Nigeria At Fifty Two By Eddy Aghanenu

The country will be fifty by October this year. What have we got to show in our fifty two years of nationhood? It is a litany of woes, failed opportunities. What will the Government be celebrating come October 1st. Is it the strides we have made in economic, social and political spheres or the non realization of the dreams of our founding fathers? A quick reflection of the past fifty years has shown that Nigeria and Nigerians have not enjoyed the fruits of independence.

Within the period, there has been a bloody civil war that claimed millions of lives. Within the same period, the military hijacked power from the people for a period of over thirty years. All democratic structures were destroyed and corruption was elevated to new heights.

Today, Nigeria, rich in human and material resources, is one of the poorest countries in the world. With the advent of the democratic dispensation, one would have expected some positive changes. Rather than doing that, the government is maintaining the status quo and not much has changed.

Today, Nigeria is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in world. The looters of the nation’s treasury are walking freely in the streets and flaunting their ill gotten wealth, yet the nation is seeking to go borrowing.

Today, the health sector is in a state of collapse. Medical facilities are not available. Where they are available, they are beyond the reach of the common man. The result is an increase in child mortality rate. The average life span is on the decrease. Health workers are constantly on strike. Fake and expired drugs are now openly sold in the markets and commercial vehicles.

Today, the education sector has collapsed. Educational infrastructure is nonexistent. The high rate of failure in external examinations for high school students is alarming. A student ends up spending five to six years for a four year course. Tertiary institutions now produce half baked graduates.

Today, in the name of globalization, Nigeria has become a dumping ground for junk and fake products from the West and Asia. Our industries are closing down daily and moving to neighboring countries where conditions are more favorable. Rather than develop our agricultural sector, we go about importing rice from all over the world. The government is selling all her investments to the same looters of our economy in the name of privatization Unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world. The value of the naira is not worth the paper it is printed on. It is ironic that a country that produces over two million barrels of crude oil per day continues to import refined products.

Today, electricity supply is epileptic in spite of the billions of dollars meant to revive the energy sector. Potable water for the citizenry is non-existent. Shelter for all will continue to be a dream.

Today, the security situation is getting worse. In order to protect themselves, Nigerians have to barricade themselves in their self made prisons. People have lost confidence in the police force. From Tivland to Ijawland, there are extra judicial killings. Poverty driven and poverty induced religious crises is here with us. Terrorism has now been added to Nigerian socio political lexicon.Kidnapping has become another source of employment for the jobless.Elective positions are for the highest bidder. Political assassinations are on the rise.

Today, children have become bread winners as unemployed parents have decided to engage their children in commercial activities. Child labor is no longer news. The only means for survival for some of our young girls is to resort to prostitution in foreign lands in this AIDS infested world. Slavery is back. Brain drain has become a problem as our best materials go outside our shores to seek greener pastures.

Today, our environment has been degraded. From Sokoto to Bayelsa in the Niger Delta, the story is the same. Desert encroachment is no longer a threat but a reality. The sea eats our lands. Our water and farmlands are daily being destroyed by mining and industrial giants.

In short, there is nothing to cheer in our fifty two years of independence. It is not yet uhuru. The federal, state and local governments must direct their energies towards improving the lives of the people, ensure justice and equity. Until this is done, Nigeria will continue to wallow in disease,hunger, ignorance, unemployment and international capitalist conspiracy.

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