Nigeria @63: The good, the bad and the ugly

63 years of post independence, today’s Nigeria can be depicted as the century’s nomenclature version of the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s a complex mixture of joy and sorrow, a long turbulent journey of a beautiful country with mild optimism, ravaged by prolonged frustrations and devastations. Nevertheless, will there be any glimpse of hope?

Despite its numerous branding and re- branding such as a forced union, marriage of inconvenience, yet, Nigeria is a good groundbreaking and experimental test for the evolution of a potential power that can invigorate optimum fulfilment, capable of spilling over beyond its territory. This is possible, considering how its vast human and natural resources can conveniently be propelled towards development.

Our beloved country is good for many reasons. It is the sixth most populated country in the world with more than 200 people. One out of every five Africans is a Nigerian. It is believed that there is a Nigerian in every country of the world where they excell in diverse human endeavours. Indeed, Nigeria is as good as it is a gigantic asset for becoming the power house of the black race. Funmi Adams says it all in her brilliant, jingoistic and inspiring lyrics, ‘Nigeria My Beloved Country’. By all developmental standards, Nigeria is a land of abundant hopes but has been destabilised to land of hopelessness.

The availability of high ranking and ambitious talents, its heterogeneously cultural diversities, its being the greatest producer of crude oil in Africa and the seventh in the world, coupled with the expansive and fertile land for agricultural exploits to revamp, boost the economy, and mineral resources, among others, are too stupendous endowments for Nigeria to be far ahead of where it is today. Its amalgamation is a projected development therapy and is an answer to those whose minds are not dispossessed of parochial musings.

However, leadership remains the bad character overtly truncating its movement to prosperity which, for long, has rendered the country into a state of development stagnation. The same poor leadership has been its chronic cancer which remains unhealed. According to Bill Brandley, “leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” But in Nigeria, the leadership system is infected by a deadly virus that locks and destroys our potential.

Consequently, the unfolding and juggernaut socioeconomic and political predicaments are the ugly face of Nigeria’s betrayal. Therefore, it’s lingering predicament is the stubborn child of decadent leadership and management. This is where we have been assaulted by disappointment and our national dreams die prematurely. To make our case painful, a definitive and visionary leadership has been the insatiable desire of the country to move to the highest level of advancement but has remained illusive.

Like a broken down vehicle defying mechanical remedy, Nigeria cannot move forward after decades of leadership plundering, culminating in the squandering of resources. It is still expecting the waiting messiah to put on the ignition key so that we can move forward. Since independence, with the exception of the first generation sound leadership, the question of leadership has remained unresolved and unresponsive to our national aspirations, owing to largely idiosyncratic and mundane dogma such as acquisition of leadership for exclusively self-aggrandisement as well as self-indulgence. Sorrowfully, leadership, in most cases, is now for self-service and not public-service.

The tale of Nigeria as the good, the bad and the ugly will persist to capture our national mood but cannot dispel our doom. This, surely, is the poor outcome of leadership default which has, for long, not been inspiring us to make Nigeria a land of hopeful and wonderful dreams with befitting development achievements. The untamed craze and outrageous desperation for wannabe leaders gives a damaging result: many leaders’ gains begin where Nigeria loses. And the country drifts further to the edges of precipice.

In the end, we are afflicted with the collapse of hopes and dreams. Finally, hopes and dreams are partial, becoming privileges for a few; poor leadership is assuming a political right to many. Thus, our bankruptcy to fill the wide gap of leadership requirements has persistently been our bad national trait. Invariably, the callous character of our leadership at all levels has left Nigeria still a country without creating a nation. For instance, the rise of ethnic nationalists is a symptom of a failed leadership not a failed country. Nigeria’s innocence should not be a catalyst to render it as a scapegoat.

It’s mandatory putting forward a sensible case for an independent leadership to mark our independence anniversary. Leadership independence shall see mandate as a divine trust for which the bearer will be accountable to both Allah and the people. It should be independent of harmful sentiments, free of self-complacency, ought not to be an evil of amassing ill-gotten wealth, should be redeemed from the virus of reactionary forces such as godfathers, cabals and external powers. It ought to eschew unnecessary pomposity. It must be visionary not diversionary, transparent and jingoistic, both in theory and practice. It is this desirable leadership that can preserve the beauty of the country and change the ugly disposition of our prevailing narration. Nigeria will never be truly independent until an independent leadership is installed.

63 years after, Nigeria’s magnificent project is a great disappointment and looking very ugly. Many of those who led us displayed an amazing sermon, urging us to do the right things to promote Nigeria but they did the wrong things to get us where we are today. This obnoxious leadership mentality is still the order of the day. The following are few terrifying examples of their abuse of leadership and management. In October 2019, the Economist Magazine reported that nearly 600 billion dollars were stolen from Nigeria since independence. This has been accompanied by disgusting and nefarious acts of re-looting the loot. It is stealing Nigeria with impunity. On insecurity, it was reported that no fewer than 53,418 Nigerians lost their lives between 2015 and 2022. The deaths occurred mostly from farmers/herders’ clashes, religious conflicts, attacks by terrorists and bandits.

Findings of the UNESCO show that Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest number of out-of-school children with more than 20 million. Also, we have been reduced to the world capital of poverty with 71 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty( World Poverty Clock,2023) and 133 million classed as multi-dimensionally poor, according to the National Bureau of Statistics data. And it is expected that unemployment rate will hit 41 percent this year. These are just few horrifying indices showcasing the handiwork of leadership degeneration.

Since hopes and fears are man’s two greatest emotions, over the years, majority of Nigerians have been deprived of hopes by bad leadership. Our recurring and mighty fears have overwhelmed our scanty hopes. People have fears everywhere. There is always the fear of not only tomorrow, but even the fear of the next minute counts. The fears of inflation, poverty, unemployment, and above all insecurity are always around us, chasing us like a shadow. Eventually, Nigerians have, seemingly, lost faith in the state. At this trying stage, what then is the essence of the state?

It’s ubiquitous that our hitherto exalted enthusiasm for Nigeria’s independence is almost dead. Nigeria’s independence has lost its realistic meaning and charismatic value. True independence can never corroborate with the prevailing socio-economic maladies.

Abdullahi writes from
Jigawa state via
[email protected]

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