MasterwebNews 1/10/15 - Nigeria at 55: Time to Grow-up and Tackle its Colossal Challenges

[ Masterweb Reports: C. K. Ekeke, Ph.D. reports ] - On October 1, 1960, Nigeria became an independent nation from Great Britain due to the nationalist activities of Nigeria’s founding fathers and mothers. And so, on October 1, 2015 as always since fifty-four years ago, the nation will pause to reflect and extol the nationalist leaders for their courageous activism and leadership. 
 
 
President Buhari and his cabinet – even though still non-existent since he was elected this past May, will probably have a modest celebration this year, unlike previous years. He approved only seventy million Naira for this year’s independence anniversary, which are peanuts compared to previous years. He will also probably give an impressive speech similar to the one he gave at the U.N on September 28, 2015 and assure Nigerians that he will conquer corruption and degrade the murderous activities of Boko haram, Niger Delta militancy and oil bunkering – since he the President has also appointed himself to be the Petroleum Minister. And so the speeches will not be inspiring and probably, celebrations and fanfare will be modest. 
 
 
With the embrace of the new presidential dictatorship, continued boko haram insurgency and the massive youth unemployment among other vast challenges, the future of Nigeria looks windswept than ever.
In his controversial memoir: ‘There Was A Country – a classic and masterful narration of Nigeria’s history and civil war, the eminent scholar, and international poet, the late Prof. Chinua Achebe published before passing into glory few years ago.  He wrote abundantly about Nigeria’s independence and freedom.  In the words of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, he writes, Nigeria was given her freedom “on a platter of gold.”  We should have known that freedom should be won, not given on a plate.  Like the head of John the Baptist, this gift to Nigeria proved most unlucky.
 
 
The late sage was absolutely correct. Nigeria gained independence on a platter of gold on October 1, 1960.  Since then, she has floundered and has not really enjoyed any genuine freedom or political peace or national prosperity because of tribalism and ethnic hatred, political instability, poor leadership, religious ignorance, intolerance and violence, moral degradation, bribery and corruption, injustice, indiscipline and irresponsibility.  These and other vices quickly marred the nation’s prospect for development and progress until today. 
 
 
And so, Nigeria’s intractable problems and challenges continue.  The challenges and problems facing Nigeria are convoluted.   Apart from the social and economic problems confronting the nation, new kinds of challenges are surfacing daily. Today, Nigeria is besieged by many challenges namely—–ethnic strife, bias and hatred, religious conflicts, terrorism, political instability, government corruption, lack of infrastructure, public healthcare crisis such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, crime, violence, lawlessness, injustice, political thuggery, looting of public treasury, money laundering and debilitating political corruption.
 
 
However, one problem that observers, even those outside the shores of Nigeria do not hesitate to talk about is that of weak and poor leadership. Governance in Nigeria for the last fifty-five years was hijacked by a group of selfish, greedy, egoistic, visionless malicious, mischievous and treacherous rulers. Since she gained independence in October 1st, 1960, she has not had good and courageous leaders to pilot the affairs of the nation. Nigeria has not really enjoyed any genuine political peace and national prosperity despite enormous natural resources and abundant human capital. Instead, the country has been ruled and governed by military and political dictators that denied the people of Nigeria security, order, peace and basic needs of livelihood – which are the primary duties of government.  
 
 
For fifty years plus, what we’ve had is a military dictatorship, political hypocrisy, idolatrous religious system, and extravagantly indulgent corrupt judicial system that oppressed the poor, the less privileged and minority members of the country. In a nutshell, Nigeria’s rulers have failed to fulfill their obligations to the nation and its people.
 
 
In his famous and widely quoted treatise on Nigeria: ‘The Trouble with Nigeria,’ the eminent scholar and world renowned poet, late Prof. Chinua Achebe writes, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.” 


Many Nigerians as well as foreign observers agree and have also attributed most of the enormous problems facing the nation are due to lack of good and courageous leadership.
 
 
In his classic book: ‘The Open Sore of a Continent – A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis,’ the literary icon, an international acclaimed playwright, essayist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Novelist Wole Soyinka brilliantly and succinctly writes about the corruption, human rights abuses, bad leadership and political bondage in which Nigeria and most of Africa was subjected to since her independence.
 
 
Dr. Joseph Nanven Garba in his treatise of governance in Nigeria said this:
“Nigeria, to my mind, does not lack real men and women. The ingredients for creating a formidable nation exist. What is lacking is leadership with the political will and the selfless dedication to galvanize the entire nation.”(Fractured History - Elite Shifts and Policy Changes in Nigeria)
 
 
Novelist Wole Soyinka and late sage Chinua Achebe The Nigerian state is surely chronically ill, ethically and morally decadent and frankly suffering from a serious and severe nation building challenge. Since Nigeria gained independence, she has had various systems of government – Unitary, Parliamentary, Military and now Democratic Presidential system. Despite Nigeria’s enormous human potential and abundant natural resources, the promise of these various governments has been a dismal failure. The politicians have not kept their promises but floundered and left the Nigerian masses worse than when they were under the British ruler-ship. 
 
 
 
 
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