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Nigeria at 59: lessons and gains

Nigeria's struggle for statehood climaxed on October 1, 1960 with independence from British rule. After 3 years, the country became a republic but relapsed into military dictatorship following a bloody coup d’état in 1966, which spiralled into a brutal civil war in 1967 that decimated part of its population and caused serious humanitarian crisis.






For 33 years, the country was governed by the military and made several failed attempts at democracy until 1999 when it fully embraced democratic rule. Since 1999, the country has witnessed uninterrupted democratic rule.

Today, Nigeria has achieved political stability, ensuring regular elections and transition from one administration to another. Remarkably, in 2015, a historic Transfer of power was witnessed from one political party to another.

From its 45.14 million population at independence, the country has grown to approximately 200 million people, affording it both economic and military advantages. Its economy peaked in ranking within the continent. It has a huge array of human capital in diaspora, contributing to the development of their host countries.

Nigeria also rose from its broad division of regional governments to 36 federating units with 774 local governments carrying out grassroots governance.

The nation has also multiplied its Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and other institutions of learning to provide educational access to its growing population and ensured their stability with firm regulatory bodies and intervention agencies, providing guidelines as well as infrastructural facilities. What this entails is that there is something to celebrate as the country attains 59.

While Nigeria has remained an indivisible democratic nation, despite emerging from a civil war over 50 years ago, its unity has remained shaky and uncertain as suspicion continues to swell over policies and actions of government and those manning its agencies.

All the factors that led to civil war such as ethnic competitiveness, educational inequality, economic imbalance and religious divisions still persist.

Worrying manifestations of sectionalism dominated voting patterns of the country’s recent elections as the results showed significant divides along regional and geopolitical boundaries, while regional leaders protected their privileges.

After elections were won and lost, the nation assumed new levels of disunity with government authorities flagrantly carrying out lopsided appointments and making divisive utterances, without recourse to sensitivities. As those at the receiving end doubt whether the country holds any future for them, those promoting regional power remain adamant.

Nigeria has refused to heal from its wounds of civil war, despite suffering irrecoverably in all spheres of its national life. The country today, grapples with one of the worst terrorist activities across the globe with savage gangs, marauders and bandits multiplying across the country and mindlessly kidnapping, killing, maiming, destroying property and razing whole communities.

Unfortunately, these activities have redefined the country's identity and perception to the outside world. A lax security system, poor economy, beleaguered healthcare and educational systems are some of the terrible experiences of its statehood.

At 59 the nation has wriggled through a trajectory of poor governance, insecurity and underdevelopment, with its elite openly promoting social imbalance, divisiveness, nepotism, marginalisation and other alienating, exclusivist policies.

Nigeria today, has created more problems for itself than it solved any. There is a telling-off and denial of collective interest fuelled by ethnic, regional and religious biases; sentiments which have dominated political and socio economic discussions in recent times. These biases find expression in all institutions of state such as the courts, schools, military or para-military agencies, hospitals as well as market and worship places.

Far from the reversed reality the country has emerged, the founding fathers and protagonists of its freedom from external rule envisioned a nation where unity, justice, equity, peace and progress would define its laws and actions.

To rise from the ashes it intentionally reclined, the country must wean itself from ethno-religious and regional sentiments, which we consider the biggest setback to Nigeria’s development as a state, and stir the ship of state with justice and fairness as a working state policy.

Except its leaders are only plotting to fail, the country must have a well-articulated vision for national development and ensure that each sector coordinates its activities towards attaining national goals of development contained in that vision.

A clearly spelt out mandate for each sector with commensurate deployment of resources, critical manpower and periodic evaluation of its implementation can restart its journey towards becoming a developed nation.

Consequently, Nigeria must flood the world's best institutions of higher learning with its intelligent and aspiring youth to train in all manner of technology-related courses, including artificial intelligence, robotics and medical science, among others, to keep pace with the rest of the world.









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