Date Published: 10/14/09
After Celebration, What Next? By Tony-Anthony John
Nigeria at 49 has been overwhelmed by torrents of write-ups. Quite unfortunately, most of the articles written by social commentators, both at home and in the Diaspora, in commemoration of this year’s independence day anniversary, did not give good reports about the country. Really, it is not their fault, the realities on ground make it be like that. But, in all this, we are stakeholders in the commonwealth resources of this country.
Actually, one would expect the government of this country to have recorded positive achievements which could be celebrated at the age it has attained. It is not a matter of “One Nigeria, Good People,” the truth must be said. I love Nigeria and I will always be proud to answer a Nigerian. But, that does not mean that one will overlook the current state of the nation. Aside the nation’s beleaguered situation, if we can be sincere to ourselves, especially those living abroad, there is nothing like home. That notwithstanding, in fact, I do not blame anyone who expresses disaffection with the country. However, it is not the country that is bad, but those you and I chose as our leaders that are bad.
I share the grievances of fellow Nigerians who condemn the country, but not outright. By matter-of-factness, there is no way would feel happy following the insensitive leaderships we have had. They waste abundant human and material resources on ground, thereby plunging the masses into excruciating hardship and abject poverty.
What I have witnessed in our society, which I believe you too have, is a situation where anything, for instance, prices of goods, which goes up, continues increasing. There is no transparent programme put in place to save those in the society who do not have the will power from chasing the high prices.
On October 1, at the Eagles Square in Abuja, venue for the 49 th Independence Day anniversary celebration, an incident occurred that touched my psyche. Two young men caused a big stir there, by raining curses on Nigerian leaders, admonishing them to repent of their ways and be sincere to the nation’s mountainous problems, or face the wrath of God. Beyond fanaticism, the duo clutching Holy Bible in their hands, as reported in the media, walked straight to the podium before the programme commenced, expressly protesting the continued misrule and insincerity on the part of our leaders. They were later whisked away by security agents as they wanted to drop their Bibles there. The message was direct, short and simple.
Besides these men’s courage, I saw bruise and bleeding hearts of millions of Nigerians symbolized by the rare action of the two preachers. I asked myself, would the undiluted message mean anything to past and present Nigerian leaders, whether at the event or elsewhere? The issue should not be popping champagne on the anniversary, or it was celebrated in low key as is the language of the government, what step have our leaders taken to bring a positive to change the face of the country, especially as re-branding crusade has been preached? Has it ever bothered our leaders to ask themselves why we have gone down the brim, without any attempt of resurrecting?
Meanwhile, I see the just ended amnesty offer by the federal government which ended on October 4, 2009, as its calculated strategy to make this year’s independence anniversary remarkable. Though it would be commended for that, the government should not celebrate its success in the Niger Delta region yet, as that is one minutest problem bedevilling the country. Time has come for sincerity of purpose on the side of the government, having claimed in the past, that militancy upsurge was the bane of underdevelopment in the region and economic bankruptcy of the country. At 49, Nigeria should be ready to give an appraisal of itself, especially in the comity of nations, whether it is among the highest in corruption rating globally or not.
In the education sector, the system is in total decay. With all Nigeria has, it cannot reach one-third of Singaporean education structure which has been reckoned with globally. Look at a country like Malaysia; it has become a sort of “mecca” for the study of oil and gas for countries like Nigeria. What India which is not as rich as our country makes out of software, ought to pose a serious challenge to our leaders. They(politicians)come with good , good words. Yet, there is nothing to show for their promises.
No credible electoral reform to institutionalize political parties for transparency. That is why the call for honest, transparent and credible leaders, who can be entrusted with the political needs of the electorate, will continue to be the people’s agitation. People of sincere mind, suitable for driving the vehicle of Nigerian nation, should be looked upon. We should stop encouraging people to do evil. A situation where you pre-fix election results, definitely, you cannot expect the real thing to take place after that. That is the problem with Nigeria.
Nigerians have been clamouring for an Electoral Reform, but due to the sincerity of those in power, it has persistently received hitches. The leaders know that essence of it is to improve on the existing laws so that they would be identified with more impacts on the electorate. My appeal to our lawmakers at the three tiers of government is that whatever existing law that has not helped in contributing to the development of the society, should be discarded.
The political quagmire and stunted developmental growth of the society, is because, you cannot expect a government which has legal impediment in court to perform to the people’s expectation. There should be litigation settlement before assumption of office. It is assumed that any government, whose case is still in court, invariably means that there is no government .It would be wrong to expect much from it. A judicial reform should be put in place to handle election petitions few months after election, so that the officer can go in and settle down for business. This means that the judiciary is contributing to the level of poverty and hardship in the country. Repeated court adjournments are waste of the people’s money, particularly if politicians are involved. It is not a good record for our democracy that for more than two and half years after the general elections, some election petitions are still pending in courts. This is pure corruption and condemnable.
Also, enforcement of law should be independent, if we must be out of the existing problems of the society. That is one of the reasons I like Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, of Rivers State. He said that he should be held accountable for his deeds. If people commit offences and they are found guilty, they should be prosecuted. But, once we begin to treat justice nonchalantly, as I you are above the law, problems are bound to exist.
It is condemnable that some affluent individuals have converted Nigeria to a merchandize; where positions, certificates, titles, virtually everything, is commercialized. So long as there are people in this country who have the money to spend on whatever they want, no matter the country, they pose serious threats to the society.
When late Nzeogwu and his colleagues struck in the 1960s, it was as a result of corruption. If you chronicle the problems of this country, from one government to the other, whether military regime or democratically elected, corruption has played a major role in all of them. And, it is bound to continue unless our leaders re-brand their consciences first. Therefore, let it be the next thing to do now that we have celebrated our 49 th anniversary.