58 years ago, on a day like this, Nigeria became independent of the British colonial rule. 58 years ago, Nigeria won the fight to independence. It has been 58 years on this journey without the British running the affairs of the nation. However, there are two important questions:
1. Is Nigeria truly independent?
2. Is Nigeria really better off now?
These are questions that you probably discuss with your friends on 1st October, every year. But have you really sat down to answer them? Probably not.
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Is Nigeria Truly Independent?
When discussing the issue of independence, many Nigerians tend to look at it short-sightedly. Of course, the British colonial masters are no longer exactly running the affairs of the nation. Nigeria has had various Nigerian leaders over the years since taking over from the British. But is Nigeria really out of the control of other countries? Is Nigeria truly free? The truth is that Nigeria is independent but we still depend on many other countries. This is not a Nigerian thing, though. Many other countries also experience this.
Imagine a country that makes decisions based on what it plans to get from other countries. Can we really call such a country “independent”?
Is Nigeria Really Better Off Now?
Our forefathers fought very hard to ensure that Nigeria got its independence and freedom from the colonial masters. Many of them were ready to give their lives to ensure that this country gained its independence. But is Nigeria really better off now? Are we really benefitting from this independence we fought so hard for?
The truth is that we may never know for certain where Nigeria would have been if the country was still being ruled by the British. One thing is for sure though: Nigeria is not where it is supposed to be as a country. I mean, 58 years of independence and the country is still at this level? It’s sad.
A high percentage of Nigerians still wallow in abject poverty. Are they free? 58 years of “independence” and we’re still here.
Why Is Nigeria Still This Backward?
Of course, Nigeria is not just the land area it covers. In fact, you and I are Nigeria. Every citizen of Nigeria makes up Nigeria. So, when talking about the reasons why Nigeria is still where it is, we refer to the citizens. These could be the government or the everyday citizens.
So, what are the main challenges faced by Nigeria today?
Many countries have had their shares of bad leaders, but Nigeria seems to take a lead on this front. Over the years, Nigerian leaders have been synonymous with corruption. People venture into politics, not for the good of the nation, but to enrich themselves. That is why many of our politicians get to positions of power and start embezzling. The worst part of it is that the same old leaders who have sucked the country dry in the past are still coming up to contest for the top positions. It is sad that many Nigerians still vote many bad leaders in based on sentiments.
Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigeria, and it takes great effort to tear down that stronghold. Nigerians need to come to the point where we say “Enough is enough”, and take down these bad leaders. The Not-Too-Young-To-Run bill is a good step towards doing this.
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Tribalism And Ethnic Bigotry
“I can never vote for any Northerner. They are only after power and more power.”
“Why would I vote for an Igbo man who likes money more than anything?”
“Yoruba men? Very lousy! I cannot vote for them.”
The above are some of the things that Nigerians tell themselves without even realising that it is one of the main problems being faced by the country.
When it comes to rendering help, tribalism also sets in. A person in a position of authority would rather employ someone of the same tribe than someone of a different tribe, even if the person of a different tribe is more qualified. Even many learned Nigerians are blinded by ethnic sentiments. It appears to be passed from generation to generation. Parents plant the idea in their children who in turn do the same to their children.
Nigeria is home to over 250 ethnic groups that are supposed to live together in harmony. This cultural diversity could be used positively but Nigerians are not tapping into the positivity. With the hatred among tribes, it is quite difficult for the country to grow.
Religion is another major factor working against the advancement of Nigeria as a country. It is indeed working against the progress that is supposed to be seen in an independent country. Muslims talk trash against Christians and vice versa. Even the traditional religion worshippers are not left out.
If we want Nigeria to move forward, then we have to put the interest of the country before ours. Religion is personal but the progress of the country is a collective good. Nigerians need to understand one another’s religious differences, and act with respect.
Why should Christians kill Muslims and Muslims kill Christians? Many times, this could be attributed to illiteracy. But the truth is that many of the so-called learned Nigerians are not left out of these barbaric acts.
Until these three main problems are tackled, it may be very difficult for Nigeria to enjoy the positive fruits of independence.
What do you think about the situation of Nigeria at 58? And what can be done to move the country forward? Do let us know in the Comments section below.
Author: Vincent Abolarin
Vincent is a Nigerian blogger with special interest in the history and current happenings in the country. When he is not blogging, he enjoys reading and playing computer games.