• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

A new Nigeria is still possible

A new Nigeria is still possible

If well-educated, competent, and patriotic political leaders take over the reins of power at all tiers of government in Nigeria, Nigeria will return to its pristine state and halcyon days. At that time, which was in the first republic, just before the Nigeria-Biafra civil war erupted, Nigeria was on the trajectory of economic prosperity and technological advancement. Didn’t we have the groundnut pyramid in the northern region, the cocoa plantation in the western region, and palm oil production in the eastern region during the first republic?

At that time, the quality of education obtainable in our schools was high, and our premier university, which was in Ibadan, was a Mecca for foreign students who sought quality education. The exemplary and commendable political leadership that was offered to the people of the western region in the first republic by Chief Obafemi Awolowo has remained the unmatchable praxis for political leadership in our political annals till now.

But sadly, over the years, the state of things in Nigeria has changed from good to bad. The simmering ethnic rivalry as well as hatred, which had existed in Nigeria for a long time, came to the fore in the 1960s and partly caused the Nigeria-BBiafra fratricidal civil war. The war pitted the Igbo people against the rest of Nigeria.

The war caused the ruination of our economy, the destruction of our infrastructure, and the loss of millions of human lives. And it deepened the ethnic hatred that has existed among the people of Nigeria. So, now, millions of Nigerians from many different ethnic backgrounds view one another with suspicion and deep resentment.

But can a country that is hobbled by disunity realise its potential and achieve its manifest destiny? This is a rhetorical question that needs no answer. Everybody, including babies in diapers, knows that disunity is a disincentive to national development. If the people of a country cannot reach a consensus on a national matter because they are disunited, national development will be put in abeyance in that country.

Only an educated, visionary, patriotic, and competent national leader who has a pan-Nigerian vision can unite all the diverse interests and people(s) of Nigeria and put our country on the path of irreversible economic prosperity and technological advancement. But responsible, accountable, humane, purposeful, and visionary political leadership has continued, for electing our political leaders is flawed and prone to manipulation. There is a systemic rot in our political culture. Vote-buying, voter suppression, and politicians’ misuse and abuse of state powers to gain political power have been woven into our political culture.

So since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, electoral litigation has become a feature of our democracy. The judiciary has been deciding the winners of presidential, governorship, state assemblies, and national assembly elections. The fact that our judiciary is corrupt and that it is an appendage of the executive arm of government is an indisputable fact. So the factors of our despicable variant of political culture and corrupt judiciary have always thrown up third-party politicians as our political leaders. And now, Nigeria and Nigerians are the worst for it.

The bad effects of decades of inept, profligate, corrupt, and rudderless political leadership are evident to us. For example, Nigeria has a perennial energy crisis, which stifles the growth of our indigenous industries. Is there not infrastructural rot as well as a deficit in Nigeria, what with most of our roads being in deplorable condition? And most public schools in the country are worse than pigsties. Not only are their roofs blown off, but also their walls are tumbledown.

So as our educational system is in a shambles, our schools cannot equip the students with the knowledge and skills with which they can navigate their way in the world. The infestation of our universities with the problems of cultism, sex-for-grade, and buying of grades has made our ivory towers not the bastions of scholarship anymore.

Consequently, millions of Nigerian university graduates lack numeracy and literacy skills, which can enable them to find jobs. They pound the pavement on a daily basis in search of the elusive white-collar jobs. The sad fact is that the successive political governments that we have had in Nigeria have failed to revivify and diversify our economy to create job opportunities for millions of job seekers. Nigeria, as a country, alternates between economic recession and economic recovery, which has reduced millions of Nigerians to sub-humans.

Consequently, those unemployed, disgruntled, disillusioned, and hopeless Nigerians constitute the pool from which the Boko Haram insurgents and terrorists recruit their foot soldiers. They would invade government-owned schools and abduct hundreds of schoolchildren for ransom. Since the kidnapping of the Chibok School children happened in 2014, the abduction of schoolchildren for ransom has become a recurring decimal in Nigeria and part of our national life.

However, many Nigerians are still hopeful that Nigeria is not past redemption. We can still have a new Nigeria that is economically prosperous, technologically developed, and truly united if we rethink our evil ways and start to do the right things.

First, our current constitution should be discarded and a new one written to reflect our new political realities, solve the problem of our religious and ethnic diversities, and make Nigeria a truly federal nation-state.

Nigeria cannot make headway in any areas of national development if our leaders continue to use our current constitution to administer Nigeria. It is too deeply flawed a document to be used to foster peace and unity in Nigeria and drive our country’s developmental initiatives.

A stitch in time saves nine.

Chiedu Uche Okoye; Uruowulu-Obosi: Anambra State, 08062220654.