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Nigeria @ 61: A Reflection

On October 1, 2021, Nigeria, our own giant of Africa celebrated 61 years of nationhood. While in the mood of celebration, it is very unclear on the part of majority of Nigerians whether the day called for celebration at its best or mourning at its worst.
To some, the fact that Nigeria remains one should better be celebrated rather than being disdained.
In the past, Nigerians have identified the day as one to be celebrated. When we were young, I can recall vividly in those days, in the 70s while in our primary schools, we would be feasted with good meals, rice, with meat and soft drinks to go with it. We would sing the National Anthem, and later pupils and students would be assembled for march past and cultural shows, and everybody would be happy for it.
In those days Nigerians were treated with much hopes and good expectations. It was an era where Nigeria had National Development Plans, where there were social developments in all areas of the lives of Nigerians, and of course there were healthy competitions among the main constituents represented by the major tribal groups of the Hausa-Fulani North, the Yoruba South West, and the Ibo South East.
In those good old days, Nigerians could live, school, and work in any part of the country, days when festive seasons like Christmas, New Year, and Muslims Ids were occasions to look forward to.
However, as Nigeria grew and developed among its constituents, it was clear that Nigeria was treated with more of the reasons that divided them than the reasons that united them, giving way to the allusion that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression.
Worsestill, Nigeria of today is almost at its precipice, most divided, frustrated and disillusioned, so much that Nigerians are doubting whether they should remain united or divide whatever it remains of the sleeping giant.
In the first decade between 1960 and 1970 Nigeria harvested one of its worst moments when it was plunged into avoidable ethnic inter tribal civil wars that saw millions dead and maimed.
While it was believed that the second decade would see Nigeria on the path of reconstruction and reparation, all Nigerians could see was a dash on some development efforts politically and economically. Nigeria was seen as a regional leader within the African sub region, and Nigerians took many brilliant strides both at home, in Africa, and other parts of the world. Despite a number of military coups and counter coups, it was generally believed that Nigeria was on its steady path of development. It was in the ’80s that Nigeria had some industrial growths, the days of the Second Republic, Steel Rolling Mills, days of Vehicle Assembly Plants of Volkswagen, Peugeot Assembly, manufacturing heydays and economic stability.
However, the dreams of the hopeful 80s were also truncated by military intervention led by General Muhammadu Buhari and his fellow military colleague, Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon. All hopes were dashed. It was a dream to be relived again. The military accused the civilian administrators of economic profligacy.
Between the ’80s and the ’90s was an era of economic confusion led by General Ibrahim Babangida. Those days were clearly marked with many trial and error policies under the General which at the end led Nigeria nowhere. He could not give Nigerians a political system that could sustain the country. His administration was said to have conducted the freest election which was aborted by the infamous cancellation of the 1993 election that threw Nigeria into another political crisis which also almost led to a civil war.
Economically, Nigeria moved nowhere, as the era also experienced military coups and political stagnancy under the infamous Nigerian maximum ruler General Sani Abacha.
Well, by the end of the 4th decade, Nigeria was ushered into another democratic experience as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo came the second time to lead the country. Good enough that Nigeria has been able to sustain the new experiment.
With the new democracy, Nigeria was expected to be on the path of serious growth and development once again. But the evidence on the ground hardly point to these expectations. The reality on the ground showed that the present crop of leaders would not lead the people into its expected eldorado.
The evidence on the ground reflects the present set of leaders as very greedy and selfish, and as a result they feed fat on the vast resources of the country while the people suffer untold hardships from their leaders.
Celebrating 61st Independence as a country, where has it left us? The frustrations are still staring Nigerians at her face. After the terrible experience of the civil war years it seems Nigerians have never had it so bad like what they are experiencing from the present group of political leaders.
Under former president Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria suffered another era of economic mismanagement and corruption so much that the people were eager to have a transparent leader which they thought would be provided by Muhammadu Buhari.
Six years down the line, Nigerians have been treated to another session of menace under the present Buhari government, which is insecurity. Apart from the civil war years Nigerians have not been so decimated like the experience of the last democratic experiment under General Buhari. Under Buhari, in terms of security Nigerians have been worse off.
Today, Nigerians cannot peacebly live in their homes, even as they cannot freely move on the road or from one part of the country to the other. The partiallity in government has now led into calls for ethnic balancing and agitation.
It is very clear that the problems Nigeria habour today politically, economically and socially are self imposed by the politicians. They are the ones fanning religious and tribal embers for their selfish ends.
Nigerians simply want to live together, as friends and families. Besides, the politicians are also interested in staying together to do their business. They remain friends while they cause problems for the happless Nigerians.
With this ugly situation what does the future look like? The future looks very bleak as it could still be brightened. But the onus lies in the hands of Nigerians as a whole. It is one thing if Nigerian political elites still want Nigerians to remain one. On the other hand, the masses have what it takes to give themselves political leaders that could proffer the needed solutions to their problems.
It is said that a people gets the kind of leaders they desire. So what is happening in Nigeria is that the people are getting the leaders of their own kind.
With the present situation now, if the people would have the privilege to elect their next set of rulers, the people should go for competent and selfless leaders who would understand and appreciate the diverse nature of the people, and chose the leaders we can trust to take Nigeria to its real Next Level.
As things are now, we cannot but congratulate the gamut called Nigeria, as we pray that one day, very soon Nigeria would get the kind of leaders it needs. It shall be well with Nigeria. It shall be well with the people, and the enemies of this giant of Africa shall be put to public shame.
Once again, we thank you for keeping faith with us. The good Lord shall give you good rewards for your supports and encouragement in Jesus name. God bless you. Happy Independence Anniversary to Nigeria. Praise The Lord.

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Julius Adegunna, a writer, and publisher of good news and reports. He is also a trainer in Writing and Publishing, a Media Consultant and an Entrepreneur. A 1987 Graduate of International Relations of the University of Ife, (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) with Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations, and Master in Communication Studies of Lagos State University. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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