Nigeria @63: Cry Azikiwe, Cry Awolowo, Cry Balewa

I struggled so hard to reach a resolution on whether to or not to write this piece because of the dying reading culture. The average young person of today can spend 5hours chatting & viewing status interrupted but when you send them a valuable piece of not more than 10 minutes to read, they will tell you it is too long.

Nigerian Flag

Today marks another milestone in the history of this nation, a day we ought to be celebrating 63 years of independence and self-reliance. Recall that in 1953, Anthony Enahoro became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence which was eventually granted in 1960, after several political setbacks and defeats in the parliament.

Before and after gaining independence, nationalists such as Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo fought so hard to ensure that Nigeria was respected in the comity of nations. During their days, Nigeria did not answer ‘Giant of Africa’ for the sake of self-glory but for what we truly stood for and we commanded respect world-wide.

During the days of the nationalists, people walked around doing their businesses without any fear of kidnapping or being killed. During their days, the Dollar and the Naira locked horns. During their days, the Nigerian flag and badge were respected and valued across the globe.

In their days, being a Nigerian was a thing of pride because we were ‘giants’ not only by name but also in actions and deeds. Nigeria was a father in the real sense of it to other African countries. Because we were a ‘true father’ to other African countries, they used to rely so much on us for intervention both in terms of financial support or to restore political stability – we were known and respected for peace keeping missions.

Recall that Nigeria first contributed 5,000 troops and police (rotated over four years) to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo (ONUC, 1960–4). Between 1978 and 1983, Nigeria contributed 7,000 troops (rotated over five years)—including a 100-strong naval contingent—to UNIFIL in Lebanon.

Balewa, Azikiwe, Awolowo and the other nationalists ensured that people went to their farms and returned home alive, ensured that the naira stood head-to-head with its international counterparts, ensured that the educational system was not only made free but standardized, and above all, they ensured the glory of this nation was visible to the blind and audible to the deaf.

Regrettably, as time progressed, this GLORY that the nationalists worked so hard to build began to evaporate and today, the giant of Africa has become the mockery of Africa. How do you explain it that based on CBN’s rate, in 1983, #1,000,000 = $1,380,945; in 1993, #1,000,000 = $45,349; in 2003, #1,000,000 $7,730.57; in 2013, #1,000,000 $6,356.83; and in 2023, #1,000,000 $1,284.23. How has the mighty fallen!

To exacerbate matters, no sector has been left out in this dying glory. Today, our farmers can no longer go to their farms except they negotiate and pay terrorists in broad daylight before they can allow them to return alive.

At 63, the economy is in shambles, with the naira nosediving like a drowning man, compounding the economic woes that have been aggravated by the subsidy removal, leaving the average Nigerian suffocating to death.

One would expect that at 63, we would have a standard functional health system but no, only those who cannot afford the brunt of going abroad use the Nigerian health care system. At 63, when the average politician develops a headache, he jets abroad for immediate treatment with public funds, leaving his home state health care to rot. If only Ike Ekweremadu knew!

At 63, Nigeria cannot boast of uninterrupted electricity supply – the national grid now collapses more often than the Stock markets. You go to the offices of the bodies that supply electricity and you see them running on generators.

Do you know that at 63, the children of Nigerian Politicians graduate from schools overseas while the rest of us go through the porous, strike-laden Nigerian educational system because we don’t have stolen funds to send our children abroad? At 63, ASUU strikes more often and harder than thunder.

63 years after gaining independence, the Nigerian Judiciary system has become a tool in the hands of the government of the day. How do you explain it that Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa, representing Bauchi North Senatorial District, boasted publicly that through his wife, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa – former President of the Court of Appeal – he influenced court judgements in favour of some of his colleagues.

Where do we go from here since at 63, Nigerians cannot trust the Independent National Electoral Commission to deliver a credible, free and fair election? If the dead can also cry, the likes of Azikiwe, Tafawa, and Awolowo would have been crying that INEC would publicly pledge to electronically transmit results from the polling units but on the Election Day, recede on that vow and the judiciary will pact them in the back.

 

At 63, we are still fighting over religion and tribe, making a mockery of ourselves on the international stage. Today, the nation is in the throes of a deep international image, domestic and regional crisis, bleeding profusely on regional and international stages. Even in Africa, we have so much lost our respect that no Nigerian referee was selected for the 2023 Africa Nations Cup billed to hold in Ivory Coast in January 2024. In ECOWAS today, when Nigeria coughs, no nation trembles.

Sadly, at 63, the average Nigerian is suffocating to death and those in power are looking away! At 63, the GLORY of the former days is better than that of the present days. Who will rescue Nigeria from the hands of cabals? Ichabod.

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