While debating with a friend whether we should celebrate Nigeria’s Independence in 2023, with him citing our lack of progress and suggesting that we wait till when Nigeria becomes productive to celebrate. I laughed and reminded my friend that we have been waiting for Nigeria to improve since 1960. My position was that we should celebrate each other, that waiting for Nigeria to improve would mean never celebrating at all.
Thinking about that conversation, I wondered whether my friend may have a point regarding the lack of progress in Nigeria. Even I, the eternal optimist, responded with some pessimism when responding to what waiting for progress would mean to the average Nigerian – not celebrating at all. Such is the condition of Nigeria today where there is absolutely no hope, and we all know it. Yes, it has been 63 years since our independence from British rule and 63 years of steady regression. Our roads are no better than they were when I was born, in fact they are now worse. Today there is no steady supply of electricity, our schools and medical facilities are decrepit. In fact, I have come to believe that even our mental capacity has been regressing despite all our degrees and professional certifications. Furthermore, common sense has eluded us, and the reason being that, even when a superior being presents us opportunities to move forward, we always choose the wrong path.
Since the election tribunal ruling on the last presidential election, which has left a lot of Nigerians dejected and disappointed, there has been no plans to improve the lives of Nigerians. The first action of President Tinubu’s administration was to remove fuel subsidies with no plans to mitigate the effects and impact on citizens. Instead, the current administration will borrow millions from the world bank to offer N8,000 monthly palliative to the poor for 6 months. With fuel prices jumping to over 100%, how could N8,000 supplement for this hyperinflationary increase? Did this administration wonder what would happen to these families after the six months palliative? With the cost of everything almost doubling, how do they wish for the people to cope? Not to speak of who is really the poor in Nigeria and how do we identify them? What a country! Sometimes you look at power, and you are astonished at its ability to rob people of their humanity. Nigerian politicians seize every opportunity to redefine democracy according to their own standards. It is frightening to come to terms with the anguish that lies ahead
Today, Nigeria is 63 years old, and the debate of whether we should or should not celebrate will be raging in every corner. For me, this debate is a manifestation that the Nigerian system is totally broken beyond repair. I believe it will only take some kind of crisis to ever fix my country. From my perspective, we have lost all sense of reality and are living in a bizarro world. A world where up is down and down is up, where good is bad and bad is now good. A world where we blame all our woes on the work of the devil, but do nothing to enable God to help us. So, let no charlatan tell me that prayer is the answer because if it were, Nigeria would have been a more developed country.
Candidly, Nigerian is that country where the worst will never happen, but nothing ever gets better. However, and based on recent trends, we may lose the worst will never happen part of that phrase, because the worst is already happening! It appears that Nigerian citizens at home and abroad have come to accept the fact that we lack the knowledge and capacity to fix our country, and even worse, we lack the willpower to even engage in seeking meaningful solutions. Nigeria has become a tribal marriage of convenience, with each tribe tolerating the other while they wait their turn at Aso Rock. We have simply given up hope for One Nigeria and accepted our lives of suffering and enduring. Ask any Nigerian, we know exactly what is wrong with our country, and even know how to fix it. But we are so paralyzed by our tribal and ethnic biases to even apply any solution. This phenomenon cuts across all age and tribal line! Furthermore, our misunderstanding of the role of religion in our lives has made our situation worse. Rather than find ways to solve our challenges, we have come to rely on God and Allah to do this work physically and mentally for us. Hence the reason our response to any challenges is simply, “leave it to God” or “Allah Akbar” We are just that helpless and hopeless!
The last election, once again, being a manifestation of our tribal sentiments, has exposed the reason we will never produce a leader capable of fixing our country. If such leaders are from the wrong tribe, they will never get the opportunity to help Nigeria grow and its citizens to prosper. Now when I speak of tribalism, I am speaking about the tribes within a tribe. Meaning, within the Igbo tribe, a qualified Anambra man will not get an appointment in Imo or Abia states and vice versa, despite being of the same Igbo tribe. Suffice it to say that tribal sentiments runs so deep in our veins that I do not believe there will ever be a time it will not influence our thinking.
