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Date Published: 10/01/10


Nigeria @ 50-Still in Search of Nationhood!!!


Fifty years ago, we were granted Independence by the British Colonialists. That Independence in a sense signified freedom. But here we are, half a century later; we still aren’t free or independent. Instead of Independence and freedom, what we’ve got is simply a substitution of colonialism with neocolonialism and nepotism. As a nation, we’re still in search of nationhood. The vast majority of Nigerians today have found themselves stacked like sardines, smothering in an airtight cage of poverty, rinsing their mouths with spittle in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. Many can scarcely eat three decent square meals daily, much less clothing for their bodies, shelters over their heads and education and culture for their minds. Nigerians have become exiles and slaves in their fatherland, and the hard truth is that the slave masters of today are our very own – they are the ones who have plunged us into these socio-political and economic conditions through long years of neglect, of injustices and of not doing what is right for the common good.

The whole of the economy is in shambles. No energy, education paralysed and healthcare moribund, food crisis, massive unemployment and the transportation sector is in comatose.

The energy problem is very critical and is responsible for the myriad of issues we face as individuals, and as a nation, because when there is no power supply, it sets up a chain reaction which triggers to all sectors of the economy. This is the reason why industries are folding up and there is massive retrenchment in our industries. Over the last ten years, thousands of companies have shut down, and at least 300,000 Nigerians had lost their jobs. Yet instead of the Jonathan Administration to tackle this festering issue head-on on its assumption of power, the Administration decided to subject the people to further pains and untold hardship by increasing electricity tariffs by over 200% in the guise of revamping the power sector. This the Administration had done by flooding the populace with cheap propaganda and empty promises of better days ahead in electricity generation through a proposed privatisation of the sector. Yet, a cursory look at the privatisation history of the nation in the last decade reveals a thorough lack of transparency, massive corruption, looting and sale of essential public services (the commonwealth of Nigerians) to politicians and high-powered interest groups at abnormally cheap rates with no consideration for the masses of the people, all in the name of privatisation. The 200% plus tariff increment took effect July 1, 2010 and Nigerians across all divides are complaining bitterly for being made to pay more for what they don’t even use much less enjoy. Most Nigerians don’t even get to see a blink of electricity for two to three months in a stretch. The people still generate their own electricity with Generating Sets, so much so that a vast majority of them have gotten used to this way of life that they can no longer sleep at night if they haven’t heard the sound of a Generator.

Our education sector have not fared any better. Teachers and Lecturers at all levels in the public sector are constantly agitating for better working conditions and emoluments.

The nation’s transportation sector is totally in a coma. Only the roads appears to have a semblance of life but that too is on its deathbed unless something is done and done in a hurry

As at today, about 80% of Nigerians are unemployed and countless others are merely trying to eke out a living daily; barely trying to survive.

The nation’s healthcare is still the same; grounded. Nigerians do not have access to affordable healthcare. Even the President himself, his Cabinet and indeed all political Officers seek medical attention overseas.

Despite the huge revenue from oil, we have nothing to show for it. Our oil wealth has been mismanaged by a few corrupt and inept men who have constituted themselves into a cabal. In the last few decades since Independence, over $400bn according to the World Bank and the United Nations have been diverted from our shores to secret accounts overseas by corrupt, ineffective and singularly inept officials. Nigeria has lagged seriously behind most nations in Africa and around the world that attained Independence in 1960 and beyond.

The Nigerian situation is so appalling, sad and hopeless; there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Nigerians in the last fifty years have become victims of blasted hopes and deferred dreams. The future indeed is bleak.

As a result, everywhere, paralysing fears harrow Nigerians by day and haunt them by night. Deep clouds of anxiety and depression as Martin Luther King would say are suspended in our mental skies. Nigeria today is a shadow of itself that can’t even live on its past glory anymore. The country is all messed up. The nation is sick. There is trouble in the land; confusion and despair all around. And so many of our people are asking; when will this long night of injustice, of deprivation, of neglect and suffering end?

Now is the time for us as Nigerians to start answering these questions honestly. And we truly believe that to do this, we must search ourselves, because for so long we’ve looked up to Aso Rock for answers. But we submit that the change we seek will not come from Aso Rock; change will not happen from the top, it will come from bottom-up. The Nigerian people must take change to Aso Rock and Abuja.

The nation really has nothing to celebrate in the forthcoming 50 th Anniversary. All that Nigerians have in the last 50 years is pain and nightmare. We can no longer be taken for granted by the nation so-called leadership bereft of ideas; leaders who are still living in the past, wallowing in 18 th century ideas whilst in the 21 st century. We must liberate ourselves and break loose from all shackles of mental slavery and all that has held us down in the last 50 years. The body can never truly be free so long as the mind is still enslaved. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. We, the disinherited must reach out for the oasis of freedom come 2011 for there is no doubt that our souls collectively yearn for freedom. And the only way to effectively do this is through the ballot. As we approach the 2011 general elections, the masses of Nigerians at all levels must collaborate and form alliances for political power in the days ahead. We know that passions may fly on ethno-religious differences, but this time around, we must grow up, toss aside such pettiness, submerge our differences and unite decisively and positively for political action because we all suffer political oppression, economic exploitation and social degradation from the same people; we all catch hell from the same enemy. Despite the ambiguities of history, we must somehow still believe that the contradictions of life are neither final nor ultimate. Freedom has many difficult challenges and Democracy is not perfect but this is the only hope we have to change this brainless kind of leadership that has kept us back in the last 50 years. We must stop grasping at the ideas of the past and look beyond the dangers and despairs of today to the bright hopes and freedom of tomorrow, and in the words of scriptures, hold firm without wavering, the hope that we confess.

Comrade Eneruvie ENAKOKO

CLO Chairman in Lagos

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