Nigeria at 60: An Old Man Learning to Crawl— by Lawrence Mike
October 1 of every year brings an air of diversity and a false sense of unity among Nigerians, as the country celebrates her independence. It is a nation referred to as ‘The Giant of Africa’ for its enormous population (about 200 million), political potential and natural resources that, if utilised, would place Africa on a good pedestal among other continents.
The beautifully decorated logo of the 60th independence celebration was captioned “60 years together,” which is a reference to the fact that its three major and over 250 minor ethnic groups have successfully stayed together for 60 years despite obvious differences and mutual distrust. Many Nigerians believe this is worthy of celebration. From the 30-month civil war otherwise called the Biafran war to various ethnic, religious, and political upheavals, the country has struggled to survive.
It has generally been agreed that “how well” is better than” how long,” which suggests that the result a something produces supersedes how long it lasts. As Nigerians celebrate the joyous occasion of Nigeria’s diamond jubilee, the topic of reflection in the hearts of Nigerians would be,
“How well have the people lived in 60 years.”
In 60 years, can it be said that the country is making progress? What are the landmark achievements it can boast of?
While the President and his cabinet will feign smiles to deceive the world that the country is doing well, it is obvious that the country is that of an old man learning to crawl.
Though it may be seen as a feat that the country is 60 years despite debilitating challenges. But in reality, it has been 60 years of struggles putting birds of different colours determined to fly to separate routes together. Sixty years of several ethnic groups being at one other’s throat is indeed the state of Nigeria.
In 60 years, Nigeria, with its potential, should be among the developed nations and not the archetype of underdeveloped countries and poverty capital of the world. At 60, Nigeria is expected to reflect the traits of a growing country but sadly, it parades all the features of a failed state.
At 60, electricity consumption is at a meager 3,500 to 4,000MW while unemployment is rising, reaching an all-time high of 23.10 per cent in the third quarter of 2018. Nigeria plays host to over 13.5m out-of-school children with the number still on the rise. It also has the highest number of under five deaths in the world. Nigeria supplies electricity to its neighbouring countries to flex its muscles as Africa’s “Big Brother” but her citizens suffer the most inhumane form of darkness.
At 60, Nigeria has become a country governed for the interest of the elites while citizens continue to wallow in frustration. The leadership failure in Nigeria has caused her citizens to lose hope in the country. Electoral fraud has become a norm, while insecurity continues to be a part of its society. Terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and robbery have become insurmountable. According to the Nigerian Security Tracker, 25,794 people were killed between 2015 and 2019. Boko Haram insurgents killed over 100,000 persons and displaced 1.9 million villagers since its wanton attacks began in the South-East in 2009.
The apparent helplessness of the country’s leadership has led to security measures being put in place by states to achieve peace. The National Assembly and concerned Nigerians have called for the sacking of service chiefs for their inability to tackle insecurity in the country but the President continually turned a deaf ear.
Nigeria’s population keep increasing yet her economy is crippled by lack of productivity and mismanagement of resources. It has failed to show signs of growth in any area in 60 years.
The calls for either separation or restructuring keep getting louder while its fierce ethnic politics keeps widening the gap of unity.
In 60 years of existence, one can only conclude that Nigeria is yet a nation. The basics of nationalism have yet been formed in its 60 years of self-governance. The future keeps getting bleak for her even as foundational challenges and corruption hinder her growth.
Lawrence Mike is a journalist and author whose passion is to bring change to society by changing the perspective of people on social matters.