One of my favorite quotes is that of Jean Jacques Rousseau "man is free but everywhere he is in chains".
Every year since 1960, October 1st is celebrated as the day Nigeria became a sovereign federal republic, it was the day Princess Alexandria handed over "power" to Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
From the desert of Maiduguri to the sandy shores of Badagry, from the mangrove of Bayelsa to the peninsula of Lekki, from the sahel of Sokoto to the Plateau of Jos and across the land, it was freedom at last!! Freedom from the Brits who seemed to hold all the top positions in the country; at last, we would become truly free and independent from the union Jack.
54 years down the line, looking at the situation in which we are in, I dare say we are truly independent.
Now, while am not trying to be a pessimist because 54 years is a looooong one, I mean many countries did not even survive this long before they were torn apart due to civil war, religious divide among others but I mean as a human, if you survive up to 54 and do not have something to point to, people will tag you a "failure"; That is the sad condition my dear Nigeria is in.
Back to my quote, Nigeria is free from the imperialism and colonial masters and Nigerians are expected to enjoy the dividends that accrue but the, everywhere we turn to, it is the direct opposite you find. You can't go to some parts of the country and walk freely, yet we are free, you cannot talk freely against the bad leaders yet the constitution says you have freedom of speech, you pay huge amount as tax yet you don't get basic services and we say we are free *sigh* really there are lots of chains binding us.
Inter tribal wars and ethnic clashes
One event Nigeria is still healing from is the civil war of 1967 - 1970. It was 30 long months of killing and bloodshed mostly unnecessary and avoidable between igbos and hausas who prior to May 1967 had been living in peace. It is one event that almost tore Nigeria apart but thankfully the war ended with the "no victor, no vanquished" proclamation but am sure the scars of that event is yet to heal yet, some fellows are quick to threaten that Nigeria will split if some of their selfish interests are not satisfied.
The Biafra war aside, we have had the famous Ife - Modakeke crisis, the Tiv - Jukun crisis, the Tiv - Fulani crisis, etc.
Unequal distribution of wealth
This is one aspect I know exists all over but the level in my fatherland though!! In the same neighbourhood where someone has a garage full of unused cars, there is another dude down the street that cannot afford a bicycle spoke; while some kids cannot afford to go to nursery school albeit free because his/her parent cannot afford to buy books and uniform, we have corrupt leaders and people who do not know what to do with money sending their kids abroad. Instead of using these monies to develop our educational system after all if those countries they ship their kids to did not develop their educational system, I wonder if they would have sent their kids there.
Every year after the NYSC scheme, graduates are turned out with most of them not having any hope of getting a job. Am yet to see someone whose ultimate aim is to roam about after graduating.. I mean, we go to school because we want a better life yeah? Then after all said and done, young minds get to roam about without hope because they have no godfather or perhaps they do not have the required experience (how would they when there is no provision for holiday jobs and the likes?), in the end, they take to crime since there is no system to absorb them and an idle mind is the devil's workshop (I do not support everybody waiting for the white collar job though, we should use our initiative too),
Lack of basic amenities
It hurts to know that there are some places with no portable drinking water! That is just one of the many wrong things happening in Nigeria. In fact, these days, every one is a government to himself since we provide our security, we generate our electricity, we provide our water, we provide our internet etc, yet, we pay for tax!
I find it funny that with our resources (Nigeria is blessed!) the government is still failing in her responsibilities 54 years down the line when countries like Rwanda after the genocide has a working and viable economy.
This term used to be strange to us but the way it is, it has come to stay in our lexicon.
Every moment, citizens live in fear because they do not know where the next bomb will go off. These bombers are so callous that they do not even consider age, gender, etc before they carry out their nefarious activities.
My heart still goes out to the young candles that were blown out in the wind in their hostels because of their love for Western education.
Instead of respite to come, a new dimension has been added to the bombings; Kidnapping.
Holding on to power syndrome
How can we say that we are independent if the same people who plundered our commonwealth years ago are still holding onto the reins of power and at the recently concluded national conference sat down to "chart" the way forward, is that not ironic?
They claim great leaders like Ghandi, Mandela, etc are their role models, they go to the UK, USA, etc to learn leadership qualities (on tax payer's account of course) yet they come home and do the exact opposite.
Old men that are supposed to be resting and enjoying retirement benefits(do they even pay?) are busy reducing their ages and occupying the spaces meant for the youths who are being deceived they are the leaders of tomorrow.
I wonder if the world would come to an end if these sit tight and power drunk leaders serve once and move on.
Oh well, after all said, all hope is not lost. I like to say our destiny/future is in our hands and remember like T.Y Bello said, "the future is not a time zone yet to be discovered, the future is everything you can become but have not yet become, the future is you, the future is now".
We need to liberate ourselves from the various shackles binding us and to do that, we need attitudinal change. We need to change our mind set towards a lot of things. Since it is obvious the government is not willing to help us, we could help ourselves. We could become self employed(the world is shifting from being employed to becoming self reliant), we could initiate community development projects that will help us better the lot of the community.
In a nutshell, we should start to think of what we can do for our country instead of what our country can do for us while hoping that our leaders understand the true meaning of being independent and act accordingly instead of depending on loans from IBRD etc when we have all the resources to be self reliant.