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Thursday, 1 October 2015

My Independence Day Wish For Nigeria


Today marks 55 years of independence for Nigeria from British rule. About 29 of those years have been spent under military dictatorships which began after a coup d'etat in 1966 that precipitated the 30-month long Nigeria-Biafra civil war, and after a brief 4 years of civilian rule from 1979 to 1983, the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, then a Major General in the army, led another coup which brought in the military for another 16 years. Nigeria has since 1999 had its longest uninterrupted democratic period in its chequered history.
President Buhari released his long anticipated and long awaited ministerial nominees list yesterday, and the reason Nigeria continues to wallow in poverty, ignorance and corruption was painfully highlighted. Nigeria's problem has been that of leadership as correctly observed by the late Chinua Achebe, a most erudite sage. This problem continues to this day and even president Buhari, who was elected in March on the back of so much hope and the desire of Nigerians to see a "change" (his electioneering slogan) has proven with his ministerial nominees list that he is incapable of deviating from the norm.
Corruption in virtually every aspect of our national life, weak institutions, and a rapidly growing pentecostal industry all contribute to make Nigeria unable to achieve its full potentials and continue to live on her knees. My only wish on this day of sober reflection, not celebration, is of a Nigeria populated by critical thinkers who will not relent in asking those very hard questions, and demanding unequivocal and completely satisfactory answers. The "failure of leadership" as described by Prof Achebe is responsible for the state of Nigeria today, which, to quote an Igbo proverb, lives on the bank of a river but chooses to wash her hands with spittle.