Nigeria at 60: Diamond in the Shade

The year 2020 held so much hope for Nigeria about 20 years ago.

After we missed the target of Education, Health, Water and practically ‘EVERYTHING FOR ALL BY THE YEAR 2000’, the new tag was these same things for all by the year 2020.

We had a Vision 2020 targeted to achieving major milestones in our development and growth plan in 2020. We even had Vision 20:2020 which was considered a dream statement that Nigeria will become one of the first 20 economies in the world by the year 2020. This was based on assessment of its abundant human and material resources and on the assumption that the country’s resources would be properly managed and channeled to set economic goals.

However, we have not even been able to make the membership list of the G20 and can only attend its meetings by invitation. The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union. The Group of Twenty, a collection of twenty of the world’s largest economies formed in 1999, was conceived as a bloc that brings together the most important industrialized and developing economies to discuss international economic and financial stability.

We are a long way from where we should be, considering where our peers are and their economic performance till date.

The hope that our life as a nation will ‘begin at 60’ in 2020 and that 2020 will be that Magic Year has faded. We are basically in a recession. There are strikes and threats of strikes all over the land. Some sections are calling for separation from the main body. Insecurity of life and property seems to be taken as normal in many parts of the country and most families can hardly put one meal a day on the table. Meanwhile, we hear responses from our leaders saying, ‘We are doing our best’. You may say COVID-19 pandemic should share the blame for our lost 2020 goals and it is true; but other countries are in the same boat in that score. If anything, the pandemic proved how weak and unprepared we are, using acceptable indices.

A 60-year-old man or woman is a senior citizen. Yes, Nigeria has designed a 60th Independence Anniversary logo recognizing the Diamond Jubilee celebration. But is seems to many that at 60, we are crawling like an infant.

In the past 60 years we have missed several chances and milestones to make Nigeria become a real nation. Within the first 10 years of our existence as an independent nation, we fought a civil war from 6th July 1967 to 15th January 1970. We were convinced after the war that the Three ‘Rs’ of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation touted by the Yakubu Gowon government would be achieved in the following 10 years. Therefore, we had hoped that by the time Nigeria was 20 years as nation in 1980, we would have surmounted all the challenges of suspicion, mistrust and doubts that ignited that war. That did not happen. We also missed the chances to make good while turning 30, 40, 50 and we are marking the 60th year since we became independent in 1960 still with regrets that this is not the country we dreamt of while growing up.

As a British colony, Nigerians were considered a very vibrant group of people and at independence on 1st October, 1960, the country was considered a fast growing entity with impressive foreign exchange earnings from cocoa, groundnut, rubber, palm oil, bauxite, coal and timber. The oil boom seems to have brought some doom and the greed for foreign currency from the petroleum industry has persisted till now. This doom has led many to question the rationale of the quest of our founding fathers for independence which some still say today we were probably not ready for, judging by the occurrences and poor leadership that have bedeviled the country.

Sadly, it has not been smooth sailing and things seemed to have nose-dived for the majority of the people – those they refer to as the masses – who continue to hope that ‘E go better’.

Being very religious, our people believe that when there is life, there is hope, and that it cannot get worse than this.

So what is there to celebrate at 60? Can you see the brightness of the Diamond in all the shade we are in? Where will Nigeria be at 70?

We need all the zeal, energy, patriotism and loyalty to ensure that the labours of our past heroes will not come to naught.

 

IMAGE CREDIT: The Guardian Nigeria

 

Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist writes on, and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.

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