Nigeria at 60: Far from meeting expatatations

Today, the President and the 36 state governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are expected to roll out the drums in celebration of the nation’s 60 years of nationhood. For some weeks if not months, these various tiers of government have set up series of activities to herald the day.

From observations, neither the federal nor the state governments have set up any elaborate programme for the occasion. The usual razzmatazz which usually herald such occasion are conspicuously absent. These are so not because of the effects of the dreaded corona virus pandemic. It has been understood that the resort to low key cerebration is as a result of the economic realities in the country.

The reality is that Nigeria, though referred to as the giant of Africa and the largest economy in Africa, lacks almost everything that it takes to make a country great.

On the economic front, things are not any uhuru. The country has for some years now acquired a distasteful sobriquet as the world’s poverty capital. In fact, all rating and international development agencies are in agreement that the nation’s economy are in the doldrums both nationally, at the state level and in the pockets of the greatest number of Nigerians. In fact, over 70 per cent of Nigerians operate within the extremely poor bracket.

Even corporate bodies, both private and public, are struggling to stay afloat, while several have since closed shops. The few that are in operation are being bugged down under the pangs of strangulation by the several tiers of government which have continued to impose tax after tax and levies, not minding whether or not such companies and corporations are capable of generating the taxes being demanded from such companies. Government and it’s agencies have been known to carry out several anti-growth policies which only succeed in struggling companies, especially private establishments, all in the name of increasing internally generated revenue.

In other climes, government’s primary duty is geared towards formulating policies that promote indistrial growth and job creation.

Another sore point is the issue of unemployment. Forgive a decade, the number of unemployed youths have continued to rise astronomically without any genuine effort seen at coming out of such predicament. At best, the various strata of government embark on so called job creation policies that turn out to be huge fraud with consequential collateral economic fleecing to the already distressed economy.

On the political turf, it is like an armagedon. Aside from the fact that Nigeria has managed to maintain uninterrupted civil rule since 1999, all the trappings of democratic rule serving short supply. With the do-or-die attitude of our politicians, especially those at the ruling party, one wonders what legacy the leaders want to bequeath to the nation. From the organisation of political parties, which are beneft of real attributes of democratic norm, to party organisation, especially party congresses/primaries, which is akin to an abbracabra, to the inter-party election, everything appears like a voodoo bereft of sanity and sense decency. With the kind of political culture we are gradually building up, soon, we shall have cannons and inter-continental missiles flying about during elections.

Our educational system seems to have gone comatose. As at now, nobody can say we have any brighter future for the academic training of our children. With over six months of devastation to the academic sector, no thanks to covid-19, the nation’s tertiary institutions are yet to be reopened. And this is in a country that is so much in need of academic advancement, research and innovation.

It appears that the managers of the nation’s educational sector possess knowledge that is not available to other Nigerians, otherwise, why should the doors to our tertiary institutions remain shut? How could the nation innovate out of the ravaged of covid-19 if we put a halt to the nation’s research and innovation hub?

The transportation sector appears to be another horrendous sector. With almost all the nations federal and state highways in death trap state, how on earth do our leaders hope to promote commerce, industrialization, technology, with collapsed road and railway infrastructure?

It is true that some strides have been made in rehabilitating the rail sector, but this continued refusal to commence and meaningfully reconstruct the eastern railway corridor, in preference to speedily constructing rail line to Mardi in Niger Republic makes it appear as if we prefer embarking on Affghanistanism kind of development process. Otherwise, what is the rationale in carrying on with what we are currently doing in that sector?

The inland waterways and port facilities are another aspect that are operating at below parity. None of the inland ports at Warri, Onitsha, Lokoja, Baro, etc have been executed and put to use. At best, most of the infrastructure at such places, have either deteriorated due to non-usage, or have been cannibalised due to neglect and abandonment.

Key national assets like the ports in Port Harcourt, Onne, Calabar, etc, have either been made non-functional or were being rendered comatose through deliberate policy that scares importers and other port users from using such. It remains absolutely a wonder why the nation prefers to over-congest the ports in Lagos, continues to tolerate the crippling road congestion in the state not minding the negative consequential impact.

The area of security have remains one of the worst in our history as a nation. With armed bandits ravaging most states in the northern part of the country, snuffing life out of people and kidnappers and armed robbers running riot in the middle belt and southern part of the country, it remains absolutely wonder that insecurity have remained as our national anthem. It is expected that since the President decided to retain the Service Chiefs, who Nigerians believe have over-stayed and have run out of ideas on how to tackle these debilitating insecurity issues, then they should rejig their strategy and stop the current fire brigade approach to fighting insecurity.

The nation’s healthcare sector have remained what was once described as “mortuaries”. Even as several other countries that take seriously the issue of promoting the healthcare of its citizens have utilised the sad incident of covid-19 to advance it’s healthcare processes. But sadly, our leaders still rely on foreign medical consultations for ailments as little as headache. No wonder our health institutions have remained at best construction with attendant industrial action in their ramifications.

Is it the issue of bribery and corruption that one should not worry about? With the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as well as other law enforcement agencies, there is no respite. Just few days ago, the nation was awash as to how some unscrupulous Nigerians diverted a so-called school feeding programme at a time schools were closed when due to the corona virus pandemic to swindle billions of Naira. Should we bring up again the sleaze at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDCC), the Constituency Project scams, Audit Scams, Oil Subsidy Scams, Turn Around Maintenance of our refineries scams, Employment scams, Pension Scams, not forgetting the billion dollar Arms Scam. In all these, only the political leaders see these differently. The ordinary Nigerian perceive huge perfidy around those areas while our politicians see such as mere drama where microphones should be put off. It has remained worrisome that reports of probe panels in the country have continued to gather dust. Out law enforcement agencies have on their part, not helped matters. With the disgraceful collection of bribes along our roads to the extent that they shamelessly give out change to commuters, The AUTHORITY wonders where we are heading to. It is a shame that all the X-squads of the police, the military, the customs, the immigration and other paramilitary outfits have just remained cosmetic, rather than functional.

At 60 there is no doubt that the dreams of our founding fathers have been put on the reverse gear. It is also debilitating that there is hardly any sector that beings cheer. All the other countries which attained independence at the same time with Nigeria have moved on, on the path of progress and growth while we have continuously applied the reverse gear. Although our leaders try stridently to project the nation as towing a path of growth, but every indices of growth and progress, including our foreign reserves, national integrity and level of patriotism, have not supported the claims of our leaders.

Nigeria needs more than anything else, leaders that would eschew narrow parochialism and promote industry, merit, integrity and honesty. A situation where nepotism smells to high heaven in our national schemes is too terrible and can never bring about any progress. A situation where the youth continues to resort to 419 and other vices to survive and sees the nation as not holding any hope for their future is most unfortunate and should not be allowed to continue this way.

Our leaders should endeavour to do what they ought to do to reverse all negative mindset and parochialism that have continued to bug down our country. Solution to these problems lie with our leaders as the buck stops on their table. Time to do so is now and the 60th Independence Anniversary provides effective window to do so.

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