Nigeria, a country which gained its independence in the year 1960 has experienced successes and failures ever since independence, most of its failures being caused by human factors.
Today, our dear country Nigeria is celebrating 53 years of independence, the question still remains: how independent are we? A country with natural resources yet, we virtually produce nothing. We are independent yet, we import virtually everything from foreign nations ranging from foodstuffs to machines and the most devastating are the “importation of medical services, professional advice and educational services”. On the 1st day of October, 1960, Nigeria was freed from foreign captivity and today, we are suffering local captivity.
The question now is: What is wrong with Nigeria?
The answer is ‘nothing is wrong with Nigeria’. Nigeria was created good until Nigerians re-created it. Nigeria was created and blessed with natural resources, good climatic condition, wealth and zero-rate of natural disasters. There is no problem with Nigeria, rather, the problem are Nigerians.
When we talk about Nigeria? The uncultured activities of Nigerians crippled Nigeria. Don’t blame our leaders because everyone in his or her capacity is a leader. As a father, you are a leader in your family. As a permanent secretary, you are a leader in your ministry. As a teacher, you are a leader in your class. As a class prefect, you are a leader in your class, even as a typist in the federal or state ministry, you are a leader in your capacity. I went into one of the state ministries to make an enquiry, what I experienced baffled me, supposed civil servants who were employed to serve the government were seen in clusters either in offices or at different points in the ministry discussing on their family affairs while others were seen either carrying their goods from one office to another.
Finally, I found the typist I was looking for, she was busy separating melon seeds (egwusi) from its chaff I gave her some manuscripts to type for me, a work she was employed to do. She shouted on me that she was tired and can’t type it, she asked me to drop it and return in the next two weeks to collect it, I was baffled. A work that would take only 5 minutes to complete, why ask me to return in two weeks, as I was about leaving, her colleague in the office asked me to give the typist a tip (bribe) so that she can do it immediately which I did because I really needed the document typed immediately. While she was typing it, a discussion ensued, along the line she complained bitterly that the government was bad, very inconsiderate, she complained on how they always siphoned the country’s fund etc. I laughed within me on how a hard-hearted employee can complain of her boss (government).
The only difference is that the so called Nigerian government siphon in billions and trillions why she siphons her clients in hundreds and thousands. This is also seen in the university system where a lecturer who is paid to teach the students leave the students to their fate and surface a week before the commencement of the semester exams with handouts placed at exorbitant prices and funny enough, with the price list for grades if you wish to sort. Now, the question is: In my capacity as a leader, how successful and fulfilled am I? The problem with Nigeria is its citizens. Even if the president of Nigeria has failed us, he is an individual, he is not government neither is he Nigeria. A tree can never make a forest. If we must call Nigeria a failed country, then, Nigerians are the cause.
Nigeria has suffered bad leadership, corruption and deceit over the years. It is a pity that Nigerians are celebrating their 53rd year of independence amidst ASUU strike, Boko Haram bombings, political chaos, poverty and hardship, academic decline, etc. If Nigeria at 53 can’t boast of true independence, when are we going to gain true independence? Our leaders are so corrupt, not just political leaders but almost every individual in leadership positions either as a headmaster ‘collecting illegal fees to satisfy his pockets’, as a father ‘who doesn’t stand for the truth at all times’, as a typist ‘who must be bribed before doing her work’, as an importer ‘who prefers importing sub-standard goods in other to maximize profit’, where the governor will pay billions to the house to pass a bill which is of selfish interest. Until every individual says no to corruption and truly hands off corrupt practices, Nigeria will not be free from corruption.
Nigerians deceive themselves a lot pretending all is well when we know that the nation is almost collapsing. It is a shame that our political and academic leaders are comfortably celebrating the independence knowing too well that our undergraduates are ‘wasting’ at home, the security operatives in the country telling us that ‘they are on top of the security situation in Nigeria, yet, we experience terrorist attacks and killings, armed robbery incidence etc on daily basis.
Political leaders telling us that they doled out billions of naira to build roads and rehabilitate existing roads yet, we keep on experiencing death on roads due to bad roads and ditches. Some of our religious leaders preaching simplicity in poverty as a route to salvation yet, they keep on buying private jets and traveling abroad for rest. Our anti-corruption agencies arresting corrupt leaders every day, yet, none has been sentenced to jail, they only make news for a while and the next news is that the supposed convict is now in abroad receiving ‘medical treatment’. Until we stop all these deceit and acknowledge the fact that there is problem in Nigeria, a better Nigeria is still a mirage.
Can we have a better Nigeria?
We can not only have a better Nigeria, we can have the best Nigeria. A Nigeria where our sons and daughters who have left the country to get quality education in the once undeveloped Ghana would return and get the best quality of education, where our professors with proven integrity in foreign colleges would return and lecture in our Nigerian universities, where our unemployed youths whether educated or not, will find a decent work doing for a living, where hardship and poverty will become history, where our natural mineral and human resources would be put into efficient use to become the world power, a Nigeria where foreigners will plead to invest in our industrial sector. If every Nigerian will shun corruption, deceit and bad leadership, collectively, we will build the Nigeria of our dreams where all greener pastures will abide.
Blame not our leaders, remember, we elected them, if they fail us, collectively we can disgrace them out of office and secure a better future for our generation. One corrupt local government chairman cannot be stronger than all citizens of that local government in conjunction with the press. YES, WE CAN!
Happy independence to Nigeria!
Owerri, Imo state University.
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