Mr Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN) has said that after 60 years of existence as a nation, Nigeria still grapples with the issue of social justice, equity, religious and inter-ethnic tolerance.
Ozekhome made the assertion on Monday in Abuja while articulating his thoughts on how the country has fared after 60 years as an independent nation.
“I am extremely sad about Nigeria at 60. Surely, a 60 year and above old man or woman, is already a senior citizen; a grandfather, or grandmother. I am one.
“This means such a man or woman has grown; or is at least, presumed to have grown, in maturity and development but I am sad that Nigeria, “our own dear native land” has neither developed nor matured.
“I am sad that she has not even been allowed to take full advantage of the various constitutions fashioned out by our Colonial Masters and various indigenous governments to give her meaningful nationhood, after she was named “Nigeria” in 1897.
“It does not matter that there is absence of social justice, equity, egalitarianism, mutual respect, religious and inter-ethnic tolerance,” the lawyer said.
According to Ozekhome, I cannot join Nigeria and Nigerians in celebrating our 60th year anniversary because our successive leaders have failed the nation, the present generation and future generations.
He expressed concerns that Nigeria, at 60, was blessed with the best natural, human and material resources, yet, its citizens lived in crass poverty, abject penury, ignorance and ignoble despondency.
“ I am quite sad that we grow geometrically in population, yet, arithmetically in growth and development.
“Nigeria, by available UN data, at mid-2020, ranks number 7 (2.64 per cent) in the list of most populated countries of the world, with a population of about 206,139,589 people.
“I am sad indeed that we only operate civilian governments, but never democratic governments.”
The senior lawyer also said that it was worrisome that young Nigerians were still struggling to obtain a mere first degree at ages 26-32.
“The same Nigeria had, once – upon – a – time, in the 50s and 60s, produced ministers, military governors and Heads of State at the same 26 – 32 age bracket.”
Speaking on the issue of unemployment, Ozekhome said that it was sad that companies were no longer eager to hire graduates immediately after graduation.
“In the 50s and 60s, local and multinational companies waited long hours at the gates of universities on graduands’ last days at the University, to recruit them immediately.
“Such graduates were automatically given cars, houses, and placed on handsome living wages and mouth – watering perquisites of office.
“I am deeply sad that most of the well-known multinationals that once dotted the industrial and business landscapes of Nigeria, have either died, or folded up completely.
“Some of them, however, exist only as mere museum relics and antiquities in the form of administrative office carcasses.
“Some of these olden days companies include the UAC, Leventis, Kingsway, UTC, Standard Bank, Barclays Bank, Lever Brothers (Unilever), PZ, John Holts, CFAO, Dunlop, Michelin, Volkswagen, Peugeot Automobile, Cadbury, May and Baker, RT Briscoe.
“There were Airlines like Okada, Sosoliso, Flash , Triax, Nigeria Airways, ADC, Afrijet, Albarka, Bellview, Capital, Dasab, Slok, EAS , Harco, Harka Oriental, Hamza Air, Wings Aviation , Spaceworld, Chrome, New Nation, and so on.”
He also expressed concerns over the enthronement of what he described as a dangerous regime of impunity.
“Government’s wanton breach of citizens’ fundamental rights, reckless disregard to court orders, and brazen desecration of the rule of law.”
He, however, prayed that God should bless Nigeria, just as he recalled a sentence from the country’s old National Anthem, “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”.
Nigeria will celebrate its 60th year anniversary as an independent country on Oct. 1, but the Federal Government says celebration will be low-key due to the Corona Virus pandemic.
President Mohammadu Buhari had said that the theme of this year’s anniversary celebration; “Together Shall We Be” had been chosen to forge a more united and cohesive Nigeria. (NAN).