BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Nigeria@62: A crippled country groping in the dark for development

It is not for nothing that Nigeria is called the giant of Africa. She has large land mass and abundant human and material resources. Are columbite, bauxite, tin-ore, coal, limestone, and crude oil not found beneath the soil of Nigeria? Nigeria is very populous, too. In fact, one out of every five black persons is a Nigerian.

But is Nigeria the true giant of Africa, as we are meant to believe? The fact is that Nigeria possesses the potentialities to become the true giant of Africa. But she is not yet the giant of Africa based on the indices for measuring the greatness of countries. Is she more economically and technologically developed than South Africa?

Nigeria is a crippled giant groping in the dark for national development. She is a giant with the feet of clay. When non-Nigerians refer to Nigeria as the giant of Africa, they do so in derision. The fact is that Nigeria is a man-child that has failed to grow up since it came into being as a sovereign country in 1960. So, to say that Nigeria is the giant of Africa is to pay her a back-handed compliment.

Is Nigeria the giant of Africa when no systems of doing things are working in the country? Education, which is the bedrock of national development in other countries, is utterly neglected here. Incessant industrial action, which is always embarked on by universities’ lecturers has crippled university education in Nigeria. Federal universities in the country have been shut down for seven months as their lecturers downed tools to press home their demands for improved welfare conditions.

But it is not only the educational sector that has suffered governmental neglect in Nigeria. Our health sector is in the doldrums, too. During President Buhari’s first coming as the military head of state of Nigeria, he referred to our government-owned hospitals as mere consulting clinics. Today, under President Buhari’s watch as our civilian president, government-owned hospitals have metamorphosed to morgues. As those hospitals lack facilities and basic medical equipment, our politicians do embark on health tourism by travelling to foreign countries to treat minor ailments like malaria, toothache, headache, and stomachache.

Their travelling to foreign countries for medical treatments and their sponsoring of their children in European and American universities underline the fact that they are destitute of patriotism and the political will, which are needed for the positive transformation of Nigeria.

But instead of offering us purposeful and good political leadership that can lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, and set the country on the path of economical and technological advancement, our leaders are busy pillaging our national financial tills to enrich themselves at our expense. While they own houses in major cities of the world, millions of the dirt poor, who are their compatriots, scavenge in refuse dumps for leftovers, which they’ll eat.

The rising spate of crimes in Nigeria is the revenge of the dispossessed Nigerians on the the thieving political elite in our country. The economically disempowered young Nigerians, who are disillusioned and disenchanted with the government of the day, have taken to armed robbery and kidnapping. Today, kidnapping rich people by abductors for ransom has become normative in Nigeria. Daily, we are inundated with news reports about the abduction of well-heeled Nigerians for ransom.

Nigeria is now in the throes and firm grip of violent crimes, banditry, insurgency, and terroristic acts. The attack on a passenger train as well as the abduction of some of its occupants is still fresh in our minds. The north east and the north west have become the hotbeds of Boko Haram insurgency and banditry, respectively. Although the tempo of secessionist agitation has reduced in the south east, armed gangs still lie in wait in bushes to attack security personnel in the area. Not a few soldiers and policemen had been mowed down by the unknown gun in the south east of Nigeria.

So it seems to us that our political leaders have surrendered their political sovereignty to terrorists, secessionists, bandits, and insurgents. Nigeria, as at now, is overwhelmed by security challenges. Instead of bringing members of the various terror groups to heel so as to instill fear into other would-be perpetrators of treasonous deeds, our leaders wring their hands, helplessly and make empty promises.

Now, it has become customary for our president to make platitudinous remarks about ending Nigeria’s security challenges after every Boko Haram insurgents’ attack on people or the bandits’ raid of a northern village has left many people dead.

Read also: Nigeria: Still a homeless nation at 62.

At no other time in the history of Nigeria has our country sunk to the incredible nadir of anarchic situation and economic woes, as she has sunk now. Nigeria’s economic underdevelopment, technological backwardness, infrastructural rot, dysfunctional educational system, comatose health sector, and crippling security challenges are pointers to the fact that Nigeria is afflicted with failure of leadership. The ship of state, which is at the mercy of the tempestuous water, is rudderless, as its captain is both mentally and physically incapacitated to lead Nigeria.

It is sad that we have not been able to evolve our own variant of political and democratic culture by which we can elect a president of Nigeria, who will fit the bill of the president we desire. Such a president should possess political vision and sagacity, leadership qualities, probity, fealty, honesty, political ideologies, courage, and knowledge. And such a national leader can navigate Nigeria past her problems, forge national cohesion and unity among us, and take Nigeria to a great economic and technological height.

But the jettisoning of the unwritten principle of rotational presidency when it is the turn of the Igbo people to produce the next president of Nigeria is not a force for our forging of national unity in the crucible of Nigeria’s ethnic groups.

It is sad that Nigeria, which has the potentialities of becoming not only the giant of Africa but also an industrialized and great nation-state, is still groping in the dark for national unity and technological and economical advancement. It is not yet Uhuru for Nigeria at 62.

Okoye, a social commentator, writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State

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