58th Independence: What Are We Celebrating?

58th Independence: What Are We Celebrating?

By Faith Kordoo

October 1st is here again, the streets of Nigeria will be covered in green and white, the country’s flag will be hoisted high, uniformed men and women, children and even adults will parade and throw hearty salutes at various stadiums. National and patriotic speeches will be given by our leaders. There’ll be celebrations and shows. It’ll be a repeat of what happened on the 1st of October last year, the year before and many years before.
Not that we need any reminder but for those who might have forgotten, October 1st is the day the intellectual fights and struggles of nationalists of this nation such as, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir. Ahmadu Bello, Chief Anthony Enahoro and Herbert Macaulay, for independence paid off. It is the day Nigeria, a product of the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates by Lord Fredrick Lugard in 1914, gained ‘freedom’ from her colonial masters.
To this effect, every October 1st since 1960, Nigerians at home and in the diaspora celebrate the freedom of the nation and of course, this year will not be left out. The celebration this year will very likely come with lots of political undertones since 2019, the next election year is just around the corner.
It won’t be out of place to say that the enthusiasm to celebrate independence day is wearing thin as the condition of the country has continued to deteriorate with each passing day. Gone are those days when people get giddy at the mention of October 1st, now most Nigerians are indifferent about independence day and whenever it is mentioned, they absent mindlessly ask, ‘what exactly are we celebrating’?
The question, no matter how ‘unpatriotic it may sound, is a necessary one judging by the state of the nation. And no matter how disappointed or uninterested some Nigerians may be, there’s has never been an uncelebrated October 1st. So maybe, this year, we will be celebrating;
— The report given by the Brookings Institution in June, which placed Nigeria as the nation with the highest number of extremely poor people, therefore taking over from India as the poverty capital of the world.
Here’s an excerpt from the report:
“According to out projections, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the highest number of extremely poor in early 2018, and the Republic of Congo could soon take over number 2 spot”.
” At the end of May, 2018 out trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared to India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by 6 people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall”…
The report was given in June and this is October, and if we are to work with the ‘fact’ that ‘extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by 6 people every minute’, it won’t be out of place to say the number of extremely poor people in Nigeria will by over 87million already.
In a similar development, the Monthly Economic and Financial Market Review and Outlook for July, 2018 showed latest research estimates that Nigeria’s population may grow to 235million in 2022 given the average rates in the 36 states of the federation between 2012 and 2018. This report came on the heels of an earlier report given by the United Nations which projected that Nigeria would become the world’s third most populous nation in 2050, 32 years from now. With a population of over 195.88(196) million, Nigeria is currently ranked 7th on the global demographic ladder and while the estimated dates maybe far, bearing in mind that 2022 is just 4 years from now, if drastic measures are not taken, with a failing economy and a growing population, we may hit rock bottom and become known as the world’s poverty capital and one of the most populated countries even before the estimated 2022 or 2050.
—Our crippling educational system, continuous rise in unemployment and decaying morals. It’s no news that the standard of education has fallen drastically and no much attention is being paid to that. Mediocrity has almost succeeded in overshadowing meritocracy. Genuine academic excellence is not duly recognized and acknowledged anymore. We all witnessed how only N3.90 trillion, a meagre 7% was allocated to education out of a budget of N55.19 trillion. That is what we will be celebrating. A nation where education is almost unaffordable. A nation with expensive schools ,some outrageously expensive, and still produce half baked graduates. A nation where must people go through school and vice versa, come out and walk into the waiting arms of unemployment, as the number of people in need of jobs are much more than the number of jobs available. A nation where the efforts of youths engaged in legitimate struggles are overlooked and every youth is simply tagged ‘lazy’. A nation where moral decadence prevails, as true value and content has been lost.
—- Insurgency and Negligence. To say people are dying unjustly in the nation is an understatement. Every time we try to breath, we get hit with news of another massacre in one North Eastern state by the seemingly undefeatable Boko Haram sect, or story of how another town got raided by the somewhat uncontrollable herdsmen who rear cows and have absolutely no regards whatsoever for human life. While this is going on in the North and some part of the East, those in the South have been neglected and are dying slowing and daily due to all forms of environmental pollution. The oil which is a major source of the county’s revenue is gotten from the southern part of the country and the activities of oil companies there, leave the area in states that are absolutely harmful to human health. With no proper measures being put in place to clean up affected areas, the people in the south are left at the mercy of all forms of health issues caused by pollution.
—– The nation’s expert borrowing skills and high indebtedness will most likely be celebrated as well. I bet we all know our dear nation borrowed N410 billion to finance the 2018 budget and the debt profile of the country as at June, 2018 was N22.4 trillion ($7.321 trillion). We’d recall that the sum of $322million was recovered from the loot stashed in Switzerland by the late head of state, Sani Abacha, and it was said the recovered money or Abacha loot as it became popularly referred to, will be distributed to poor families in 19 states of Nigeria’s 36 states, resulting to about 300,000 households with each getting about N5,000. It was said that the distribution will likely start from July and should last for about 6 years, while we are not completely in the know of how that is going, we do know that it didn’t take up to two months before the country borrowed $328 million from China, Nigeria and Africa’s latest friend.
Early this year, around February, it was recorded that the country had borrowed about N10 trillion in 30 months, it should be more by now and we are still borrowing. This is a country which, roughly 3 or 4 years ago, was tipped as the 3rd fastest growing economy in the world. It has now moved to the country with the 4th worst performing currency and of course, the poverty capital of the world.  How the might has fallen!
—– There’s also the questionable democracy of the nation, political racketeering and thuggery which has eaten deep into the fibers of the country. Allocated revenues can not be accounted for and the country has become the hub for uncompleted projects, that’s what we have been celebrating and will also celebrate this year.
Or maybe, we might not necessarily have to celebrate all that. We can simply move our attention to the fact that Npower, a scheme set up by the feral government to empower and provide jobs for the youths, has started paying stipends to the 2017 first batch of 100, 000 members is currently recruiting, according to reports, about 300,000 persons for the 2018 second batch.
— We could in the spirit of diversity, celebrate the slow but somewhat encouraging revival of the agricultural sector of the economy. Though, the price of some foodstuffs keeps inflating, we are hoping that with time the sector will boom massively.
—We can also celebrate the fact that between 2012 and 2017, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) granted licences to 37 firms, including the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery PLC, for the establishment of private refineries. The ongoing construction of the 650, 000 barrels of crude oil per day Dangote Refinery, set to be Africa’s biggest, is expected to help Nigeria save over, N2.7 trillion ($7.5billion) through import substitution and help create employment opportunities. The project will put Nigeria on the global map as a major oil and gas hub in Africa and turn Nigeria from importers to exporters of refined products. And maybe, just maybe, it will spur other refineries to become more effective.
Everything might not be so terrible after all. And no matter the situation of the country, like President Muhammadu Buhari said in his last independence day speech, “over the years, the country has gone through trials and tribulations, but October 1st is always a day of celebrations”. So, whether you will be in the comfort of your house following the celebration on TV, watching it first hand at a stadium or on the streets or somewhere pondering on a line from the National Anthem which says …” The labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain”… and hoping it doesn’t end up in vain,  because at the end of the day, we all want a great Nigeria, we all want a country where it’s citizens are thriving and not merely surviving, I wish you a very Happy Independence Day.
58 and still counting !
Long Live Nigeria!
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