Closely behind tribalism is religion. Religion has affected Nigerians in two major ways. First is that the average Nigerian Christian or Muslim would rather deal with their own kind. Muslims do not want Christians anywhere near them for fear of influencing their doctrine. The second part is that religion has caused us to lose our common sense. In essence, we have become religious zombies who will follow anyone promising huge fortunes if only we believe. The charlatans among us have turned struggling Nigerians into believing that only prayer would solve their problems. Forget innovation, hard work and persistence. All they need to do is pray, fast and pay their tithes and the gods of money will come visit their banks. What a bunch of hogwash! How do we hope to move the country forward with such an attitude? I expect a lot of push back from people who will accuse me of generalizing and even blasphemy. And to those people I would say, prove me wrong! We have been so conditioned to this get rich quick schemes and dogma that we have forgotten how to truly work hard for our successes. I do believe in the Christian doctrine, however, what I despise is how this useful moral compass has been hijacked by con men and women masquerading as prophets, preachers and overseers, and turning my people into slaves of the doctrine.
Nigerians as a people have become very complacent. My generation especially is a huge disappointment to the world when compared to the achievements of our fathers. Let me remind those who may not know that some of our parents were paid only eighty-nine naira as salary, from which they built a life for us – an easy life I might say! But look at us today, most of my generation are resident overseas and still hoping that our parents, most of whom have passed on, will come and save us from our current predicament. We lack wokeness and our answer to the Nigerian predicament today is Japa! This mentality of the next generation was derived out of their loss of confidence in our abilities as their fathers. For my generation still at home, we hold all the access to the country’s resources and control all factors of production. However, we are more interested in enriching ourselves than our fathers did in giving us a good life. In fact, Nigerians have become the proverbial frog that kept raising its body temperature in response to the boiling water until it died. Nigerians today are so used to suffering that they delight in finding ways to survive. In 2022 alone, Nigerians in diaspora remitted a total $20 billion to friends and family back home. These funds were mainly for taking care of their daily needs. How do we expect these individuals to fend for themselves and/or find solutions to their challenges if all we do is give them tokens to take care of their daily needs. Would it not be better if Diaspora Nigerians contributed up to 10% of their net worth toward building industries in Nigeria. Could you imagine the impact of such an investment? However, our challenges today are multifold. Do not forget that we are talking about Nigeria, a country so corrupt that entrusting anyone with such huge investment will be tantamount to simply creating a piggy bank for them to enrich themselves. Instead of using those funds to build sustainable businesses, they will direct them to their personal banks and those of their family members. Such is the irony of this country called Nigeria.
People die every day, however, in most civilized countries, these deaths are used as a springboard to either find a cure for a disease, or correct a negative norms, such as drug use, that may be prevalent in that community. But in Nigeria, no death is normal. It must be due to fetish ways, a result of fighting among family members and friends. Afterall, in Nigeria we are all superhuman and only could die by supernatural means. Such is the irony of Nigeria.
Nigeria has been regressing since attaining our independence. As a child, I never had to deal with intermittent electricity, we had electricity all day. But today, electricity is rationed, and users are still required to pay exorbitant electric bills. As a kid, I remember having access to pipe born water in our yard (apartment) for all tenants. But today it is all about boreholes and water tankers selling contaminated water to residents. As a child, I remember taking a trip with my father from Ibadan to Osun, no single pothole on the highway. My generation had only three things to worry about: school, food and play. And once a teenager, you could add girls to that list. I once rode a bus from Ojoo to Mobil with my secondary school friends without paying any fare and by virtue of us being secondary school students. But today, university graduates have to pay bribes to be placed in a good state for their Youth Service, something that was a federal mandate. Today, the descendants of our generation are faced with the worst conditions any child could be exposed to. There is no light, no good roads, and our freeways and highways are death traps, not enough money to feed themselves due to the high cost of food. No investments in our schools or medical facilities. All that remains of our country Nigeria at 63, is dejection, helplessness, kidnapping, murder and mayhem, police brutality, political exploitation and upheaval, death and destruction, unknown gunmen phenomenon, sit-at-home Mondays, bribery and corruption, embezzlements at the lowest and highest levels authoritarianism, and impunity. In fact, Nigeria is an epitome of uselessness, hopelessness and dejection. And now that I have totally destroyed your view of Nigeria, you decide whether to celebrate or not to celebrate.