• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s 54th independence anniversary

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As Nigeria continues her centenary anniversary celebration, today is exactly 54 years since the country gained independence from the British colonial rule. And in view of Analysts divergent opinion on the country’s performance in terms of political and economic aspirations; it becomes imperative on this occasion to review how the country has fared over the years.

Politically, Nigeria is essentially an artificial creation, which, like most other African states, is a product of colonialism. This fact is central to understanding the country’s government and politics, which have been conditioned and bedevilled by the problems of accommodating several diversities such as ethnic, linguistic, geopolitical, religious, and class.

Nigeria first became a republic when it was founded, but succumbed to military rule in 1966 after a military coup; and between the first republic and the present has had 15 heads of state; with the military dominating power for close to 30 years.

Despite political violence and upheavals, essentially due to faulty electoral processes, the nation has come to accept that civilian democracy is the form of government that can guarantee full participation by the entire citizenry, ensure good governance, rapid progress and socio-economic development. The country is still undergoing a learning process and will continue to strive to nurture democracy and all its institutions to full development; hence, gradual and impressive transformation of the political landscape.

In terms of the economy, the outlook right after independence was geared towards re-shaping the Nigerian economy then thought to have a colonial outlook and to limit the extent of imports with the use of established or burgeoning local factories in the pipeline such as those in the cement, asbestos, wrought iron, metal window and aluminium industrial sector to replace import commodities in those areas. In fact the first economic development plan was designed as a coordinated effort between the federal and regional governments with emphasis on technical education, agriculture and industry; it also allowed a mixed economic system. Thus, decades after political independence was achieved, successive administrations either elected or imposed have not shown any consistent and convincing commitment to any fundamental change in the society.

The largely subsistence agricultural sector has not kept up with rapid population growth, and Nigeria, once a large net exporter of food, now imports a large quantity of its food products, though there is a resurgence in manufacturing and exporting of food products

Although, Nigeria is still plagued by corruption, rising unemployment and security challenges, the country is currently classified as a middle income, mixed economy and emerging market. It is ranked 26th in the world in terms of GDP, and is the largest economy in Africa, based on rebased figures announced in April 2014; with a vision to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. However, compared to Indonesia and Malaysia that were almost at par with Nigeria in 1960, the country still has a long way to go.

The current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to transform the country, in line with democratic principles, into a land of opportunity, equity, progress and prosperity for all. So far, the transformation agenda is changing the face of Nigeria and impacting positively on the economy after decades of neglect and rot; there has been improvement in economic Indices, and as such  International Ratings agency, Fitch Ratings revised the country’s Outlook upwards from Negative to Stable; Standard and Poor’s another internationally respected and independent ratings agency, revised Nigeria’s ratings from stable to Positive and Nigeria had verifiably become the fourth fastest growing economy in the world as recently attested to by several multilateral bodies and trading partners. Therefore, despite the challenges confronting the nation, we see hope and a bright future for Nigeria.