Happy Independence, but are we really happy?
To my ancestors who strive so hard for the freedom of this land. The likes of Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe, and Muritala Muhammad. Date back to the 19s they fought in unison forgetting tribes and uniforms. They were the heroes that unshackled the shackles that we had as slaves. Even in the face of death, love, peace, and freedom were the only language they wanted to understand. How can I even forget the valor and bravery of Anthony Enahoro who initiated the self-government motion in the Western House of Assembly, which eventually led to Nigerian Independence on 1 October 1960? The days when the word independence sounded with Joy, enthusiasm, oneness, freedom, and peace.
The good old days are gone, and the bad new days are here. I’m talking about those good old days when Chief Obafemi Awolowo mapped out the free education program of the ruling Action Group Party in Western Nigeria, he married it with a school-to-land program that showed the pupil where the food he ate, came from. There were laudable programs by all regions to expand education in post-colonial Nigeria; it was a healthy rivalry that saw the East establish the University of Nigeria, Nsukka on October 7, 1960, the West created the University of Ife in June 1961, and the North founded the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on October 4, 1962. Those are the rivalries that expanded and birthed the amazing schools that we have today. These same schools have been on strike for the past 7 months with ASUU and Federal Government playing students even more than Messi and Neymar.
The Lateef Jakande administration in Lagos State while building on this legacy, carried out a revolution in education that became the benchmark in our country. In applying more brains and determination, than funds, he transformed the daily three-tier education system of the morning, afternoon, and evening school streams to a single morning stream. In a system of “The Lord has need of it” he was able to acquire land with little compensation on which he built primary and secondary schools. This is what public acquisition of land is for; it is not meant for RUGA.
Not the rivalries in the present Nigeria that had cost a mother her child, and a child her parents. The rivalry that has caused Chibok girls to no longer be girls. I mean the rivalry that has made tribalism and ethnicity our language rather than peace and unity. The rivalry that has led everyone to become bold thieves when it comes to the nation’s resources. The rivalry that has made 90% of Nigerian parents telling their children, “if you have the opportunity to get into power, take enough money, we’ve suffered enough”, and then the cycle of corruption, hardship, hatred, and chaos continues. The leaders of tomorrow don’t even dream of tomorrow any longer, because the leaders of yesterday are still the leaders today and will still be the leaders of tomorrow if no action is taken.
Listening to when we spend shilling and penny gives me so much joy like a man whose wife just prepared his favorite meal. I meant those days when even the dollars can’t overshadow our naira, those days when you get to cook a pot of soup with 20 naira. Even the three faces in our highest denomination today can’t compare to the single face of Muritala Muhammad in those days. Gone are those days!
Those days, our forefathers get sad and weary leaving the country, it’s in tears that they left their fatherland. What about now? Everyone wants to JAPA, the same country they left in tears of sorrow is now being left with tears of joy. Even the health system is so run down that the ruling elite treats even their headache and ear problems in Europe while the upper-middle class treats theirs in India. The mass of the people is virtually abandoned to their fate. Things are now so bad that even giving birth has become a dangerous enterprise.
I thought you get a retirement package once you’re 60. Nigeria is 62 today without even a pension plan, what a country! May I ask how you spent your youth in my country? How did you mismanage the pool of resources that mother nature bestowed upon you, that has led to snakes swallowing money and oil being the only source of income? I knew Nigeria to be a center of trade in the early years, but now we can’t even trade anymore without having a loss or deficit. Even with great Accountants and Economists, you still have a lot of debt and still paying debt with debt, how does that even work?
When you were a lad, energy and passion flowed through your veins and that made you the Giant of Africa but now, you aren’t even the dwarf of Africa. Your dreams were big enough to overcome even the world, so what happened? Is it because your biological parents are gone, I mean the ones who fought for your independence and birth you? Or is it that your foster parents are without vision, even with the vision 2020 and 2030, and that has dampened yours?
To the youths, don’t sleep, wake up! Collect your future, because this country no longer needs leaders without dreams and visions. Nigeria was buoyant in its early years, therefore needs leaders that are young and strong enough to bear its burden and illuminate its light. Yes! The country is damaged beyond repairs but even trash are being recycled in this century. So, with the right leaders, strategy, innovation and vision, Nigeria can be recycled too!
The deed has been done, but there’s a need for us to wake up! Collect your future, because these humans in sheep clothing are ready to trade it for just 5 naira. All they care about is their pocket and nothing else. If you keep sleeping, maybe they’d be strikes lasting for years in future years. Or we get to have a country without citizens of age 20–35. Will that even be a country anymore? So it is time to fix Nigeria by creating the future you want. We need to keep fighting for the youths that lost their lives in END SARS. They fought for the change they wanted with their lives, but you don’t have to, because you need to make the change alive!
2023 is almost here but before we dive into the major issues of 2023 polls, let’s look at where we are coming from in the last seven and half years of the current administration. How would you rate this government? Seven and half years ago, the country was in a very high level of expectations. We had elected a president. There was no contest. For the first time, a sitting president was defeated. He didn’t challenge it. He didn’t go to court. There were no riots. There were no killings. That was a major watershed for Nigerian politics and there were a lot of expectations. People, even opponents of Buhari, thought Buhari would make an impact not to talk of his supporters.
Fixing the damage that the current Government did to Nigeria is going to take at least two or three presidents because it is a lot easier to destroy than to build. Our basic institutions of governance, security, law and order have collapsed. The economy is broken. Corruption is as high as or higher than it was before he became president. Various parts of the country are fighting each other and we are seeing things that we never thought we would see.
It is important to recognize the fact that the president who emerges in 2023 should be able to answer the basic questions of young Nigerians. Is there space for us to get a good education? Is there an opportunity for us to get jobs? Or to get the economic environment that will help us to earn a living? Can Nigeria survive? Are we the last citizens of Nigeria as we know it? Anyone of them who is going to become president has to be able to answer these questions.
I hope we get it in 2023, it will take a lot for Nigeria to be doomed but we are heading in the wrong direction. The 2023 elections can make a huge difference between whether we begin a turnaround or we sink deeper. I am hoping that our politicians recognize the fact that if they set fire to this country, even if they win, they will actually run a country on fire.
To recall the good old days is to weep and stare in disbelief at what has become of our dear country. We need to make conscious and determined efforts to return to those days when the people were the center of governance. We can make it right in 2023 by casting our votes right! The next independence day can be one of victory and not just a day where people are happy for being at home away from the stress of being outside. Together, we can make Nigeria better and bring to life the country we’ve always imagined, because even Ray Kroc founded one of the global restaurants, “McDonald”, in his early 60s.