Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, on Thursday said Nigeria has not lived to expectation in her 60years of independence as countries that were even behind or at par with her in terms of development had moved on, charging the leaders to work with the belief that Nigeria can be a giant of Africa as it was not too late for such.
Akinyemi said this on Arise TV programme, tagged: “Nigeria @60, Rising Together, The Global Virtual Commemoration,” even as he also charged that the country to address the gulf now existing among tribes and find her way back to that period when even though tribes and tongues differed, the citizens regarded themselves as neighbours.
The elder statesman, who recalled the feats recorded in the country at independence, including the establishment of the first television station in Africa in the then Western Region, and a world recognised teaching hospitals, among others, noted the sad twist as he drew attention to latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report which graded Nigeria to be 158 out of 159 counties in the world, in human development index.
“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has just produced a report. Out of 159 countries, Nigeria has been graded 158. We were graded among the lowest in human development programmes,” he said.
“At independence, we had television services that European countries didn’t have. We had world recognised teaching hospitals. We had a world recognised shipping line.
“Some of the best brains in the world were Nigerians, we were called giants of Africa and we believed it and our vision was for Nigeria to reach the sky. And now the United Arab Emirate has sent s rocket to the Mars. The Emirates were not even independent when we were, and Nigeria remains grounded on the earth.
“Brazil which was at par with Nigeria 60years ago had produced all planes, both military and civilian. They had produced ships, why can’t we produce? We have no national airline, we have no national shipping line,” Akinyemi said.
“In 1960, we sang in our anthem, though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand. No one in Nigeria believes in that anymore.
“It is unfortunate, we abandoned that national anthem. There is now a deep gulf. We must mend our ways, we must find our ways back to that period when even though tribes and tongues differ, we regarded ourselves as neighbours.
“We must have a government that practises inclusiveness, we must have an ambition of greatness in this country. Our leaders must have a world view that really believes Nigeria can be a giant of Africa. It is not too late for these dreams and these visions to be activated, we must begin now,” he added.