Nigeria is celebrating her 62nd independence anniversary today. As is conventional, it is a day that has been set aside to commemorate the self-rule of the country after the British Union Jack was lowered on the 1st of October 1960. The big question now is, is the day worth celebrating by Nigeria? This is not to talk of declaring a national holiday and assembling people to celebrate, yet again.
Nigerians and the name Nigeria itself have undergone tons of challenges over the years. Right from 1960 to date, the country is still wallowing in endemic poverty and hunger; corruption, leadership crisis, bad governance, insecurity, and many others to mention but a few. And the story remains the same as the country keeps functioning like a child declining in growth. Yet we keep blaming the British colonisers and past leaders of the country who fought hard for its independence. There are controversies surrounding Lord Frederick Lugard’s midwife of the 1914 Amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates to become Nigeria, and these have led to political and religious turbulence since independence and lends credence to the recurring question of whether the amalgamation in 1914 was a curse or blessing? However, as a country blessed with varieties of resources and often regarded as the giant of Africa, should we be disturbed by the argument on whether Nigeria is under a curse or not? Or should that serve as a justification for the government’s underperformance?
I think we have had enough of the self-induced malady. I believe it is time for every Nigerian to wake up and take responsibility. Enough of dwelling on the past with the same outcome, rather all should focus on the future which is nothing other than the 2023 general election. The general election is an opportunity to bring in a new set of leaders and it is knocking at our door already. But are Nigerians ready to open the door for it to come in by voting-in the right leaders at all levels? That will change the decaying structure of ours. This time round, we all have to buckle our belts and pass the message to one another. As it’s been popularly said, “Nigeria is now lying on the street and it’s left to Nigerians to decide right and vote-in leaders that would rescue the country from the street; responsible leaders that would care for all is all we need”. Leaders with the 3Cs of leadership: Competency, Courage and Character, and the one that would protect and act on the principle of democracy. All we want is a government that would characterise Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy: “the Government of the people by the people and for the people” is all we must strive for and elect come the election day.
I strongly believe that Nigerians still have a huge chance to rectify the anomalies in the country by voting-in the right leaders that will lift the country from the dilapidating phase to the Promised Land we’ve always dreamt of. We keep seeing political drama everywhere as the election is nearing. I believe Nigerians should not at this stage be surprised at or get distracted but rather see it as a norm and resist. “Enough should be enough”. This is not the time for Nigerians to start trading votes for a token that will finish even before the election results come out. They also avoid apathy. It is time to think straight and uprightly. 2023 should be different, not the usual. We have to get it right at all costs.
Negative factors or any factor whatsoever shouldn’t be tolerated to further divide our beloved nation as the 2023 election is knocking. For Nigeria to remain indestructible after the 2023 general election and beyond, it is the responsibility of all and sundry. Our Struggles, that of our political liberators and freedom fighters will be meaningful only if we are ready to come together as one regardless of our religious beliefs, political background and ethnicity. We must all come together to fight the oppressing challenges facing our dear nation. Every religious organisation and ethnic group should try as much as possible to embrace the spirit of love and serenity. It is so saddening to see that many have been unjustifiably murdered as a result of ethnicity, religion, and political differences. Rather, we must come together to improvise a formidable solution to end incessant killing of innocent citizens and other social vices that have put our country in darkness. The best time to do that is rapidly coming upon us, which is the electioneering period. We shouldn’t just sit back and criticize the government for its inadequacies because so far there has not been effective development by so doing. Regardless of our political, religious, and ethnic differences, we should stand for what is right for our dear country.
The Nigerian youths in particular must move from talking to taking action by actively participating in the electioneering process. The youths should do away with the popular saying that “they already know who would win the election even if we vote, so no need for us to vote. Our vote doesn’t count.” At least you should play your part as an active citizen, don’t just base everything on your assumptions which most times are not true. Statistics show that more than 33.6 million (16.8 percent) Nigerians are youths (aged between 15 and 35); however, they are still the ones that vote the least when it comes to elections. It’s worth knowing that our dreams and aspiration can never come true if we keep this same mindset and pass it on to the coming generation. The just concluded elections were a good reference. Low turnout of the youths in the Ekiti election was of concern. There was an improvement in the Osun State election and I believe we can do better when the 2023 elections come. We must all come out boldly on the days of the elections to exercise our franchise as and when due. It is our responsibility to vote and be voted for.
In all, Nigeria belongs to us all and we have a personal responsibility to see that it succeeds. We must see the new Nigeria we want and must accept personal responsibility to build it.
Yusuf Abdulkadir is with the Nigerian Tribune.
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