The broadcast on 1ST October, 2020 by the President, Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari on the occasion of Nigeria’s 60TH independence anniversary by and large would continue to attract comments from the public space, owing to the expectations of all Nigerians on national issues such as Unemployment, Infrastructural development, signing into law the electoral bill, religious intolerance, high cost of living, subsidy, electricity tariff etc, as Nigerians earnestly expects the real change, in every sense of the word.
These challenges although not limited, for many years have continued to fester which insecurity is the chief of them all. No thanks that many communities and towns have become slaughter houses at the slightest provocation by the enemy of the state, thereby reducing human life in Nigeria to nothing. Sixty years down the line, independence day broadcast has become part of us, in which case, we are reminded as a people, the significance of the date and how our founding fathers struggled and ensured we were liberated from the shackles of slavery brought about by the British overlords that held sway on the land, not until Oct 1st 1960, when the Union Jack was lowered and replaced with the Nigerian Flag.
While it is important to acknowledge that every successive regime in Nigeria, whether Military or Civilian like we have currently, commemorated this day. This year’s independence anniversary is like no other as most states could not participate because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Again, the pronouncement by the Federal government that the celebration should kick off September, 2020, also opened yet another vista on our national life celebration as a country, even when the economy appears to be crawling, going by what everybody can see.
It also came at a time the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Trade Union Congress(TUC), prepared for a show down against the Federal government in respond to the hike in both electricity tariffs and petroleum motor spirit (PMS), pump price. To a large extent, the system was charged and everyone was ready. Interestingly, the last minute agreement reached between Labour and the Federal government averted the strike. The 51 paragraph independence speech, entitled “Together” called on all Nigerians to reflect on where we are coming from and where we are going, being the most populous black country in the world.
The president went down memory lane to recount the events of the past and how hard our founding fathers toiled at their own time, which culminated into what we are celebrating today. He also acknowledged in his speech that even the civil war that lasted for over 30 months could not stop Nigeria from her goal oriented focus as a nation. ‘’At this stage in our nationhood, it is important that we reflect how we got here to enable us work together to get to where we aspire to be as a strong indivisible nation, united in hope and equal in opportunity.
We came out of the civil war with a focus on reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation that enabled the country to put in place world class development structures and a strengthened public service that well served the government. This positive trajectory continued with a return to democratic government which was truncated by another round of military rule.” Political pundits who reacted in the wake of Mr. President independence anniversary speech, held the view that Nigeria has not fared well politically and economically, compared with other countries such as Singapore or Malaysia that gained their independence same time with Nigeria.
For them, more work should be done by the administration that came to power on the CHANGE mantra that resonated across the length and breadth of the country. They acknowledged the fact that war against corruption has checkmated the political class even as they insisted that government should ensure all the same, that adjudication of justice is given its rightful place while those that looted our common treasury be given commensurate sanctions, to deter others that may be nursing such intentions.
While supporting the call of President Muhammadu Buhari on sober reflections as he challenged Nigerians, government was reminded that governance requires mental toughness and that those appointed to leadership positions should ensure that Nigeria, going forward, takes her rightful place amongst African countries and the world at large, and not merely answering “GIANT OF AFRICA” on papers.
They bemoaned a situation where Nigerians have become objects of ridicule and intimidation in Ghana and South Africa especially, insisting also that Nigeria’s foreign policy should be reviewed to reflect the challenges of the present times, to save the citizens of the country from further embarrassment any where they resides across the globe.
Meanwhile, we do not discountenance the fact that government is doing so much to address the challenges of the country which one of them is making Nigeria food sufficient, the increase of pump price of petroleum motor spirit (PMS), and the electricity tariffs, many believed was not done in good faith and that, the government should only do the onerous thing by reverting to the old price, having acknowledged in his speech that, the world economy is in crisis.
Comparing Nigeria with other oil producing countries in Africa many believed amounted to insensitiveness of the plights of Nigerians who today buy a bag of foreign made rice at thirty two thousand naira (N32,000), and locally made rice at twenty two thousand naira (N22,000), respectively. ‘’Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control’’.
Altogether, the call for Nigerians to see ourselves as one and not necessarily where we come from, many believed was a message of hope coming at a time the country is deeply divided along ethnic lines, resulting to, slow pace for meaningful growth and development. ‘’The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration’’.
The diamond jubilee celebration as in the case of Nigeria is not a mean feat. “TOGETHER” which is the theme of this year independence anniversary speech couldn’t have come at a better time than now that Nigeria is grappling with too many problems structurally. While we join the government to reflect on so many issues raised at these auspicious time of our independence anniversary, we also call on government, under president, Muhammadu Buhari to kindly use this God given opportunity as the man in the saddle to address the imbalance in the system, Nigerians have made it loud and clear across board ranging from: insecurity, hunger, nepotism, corruption, restructuring, and every other problems that have impeded growth in the system.
As we reflect also, it is hoped that the government should be sensitive to the plights of every single Nigerian and also evolve programmes and policies that are people oriented, capable of dousing the tensions on the land that will give room for more meaningful growth and development for the common good of everyone, irrespective of tribe and religion.