As Nigeria celebrated 59 years of independence, the country is still going through difficult and hard situation especially in the phase of security, economy and national unity. In 1960, Nigeria got independence which drew the attention of international and national spectators especially on the issue of unity of the country looking at the multi-cultural and religious nature of Nigeria. Many Nigerians both in and out of the country celebrated the moment with the open mind that, now the nation will experience radical transformation and development.
Six years after independence, the country went through various challenges most notable being the 15th of January, 1966 when the then elected British –modelled government was truncated by a coup’ d’état at a point the structure of governance had barely developed. The consequences of the military intervention led to an unfortunate civil war of 1966 to 1970 which led to the death of thousands of Nigerians.
After a series of several military interruptions at different republics, the country returned to a civilian administration in 1999 and experienced six general elections. Recently, the country celebrated 20 years of uninterrupted democracy but there are a lot of issues despite the electoral process is improving but with setback of electoral violence, high desperation from politicians, electoral logistic irregularities, poor organization, vote-buying and security compromise in the electioneering process.
Worse still, even with the blessing of democracy, Nigerian politicians are only interested in representing their personal needs rather than putting the interest of the nation at heart. They achieved their optimum goal of dividing the country alongside religious and ethnic lines. The election is no longer base on the capacity and ability of the person to deliver; most Nigerians are more interesting in seeing their kinsmen occupying the corridors of power. No wonder now the appointment into different ministries, departments, and agencies of government is based on where one comes from and religious consideration rather than merit.
The level of insecurity has made Nigerians to no longer trust one another, even though the Buhari administration has done well in containing the menace of Boko Haram conflict in the North East but there is a serious problem in handling the cases of those involved in the act and also chart the way forward to prevent the re-occurrence of such calamity. Instead of improvement in security, the situation is getting worse with the emergence of other deadly ISWAP terrorists, Boko Haram with drones, armed banditry in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and Kaduna states, Fulani/farmers clashes and of course widespread of kidnapping with demanding of millions naira from the victims especially along Kaduna-Abuja high way.
The Nigerian economy is at one step forward, two-steps backward with over 90.8 million Nigerians living below the poverty line. The industries are no longer functioning, foreign investors are afraid to invest their resources and the level of unemployment is becoming a threat to our national security.
Another cancer that has continued to eat Nigerian democracy and its unity is the issue of widespread hate and dangerous speech. This is not unconnected to the widespread access to social media platforms by Nigerians. Nigerian conversational space is suffocated with a hateful and damaging speech that’s a threat to the cooperate existence and wants to throw the country into war. It is openly now broadcast in radio and television programs and to a large extent in newspapers. All these fake news and hate speeches that are circulating on a daily basis are heating up our political atmosphere and sowing the seed of discord among Nigerians.
With all these challenges or problems, the country is still struggling to survive. To the best of my knowledge, I have never seen a country like Nigeria that crossed the Rubicon and experienced grave challenges and is still alive and united. This means to say there is hope at the end of the tunnel and a brighter future ahead. Nigerians should understand the wisdom of God who put us together in one country despite our differences. The interest of the nation should be always at the forefront of whatever we will do. Let us align our interests along with the national interest.
The government should provide a conducive atmosphere for participatory and inclusive governance. By doing so, it will tremendously assist the country to surmount its multi-faced upheavals and reduce the level of unemployment, insecurity and of course the unity of the country. Finally, Happy 59 independence anniversary and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mohammed is with the Centre for Development (CDD West Africa), Abuja. He tweets @idpyar