By Adewumi Oni
As the nation turned 56 on 1st October, many Nigerians are of the opinion that we have not justified our 56 years of post-independence. Amidst a challenging economic recession that has never been witnessed in the nation before, President Buhari called on Nigerians to give thanks to God and pray for the founding fathers of the nation.
Our journey since independence has been marred with a civil war and many military interregnums, with the last ending in 1999 after Gen. Abubakar Abdulsalam handed over to the then newly elected President Olusegun Obasanjo. It is a big plus that we have held four elections successfully since then, albeit with different degree of ‘freeness and fairness’.
One notable plague that has characterised almost all the different administrations that have presided over the country is corruption. The amount that the country has lost to corruption since independence is in trillions of Naira and this, no doubt, has painfully halted the rate of growth and development of the country.
Another sore reality is that after 102 years of living together as a country and 56 years of self-rule, many sections of the country are still calling for secession and self-determination. With the wounds of the last civil war yet to be properly healed, the Igbos have been at the forefront of the calls for breaking out of the federation.
Saddening also is the fact that 56 years after independence, the country still battles with providing stable power supply. The other time, achieving a 5000 megawatts power output was celebrated as if we were gaining independence afresh. Many of our roads are still in terrible states, such that whenever it rains, motorists go through hell to get to their destinations because of pockets of water-filled holes and ditches. Many of our rail lines were abandoned and left in a dismal state, until the Goodluck Jonathan administration started overhauling them.
In spite of the huge revenue the country had amassed from crude oil export over the years, the country today waddles in the mud of low external reserves and biting economic hardship. Almost all sectors of our economy are grinding to a halt and crime rate has grown both numerically and in sophistication.
While we truly need to thank God, especially for the fact that the nation did not break up in 2015 as predicted by some foreign bodies, we also need to do a lot of reflective thinking both as a nation and individually. Individually, whenever we turn a new age, we always reflect on our past failures and successes, what we could have achieved, learning points and set new target for ourselves. This should also apply to our national entity. As a nation, it is time to put behind our past failures and focus on rebuilding the nation to become a force to reckon with among comity of nations.
One would have expected the President’s Independence speech to have been directed more towards goals and targets for the next one year, instead of the focus on recounting the achievements of his administration. His speech should have been aimed at inspiring the citizenry towards a better tomorrow. Given the fact that his achievements thus far fall far below both his pre-election promises and Nigerians expectations, more attention should have been placed on his plans toward rebuilding the economy.
As we therefore begin another year as a nation, it is time for all the citizens to adopt the ‘Change’ agenda in our personal lives, especially as regards our spending habit, propensity for foreign goods, and disregard for law and order.
The leadership of the nation should also stop the ‘Blame Game’, and get to the business of repairing the damaged that has been inflicted on the country. Rather than placing blame, let the government fix the issues. When the citizens start seeing a government who is willing to take full responsibility for the nation, they will become more tolerant of the hardship they are facing. When we are sure of light at the end of the tunnel through clear and focused economic blueprint, our criticisms and complain will reduce.
I believe most Nigerians understand the enormity of the situation we are in, but those of us who supported the President at the last election equally believed that the President has the capacity to bring about a turnaround for the nation. It is therefore that capacity to deliver that is being called upon and nothing more.
Oni, a Chartered Accountant, writes from Mowe, Ogun State.