Sixty years after her independence from Great Britain, Nigeria is yet to utilize her natural resources, development in education, agriculture, political and social engineering, health, infrastructure development, power generation and supply. The manufacturing sector, short and long term strategic planning, among other things are also nothing to write home about. When the pre-independence conferences came in 1953, Nigerians were so excited and full of hope with the relentless struggle put up by the nationalists including Herbert Macaulay, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and others who showed determination to create a free society where no man is oppressed and all citizens realize their full potentials.
But by 1963, the political class mismanaged the post-independence elections and the crisis that followed particularly in the South West. These events up till now have kept the nation in a dismal state, and Nigeria has not really recovered from the tragic after-events of that period. The Military struck and sacked the first elected government in Nigeria in January 1966, and in July same year, the counter-coup consolidated the military in government and set the country into a long unhealthy romance with dictatorships.
They mismanaged the country’s vast resources. After the bloody civil war of 1967 to 1970, the military remained in power, shamelessly removing their counterparts and replacing them in a chain of coup d’état in July 1975, February 1976, December 1983, August 1985 and November 1993. The military politicians mismanaged the economy because they were not trained in the art of governance. The era of military intervention in governance is over or so it seems. Military adventurism into the corridors of political power is now an anachronism.
The Army should not be allowed to slowly crawl into the democratic space. It is now left for the political class to manage the country to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. From all indications, there has been an increase in agitations against the current structure of the Federation. On the 60th anniversary of our independence therefore, the country needs statesmen to steer the ship of state from the near anarchic situation we have found ourselves.
The clamour for political restructuring of the nation is overwhelming and should not be ignored by the incumbent government. The space for discussions and negotiations should be tolerated and broadened. This is the spirit of democracy. Nigeria, in our view, should remain one nation, but restructured in true federalist terms to guarantee equity, political, economic stability and justice. The Buhari administration, which promised change, has been sucked into routine acts of misrule and political insensitivity. A huge chasm is growing between the presidency and the Nigerian people.
There is hunger in the land. There are too many young people without any form of gainful employment. Cost of living is high and the good life continues to elude millions of our people. The drastic and military approach of the current government to political agitation is increasing tension and uncertainty in the land. The government should listen to the people. The negative effects of military rule have been more far reaching on all fronts. For instance, education that ought to have been consolidated has been left ill-funded, poorly planned and weakened. Public primary and secondary schools across the country are now empty shells.
The universities are in perpetual crisis owing to poor funding. Education, yes education, is the bedrock of any society that wishes to realize its full potentials. Manpower development, which enhances the human resource base of any country, requires consistent and credible policies via education over a long period of time. Sadly today, our university graduates cannot boast of being thoroughly schooled in modern techniques. The reasons are quite clear: Laboratories and classrooms are substandard in most cases.
The national will to make education top priority has been lacking. Consequently, the elite continue to send their wards to foreign institutions for further education. Definitely, the State is not committed to investing in this strategic sector. As we celebrate today, we should wage a war on mediocrity that has become our lot. It is therefore our view that a radical curriculum review based on our cultural peculiarities should be on the priority list of all state and federal governments today. The Health sector remains a nightmare to Nigerians.
Hospitals lack equipment to handle even simple, let alone complex cases. As a nation, therefore millions of hard-earned foreign exchange is spent through visits to foreign hospitals. To know that our Teaching Hospitals once had excellent services and treated visiting patients from Asia and Europe is frustrating. These same hospitals are now in a state of anomie barely carrying out routine services. Where did the rains start beating us? Even the President passed a vote of no confidence on the health sector by his own medical checkups and treatment in the U.K. In the agriculture sector, the country cannot be said to have a pass mark. Any nation that cannot feed its population after sixty years of political independence cannot be taken seriously in the comity of nations.
Farming remains largely manual, devoid of the benefits of modern mechanized farming equipment. Subsistence farming cannot sustain a nation. Food preservation is virtually nil. The careful planning, which produced the groundnut pyramids and cocoa was abandoned with the discovery of oil. Manufacturing is not one of the nation’s strong points. Companies argue that it is often cheaper to import finished goods than producing them in the country because of high costs of local production. The textile industry, which once thrived and produced local fabrics, is one of such examples.
Another example can be found in the tyre production subsector. In spite of the huge natural crude oil resource, which the nation has, she still imports fuel to meet its energy needs. The refineries are not functioning at useful capacity. Thus oil has not been given added value. This has also affected power generation and distribution. Once in the history of the nation, power failure was a rarity; now it is a national pastime. In spite of private sector participation through unbundling, the power sector’s electricity supply is still epileptic. The nation has managed to sustain democracy as a stable government for nearly two decades. The government has also embarked on an open confrontation with the monster of official corruption.
While we commend this effort, we are also calling on the government to ensure that impartiality and openness should be a critical factor in the fight. We would, therefore, like to salute the tenacity and resilience of the Nigerian people in the face of economic and political difficulties. The government should harness these virtues to build a solid and virile state that is set for the challenges of the 21st Century. It should invest heavily in education and ensure that we make great minds of our youthful citizens. It should invest in infrastructure, which will stimulate growth.
A 60-year-old country is not a young nation. With the recent and continuous killings in the country, especially in Northern Nigeria, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria in a recent statement they made, stated that it is high time the government put a stop to the ugly insecurity situation in the country. They also urged Nigerians to unite in calling on the federal government to give priority to the promises made when they were coming to power.
The Bishops tasked the government on eradication of corruption, creation of jobs, a significant increase in the electricity supply, affordable and quality health care, a guaranteed security to life and property and rapid growth in the economy of the country. The CBCN in one voice called on all Catholics to join in praying one our father, three Hail Marys, and one Glory be to the Father every day after the Angelus for forty days, from August 22, 2020 to September 30, 2020, being the eve of t Nigeria’s 60th Independence celebration.
They also urged Catholic faithfuls to say five decades of the rosary with sorrowful mysteries starting from 12 noon for a prayer to God to save the country, Nigeria. According to the clerics, the experiences of the last six odd decades should provide a solid framework to create a great Nigeria. They noted that the expectations of the people of the Buhari led administration is to create and keep hope alive, adding that the God of all creation, who has kept the nation together from infancy till date be our guide and guard still.