Nigeria At 57-We Have Only 1 Reason To Celebrate, By Adigun Temitope

As an intern student of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, I was under the tutelage of a Vanguard Reporter late last year for two-month Industrial Training which served as a prerequisite to moving to the next level in my department. At exactly two-day to celebrate 56th Independence Day of Nigeria during my training period, I was told to gather people’s reaction on the topic, “Is 56 years of Nigeria worth celebrating?”, and unfortunately, it was the time when recession was at the apex of the nation’s affair.

The reactions I got from people I interviewed drew tears from my eyes. The level at which these people plied their problems and also proffered solutions to the country’s greatest problem (recession) at that time kept me wondering if God can just change the world and give them the positions of some of these politicians, so that they can act on the solutions they gave me in order to solve Nigerian woes.

October 1st, 1960 is a day many of us have fondly called “Independence Day celebration”, a day most of the citizens in all the 36 states of the country are usually found in their state-capital to celebrate the day Nigeria as a country escaped from the hands of the colonial masters. It was a year that can never leave the lips of many Nigerians, especially those that witnessed the glamorous historical event. It was a year that my grandpa loves to share with his grandchildren. A close look at his eyes and the little smile on his face explained to me how glorious the year was. The flame of anger that comes through him whenever he listened to news about the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)’s agitating for secession, also added a plus to my belief for his feeling for one Nigeria.

 In an article published by a British-Nigerian Freelance Journalist, Ade Onibada, he wrote: “’When you toast to independence, you are toasting ignorance and a culture of impunity”. He was however not criticizing the government based on corruption or bad governance but he was saying that rather than making toasts, throwing parties and tying gaudy ‘geles’, what we should do on this Independence Day is to prompt critical thought about what these years of self-determination have produced. Certainly, it has not produced anything tangible to the country and her citizens.

Are we celebrating a country where one section is clamouring for secession, another is asking for restructuring and the other is busy giving quit notices to those that are not from her tribe? Are we to celebrate a country that has impregnated hatred in the souls of youths and sorrow in the minds of adults? Is that what we are supposed to be celebrating?

We live in a country of over 180 million people, with diverse of natural resources, but it has only helped in tearing apart the nation, rather helping it gain good grounds. A country where graduates of higher education institutions walk by the roadside, praying to God to rain cents that could feed their stomachs at least a day, is certainly not worth celebrating. Perhaps, we are to celebrate with those incorrigible lawbreakers that have turned to distinguished lawmakers. We have the likes of Sister Stella, Brother Saraki, Brother Dasuki and many others that have an imprint of questionable character on them. They are in the realm of affairs, putting smiles to their pockets only, forgetting their backgrounds and where they came from.

Are we to celebrate a country where the inconvenient truths would identify the number of public figures who manoeuvre and manipulate political circles for personal gain, including an investigation that unearthed and confirmed suspicions of Boko Haram financiers? Maybe, we are to celebrate a country where IPOB agitation is seen as the greatest threat to the government against the deadly Boko Haram that has killed over a thousand of people since its inception? Are we to
celebrate Nigeria as a 57 year-old, while our military men continue to give us Python Dance?

 We are in a country where the political figures control public resources under the pretence of democracy and continued cultural conflicts have been allowed to divide a nation already historically fragile.

How do we celebrate our country when there is no wine to toast and no food to eat on our table? Instead of focusing on celebrating our independence day or, rather, being indifferent, let’s go deep into personal reflections and ask ourselves: where did it go all wrong? If we are to toast to anything this year, then let’s celebrate ourselves for enduring all the hardship that has eaten deep in us and the denial of our rights from those we elected to serve us.

However, let’s be optimistic. Let’s believe strongly and greatly that things are going to turn out for the good in Nigeria, as she clocks 57.

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