See also The Nigeria of our Making
“That one day this country of ours…will find dignity and greatness and peace again.” – NC (1899 – 1973)
The year is 2064 AD. The pulse of the epic crowd can be felt. It is one of hyperbolised but true elation, nationalism and oneness. Eye-catching and almost blinding are the colours, grandeur and fireworks that grace the Eagle Square. Seen on the mammoth-size videosonic boards is the equal stateliness and pomp that deck other venues – the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos and the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt.
The promenades, cultural displays and high precision arrays of sentinels could not have made one more proud of res publica and country. The state box is studded with a regalia of intimidating personalities and dignitaries: 47 heads of states, presidents and prime ministers (both past and serving), 13 Nobelists, 4 kings from the oil-rich middle-east region, 3 monarchs from Europe and Asia, the UN Secretary-General with a convoy of officials from various UN departments, the Roman Catholic pope sandwiched by a fleet of cardinals, World Bank executives, international business moguls, state governors and innumerable luminaries.
The national event being celebrated is the 150th anniversary commemorating the amalgamation of the former realms delineated by rivers Niger and Benue and their resulting fusion, coalescing distinct regions of diverse landscape, culture, history and people into one nation, christened Nigeria. Even the vestiges of the artificer of the name would congregate in the grave to marvel at the turn of events for a nation that was previously marked for doom and perdition.
Through my mind’s eye, I try to imagine the possibility of what otherwise could be happening on a resplendent day like this – probably a disintegrated Nigeria where resulting seceded nations are still battling with issues that had plagued their mother nation right from origination: Corruption, insecurity, lack of essential amenities, civil wars, dire leadership with equal ominous followership, resource control, notoriety and other menaces.
With tears of ecstasy cascading down my cheeks, I consider ‘self fortunate to witness a day as this, more so at the twilight of my years as an octogenarian. I am still astounded at how the formerly ignominious Nigeria metamorphosed into a feted nation. Just yesterday, the headlines were flooded with news, rating Nigeria as one of the choicest destinations for foreign investments with a robust GDP (the fifth largest in the world), huge foreign reserves, a life expectancy of 93 years, state-of-the-art transport systems, healthcare facilities that are now the envy of once industrialised nations à la Germany, France and Italy. Not surprisingly, the Nigeria story has become a case study for many developing nations of how to transform from a failed state to a blooming nation.
At the moment, Nigeria is a stout source of credit to many countries including the US, UK, South Africa and Australia. What is more, the Nigerian naira has attained a world currency status seconded by the Chinese yuan and the US dollar. Over the years, Nigeria has also evolved to be one of the most prominent exporters of agricultural products like cassava, palm oil, cocoa, cotton, cereals, rubber, groundnut and other mineral merchandise (coal, tin, columbite, iron ore, steel, limestone, kaolin, etc) while the one time (in)famous resource she was known for as the 7th largest exporter – the crude oil – (which fouled her environment, stained the hands of her politicians, jeopardised her future while bringing more damnation than boon to her citizenry), now meagrely contributes to its foreign exports. Interestingly, a country that once groped in darkness both literally and figuratively, currently exports electricity in modules. Other export products include much sought-after, made-in-Nigeria clothes, shoes and processed fruits/foods. Nigeria-manufactured cars are likewise in high demands worldwide especially brands like Geria, 9ja and Tiwantiwa.
Besides, the literal heart of Africa is an outsourcing destination for all manner of human resources. A couple of years ago, Silicon Valley entered into a bilateral exchange programme with the Ikeja Computer Village (ICV) in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition, the Zaria Security Academy (ZSA) (in Kaduna) popularly known as The Phoenix also in conjunction with Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) has been rated as an international top-notch centre for state security/intelligence personnel training in the same league with the Scotland Yard and CIA.
Seven of Nigerian universities are sitting pretty on the world-top-50 list with enrolment featuring almost 50% international students. Incidentally, among the Nobelists sitting in the state box is the Nigerian Nobel Laureate who clinched the coveted prize for his revolutionary discovery in the field of Medicine by founding a permanent therapy to a hitherto incurable virus.
Over the last 13 years, tourism has boomed to the extent that most Nigerian states now place embargoes on traffic of international tourists that flood their domains enriching their coffers, annually. In a similar manner, the Nigerian entertainment industry has not been denuded of accolades and exceptional achievements. The organised Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood has secured 8 Oscar Academy Awards to its credit while its own annual, red-carpet movie laurels ceremony is a superlative event, no aspiring or contemporary star would want to miss. In the last two decades, not a few Nigerians have dotted the Orange and Pulitzer lists winning scores of prizes in all available categories.
As I continue to muse over the triumph story of how a quondam inglorious people traced their steps back from notoriety, bedlam and vice to honour, eminence and glory, I can see the Grammy-award-winning Nigerian musical group (a crop of young and brilliant individuals) mount the state podium to render the Nigeria national anthem in order to jumpstart the ceremony. With national pride exuding from and obviously visible on the face of every individual christened “Nigerian”, we all rise to give harmony and meaning to the words that express the aspirations of long-gone visionary leaders, a call to service and fostering brotherhood, and an unrelenting occupation geared towards nation building.
I can feel a tug at my shirt. I believe it should be my 4-year old great-grand daughter seeking attention as she is wont to…………
“Honey.” I could faintly hear the familiar voice as the tugging continued.
“Honey, c’mon. Wake up and put off the generator. It’s late already.”
My wife jerked me back into the present urging me to switch off and rein in the generator so I could retire to bed.
Could what I just dreamt of be a reality?: I self-queried as I reluctantly swayed from the couch launching outside to locate and silence the noise-making, smoking-transuding monster-machine called a generator – a companion we have had no choice but to live with it since the Nigeria electricity company has long-decided to now supply electricity in kilo-dark hours.