October 1st 1960..a day of hope, expectations and joy. Nigeria was born and ready to take on the world, ready to be Africa’s giant….a beacon of hope
Several military coups, a bloody civil war and 49 years later…how far have we come? Nigeria the Giant of Africa is merely a Giant staggering blindly in no direction. Recycled leaders continue to run our country into the ground as the rich get richer and the poor barely survive.
The courageous ones who are brave enough to fight the status quo are killed with no mercy (Dele Giwa, Ken Saro Wiwa,MKO Abiola etc..) and the others are ostracized or frustrated to the point of exile (Wole soyinka, Nuhu Ribadu)
We Nigerians like to pride ourselves on our heritage..we claim Naija until we die…we sing the songs that cause us to rep Gidi., we wear the t-shirts that proclaim us as “proudly nigerian” , Nigerians like to be patriotic but how many of us would actually die for our country, I know i wouldn’t..and why should we die for a corrupt nation in the dark..literally and figuratively, a nation where university education is constantly interrupted by workers strike, a nation where a man can commit the most heinous crimes against his fellow human but still be bestowed a Chieftancy title in his village because of the size of his bank account and we wonder why we were once described as the most corrupt nation in the world?
Ok for arguments sake, let us say that the world is being unfair to Nigeria, after all we cannot compare Nigeria to the United States of America, The U.S is over 200 years old and has been through its own share of struggles and hardship. So lets NOT compare Nigeria to the U.S, lets compare Nigeria to a little country called Ghana.
We Nigerians love to hate on Ghana, we make fun of their accents…we call them black and shiny…the popular bag “Ghana must go” was named so after Ghanians were forced to leave Nigeria in the 80’s due to overpopulation. However, Ghana has come a long way..since achieving independence in 1957 (only 3 yrs before Nigeria), Ghana can at least boast of constant electricity and an educational system that works…How many Nigerians do you know that go to Ghanain Universities now? Imagine Ghanains went on a “Nigeria must Go
campaign tomorrow..where would all the Nigerian students go?
Yes,Ghana is a small country, merely 24 million people as compared to Nigeria’s over 100 million people…yes Ghana is perhaps not as ethnically divided as Nigeria. However, these are not valid excuses..Nigeria has the resources and ability to be as efficient as Ghana but we are constantly weighed down by a Government that is not accountable to its citizens. Corruption is allowed to run rampant and people go on with their lives as though they are not affected.
So what happened to our nation..a nation that produced literary geniuses such Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and even more recently Chimamanda Adichie. A nation that has produced such great musical talents from the times of Kollington Ayinla, Fela Kuti, Bobby Benson , King Sunny Ade, Onyeka Onwenu to the more recent lyrical geniuses that are M.I, Dare Alade, Banky W and Dbanj to name a few. A nation that is filled with endless resources but now imports more than it exports. I remember in Primary school we used to learn about Nigeria’s raw materials..Tin, Coal, Limestone…there was hardly any mention of Crude Oil back then…but now Oil runs our lives.
Nigeria makes billions a year from oil exports but where does the money go?..not to the impoverished people of the Niger Delta or to the construction of better infrastructure and amenities for the society. The money goes into the pockets of the rich politicians and leaders who continue to ruin our beloved country.
So what do we have to be proud of in our 49th year of independence…perhaps the good works of Governors like Babatunde Fashola, Donald Duke and a handful of others who have used their official powers for good rather than corrupt purposes. So until we take our future into our own hands, until we campaign for a better Nigeria, free and fair elections and take to the streets like the young people of Iran did this past June…until we are ready to put our life on the line for our country. Nigeria will continue to be a Giant walking blindly in the dark.
Happy Independence Day.