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Nigeria at 60: The glory, gory and guide ahead

by News Echo
5 minutes read

Exactly this time 60 years ago, the baton of freedom and torch of independent nationhood were passed to a new generation of Nigerians who thereafter emerged as our first generational leaders. Those standard bearers were our political patron saints and pathfinders.

At independence on October 1, 1960, Nigeria as a child, was blessed with all the characteristics of an infant prodigy. Just one month after the glorious independence accomplishment, a Nigerian soldier, then Lt. Col. (but later Major General) Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi, commander of Fifth Battalion, became the first Black man to command a United Nations Peace Keeping Force. Nigeria meritoriously earned this remarkable feat when Ironsi successfully led the UN’s Peace Mission in the Congo crisis. It was graciously hoped that the country would be Africa’s compass and mirror for growth, development and general success.

Just like a thunder bolt, the military came calling too early, and so, on January 15, 1966, Nigerians woke to their Sunday morning to learn of a forceful change of government. From that point, it became one turbulent coup, one scorching election or the other.

My thought is, Nigeria has seen six decades of excruciating years. If it were a human, in this instance, a woman, she would have been a grandmother with grandchildren. At 60, this grandmother ought to be living in a comfortable house and enjoying all the amenities her job must have provided. Also, it is important to point out that this 60 year old woman, still alive today, has age mates who must have died, some bedridden, and still others who did not even marry.

I want us to equally appreciate the fact that Nigeria at 60 has both pluses and minuses. As Franklyn Roosevelt informed the Americans of his generation, “there is nothing to fear than fear itself”. As a people, we should take a look at our strong points and improve on them. For instance, most African countries always fidget and the mention of Nigeria and her gigantic size, industry and ingenuity of this great nation. We can therefore, work on this by ensuring that each time we are sending any Nigerian to any international assignment within the African continent, and beyond, such a person must be a super material. Globally today, have we, as a country, explored the axploits of the Adesina Akinwunmis, Okonjo Iweala, Arumma Otteh, and even the latest entrant, the new kid on the block, Kaycee Madu who is today a minister in Canada? How are we tapping from their experience, exposure, contact and connection to the outside world?

I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the species or creature called Nigerian. The Nigerian is creative, ingenious, hard working and enterprising. The Nigerian has distinguished himself almost in all fields of human endeavour, both here and elsewhere. Therefore, Nigeria’s problem is not squarely traceable to the Nigerian as a person, really. In my opinion, our problem has to do with our political structure which does not allow things to move well. The problem is this administrative political structure which allows for the struggle of resources among the many ethnic nationalities. I think this was what the legendary Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who was popularly known as Zik talked about when he campaigned for all of us to be thinking on the basis of a Nigerian, a one Nigeria base rather than toeing the path of region and regionalism.

For us to move majestically to the next level, we must eschew this idea of regionalism or ethnicity and let all Nigerians see themselves as one, belonging to the same nation. There is a huge difference between a nation and country. Right now, we are a country not a nation. We must put on the gabs that make a people a nation. In that regard, I an Igbo, must not favour a fellow Igbo or any other Nigerian for that sake, on the account of his Igboness or otherwise, but on the grounds that by merit, equity, fairness and justice, he deserves what I am granting to him. Americans don’t talk or act or sentimentally carry out actions on regional basis. That is, for Americans, there is nothing like I am from New York, Georgia, Texas or Pennsylvania, no. The simple thing is, I am an American and at every point in time, the American will say, proudly, I am an American. This ensures national cohesion, guarantees peace, promotes political growth, economic development and social advancement.

You see, with the chaotic political arrangement in Nigeria, go and bring both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama here and hand them the leadership of this country, with this present structure, they will fail absymlly. Bring Putin of Russia, Angela of Germany or even the man in Rwanda who has got deserved global praises for his achievements, they will all fail.

This now tells you that no Nigerian leader has ever assumed office with the mindset of not surviving and leading well. Why then do they fail, our polutical structure is wrong. We must evolve a culture that will make the centre less attractive. We must build a political culture that allows the masses votes to count and that is why I, once again, applaud Predident Buhari, the INEC and indeed all our security agencies for playing to the rules in the Edo State 2020 governorship election. By the time any public officer holder knows that the electorate will surely vote him out in the next election if he fails to perform, then, we would have begun the journey to greatness. Perhaps, and this is certainly at the root of the matter, we must build and strengthen all our institutions. I remember vividly, President Obama while on his first ever official visit to Africa in his first tenure, as touched down Ghana, he pragmatically told Africans to build strong institutions rather than encouraging strong men. By the time we strengthen our security, judicial, educational, electoral, and all other institutions. we will begin to fly and fly higher. Yes, at 60, we are great, but we could have been better. With a civil war behind us, Nigeria ought to reall

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