Firstly, a very joyous and happy independence day to all Nigerians, home and abroad. As we would say at our age, Nigeria “no be small pikin” (little child). Unfortunately more than two generations into our fourth democracy, boys are not smiling. Contributing my thoughts on the occasion of Nigeria’s fifty-seventh birthday leaves me with mixed feelings. If I can borrow a quote from Winston Churchill, the notion surrounding Africa’s most populous nation on this occasion; “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…”
The current malaise enveloping Africa’s most populous state is well and truly overwhelming. That there is something rotten in the state of Denmark holds well and true in the case of Nigeria and the stench seems to be worse with each passing administration. There have been numerous skeptics since the beginning of General Muhammadu Buhari’s APC backed presidential campaign. How did a former military man, who previously attained power through a coup d’etat plan to govern a nation thirty years after he himself was deposed? Surely Nigeria could do better than the individual whose last government championed ‘the war on indiscipline’ leading to the abuse of numerous personal and civil liberties. With little evident self-reform visible to the public having taken place, was he in a position to guide Nigeria from a faltering top twenty global economy into a true emerging power during his reign? Many of my fellow diaspora members felt so, supporting his cause by donating to his campaign upon his running mate’s arrival in town as part of their election roadshow.
The results in the second round of GMB’s administration would suggest the above has not taken place. A quick glance at the characters dominating the socio-political and economic scene suggest Nigeria is akin to the Western classic of ‘The good, the bad and the ugly”. The state’s Senate president remains in office two years after a warrant of arrest has been issued against him on grounds of corruption. A recently freed South-Eastern agitator whose most memorable comments of recent include that the sitting state president is actually deceased and a body double trained in his speech and mannerisms was representing the country at the 2017 U.N. General Assembly, continues to draw ire to what is a genuinely just cause in calls for regional secession. An affable crony capitalist cum rent-seeker also happens to double as the wealthiest man on the continent and a lame duck vice-president for whom an actual lame duck could suffice addressed none of the issues stemming from the president’s notable absence during his treatment for illness.
Despite the molasses of ineptitude which defines our leadership at federal, state and local government level, those in Nigeria still succeed despite the odds. Numerous success stories abound from the cocoon that has ensconced a promising nation. The recovery to health of our president after wrapping up his near four month medical vacation in London? Maybe. Africa’s most populous nation breaking free from five consecutive quarters of a technical recession? Somewhat. What I truly mean is the ability of the every-man to persist, survive and thrive above all else. Pioneering initiatives such as the recently concluded Development Finance Summit in Lagos promulgated by young men such as Olakunle Olaniyi Edwards, Bankole Eniola and the other loyal members of their team sought to link capital investment with change agents looking to solve Nigeria’s deep rooted infrastructural supply issues.
As I grow, so too I begin to understand my purpose as an indigene of Nigeria. Problems give rise to opportunity and seizing the chance to improve upon on our collective fortune is what continues to provide meaning. I heard that a family friend joked upon suggestion that fellow Nigerians meet to pray for the country that perhaps whoever is being petitioned has become wearisome from the constant pleas and the petitioners should help themselves this once.
The present reality of Nigeria is seemingly bleak but in fact advantageous circumstances abound and I would implore all who hold the country dear to their heart to ask themselves how they can contribute in their own way? If it simply means upskilling oneself in whatever profession they have chosen to pursue before being ready to take on full time duties, do it with a view to lending those abilities towards the development of the country. The cards we are dealt are not as important as how we choose to play them. Growing up in the diaspora allows one to compare where they might be had they not had the access to opportunities which they did but more so now than ever, what part can one play in the transformation of their fatherland. Putting pen to paper allows one to address these thoughts as they swirl about in the mind. My only reasoning is to continue to persist with whatever profitable and community serving endeavour they are engaged in, if not seek how to become involved.
The great Nnamdi Azikiwe fondly known as ‘Zik’, one of the founding fathers of Nigeria I believe would have imagined more from a nation after two generations of being liberated from colonialism. Hope deferred makes the heart sick but the journey towards prosperity was always bound to be fraught with challenges. This is what makes us human and overcoming is what makes it worthwhile.