Still on Nigeria at 61

IT is a well-worn axiom that nations are made and not born. There is no nation today that did not start as a geographical expression. This is because a society must start from one phase of development to the other. However, to our dear country, the reverse is the case. At this stage of our political imbroglio, we do not need a political scientist to tell us that Nigeria is facing chronic political instability. I remember one of the theories of Thomas Hobbes which made us believe that government is essential for an orderly society: this is why we can submit that the unprecedented insecurity, political instability, killing, corruption and the poor state of the country is as a result of the total absence of government or weak leaders in government. Thomas stated that life in the state of nature (where there is no functioning institution) was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. This is the story of our country today. It is saddening to see thousands of our youth who are the future of the country moving out from the country as though they are being pursued by the news of a looming Armageddon. More than ever in the annals of the country, brain drain is at its highest. Yet, there seems to be no end in sight to such “justifiable” quest and thirst for greener pastures in other terrains.

There is an exodus of potential young men and women from the shores of this country, many of whom have sworn never to return to Nigeria.  Those who are yet to have their way have the japa prayer point as the number one on their daily prayer points. What a shame! This is a result of mass unemployment and overstretching of inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure. In my previous article titled Does Nigeria need strong men or strong institutions?, my view was made known that Nigeria needs strong men to build strong institutions. It is crystal clear that weak men will destroy strong institutions, and that is what we are currently experiencing today. To build a great nation, strong men must emerge.  Compare our currency with the other top currencies in the world today. The result will bring uncontrollable tears.

To add insult to injury, the education system which ought to be preparing the young ones for the future has collapsed. The West Africa Examination Council (WAEC)  and the National Examination Council (NECO) are about money now.  To get “A1 parallel” is a matter of monetary negotiation. Parents pay special fees to secure good grades for their children at the secondary school level. Nepotism and lawlessness are in top of the gear, making a pathway for wickedness in our country. Over the last few years, Nigeria has increasingly found itself in the grip of wickedness and lawlessness that manifest in many forms: unlawful arrest, corruption and violent protests and vigilantism. It is important to point out that lawlessness is not just about a general disregard of the law and the absence of law enforcement, but also about the failures or absence of government. There is a saying that the court is the last hope for the common man. This is not true in our country anymore.  Justice is not attainable by the common person in our country. Political godfatherism and corruption have swept justice and fairness from our judicial system of government. Police brutality is on the increase. What a shame!

Where is the Nigerian dream of Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmodu Bello?  Prof. Sheriff Folarin, in one of his articles, reveals that our population should make our land a fertile ground for global trade. Nigeria is rich in mineral resources. It is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest, and the world’s 11th largest, producer and exporter of oil. These endowments should have made Nigeria one of the key destinations for global investment. And with its wealth in petroleum and natural resources as well as its vast agricultural potential, Nigeria should have by now become Africa’s undisputed economic giant. Our large population should have been a source of strength, but it is a weakness. Smaller nations such as Ghana, Rwanda, etc, are beginning to gain more ground than the giant of Africa.  Nigeria is one of the African countries big corporations from the industrialised and wealthy countries in Europe and South Asia found most suitable for their business and industries in time past. Now, they consider Nigeria unsuitable for business and industry due to decaying infrastructure and insecurity. Many of these foreign corporations have over the years shut down or relocated their Nigerian manufacturing plants. They point to a lack of stable electricity supply and endemic corruption, both of which impede their smooth operations. Nigerians were high-flyers in intellectual and educational endeavours, business, international diplomacy, military and political leadership, and  continental leadership in times past.

Nigeria provided leadership and enormous support to the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Congo and other countries. It led the movement for the end to apartheid rule in Southern African countries, including South Africa, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)..

It supported other liberation movements, including those of Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, and Western Sahara.

In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Nigeria’s influence in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was so monumental that it rose to the leadership for decades. The country’s economic muscle made it more politically relevant in Africa and by the mid-1980s, its voice was always sought on the resolution of intrastate conflicts. The African Union and Economic Community of West African States regarded the country as their live wire, but today Nigeria cannot govern itself.  Can Nigeria rise again? It is crystal clear that the present harbingers do not point to a hopeful future. But as a man of faith, I believe that Nigeria will achieve true greatness in our lifetime.

  • Abodunde is a law graduate


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