Nigeria at 60: Diamond in the Rough – By Kammonke Abam

Nigeria at 60: Diamond in the Rough – By Kammonke Abam

October 01
12:42 2020

Lagos. Nigeria. October 1, 1960. It is a few seconds past midnight. The bell tolls. The Union Jack is lowered. The Green, white, Green coloured flag dances to the joyful beeeze of a new found freedom as it is being hoisted up at the Tafawa Balewa Square as Race Course was called then, venue of the momentous event. Fireworks erupts. Drums rolled across the length and breadth of the country, from Ugep to Zungeru and from Lagos to Kafanchan. Street parties held across many towns in Nigeria, and even in London. They danced to the breath of fresh air. Air of hope. Hope of a bright future.

60 years after, in 2020, the party, it seems, is over. The hope, joy, excitement of independence seems to have faded with the passage of time. In place of the promise that the independence held is gloom, strife, anguish, frustration, hunger, and anger. It seems that Leaders after leaders, since independence, are clueless about what to do with the enormous goodwill of the independence and the abundant material and human endowment they inherited from the colonial lords.

At 60, Nigeria has come full circle. It has attained Diamond Years. However, instead of diamond characterising Nigerian, the country has been swimming in a litany of muddy experiences. At 60, Nigeria attained the unenviable record of being the world’s capital of poverty. A country so rich yet so poor. At 60, there still is no consistent power supply, no access to portable public supply of water, countless number of roads not constructed, economy is still in comatose, the health system is completely grounded, the transportation system, an apology.

That Nigeria, the world’s most populous black nation, is richly endowed with both human and material resources is not in doubt. By its tropical weather, alluring vegetation and climatic condition, huge population, the country is enjoying nature’s blessing and favour. Regrettably, however, is the fact that the country seems not to be endowed with good leaders. Nigeria has not had the fortune of good leadership that could have transformed the huge natural resources to make the country the envy of the rest of the world.

Some of the plethora of problems are as old as the country. For instance, corruption has been the bane of the country right from time, although it has assumed an unusual proportion with time so much it has become like the new normal.

There are also problems that came with its growing age. Recently, banditry, ethnic bigotry, kidnapping are lexicon that Nigerians are forced to learn with the surge in this kind of criminality.

More particularly, the present state of insecurity, infrastructural decay, terrorism, a high rate of out of school children and youths unemployment, unchecked population explosion, technological backwardness,  corruption,  poor planning and implementation of policies

Things did not get better with the incessant military interruptions of the leadership of the country. The military, instead of focusing on its primary duty of defending the territorial integrity of the country, got charmed with the cake of power and kept toppling each other. The consequence of the long period of military interregnum sowed further seeds of ethnic bigotry, distrust, suspicion, disunity, inequity in resource allocation, fraudulent census in favour of a particular section of the country, ill-motivated state creation, institutionalization of the culture of bribery and corruption, and an imposition of a constitution that has instituted imbalance, social injustice, and inequity especially in power distribution and economic resources.

At 60, Nigeria is still a catalogue of woes. At 60, Nigeria is a Lilliputian giant. This has affected the psyche of most individuals. Most Nigerians are like Nigeria. They are embattled. At 60, most of them are still behaving like boys and girls. They are diseased with arrested development and stunted growth. They have not shown much signs of growth and responsibility.

Just so that it does not appear as if this is a mission to tear down our country, we acknowledge that a lot has happened in Nigeria these 60 years, although a lot more has not also happened that should have happened.

However, the country has elastic patience. Nigeria is the kind of country that “the more you look, the less you see”. Just when everyone gives up on the country, it emerges from the smoldering ashes of challenges stronger. Nigeria is a war survivor. It survived a fractious war that lasted for about 30 months between 1968 and 1970.

The long and short of it is that Nigeria is an enigma. Like we say in Nigerian parlance, e go better. This is the hope we all have.

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October 2020