Nigeria’s 50th Independence Anniversary

When Nigeria turned 49 last year, many Nigerians including the immediate past president agreed that the situation of the country did not call for celebration. Though October 1 1960 may be an important day in Nigeria. But it is also a day most Nigerians do not appreciate because several unfortunate and unpleasant events have happened since Nigeria gained her so-called independence.

All the indices show that there is little or nothing to celebrate after 50 years of our national life, especially with the high level of poverty. Successive administration has failed to put Nigeria on the path of greatness, what they have done is cause the nation more harm with their bad policies and lack of vision for the country. Despite the fact that our leaders have failed us in time past, the citizens are yet to successfully throw corrupt and bad leaders out of government and power. The non-chalance of most Nigerians towards the issue of leadership which many has alluded to as the bane of meaningful development in Nigeria is a deep problem for a country that has been revolving around the same circle for the last 50 years. The slow level of development since independence shows that good leaders must emerge at all levels of governance if the future of Nigeria must be secured. No administration will take Nigeria to eldorado if it is filled with corrupt and visionless leaders who have been in the saddle from 1960 till date. Things may get worse because the rich cannot be getting richer while the poor gets poorer. The rich is definitely not safe in a society like that.

Take the issue of corruption for instance; it is still endemic in Nigeria. Found in the family, church, mosque and all facet of our society. Even the religious bodies that are supposed to educate the people about the rules and tenets of God are sometimes embroiled in issues of corruption. Though I stand corrected besides not many people will agree with me. Our inability to get rid of corruption shows how events in the last 50 years have affected the people’s behavior.

Apart from corruption, there is a problem of maladministration which still persists till date. We have many trained administrators in Nigeria. Many are still been trained in administration by our different institutions across the federation and by foreign institutions where some Nigerians have decided to pursue their career. Some administrators have been instrumental to the development of certain sectors of the economy despite not been in authority. Some managers have successfully managed the affairs of companies and institutions but they are not given the chance to contribute their quota to the development of the nation. A few past leaders tried but were sabotaged.

Like all previous administrations, the present government does not show that it is capable of effectively managing and organizing the affairs of the country in order to solve the myriad of problems facing her. Yet, the government has appropriated the sum of N6.6 billion for the country’s 50th anniversary celebration amidst decaying infrastructure, increasing unemployment and unstable economy.

The purchase of three new aircrafts at N22.9 billion also show that the present administration is not different from the previous ones: not caring about providing welfare, security and the basic amenities of life for the citizens. All these points to the issue of bad leadership. Nigerian leaders of government always take the country and its people in the wrong direction. They deliberately make the citizens suffer hardship all in a bid to render them powerless. This has made the citizens complacent to the situation in the country, though not satisfied but they feel there is nothing they can do besides effort by a few brave citizens to confront the people in authority have not been successful.

There is no doubt we have been revolving around the same circle since independence. Problems from 1960 are still starring us all in the face. Nobody has all the answers to the many problems facing Nigeria but some steps can be taken towards achieving economic growth and development. Trying what has worked somewhere else might be the way out. Or rather pursuing good policies and agenda which will pay off in the long run. Presently, government is not paying attention to the needs of the common people. It is sad that government has no plan for the present talk less of planning for the future. Nigerians are concerned about issues such as under-funded and dysfunctional education system, inaccessible and expensive health care system etc. How do they survive with all these things lacking?

The discovery of oil has been a curse to Nigeria rather than a blessing because our leaders have become addicted to oil and our economy depends largely on it. This ultimately affects the future of Nigeria and the economy.

The Nigerian government is too big with over 36 ministers and special advisers. Each of these people further has at least seven staff on their payroll. Eleven official cars for the speakers, two for the senators and members of the House of Representatives and so on has made government more attractive to people who are after their private pockets. Politics is still viewed as a means of getting rich or richer.

The bad system in Nigeria has changed some politicians with good intentions thereby making them become like all the people in power. These men end up disappointing those who gave them the sovereignty to rule over them and unfortunately betray their trust and confidence. As politicking is put before the interest of the ordinary people, government cannot create policies that will be in the interest of the poor most of whom are bearing the brunt of an unstable economy which spanned many years. The poor masses have always been on their own because governments do not feel obligated towards them.

There is nom gainsaying the fact that mismanagement of the nation’s economy has continued unabated. Though the late Yar’ Adua’s administration came up with vision 20:2020 to place Nigeria on the global economic map. By this vision, Nigeria is expected to be among the 20 largest economies in the world but with government’s short-term plan for the economy, Nigeria may never realize her full economic potential. The seven point agenda has been criticized for its unpopularity with the people and the fact that it is not people-oriented and realistic.

The immediate past president experimented with the policy for the period he spent as the president of Nigeria. Unfortunately, he was unable to achieve a single point in the seven point agenda. President Jonathan on assumption of office as Acting President said he has not jettisoned the seven point agenda as speculated in the media. He promised to continue the pursuance of his boss’s vision for the country. But as soon as Dr. Jonathan was sworn in as the substantive president, he stated his commitment to good governance, electoral reforms, the fight against corruption and most recently power. Obviously, the president heeded the advice of many Nigerians that the seven point agenda needed to be streamlined to two or three and pursued with greater vigor. In order to solve the problem of power, Dr. Jonathan decided to head the Ministry of Power. The president soon after constituted a presidential committee on power headed by a former minister of Science and Technology, Professor Bartholomew Nnaji to achieve government’s target of improving power supply. Most recently, Dr. Jonathan approved the sum of N200 billion for the revival of the power sector. Nigerians can only hope that the mandate of the presidential committee on power is achieved.

On the issue of electoral reform, the president does not seem to have shown enough commitment even though he said the true test of his administration’s resolve would be to ensure that all votes count and are counted in the upcoming general elections. The signing into law of the amended sections of the Electoral Act is a far cry from the recommendati

ons of the Justice Uwais panel which many Nigerians expect Dr. Jonathan would ensure its passage into law.

Governments’ activities to mark Nigeria’s golden jubilee is unjustified besides the expenses is unnecessary. The amount budgeted for the 50th independence anniversary should have been used to tackle the problem of increasing unemployment and decaying infrastructure. Many ailments have taken a turn for the worse due to government’s insensitivity to the health of the citizens. Government does not consider it important to make some investment in education, health care, transport, road construction etc to support the efforts of hardworking Nigerians. Yet, it can take loan to execute programmes that are not beneficial to the citizens. Debts money may be justified if they are invested wisely.

A fool at 40 they say is a fool forever, now that Nigeria clock 50 in few days time, can we afford to continue fooling around? I think Nigeria needs to wake up and address the mistakes of the past. It is never too late to put Nigeria on the right path especially as governments mark her 50th anniversary. We must not carry on the misdeed of yesteryears into the second half of a century.

Written by
Bolaji Aregbeshola
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