Nigeria at 50: Independence Speech of Obafemi Awolowo

Fighting of corruption as the third solution to Nigeria problem. This will have to involve everybody because it affects every living souls in the country. It is a problem in which both the federal and state governments have to fight in all ramifications for the country to develop. Pervasive corruption appears to permeate in all sectors of Nigeria society. . Corruption and organised crimes retards socio-economic growth of a society. Corruption is describe in other three major Nigeria languages as “okanjuwa” , ”zamba” or “iri nso azu” has transcend nearly every stratum of the country .There is need to change the mentality of the people and discourage attitude that encourages corruption. There should be commitment to excellence and equality. Corruption is a social and economic issue that retards development in all sectors. Arnold Rogow and Harold Lasswell writes “ a public or civic order exalts common interest over special interest; violations of common interest for special advantage are corrupt” Corruption is simply defines as “ a misuse of public authority for private gain, leading to the violation of the civic responsibility inherent in such authority.” Corruption creats major impediments to doing business. Statistics show that high levels of human development depend upon low levels of corruption. All government authorities (federal and states) should promote anti-corruption measures and make public sectors activities more transparent. The best solutions to corruption are promoting of civic and community values with reference to ethics in schools, ethical responsibility of public servant, strengtheninig of professional and unbiased press, establishing professional business standards, seperating governmental branches, installing checks and balances, fostering competition, defining roles and responsibilities more clearly, undertaking independent audits, and the compulsory disclosure of interests by public officials. Most importantly, creating or introducing legal instruments to enforce behaviourar norms in public and private sectors. The introduction of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was one of the greatest achievements of the democratic government since we left this sinful world. Good democratic governance requires the body politics to be informed and vigilant in holding officials to high ethical account in the conduct of public business.That means that decision makers in government, the private sectors and civil society organisations are accountable to the public as well as to institutional stakeholders. This helps to achieve sustainable human development. We must all brace up to break the vicious circle of corruption in our society.

Fellow Nigerians, the fourth solution is great investment in educational sector. If care is not taken, our eductional system is heading to disaster. The quality of education dictates the vibrancy of a country’s economy. The federal and state governments should provide free, competitive,qualitative and functional education to its citizens. The government should make education free and compulsory for any child up to the age of sixteen. This will surely reduce urban violence which threaten the quality of life in our society, good governance, sustainable development of communities, economic development and the social and political life of cities. This is the best solution to eradicate poverty from our society. As we all know that poverty leads to corruption, disruption of family relations and social life, causing rising crime rate among other vices like kidnappings, armed robbery, 419 internet scams etc. The more educated people are, the less they are prone to illness and squalor. Education kills the blitz of disease, ingnorance, superstition, fear and poverty. Our education should be in line with the provision of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and tenets of Education For All (CFA). Lee Iacocca argued in his book ; “Talking Straight” that the Japanese are so fanatical about education that when a kid is sick, his mother will often show up at school in his place and take notes for him.” So Nigerian parents have more important roles to play educational development of their children. No amount is too much to spend on them. Both federal and state governments have important roles in supporting and facilitating access to basic education, both formal and non-formal, not only as the primary media for transmiting a society’s values and knowledge from one generation to the next, but as the main mechanism for social mobility and overall development. Basic knowledge and problem solving skills are essential ,as are new mechanisms and partnerships to provide diversity and flexibility in education. Non-formal education can be:technical training ( to produce a commodity or a service): oriented to leadership skills development and conflict resolution; geared to the needs of special groups; or focused on issues, such as safety and health. Some skills are needed simply for survival and coping with low incomes. Cities must be prepared to host educational facilities and programmes that will be useful not just locally but to the whole naton. Social change and social mobility are linked to the ability of the education system to furnish a population with life skills and hence, employment opportunities. Children who grow up in a violent environment are more susceptible to becoming abusive adults.
Moreover, my fifth and last solutiion to Nigeria problem is the issue of social security and security of life and property. The government should provide social services or benefits to people in recognition of contributions to an insurance scheme, such as provision for retirement pensions laws which have to be updated frequently due to the changes in standard of living, disability insurance for all disable people who are productive to the economy, survivor benefits for fire, water, accident victims and the like and unemployment insurance to fresh and old graduates. On security of life and property. If the “vision” of the Nigeria Police is “making the country safer and secured for the attainment of national aspiration” and the “mission” is “to deliver qualitative and efficient security and law enforcement services to the citizens of Nigeria,” I see no reason why there is widespread kidnappings, institutionalised bribery, extra-judicial killings, unwarranted searches, recurrent waves of brutalities, election malpractices, torture, harassment and loss of personal liberties, frequent armed robbery involving the use of sophisticated weapons, and high casualty was said to be recordeded from the previous communal and ethno-religious conflicts that spread across the country. Police salaries and allowances packages have to be revised and new materials and modern equipments to safe life and property of all Nigerians should be provided. Those illegal road blocks and check points throughout the country should be stopped. There should be law banning any police officer that receive or extort from any motorist henceforth. All police vehicles should now be used for detaining, patrolling and transporting instead of mounting an illegal road-block. Fines involving public and motorists must be paid to the police accredited or designated banks known by the people.

Finally, let all Nigerians including those living abroad to use this golden independence celebration to come together, contribute and participate fully in genuine electoral process that will guarantee free and fair election. When there is a will, there is a way. Nigerians should unite with one voice to usher in responsible leaders to lead the countries into greater heights and create a Nigeria to be proud of, a Nigeria that inspire patriotism and excellence. Presidential aspirants and set of leaders whose creditibity is in doubt and lacking integrity should be rejected outrightly. We should elect the best qualified candidat

e that we can trust. We should cast our vote for an exemplary leader that demonstrate the possibilities of progressive and visionary governance. We should vote for credible people and not political parties. In order for democratic elections to be free, fair and competitive, opposition parties and candidates must enjoy the rights of freedom of speech, assembly, and movement as necessary to voice their criticisms of the government openly and to bring alternative policies and candidates to the voters. Prof. Jega must never lower his integrity to maintain his dignity. He should be careful with his working crew and make necessary rotation of electoral officers in all the States of federation (even few days to each election date ) to prevent possible election malpractices. We are all convinced that Jega can organise a credible, free and fair election in Nigeria. Elections in which opposition candidates are not given access to radio, newspaper and television coverage are likely to be biased. The human rights groups should be raising new issues related to the quality of democracy, like effective participation, responsiveness, transparency and accountability. According to John Kiyaga-Nsubuga, “Good governance entails efficient and effective use of power and resouces, constitutionalism and rule of law, justice and equity, electoral and participatory democracy, security of person and property, promotion of human rights, transparency and accountability (political, managerial and financial), exemplary and inspirational leadership, and popular participation in social and economic processes. Its facilitating conditions include a strong state, a robust and dynamic economy, a vibrant civil society and informed and empowered citizenry.” We should remember one of the greatest of all principles that “men can do what they think they can do”. A new Nigeria of our dream is immenient if all these elements of good governance are put in place. I so much have the believe that, very soon, we will all laugh last. Better change is coming to Nigeria. I will end my speech with the immortal words of an English poet and painter who was largely unrecognised during his lifetime: “When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do.” We promise to be in Nigeria as soon as everything is in order. Wishing you all happy golden independence anniversary celebration. God bless the good people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Written by
Adewale T. Akande
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