Happy Independence to Nigeria at 57! Yes, though we have been through downs together, it would have been an apogee to excuse myself from the celebration. Of course, we are in this together; we must all participate in the brainstorming to overcome.
I eloquently share in the view of some about the hastiness of our colonial freedom. They have, over the years, insisted that the independence of 1960 was too much in a hurry. For their arguments, they believed the colonial masters should have tarried a little longer. Perhaps, a similar development like the one in South Africa would have been the light.
As obvious, the level of infrastructural development and education would have been less abysmal. Unlike what we have at the present; Our self-rule struggle hadnt fetched us enough qualities like those years. As a matter of fact, there are communities where the only surviving means of formal education are the schools that were built by either the colonial influence or the missionaries.
Those who have had the mandate to lead such people simply refused to add up to what they grew up to meet. Such comatose has loudened the cry of pain. A society with an homegrown authorities but lack the basic needs for survival. What a dismal.
The elites of those times, aided by their subjects, worked together
to achieve goals. This sense of unity was one of the factors that helped during the struggle for independence. With such experience, they taught they could rule themselves even better without foreign supervision.
They had taught the foreigners were cheating and handicapping them. They wanted the colonialists to go. May be they should have been patient enough to learn well from the colonies; may be they should have seen the future first. But they(our heroes past) taught “We can rule ourselves”. So the Briton left.
It only took years after for us to realise how big the new country is. The various nations within the Nigeria Nation began to antagonize each other. They began to appreciate that they did not know themselves as they thought they did. The various regions had legions of alibis and reasons to distrust the others.
Even the smaller nations aside the 3 major ones found out that their interests was not captured in the entire post independent Nigeria. Up til today, the Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba concept is still the major creed. What about the people of Etsako, The Esans, the Igbirras, the igallas, the tivs, the Ibibios, the calabaris, the Ogonis and so on.
It became dawn that only enough wisdom and not knowlege would rule a ‘nation’ as ‘big’ as Nigeria. Indeed and in fact, a people that is so heterogeneous in nature ought to have been assured of their due space within the larger space. Maybe they should have tarried a little longer.
But anyway and anyhow, the Britons are gone and the independence had come. The unseen or the worries of the minorities that were ignored soon ballooned to Olympian size. And Just 6 years later, shortly after the Republic, the country went up in flames. I often wonders what the white were thinking at the time Nigerians were shelling themselves. The country they just granted independence only years back?
The 1967-70 civil war from all narrations was not only brutal but also damaging to the nationhood. Nigeria has since then not recover from the mishaps. Till today, the country is still coldly divided. The military coups that led to the war are still very historic and symbolic: the Kaduna Nzeogwu coup and the counter coup both in 1966 are termed Igbo coup and Hausa coup respectively.
Although we came out of the war again to proclaim oneness, the peace seem not to be absolute. All the same, we stayed as one. The civilians, however pressurise for a shake up in administration. They wanted the military to unhand governance in due course. After so many years, in an on and off circulation, the military reluctantly moved to the barracks. And so the dream finally came true in 1999.
Therefore in the last 18 yrs, the civilians have been in charge. But what have we seen? it’s been a repetition of the same offenses and ills they had accused the military of. Nigeria has been wobbling and searching for the right leaders to lead her out of her state of limbo. It is only in deceit we refer to our self as great when we actually are not.
When we want to console our selves we call us the giant of Africa. We say that we are the most populous black nation on earth. Very true but, what is giant in a giant that has not protected his huge population? What is big in an economy that can’t provided the basic needs for citizens?
In summary, Nigeria @57 can best be described as a sleeping giant. Its high time the giant woke up to take his pride of place. We are right to say that the founders of Nigeria did not fix the Nigeria nation on a solid foundation. But, does it still make sense to keep blaming them? We accused the military of enthroning corruption other illegal practices and we have done more than they did.
The colonialists have gone, our founding fathers have gone too. Blaming them now no longer appeal to common sense. It is now our responsibility to pull us out of the sandy foundation they built on. It is now our responsibility to reform and give flesh to the carcass that the military left.
Let us do the needful . Let us insist on doing the right thing. Let us build a solid country that will accommodate everyone, every faith and every view. Until we do that, we shall continue to be a sleeping giant even @100. May God guide and guard our leaders right and help our highly deprived youths to reconnect with the fact that there is hope when there is still life.
Nigeria is our country. Whatever it will take, let’s make it work. Let the coming generations have many reasons to roll in green and white. As Hugo Grotius says “States are immortal” we will all leave some day while Nigeria remains. The type of Nigeria we will leave behind shall either trigger hailings or hailstorms from those who will come after us.
God bless Nigeria,
Okhifo Oscar O.
Edited and posted on muzzammilwrites.