Nigeria at 51: In Search of Progress
A birthday is a time for sombre reflections of the years gone by and how to grapple with the challenges of the future. How have we managed our time and resources over the past years? And what is our agenda for meaningful growth and development in the years ahead? These are some of the key challenges facing us as we celebrate the 51st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from British colonial rule.
On October 01, 1960, at the historic Race Course in Lagos, there were uncontrolled joy and jubilations as the Union Jack was replaced with Nigeria’s Green-White-Green flag symbolizing the birth of a new country. Nigeria had arguably the best chances of democratic success with a vibrant elite and a well-organized working class movement than any other African country. In both human and natural resources Nigeria had all the ingredients required for positive growth and development.
When we look back at those 51 years, and recall the beautiful speeches by Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Obafemi Awolowo on October 01, 1960, three leaders who symbolized the unity in diversity and hope for a prosperous Nigeria, we are reminded of the failures of succeeding governments in constructing durable edifice for Nigeria’s development.
We know too well the failures of the Nigerian governments (federal, state, and local) in providing basic essentials for the citizens of Nigeria. The state of the roads, hospitals, education, electricity, security, jobs, etc. is a glaring evidence of the failures of governance in Nigeria. We do not wish to belabour this issue, but it is pertinent to cite the comments of Reuben Abati on how the state of Nigerian roads epitomizes the failure of governance in Nigeria. He argued:
"The state of Nigerian roads is the state of Nigeria and a reflection of the level of governance in the country. Every sphere of national life is like the roads: pot-hole ridden, abandoned to the vagaries of nature, crying out loudly, for vision and difference….The roads are bad; the hospitals are ill-equipped, the school system is in disarray, access to health remains a problem, human life in both the cities and the rural areas, is on the edge of despair….Since 1999, contracts have been awarded by governments at all levels for the repair, rehabilitation and construction of roads. There have been stories told of how this has provided great opportunities for corrupt self-enrichment; the beneficiaries being contractors, public officials and consultants.”
(Reuben Abati, “Nigeria’s deplorable roads,” The Guardian, Lagos, Friday, October 13, 2006).
We have not witnessed any significant qualitative development either before or since Abati’s succinct commentary in 2006. In his 51st independence anniversary speech, President Goodluck Jonathan lamented the collapse of the institutions of state in Nigeria, while Richard Dowden described the discovery of oil in Nigeria as a “curse” rather than a blessing. (See, “Jonathan: Our system has collapsed,” Written by Mohammed S. Shehu Daily Trust, Abuja. Wednesday, 28 September 2011). Nigeria is a state of competing nations; and not a nation.So far, we do not see any strategy of the Nigerian State to integrate these competing nations.
But the question is: What is to be done? While NIDO Canada congratulates fellow Nigerians on the 51st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, we invite all Nigerians residing in Canada to join us in a deep reflection on how to move Nigeria forward. We believe in a bright and prosperous future in Nigeria, where citizens will reap the benefits of meaningful growth and development. We have to unite in our search for progress in Nigeria. In collaboration with NIDO Chapters in Canada, the Board of Directors will soon announce a series of concrete initiatives of NIDO Canada in advancing the growth and development of Nigeria – in all fields of socio-economic and technological development. This noble objective will be achieved by providing a framework for Nigeria-Canada socio-economic and technological cooperation.
Fellow Nigerians, we possess the human capital to achieve this; so let us unite to help bring positive change to Nigeria. The problems with Nigeria have been diagnosed by scores of scholars; now is the time for us to proffer specific solutions. We can if we want to. And there is no reason for us not to want to.
Long live NIDO Canada.
Chief Emmanuel Mbulu
Chairman, Board of Directors
51st Independence Anniversary Message from Chief Emmanuel Mbulu, Chairman, Board of Directors of NIDO Canada.
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