Nigeria At 55: Arise, O Compatriots!

Just few days ago, my six years old daughter was, as usual, asking me for the explanation of Nigeria’s flag colours. This daughter is very inquisitive. She always wants to know almost everything as much as possible. Of course, to have my rest, I explained. She asked further why few things seem not same with some other nations of the world visited overtime. You wonder her level of intelligence? Most kids these days are too smart beyond their ages. Well, what excuse will I offer her for this now?

But just immediately after the exercise, it dawn on me our Nation would be 55 years old today.  Such is a milestone in a nation’s lifetime. More importantly in a nation that values human and capital development. From our political landscape to economical standoff, it appears we have not truly got independent. We leverage or do we say depend on foreign nations for one aid or the other. Our internal crisis is taken to foreign nations for resolutions. Even to constitute Federal ministers, we needed to visit some guns in Europe.  Is this an evil in Africa or just a Nigeria problem? From one government to the other, we never miss to run quickly to America for simple issues requiring our internal efforts. Nigeria prides as the giant of Africa but crippled by corruption and poor leadership. Sadly, those promises from America never come and our challenges become perennial.

                                             Nigeria Flags

Ordinarily, a 55 years old adult should not only take responsibility for his or her life entirely, but also be independent in thoughts, decisions and manage his crisis. But same is not the story for Nigeria as a nation. Sad though, we are still down if not below where the colonial masters left us almost six decades ago. The ills that bedeviled us a people seem not be concern to our set of leaders as corruption, terrorism and poor management of human capital characterize our dealings.  One can but wonder if these leaders have their eyes open to how nations like Malaysia, Dubai, China propel national thinking and lasting developments.    

My focus in this piece is to challenge our leadership to thinking proactively with generational mindset. Our founding fathers failed to instill national passion into our curriculum in schools.  In the last four decades of my existence, the issue of power supply in Nigeria has become rhetoric. The problem is known but solution swept under carpet. There is no national vision for development in Nigeria. No clear cut path for national prosperity for all.  No nation develops based on wishful thinking and lips statements, but deep commitment to enduring values, integrity and generational impacts.
In 55 years, Nigeria leaders have mastered deceptive ways to carry the populace along in major national poverty while a few get richer per seconds.  Clearly, the vision of the founding fathers was not the current status quo. Take few minutes to read a stanza of Nigeria national anthem:
Oh God of creation
Direct our noble cause
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign

Without mincing words, this stanza only applies to Nigeria founding fathers as these set of non charlatans at the corridor of power are not nationalists in their approach. At no time has ethnicity, tribalism and nepotism dominated our national discourse at this. The common or national interest holds no value anymore. It is time for this giant of Africa to arise. As we mark the independence today, we must accept our leaders failed us while we also have messed up as followers. The quality of leaders, in most cases, is a product of the followers. Leaders emerge from society based on set of rules formed by the followers. 

 As we celebrate today, we must be deliberate about crafting clear national values and standards for our existence going forward. Our laws should be made to work. Governments at all levels must strengthen the institutions of state beyond personal gains.  It is not about political party but the lack of political will to cause positive changes in our national lives.  Change is never automatic but driven by people.

Our leaders, ranging from religious to political, must be seen doing right things while preaching right things. The mess some of our religious leaders have plunged us to must stop henceforth. We are very religious people but at the same time very wicked, inconsiderate and tempered. Most nations we run to enjoy lives run their national lives based on these simple values not how religious you are or not. No religious leader, who lives below expected values, has right over any politician who embezzles common wealth.

As we move towards the six decade anniversary as a nation, the prosperity of Nigeria is dependent on the common wealth if its citizens not oil. The oil boom has turned to curse instead of blessing.  Government should deliberately look away from oil and tap into our natural resources. Agriculture holds the future for Nigeria; hence policies should be made to encourage investors in this industry.  

To the citizens, our civic responsibility is not negotiable. We envy United States of America today but forgot such country is run on taxes. Government does not joke with taxes in America. The idea of evading taxes should be jettison if we hope or dream for a developed Nigeria.  Our laws should be strengthening to punish offenders while people who live above board are celebrated.  

When these among others are done, we can happily sing the national anthem stanza:

Arise, O Compatriots,
Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our fatherland
With Love and strength and faith
The labour of our heros past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom
Peace and unity.

Happy Independence, Nigeria!!!