Nigeria at 60: Rethinking the way forward

October 7, 2020
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HURRAY, Nigeria is 60!  Yes, 60 years ago, Nigeria got independence from Great Britain. It was obtained with fanfare, pageantry and national accolades with great expectations and hope for a bright future. But today, has the independence been worthwhile? This is the million dollar question in the minds of many Nigerians. Whether Nigeria has reasons to rejoice for its 60 years of independence or not is a matter of debate for anyone. Depending the angle of  focus on the analysis, you are either for or against the debate. For those in support of the argument: yes, the country is endowed with so much resources (natural, human, material, economic and spiritual). Unfortunately, it has become a disillusionment to many who had thought that such abundance of wealth which should have been channelled through corporate development has only filtered into the hands of a few. Proponents of celebration can put forward indices/achievements  like; Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the largest population (about 200 million people),  the land mass, abundance of mineral resources, petroleum exploration and oil boom, the diversities of culture and language, strong military history, civil wars outcome, communication network, medals worn in sports, sustenance of democracy, etc But to what extent these have been felt by all and sundry is still a matter of debate.

On the other side of the argument are those who consider Nigeria’s independence as a disappointment with the following indices: militancy build-up, insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, vandalism, armed robbery, ritual murders, assassination, corruption,  destruction of lives and properties, economic downturn, disappointment of politicians, lack of trust in electoral system,  electoral malpractices, low sector performance of health and education, agitation for secession or restructuring, hunger and distress, increased inflation, minimum wage ineffectiveness, abject poverty, unemployment, etc. The list is inexhaustive.  The focus of this write-up is to make some recommendations on how the country should move forward in order to reach the dream land. Our leaders should be gracious in using power and not be arrogant. Therefore, it is instructive to those welding power, those in authority at whatever level to note that power and position is not for ever; it is transient and they will be held responsible for the manner they dispensed it some day, whether good or bad. Hence, the powerful should be kind to the powerless. The elite in our midst are assumed to be oppressors. They dominate everything good and rich; the wealth of the nation, its resources, the positions and every opportunity available. This should not continue. We need courageous leaders, disciplined and unassuming. We need leaders who are people-minded, caring, God-fearing, encouragers, pragmatic and sound in mind and health. It is generally assumed that once the leadership is in line, the nation will make remarkable progress.

Politics should be practised by caring for the poor, the despondent, the helpless, the downtrodden. It should not be considered as a game to derive personal and selfish gains, as it is currently the vogue. Politicians should henceforth strive for collective development of all the citizens and not a section of it. For, if all sections are developed, none will be agitated nor feel marginalized. Allied to the foregoing suggestion, governments at all tiers, should consider themselves as government for all and pursue welfare for all, not for their parties or political cronies/supporters. They should be magnanimous in victory and not vindictive. Once a party emerges as winner in an election, it should seek for advice and cooperation of other parties and not consider any as opposition. We do not need that word in our political terrain and governance anymore. No opposition in government. This is causing division stagnation in politics. The so-called opposition party is tempted to always see wrongdoing in the party in government while the latter considers the opposition party as arch enemy seeking its failure and downfall. In order to correct this anomaly, it is suggested thus: since many political parties are usually represented in government, they should be allowed to work in synergy for the good of the land and for the benefit of the people. Henceforth, the winner-takes-all syndrome should be jettisoned. Also, politicians should avoid playing politics of confrontation, desperation, bitterness and shriving to win at all cost.

The three arms of government should observe the separation of powers as much as possible. The Executive should not usurp the power of the Legislature or Judiciary, nor subjugate any arm of the government as its appendage.  Otherwise, it is no longer government but cliques. The rule of law must be sacrosanct, observed and seen to be observed.  Divergent and opposing views and critics should not be seen as enemies that must be liquidated, silence and destroyed at all cost. It is high time we realize that nobody has a monopoly of idea and knowledge in governance, ruling, administration, and human relation. No one should arrogate to himself that he/she has superior idea, and others are unimportant, especially in finding solution to our problems. It is in the multiplicity of ideas the counsels are established.

Nigerian voters should be more enlightened. They must  realise that if they elect the wrong people into political office for reasons such as religion, ethnicity, wealth, social status, etc, they will suffer the consequences of bad administration and poor leadership. Let voters consider any politician or party that distribute money or material items as baits to vote them into power as an insult on their intelligence and integrity, and indeed an abuse of democracy. They should reject the offer and not vote for them. Nigerians should stop being deceived by placing too much emphasis on material possession, wealth, acquisition, extravagant life-style as primary indicator of success and achievement. Greed and aggrandisement should be avoided like a plague. In fact, politics should not be made attractive to the indolent and charlatans that even the income from it will become so outrageous as we currently have today.  As a people, we need to revisit, revive and strengthen our morality. No doubt, the current level of moral decadence in the nation is appalling. Nigerians’ image abroad is questionable. Many Nigerians are held in suspicion abroad. There is an apparent need to redeem our image and that requires concerted efforts from all and sundry.

  • Dr. Fadiji writes in from Gwagwalada, Abuja

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