Today, our great country, Nigeria, marks 53 years of sovereignty and three months short of its centenary. Naturally, such epochal event calls for celebrations, pomp and pageantry. In spite of the daunting challenges we face everyday, we have every reason to celebrate our togetherness, resilience and the spirit of hard work, which makes it possible for us to wake up everyday to look forward to a better tomorrow with a smile on the face. Not many countries, especially on the African continent, are as lucky. We give thanks to God and look forward to a better year for all.
This year’s Independence Day celebrations are coming to all Nigerians at a very difficult time. We face the growing spectre of insecurity, corruption and division among our ranks, the kind that the nation has never seen in its one hundred year history. There is so much poverty in the midst of plenty with so many getting poorer and so few getting richer. The fortunes of our dear country have moved from bad to worse on account of poor and insensitive leadership.
At no other time in our recent history have so much frustration, depression and discontent pervaded the country’s entire fabric. For nearly 100days now, our tertiary education has been grounded to a complete halt. The Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, has also issued a threat to close down primary and secondary schools in solidarity with tertiary tutors and instructors.
With the welfare and security of Nigerians relegated to the background, how will our country become a global player and competitive nation that we are dreaming about? How will it realise the so much talked about Vision 20:2020?
Our woes are clearly not limited to education alone. They are in healthcare, job creation and virtually everywhere. With two-thirds of our doctors practicing overseas and the one-third practicing at home downing tools at frequent intervals, it is no wonder Nigeria is one of the most dangerous countries to live in today. Our youths are roaming the streets helplessly with no hope of a decent job. Mass unemployment has become a national way of life. Youth restiveness, the menace of kidnapping and armed robbery now are kegs of explosives that we are sitting on.
From the look of things, this precarious drift to the precipice appears endless and ignoring this could only be at our peril. Despite official denials, the ship of the nation’s economy has hit the iceberg. Nigeria at 53, and with high oil prices, cannot pay its bills! Oil theft, profligacy and untamed corruption are the order of the day. In the midst of this unpardonable waste, Nigerian leaders live in ostentation and parade themselves with flagrant insensitivity.
Just last week, a coalition of concerned Nigerians marched on the National Assembly to demand transparency and openness in legislators’ pay and an investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings of fellow Nigerians in Apo area of Abuja. Earlier that week, senior citizens under the umbrella of the Patriots warned that the nation’s is drifting towards catastrophe. Today, insecurity is starkly threatening our national unity and capable of undermining our continuous existence as a nation. Thus, the inherent strength that the multiplicity and diversity of identity guarantees our nation is now being jeopardized. Our diversity is now being used by people who govern us, against us. Have our leaders Nigeria learn anything from its past? If anything, the contrary appears to be the case.
All this has to change. We are living on borrowed time and must not push our luck too far. Nigeria must change course from today or risk the fate of other nations who failed to take heed.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY TO ALL NIGERIANS