Re-Assessing The Unfinished Project At 50

by Gbenga Kayode

Conceivably, there may not be a better a time to remind Nigeria and Nigerians of the need to reflect on and re-assess the contributions of individuals, groups, organisations and governments to the current state of the nation, and the volume of work that still needs to be done to realise the dream of a New Nigeria than the occasion of the 50th Independence Anniversary celebration.

Interestingly, on October 1, 2010, Nigeria, the adjudged most populous Black nation on the planet earth clocked 50 years, after gaining political Independence from the British colonialists in 1960.

While opinions of Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike are varied as regards the propriety or otherwise of celebrating 50 years of nationhood, especially against the backdrop of the often-reported cases of corruption in high places, predominantly instigated by bad and directionless leadership, one clear thing yet stands out as the beacon of hope since the nation’s Independence: indivisibility of Nigeria as a nation-state.

Just as many others have averred that any sumptuous and loud celebration amid pervasive and continued power outages, poor health, social, educational infrastructure, warped social and moral ethos, increasing insecurity of lives and property, alarming rate of youth unemployment and outright collapse of family values, is not worth it.

Still, some demonstrably believe this is the right time for all patriotic Nigerians to sit back, do reflective thinking, renew their patriotism and hope in the country, and embrace national re-branding project that could herald attitudinal change, re-orientation and revival of once cherished cultural values in Nigerians. But is the hope of attaining a New Nigeria yet lost? No, it’s not.

According to Engr. Titi Omo-Ettu, President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in a report, commemorating this milestone (50th Anniversary) should not only be regarded as a joyous celebration, important as that may be, but also to be seen as “a period of reflection and appraisal of what has been achieved as well as planning for the future… mobilising our people for the battle ahead.”
There is, indeed, no doubt that with the right resources, values-based and purposeful leadership in place, the nation necessarily has to look ahead from now on. This becomes more urgent than ever before in that the country cannot afford to play a second fiddle in the comity of G20 nations being mandated to chart a new course for revamping the world economy out of recession.

Though lamenting the unenviable fate that has befallen the nation in the last 50 years vis-à-vis poor leadership and its attendant corruption, Lugard E. Aimiuwu, President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), in a topical interview in The Sun, rather advised Nigerians that instead of continually nursing the wound inflicted on the national psyche since Independence, they should make up their minds to move ahead and lift the nation out of the social-political mess in which it has found itself.

“We may, as Nigerians, moan till eternity about all that has gone wrong with our country, and the darkness that has fallen on our society. The past is gone and cannot be changed, but the future is still ahead and can still be shaped to achieve the paradise of our dreams,” Aimiuwu posited with an air of optimism for an improved future for the country.

In spite of the apparent damage on the ‘Nigerian enterprise’ over time, there is still a ray of hope. We only need to pull ourselves together and chart a better way forward. One of such ardent believers in the eventual emergence of a new order in the Nigerian system is Prof. Pat Utomi, an established political-economist and Director, Lagos Business School (LBS).

Utomi, in a recent interaction with élan, a publication in Next on Sunday, passionately contended that regardless of the fact that there is no question that anyone who reflects on Nigeria’s potential from early days doesn’t have that much to be pained about.

The interesting thing about the Nigerian condition, according to Prof. Utomi, is that despite the much damage that has been done by failure of the leadership in the country, “the potential of Nigeria as a country has not disappeared. Nigeria is still a very rich country….” So, in terms of what we (Nigerians) should be celebrating, he unmistakably suggests we start by talking a great deal about the lessons of 50 years.

Consequently, in order to further enhance the nation’s fortune in the international system, there is a need to entrench values of integrity, hard work, brotherliness, patriotism, focus and responsible leadership, all of which constitute the fulcrum of the African people’s cultures which should be restored.
With conscious, determined efforts at accomplishing these, the latest rather alien culture of greed, get-rich-quick mentality and self-aggrandisement at the expense of the larger Nigerian population would be discouraged.

We certainly need to accord merit a priority and eschew mediocrity in our national affairs. This important step would ensure real growth and sustainable development that could catapult the nation to become one of the 20 top economies by year 2020. Nigerians must take their destiny in their own hands. We all need to be more determined to make things work for the overall good of the society.

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