not only are lives insecure, but tangible and intangible assets are at stake in a society that lacks peace and tranquility.*
Meanwhile, isn’t it absurd that in a country like this, cows seem to be valued more than humans? Imagine a bridge with no adequate railings; should one summon the courage to call the devil when something goes wrong? The heartbreaking thing about it is that the leaders seem not to care about the rate of insecurity in the country. Or should we say that little or no adequate attention is given to the spate of instability in Nigeria? Should the leaders keep mute or passive, if everybody dies on account of insecurity, who then would they lead? Perhaps that’s a food for thought.
Also eating deep into the marrow of the country is the issue of bribery and corruption, “the two Siamese twins” bedeviling virtually every sector in Nigeria. Various circumstances have reflected how bribery and corruption work hand in hand with each other rendering every tool used in combating crimes in society useless. To cover up a certain corrupt practice, bribery would then set in, whereby to get a particular work done, it paves the way for the worst. Little wonder nearly everything in the country reeks of corruption which is a thing of concern to every right-thinking citizen.
Consequently, one would suggest bringing these twins to book but the problem may be compounded whenever the judiciary comes to mind. The rule of law states that the law is above everybody nonetheless, certain powers that be act as the Alpha and omega. Thus, one must ponder realizing that in effect the reverse is the case. Why should that be when the alm saddled with the responsibility of interpretation of the law is compromised? Little wonder how perpetual law-breakers, embezzlers of public funds, electoral gerrymanders, traitors of their motherland, and fraudsters among others could go scot-free amidst a theoretically sane society.
Away from the above-mentioned comes to mind a high rate of unemployment which distinguishes itself from other myriad of issues. In earlier years, it was said that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, so true, yet contradicted by the lingering ugly leadership situations in the country. Alas, the devil creates work for the idle mind. One must not criticize these creeks of individuals when they break the law. Huh! Even when the economic crisis frustrates self-employed youth. Additionally, the spate of unemployment has successfully subjected the youth to become rebellious assets. Therefore, one must not expect someone frustrated and depressed to remain rational contrary to the growing reports of suicides. The condition of things has pushed many young people into the street setting appointments with God but ending up meeting the devil amidst a seeming inordinate quest for daily bread whether fair or foul. Disheartening, right?
The above notwithstanding, the poor health status of Nigerians is worrisome; under the circumstances of chronic and contagious diseases from polluted environments, most of these patients do not have the necessary means to get cured. Even if they do find the means, it would be heartbreakingly expensive. Currently, in Nigeria, there is a ratio of one qualified medical personnel to a thousand patients leaving the odds against them. This makes most people resign to their fate waiting for death.
Besides that, ethnicity jingoism is another issue threatening the entity from within. In a situation where a man does not show an atom of love for his brother, one must not expect him to watch his back. Take the Igbo people for example, they are far too sensible for their good. To this effect, some tend to be selfish unknowingly. Have you come to think of the happenings around the nation? Allocations given to the public are stored away by their brethren; dividing the nation a perfect tool for downfall.
Barring every glaring issue, leadership positions have become avenues for money-making for most officeholders; holding high despotism above the spirit of nationalism. When Abraham Lincoln said that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth, he surely did not mean that a leader’s tenure would never come to an end. Staying in office because you were voted in and staying in office till the end of time are two different things.
Consequently, this is where democracy comes in between the instability of the government. However, it seems Nigeria has been reviled with old-timers’ perspectives and methods in the modern world. Regrettably, those in government seem unconscious of the franchise of the masses, they think they cannot be voted out. This is why they have refused to retire in the pursuit of their desires, encouraging birth, academic certificates forgeries, and other falsifications paving the way for bribes to fall like manners to clothe their tricks.
Also, a lot of mistrust goes to shut people up, allowing more corrupt deals to keep one in office. The tentacle goes on to every last one of them which makes many leaders lose vision and misplace priorities allowing the rot to spread over every other part of the system.
At this juncture, failure to appreciate the economic status of Nigeria would amount to an insult to the word ‘difficulty’. This hovers over the inflation of goods to the wastage of resources on weak policies. Consider the premium motor spirit (fuel) subsidy removal which serves as a perfect case study to illustrate how awfully bad the economy stands. It is no longer arguable that Nigeria is endowed with a lot of natural resources, especially crude oil. The negative update is that there are no or inadequate functional refineries consequently paving the way to spending a whopping amount of money on exportation and importation of oil after refining it abroad.
