Today is the Nigerian Independence Day Anniversary. I woke up seemingly trapped in the inters-pace between euphoria and sadness. I felt a sense of euphoria because it is this day in history, 49 years ago, when Nigeria, my fatherland, celebrated her freedom from colonialism. On the other hand, I felt a sense of sadness because ever since Independence, the country had remained very infantile. Still, I managed to recite the following National Pledge:
I pledge to Nigerian my country
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity and uphold her honor and glory
So help me God
What a very beautiful patriotic spirit that is embodied in the National Pledge. Yet, most of the wordings contradict the present state of the country. I found myself attempting to reconcile the concept ‘celebrate’ as an addendum to the Nigerian Independence. It was a difficult mental effort. This is because the term; ‘celebrate’, in my own thinking, points to at atmosphere of happiness, accomplishment, jubilation and a fiesta of a kind. All of these enumerated concepts do neither reflect nor exist within the current socio-political, economic and geographical space known as Nigeria. Does the notion of ‘celebrating’ the Nigerian Independence made sense to ordinary Nigerians? Perhaps not.
Yes, we are liberated from the British imperial rules, imposition, exploitation and subjugation. Truly, this ought to make every patriot even more patriotic. But the real question is: are we really free as a nation? No, we are not. We are still in a state of internal slavery created by leadership failures, corruption, tribalism, religious bigotry, social instability, massive poverty and so on and so forth. All of these of which forced the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, made a controversial but true statement that Nigeria is a “mere geographical expression”. This was a declaration made by a well-read, well-traveled and a foresighted man.
Another Nigerian intellectual, Chinua Achebe, once identified the crux of the Nigerian failures on ‘leadership’. This is a fact no one denies. Yet, let no one underestimate the apparent reality that Nigerians also contribute to their failures and national decays by their collective non-revolutionary attitude, cowardice, sycophantic embrace and irrational tolerance of their morally weak and corrupt leaders. It is a fact of both reason and history that the ‘few cannot stand against many’ if the many really mean business.
Today, Nigerian is 49 years old and seemingly sickly. The US Intelligence Agency made a prediction that in few years time, the nation might see a collapse. This came after carefully studding the state of the Nigerian Nation. Obviously the government is more and more becoming too weak to provide peace, orderliness and security to the citizens and foreigners without which no nation could stand or function. The mass of unemployed people in the country is like a time bomb waiting to set off.
Kidnapping for ransom, which was initiated by the Niger Delta Militants, has spread all over the country and placed Nigeria as one of the international ‘no-go-area’. Thus, foreign investors are not so keen about Nigeria without which our economy would never grow. This resent development in the history of Nigeria had made some international thinker place Nigeria in the same category with Somalia. To me as a Nigeria, this comparison is frustration. Yet a very cogent reflection points to some iota of truth.
At 49, National infrastructures are nothing but shambles and disasters. Urban planning and development does not exist. Electricity is a national embarrassment. Our school systems, which ought to be a breading ground for the future leaders had all been turned into ground zeros for raising extremely incompetent, violent, and corrupt and lazy citizens.
In the face of all these ills, what shall we do as a people? Give up? No! Struggle continues. It is a struggle for our suppressed national spirit and will to triumph over the evil of our time—corruption. Today, Nigeria calls for a new direction, a new awareness and e new spirit. She yeans for a good leader and good followers.