Nigeria At 61 – LEADERSHIP NEWS
Nigeria will today celebrate her 61st Independence anniversary. In 1960, the country gained its independence from the British after a protracted colonial experience. Attaining 61 years of nationhood as an independent political entity, therefore, calls for celebration even if tainted by mixed feelings.
It is not arguable that Nigeria has experienced some challenges and gains in the last 61 years. We recall that Nigeria fought a bitter civil war from 1967 to 1970 which claimed about 3.5 million lives. The country has since moved on, unlike some other countries that experienced civil wars and have remained on their knees long thereafter.
Nigeria has also experienced years of military rule which some political analysts blame for the underdevelopment of the country. Therefore, one of our major achievements in recent years is the sustenance of 22 years of unbroken democracy. For us, as a nation, this is a feat that cannot be ignored.
Nigeria may not have realised its full potentials in 61 years, and the reasons are not far-fetched. Corruption, nepotism and religious bigotry are part of the root cause of our underdevelopment. This state of affairs has manifested in so many ways and posed numerous challenges to the citizen. Since 1960, the country has not been able to successfully wean itself from overdependence on oil. After the discovery of oil, agriculture, and other sectors of the economy with great potentials for high forex earnings and domestic sustainability were abandoned. The consequence is that poverty paradoxically still abounds amid plenty. According to a 2018 report by the World Poverty Index, 86.9 Nigerians are living in extreme poverty, a development that has earned our country the ignoble sobriquet of global poverty capital.
Similarly, insecurity has also been an albatross. Rather than abate, this ugly phenomenon has continued to multiply in different forms. From banditry, kidnapping to armed robbery, we have graduated to a fully terrorized country, courtesy of Boko Haram and bandits. A new report, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has ranked Nigeria the third terrorism most impacted country in the world. Only Afghanistan and Iraq which ranked first and second respectively are ahead of Nigeria as countries that suffered most from terrorism.
Regrettably, one major impediment to the growth and development of the country has been the thorny issue of ethnicity and religion. Most Nigerians first see themselves as Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, or Igbo, not as a Nigerian. Nigeria has not been able to achieve nationhood and unity in 61 years in the real sense of it.
After 61 years after, most Nigerians are still obsessed with the ethnicity and religion of the occupier of political offices. Instead of grooming citizens and statesmen, what is in abundance are tribesmen. The recent accusations and counter-accusations between northern and southern governors over which zone produces the presidency in 2023 is a pointer to this.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, that is why the nation’s politics will continue to be overshadowed by creed and tongue. We think it is time for Nigeria to search for its leaders beyond the walls of churches and mosques and devoid of ethnicity.
Pathetically, in our view, Nigeria has also been a superstar in the corruption index. Unfortunately, efforts to reduce or eliminate this albatross have been met with stiff resistance. With the vigor the current administration has put into fighting this ugly menace, one would have expected the monster to have been decapitated by now but that seems not to be the case. If anything, the allegations and counter-allegations of selection in the anti-corruption fight seem to have strengthened the hands of the monster.
Still, another major problem that has also been blamed for the slow pace of growth and development is leadership. It is incontestable that the country has a gross deficit of visionary leaders at all levels and so has been stuck in the ‘developing countries’ stage for 61 years. This is unacceptable and we must do everything possible to reverse the trend. To achieve full potentials as a nation, accountable, visionary, and purposeful leadership at all levels is sine qua non.
However, it has not been doom and gloom as some considerable progress has, no doubt, been made. The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has made a habit of completing and continuing some legacy infrastructural projects like the rail and road projects left halfway by the previous governments.
As Nigerians celebrate 61years of independence, we call on President Buhari to put the country on a sound footing politically and economically. We urge him to also strengthen our electoral system by leaving a legacy of free, fair and credible elections. Ought reinforce efforts to build and strengthen democratic institutions in the remaining years in office. We congratulate all Nigerians.
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