Nigeria marks 50th independence anniversary.
NIGERIA as an independent country from British colonialism since 1960 turns 50 today on October 1,
2010. To mark the golden jubilee, the federal and state governments have mounted an elaborate
programme of festive celebrations.
Our Query: Are We There Yet...?
The Nigerian Guardian (www.ngrguardiannews.com) in its editorial on October 1, 2010, mirrors our
thoughts about Nigeria in its adulthood at 50 years. According to the Guardian, for a country that has
endured 29 years of military rule, survived a fratricidal civil war, and practised an uninterrupted
democracy since 1999, there is indeed a need to celebrate...
However, if anyone looks at Nigeria’s performance since 1960, no one can say that it has been an
unqualified success. The high promise held out for Nigeria at independence has not been realised.
Countries like Malaysia, India, Brazil, and even Ghana (we add Singapore here) with whom we were in
the struggle for economic emancipation have all overtaken us. Today our leadership is infested with a
lack of vision and corruption. The country as a whole no longer produces anything and thousands of
young Nigerians cannot find employment. The Nigerian economy has become a trader economy where
goods from all over the world are being dumped.
There is no infrastructure worthy of the name. Electricity, a basic ingredient of development, is lacking.
There is no railway. Cholera has assailed parts of Northern Nigeria because of unclean water. Our roads
are almost impassable. A journey from Lagos to Benin – an artery to seven other states – that used to be
done in three hours, now takes more than one day. Agriculture, the pristine employer of labour is in
decline. The country is fixated on easy money coming from oil production, and oil is a diminishing
Nigeria scores low on almost every index of human development. Education is in crisis with 80 per cent
failure rates recorded in public examinations, but the children of Nigeria’s rulers attend fine schools
abroad. Health facilities are mostly substandard so that almost without exception our rulers travel
abroad at public expense to receive medical attention. Nigeria is notorious for very high maternal and
infant mortality rates. Nigerian institutions are weak and are not able to sustain the rigorous standards
required in a modern democracy.
Security has become a major problem in Nigeria as law enforcement agents prove incapable of
apprehending criminals. They have been unable to solve numerous high profile murders. Kidnapping, a
latter-day menace, has overwhelmed the Nigeria police as whole communities and towns cowering in
fear are shut down. It is a paradox that the Nigeria police that is praised abroad for discipline and
professionalism, fail woefully at home.
Despite these negative developments, Nigeria continues to make substantial progress with its human
resources. Nigerians are giving a good account of themselves all over the world. In almost every field of
human endeavour there are Nigerians contributing their quota to world development. But the
atmosphere in their home country is often disappointing and hostile so that many in the Diaspora
remain abroad. But a responsible government ought to create conditions that enable our best and
brightest to come back home to help in national development.
Nigeria is a valuable member of the United Nations, taking part in many peace keeping efforts of the
world body. Both the Nigerian military and the Nigeria police have been noted for their abilities in
bringing peace to war-stricken parts of the world. The Nigeria police have participated in about 20
international peacekeeping engagements since 1960.
Nigeria has been an active player on the African scene and played significant roles in the independence
of Angola and Namibia, the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa and the restoration of peace in
Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia. Nigeria is the spearhead of Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) whose activities have helped to stabilise the sub-region.
The problem of Nigeria is political. The presidential system we have adopted without any checks and
balances is proving to be a costly misadventure. It nourishes a bloated bureaucracy, an uncountable
number of parasites masquerading as assistants to political office holders and selfish elite. Although
Nigeria claims to be a federation, it operates more or less like a unitary government. Many of the 36
states of the federation cannot survive except with subventions from the federal government.
There is a certain lack of cohesion between the federal government and the states. Now and again plans
are announced, visions espoused, but in the end nothing is accomplished. Vision 2010 has come and
gone so will Vision 2020, if care is not taken. We have fallen behind in the Millennium Development
Goals (MDG). Every administration overturns the things put in place by previous administrations, so that
nothing is sustained. At the heart of these inadequacies is poor leadership and corruption.
Nigeria is in open season where a group of so-called leaders lord it over a silent majority with impunity.
For instance our legislators are the highest paid in the world and yet nobody, it seems, can call them to
order. Many of our leaders and their wives behave badly, often taking their bad manners abroad. It is
almost as if any Nigerian who gets to the top must abuse his office to show his importance. Nobody is
effectively fighting corruption. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) although loud on
posturing, has shown weak service delivery.
Nigerians must worry about the recruitment process that throws up so much mediocrity in the public
space. Nigerians in their individual capacities tend to be more intelligent than their governments whose
profligacy in the midst of damning poverty is obscene. In Nigeria, there is no linkage between the rulers
and the ruled. Fortunately, democracy offers an opportunity for the people to change what they do not
like. The question and the challenge is whether Nigerians can rise to the occasion and elect leaders of
their choice in 2011.
Our Verdict: We are NOT there yet!
Our Request: Take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the Nigerian comatose economic system
Our Advise: Come onboard the train taking us there. Now!
Our Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ibgnigeria.com; www.ibgnigeria.blogspot.com