Sunday, 29 September 2013

Nigeria @ 53: Uhuru or Goodluck?

Nigeria will be 53 year since independence from colonial rule on the 1st Oct 2013. Can we say its Uhuru yet? No it isn’t, really it is Goodluck! Uhuru is a Swahili word for freedom and Independence. How many Nigerians can beat their chest to say, we are truly free after 53 years and how many Nigerian can say we have Goodluck? 

Freedom from poverty and wants, freedom from bad leadership and abuse of national resources, freedom from diseases and social vices, freedom from electoral malpractices and violence. 

However, we have Goodluck, not only as president of Nigeria at this time, but:
Goodluck that God has been gracious we are still one entity as a nation, Nigeria at 53, goodluck that we are not fighting civil war, goodluck that our oil is still flowing and in demand in the International community, goodluck that Nigeria citizens are patient, long suffering and hopeful that one day goodluck will turn to Uhuru, real freedom and feeling of total independence from inept political leadership corrupt and unaccountable government. Freedom from greed and senseless acquisition of obscene material wealth at the expense of ordinary citizens, freedom from exploitation and abuse in the hands of people who are tasked with managing our resources and national wealth for the good of all, freedom from terrorism and plague of poverty.

The Kenyans have Uhuru as President now, Nigeria has Goodluck. They are both leaders of nations. But are they leading well? The judgement is left to Nigerian and Kenyans. The focus of my write up today is not about Kenyans, but Nigeria, my country with abundance of goodluck, but with President Goodluck in position of leadership. Why are we still having the same old problem we had 10-20 years ago? 20 years ago I was in the University of Ibadan, we had ASUU strike for months, and then it was military era. Then later we had Independence from Military rule and we shouted Uhuru! We are in democracy, we are free! Lo and behold, 20 year later, the University students are still at home as a result of ASUU strike..yes! Same ASUU, same Nigerian Government, but a democratic one!

Are we then moving forward or in a state of Static motion, all movement but no momentum? The government of Nigeria has still not got it right with funding and management of education system. Our education system has been outsourced to Ghana and other countries with significant capital flight, depletion of core skills, knowledge and expertise. Medical doctors, Nurses are still leaving the country in droves to hone their skills and settle in other countries. Nigeria intellectual class now stream to peddle their trade in countries like Ghana, South Africa, USA.

Twenty years ago, we talked about brain drain. It is the same problem happening today. The fundamental reason for the phenomenon remains unchanged, ASUU strike, Poor remunerations, disdain for contractual agreement and poor facilities to do proper jobs. We have Goodluck, but we have no Uhuru! Twenty years ago, we have poor electricity supply, proliferation of generators, crime etc. Now we have Goodluck, we still have same problem, although we hear of talks of unbundling and uncoupling of NEPA, but the same problem still bedevilled majority of Nigerian, bribery, Nepotism, grand scale corruption, corrupt enrichment by public officials etc.

Even worse vices have emerged from the stables, kidnapping, ransom demands, terrorism, Boko Haram, militant and amnesty rackets, yahoo yahoo etc. Yet, Nigeria is 53! Can we really celebrate? We can roll out drums as a matter of necessity and social exigencies but, Nigerians are not free and Nigerians are still suffering, its only that Nigerians are long suffering and resilient people, Nigerians have faith and hope, but to have Uhuru, we need more than goodluck! We need strong and effective leadership across the board i.e. executive, judiciary and legislative leadership, local and state, corporate and religion, spiritual and temporal.

The Government and its acolytes may have reasons to celebrate, why would they not? They will, because for them, they have Goodluck and Uhuru! Twenty years ago, they had no shoes, but now they have private jets, private yatch, mansions in and out of the country, fat bank accounts, shares, stocks and investments in blue chip companies around the world, children are schooling at private institutions abroad and at home, their children have gainful employments in companies owned by them or in which they have large investment interests, they have all the securities around them to shield them from kidnappers and they have escort to clear the roads for them when they use the same road where ordinary citizens languish in traffic stampede and chaos, they don’t have to stay on queue at fuel stations to have fuel because they have tanker storage of diesel and petrol in their compound.

Unequal society at 53 years of Independence. The economic situation is no far different from what it was 20 years ago for majority of Nigerians. Students are still roaming the street due to University closure; graduates are still roaming the streets for lack of gainful employment, the same issue that faced graduates 20 years ago is still the same today in most families. Young men and women, even older ones are resorting to sharp practices, drug peddling to make ends meet. Now we have mobile phone system that works well, 20 years ago we did not have that facility but still the human development index for Nigeria according to the World Bank is still low.

As Nigeria celebrates 53 years of independence, we ought to reflect on this. We don’t have Uhuru, but we have Goodluck. Can we live on goodluck and expect things to change for the better? We need more than goodluck to get uhuru, we need public oriented purposeful policy for accelerated development. Genuine implementation of budgets and meaningful legislation and policy to drive growth and positive ideals in our society. Accountable government and conscience driven use of public funds for public good. Our leaders should realise that things cannot go on like this as a nation and the accumulated private wealth cannot bring total joy, peace and harmony in the society.

We have a government, but what exactly do they aspire to for the nation? We can celebrate Independence Day, but are we really as a nation independent of worries that bedevil our nation? ASUU is still on strike, SSANU are threatening strike, electricity and power supply remains a mirage, Unemployment rate remain in double digit. Happy Independence Day. Long live Nigeria

By: Dr Olayiwola Ajileye
Dr Ajileye is the Publicity and Media Coordinator
for Champions for Nigeria (CFN)

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