NIGERIA is the most populous black Africa nation; she is also the most prosperous nation in the history of the black world. Somehow, this affluence has not brought with it, the much desired happiness. Rather, we are faced with many problems – tribal tensions and lack of trust; poverty amid plenty; decaying cities; pollution of our environment and a faltering economy.
We have gone from one problem into another; we have gone from one crisis into another in order to have a united Nigeria. Yet, we remain divided politically, physically and spiritually. We no longer see ourselves as members of one big extended (Nigerian) family. There is a breach between the tribes, religions, generations, haves and the have-nots.
Our leaders and rulers are therefore not looked at from the point of view of what they can do for the generality of Nigerians; they are looked at from their state of origin and religious backgrounds. This is understandable because, over the years, Nigerian rulers have behaved in such ways as to make one query the “ONE NIGERIA” slogan.
With our wealth (thanks to oil deposits), we have acquired advanced communications systems, yet our people are unable to communicate with one another. And most of the time, we cannot even communicate with our next door neighbors. We have built thousands of kilometers of roads all over the country, which suffer from neglect. Most of these roads in the end became death traps to motorists and road users because of their bad conditions.
Our air and seaports are well equipped with sophisticated navigational equipments, which function a little and pack up for a long period. Other facilities at our airports such as public toilets for instance, are so ill-maintained that one feels ashamed to be part of this society.
Government vehicles are handled with reckless abandon and are not well maintained. Public servants see themselves as little gods who, should be worshipped and pacified before they perform the duties which they were engaged to do and are being paid.
Even with huge sum of money spent over the years, Nigerians cannot get uninterrupted power supply for just one month. The epileptic nature of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), makes one to believe the joke that some officials of the organization are playing pranks in order to promote the sales of generators, candles and lanterns, at the end of which they get their palms greased for a job well done.
Up there in the northern part of the country, drought is having a field’s day, destroying crops, animals and human beings alike. Not even the millions of naira pumped into building of dams could remedy the situation. Ironically and in contrast to the situation in the north, most cities down south, notably Lagos, easily get flooded whenever there is rainfall, due to poor drainage system.
Most of our major cities are unplanned as houses are built indiscriminately. The way most of our cities are, makes one wonder if our officials who travel overseas at the least opportunities, do learn a thing or two from what they see there. And if they do learn, why haven’t they tried to introduce something similar here? Your guess is as good as mine.
Some government companies like Nigeria Airways, Nigerian National Shipping Line, Nigerian Hotels, etc. that are supposed to be making profits thus augmenting government’s sources of revenue, are running at a loss and in fact are being subsidized by government.
Day in, day out, the citizens of this great country are subjected to unpleasant experience of armed robbery and car snatching. The robbers strike at any time of the day and carry their loots away undisturbed. At the same time, some over-zealous military personnel are teaching the bloody civilians one or two good lessons. Added to all these, are the drug pushers and/ or traffickers who are undisturbed by the punishment associated with the offence, and are daily fortifying their operational style in order to beat the security agents.
Ritual murderers and assassins are all over the place, doing their thing successfully. Somewhere along the line, some crooks are feeling on top of the world, stuffing their pockets with the nation’s funds. The Police are helpless (even though they can be said to be trying their best), because they are outnumbered on all fronts.
One of our problems is that we embraced civilization without asking questions until we realized very late, that like all good things, civilization has its own disadvantages too. The damn thing has turned our society into a materialistic one and helped our leaders into tastes that cannot be met locally, which in turn gave room for bribery and corruption to thrive. We no longer respect our indigenous resources; we have in fact lost faith in our own abilities.
Civilization has done a lot of harms to our socio-political development. Although civilization has widened out knowledge of the world around us, our interest in various subjects, and assisted us socially and politically, it has also taught us to be violent. Civilization has given us distorted views of sex and a twisted standard of behavior.
Nigerians no longer respect a man because of what he can do, or because of his abilities and capabilities, but on how fat his bank accounts are. A man is now judged by the type of cars he drives, or the type of dresses he wears and how well furnished his apartment is. Hard work no longer matters and gradually, Nigeria has turned to a segmented community of money chasers; always in a hurry to make quick money. People lost their senses of decency, respect and orderliness, so long as the end brings in the much needed naira.
Indiscipline has reached an alarming proportion that it is now taking quite an effort on the part of successive governments to curb it. We have lost our senses of proper reasoning that we no longer do those things we are supposed to do, unless we are reminded and in fact cajoled to do them by the government.
That is not all for Nigeria; because with our enormous human and natural resources which are still not fully and properly tapped, we are still unable to manage our economy well, that now need the assistance of the outside world. And so, the oil boom of just yesterday, has turned the oil doom of today.
With all these shortcomings and many more over the years since our independence, Nigerians became and in fact still are, victims of a range of psychological ailments – from severe mental diseases to alienation of the self, and a lack of confidence in our dear country, Nigeria. Perhaps these are the prices we have to pay for our affluence and advancement.
I think we have to take another look at ourselves, to find out areas where we erred and make corrections. It’s not too late to start. We have to find out why nothing works in Nigeria; why we cannot be able to feed ourselves and have surplus for export. We have to determine why our economy is too big for us to manage. (There is a saying in my place, that a man’s head cannot be too heavy for him.) Why have we continued to find difficult tapping to the fullest, our human and natural resources?
These use to be the issues of their time; now it has become the lingering issues of our time which should be tackled seriously. We may ignore them, but they will continue to stare us in the face. The best solution therefore, is to start now and solve if not all, some of these problems.
Both the rulers and the ruled should endeavour to be sincere in whatever they do, and people who have access to public funds should endeavour also not to abuse their positions. Our judges and law enforcement officers should try to be upright in their onerous task of maintaining law and order in the society. Our public officers should do their duties without being coerced to do so. On top of all these, we have to eschew tribalism, nepotism, favouritsm, religious intolerance, bribery and corruption.
With God on our side and the commitment of all Nigerians, Nigeria will certainly justify its claim to being a giant in the sun.