The wily British amalgamated the Northern and Southern provinces as a way of consolidating their cost saving policy of indirect rule in 1914. Nigeria’s independence struggle was not a bloody one reminiscent of what the Americans went through to have their liberty from the English overlords. They spent one-third of the time they spent in India even though their influence seems to be more as a fallout of the Trans Atlantic slave trade – use of English names as surnames, dominance of Christianity and Islam in preference to the traditional religion and a general wave of an inferior Caucasian attitude which made the Afrobeat Maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sing a hit song titled ‘Kolo Mentality.’
October 1, 1960 held the beacon of hope for the largest Nation in Sub Saharan Africa. Expectations were high by all and sundry and there were good reasons for them to be there. The University College Hospital, Ibadan was the best teaching hospital in Africa. Graduates from the University of Ibadan, then an affiliate of the University of London were globally competitive. The renowned writer, Chinua Achebe taught in foreign universities without any foreign degree. Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary-General held his own with his University of Ibadan degree. Education offered an immediate passport to elitism as the graduates then lived like kings in the posh parts of Ikoyi with domestic aides, cars and other paraphernalia that made the pursuit of the Golden Fleece worth the effort. Educational standards were so high that a secondary school certificate was adequate to get to the acme. Ambassador Matthew Tawo Mbu was Minister for Labour at 23 long before he went to the United Kingdom to study law, Anthony Enahoro was the youngest Editor of a Nigerian Newspaper till date – Southern Nigerian Defender, one of the papers in the Zik Group at 21 straight from the prestigious Kings College Lagos. His brother Peter Pan Enahoro edited the Sunday Times, an arm under the Daily Times stables at 23 and at 29 edited the Daily Times Group with no university degree. Bola Ige was organising secretary of the Action Group at 23 long before he went to study law in England. The free education policy of the western region led by the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo made education within the reach of everyone. The Action Group truly lived up to its slogan of ‘Life more Abundant.’ It was with the right permutations that pundits predicted that Nigeria should become a superpower within the shortest possible time. The newly liberated nation had everything going for her – Great Human Capital, Natural Resources in different shades, nice climate, and so on.
The only thing she lacked which escaped the eagle eyes of observers was poor leadership. This has been the bane as we have retrogressed every year. Millions have been driven into exile. The United Kingdom alone has about two million citizens – most of them driven by economic reasons. The population in the Diaspora is even more than some countries. How Tragic!
As we celebrate our 53rd anniversary, there is little to cheer about. Everyone is his or her own government in the failed state that is fast sliding into a banana republic – You provide your water by sinking a borehole despite the fact that you pay your water rates religiously, You provide you electricity by having a generator set despite the fact that you regularly pay your electricity bills and endanger your health by purchasing a ‘I pass my neighbour’ generator if you are unfortunate to be indigent, You borrow, beg or steal to send your children to expensive- most times rather overhyped schools to save them from the time bombs that have characterised our public school system. You are pressured to join or keep up with the Joneses as the poor have almost no rights – They can be deported at will and the mega city agendas of most states doesn’t seem to factor them in their planning, some who have given up hope completely want to escape repression by travelling abroad even if it entails going by road through the desert amidst the risks and humiliation of being an illegal immigrant. There is despondency in the air!
While students of public tertiary institutions have been consigned to the heap of idleness for about three months now, what seem to be in the front burner is the elections of 2015. Politicians have abandoned governance which is their core duty to strategize and scheme on how to continue to share the spoils of office. The students can go to hell since they have cornered enough to keep theirs out of its harm’s way! Nigerians who have been declared to be the happiest people on earth despite the excruciating sufferings have seen the emergence of terrorism, kidnappings, cyber crime, mind boggling unemployment amongst other vices as a reaction to the emergence of a jungle where the crude rule of the survival of the fittest holds sway. In 2010 during the 50th anniversary, bombs went off and it has been low key ever since.
This year’s celebrations should be one of sober reflections of how to stop the state from drifting and how to get it working. It is embarrassing that the most populous country in Africa has a leadership crisis that has seen her propping up her worst 11 consistently. An introspective reflection is urgently needed! No time for a useless jamboree!
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