Here, every rational citizen would infer that if the government cares they should construct refineries, even before the removal of the subsidy.
Healthcare which is one of the most important sectors is in dire need of assistance while the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors NARD intermittently threatens to embark on an indefinite strike over the various unaddressed needs. This, however, does not discredit the negligence that other sectors including education, transportation, manufacturing, etc. face.
It’s at moments like this that one off their hat to their brilliance bravo assessing how the Giant of Africa escapes from the list of the poorest countries in the production of imports-visible and invisible products and making a favourable balance in trade; the alarming rate of contraband products in the country amidst the glaring economic downturn.
Thus, dwelling on the myriad of issues confronting Nigeria without taking adequate practicable steps would amount to an effort in futility. In the case of insecurity, the government should provide logical security measures, by ensuring sufficient remuneration of personnel, equipping them with sophisticated arms and innovation to safeguard the lives and properties of the people.
Constructions of social amenities and facilities like roads, rails, and hospitals should be graced with durable materials to standardize the quality of work and guarantee democratic dividends.
In the same vein, bribery and corruption have become a hard nut to crack in the country which requires a collaborative effort by the government and the citizens. When all hands are on deck, factors including crimes, political godfatherism, and nepotism, as well as greed would become a thing of the past. Meanwhile, even with a stable economy, the former must be addressed else it ends up in shambles.
It’s at the growing rate of the above-cited challenges among others that different separatist groups have emerged, including the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB under the auspices of Mazi Nmadi Kanu who is at the time compiling this piece under the custody of the Department of State Service DSS following a complicated approaches applied by the Federal Government to quench the fire of secession in the country. Other groups such as the Movement for the Actualization of Oodua Republic, Movement For the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Movement for the Actualization of Niger Republic, etc. The issue of secession requires dialogue between the Federal Government and the aggrieved groups who wish to go their separate ways rather than clamping down on unarmed agitators.
Additionally, the need for an Independent Judiciary can’t be overemphasized. In times like this when the country is bewildered by unabated miscarriages of Justice, there is an exigent need for a practical independent Judiciary to a pragmatic adjudication of justice, equity, and intelligence devoid of fear or favour.
Also, the media which is the fourth estate of the realm should be freed from unnecessary gagging and censorship to enable them to carry out their watchdog role among others where freedom of expression embedded in factual reportage would become the yardstick to measure the information flow in the country. Thus, through the media, there could be an Executive that is responsible and accountable to the people.
Meanwhile, to nip the problem of unemployment in the board, the government should establish industries to provide jobs for the teaming population of youth especially the millions of graduates who are rotting in redundancy. This would be backed up with a lot more other proactive approaches such as youth empowerment programmes to equip them with skills. There should also be a board in charge of monitoring the implementation of the various policies.
Healthcare facilities and the employment of qualified personnel would boost the sector to the advantage of Nigerians, especially the poor masses. The public on their part should adopt a healthy and hygienic lifestyle to prevent the rampant spread of communicable diseases and other deadly viruses in the country. Little wonder it’s said that” Health is Wealth”.
It’s therefore worthy of note that the main aim of democracy is to give the public their choice to change government contrary to their desire. Compromised leaders should therefore deem it sacrosanct to turn a new leaf amidst the perpetual challenges of tribalism, religious jingoism, etc., reaping the country since time immemorial.
Hence, if there is no bad government, no corrupt practices to back them up, no embezzlement and squandering of the public fund, no poor health care system to gulp down the nation’s assets, etc., then, why won’t the economy thrive? Surely, one doesn’t expect an overloaded boat not to capsize. It will capsize not because it was not strongly built, but because it was saddled with burdens way greater than it can contain. Ceteris paribus, who says Nigeria won’t be better?
In a nutshell, freedom is never given voluntarily by an oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed. Nigerians must demand true freedom from these glaring issues threatening their corporate existence. Though various issues grow wings and fly with time, only the truth shall stand the test of time and the bitter truth is that Nigerians are the root of the problems of the country. Sixty-three years of freedom though with intermittent interruptions is not a small achievement but freedom in this scenario is equivalent to living in bondage. There’s therefore a clarion call for Nigerians to save her ship lest it heads to the Bermuda Triangle. “No nation is perfect, it needs to be made perfect by its people.” Mahatma once said.