Nigeria: How far we've come at 53.....

President Goodluck Jonathan
CC Headliner

Exactly 53 years today, Nigeria gained independence from Britain thus "ending" 46 years of colonial rule. 

Nigeria was born on January 1, 1914, following the amalgamation of the then Southern and Northern Protectorates by Lord Fredrick Lugard.

The country owes its independence to the struggles of late nationalists such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, among others. These great men of vision spearheaded the movement for Nigeria's independence from the shackles of colonialism and imperialism.

Another prominent figure, the late Chief Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for Nigerian's independence on the floor of the House of Representatives. Though he had proposed independence for Nigeria in 1959, the Northern members of the House were opposed to the motion on the grounds that the North was not ready. The clause, stipulating a date for independence was later substituted with another clause: "As soon as possible."

Eventually, the country gained independence from colonial rule on October 1, 1960 after about 15 years of agitation for self-rule.

Nigeria started off as a federation with three regions: East, West and North, as the federating units and a parliamentary system of government. Today, it is a presidential democracy with 36 States in the existing structure of the democratic dispensation.

Blessed with an abundance of human and material resources, Nigeria showed so much promise at independence. It was taken for granted that within a few years, the country would become a global leader, both politically and economically. 

But that is one hope that has seemingly failed to materialize thus far. The country never truly took off before various crises started dogging its path soon after independence. And since independence, it has been a tortuous ride.

In its 53 years of existence since independence from Great Britain on October 1st, 1960, the nation has weathered nine military coups (including Abacha's palace coup that overthrew Sonekan's interim government), three alleged coups, countless assassinations of its leaders, individual personalities (human rights proponents) and key political figures, debilitating corruption (that has resulted in the loss of over $500 billion between 1966 and 2013) and an ever increasing general state of insecurity and lawlessness from the highest levels of government to various factional (ethnic) groups, ostensibly being used by corrupt regional leaders to advance their incendiary interests.  

As a norm, elections have been massively rigged by political groups, to the disconcerting dismay of both local and foreign observers, the Nigerian masses included. Furthermore, besides the absence of strong institutions, the country's lack of requisite infrastructure needed to engender positive development, has been an enduring problem.

It is therefore little wonder that many (including foreign interests) continue to view the nation as an underachieving edifice, what with its abundant natural and human resources, the latter resorting to exporting their technical and other unique abilities overseas, to the benefit of mostly western nations, including the United States.

While one needs to remain hopeful that somehow, the tide surely must turn in the right direction; the current political landscape remains a source of disturbing concern as Nigeria's current leadership has shown itself not only grossly inept at the most basic function of leadership, but also extremely bereft of innovative and industrious ideas, needed to move the nation and its over 170 million people forward.

Nigerians, from all works of life and all corners of the earth must therefore resolve (regardless of ethnic, religious and other politically created "differences") to truly stand up and be counted.

Failure to do so can only lead to the ultimate death of a promise and a future that seemed so glorious and definitive, just over half-a-century ago.