Nigerian At 58: Should We Celebrate? – By Chukwudi Ogbu
Growing up as a teenager, independence day celebration used to be filled alot of fanfare showing that we were no longer dependent to our colonial masters . Papa would always call them “onyibo pepper” – a name for white men. The euphoria then, was a well committed one. People would go out on visitation to friends and family members with good heart, they would give out gifts enclosed with courtesy. Papa would always tell us stories about how we got the independence in our big parlour. He would tell us about Nnamdi Azikiwe and why he was called Zik of Africa. We also leant about Anthony Enahoro and Obafemi Awolowo and the rest of others in those tales. We sat, we learnt and laughed out our ribs while we waited for mama to bring us the independent day meal she had separately and cautiously prepared in her iron pot outside which was held up with three stones.
That was how independence day celebration used to be. Parents would go out with their children to places of monuments. They would call for banquet and even get new clothes for them with the colours of the Nigeria flag to mark the celebration. Everybody was happy because everything was in place. There was an all inclusive government where everyone was carried along and the poor almost if not entirely was taken care of. Event was happy.
What do we have today. 58 years after independence, we are not even sure if we should celebrate. What should we even celebrate for? A fool at 40, is a fool forever. But at 58, we have just proven to the world and ourselves that we are a more bigger fools. A government that cannot provide good jobs that will bring food and shelter to the coffers of her citizenry. What indeed are we celebrating? Are we celebrating a country where she has been referred to as a country with the most poor people and did not raise an eyebrow.
At 58, the economy is not stable. It’s dancing on a swing. It’s degrading. The Naira is a mess. We are having more of internally displaced persons daily. People are fleeing the country for greener pastures else where. Just anywhere but not here. This was not the independence Zik of Africa and Awolowo envisaged. This was not the stable economy that they left for their children. Nigeria used to be a country of tourist attractions. A heaven on earth. We used to be the giant of Africa not just by nomenclature but by substance. But at 58, reverse is the case and we claim to be celebrating independence? Where did we go wrong?
Today, we are celebrating only God knows what. A country with a government where people are killed and maimed daily and there is no feeling of contriteness for the loss, and you espect us to be happy? A country where demagogue will want to get into office at all cost even onto the death of their political rival and we end up singing praises of their triumphant entry and you espect us to be happy? A country where private gains are more important than the well being of the electorate of whom they govern.
Yes we are in pain of hardship. We are crying but also seeing clearly. Soon all this walking shame will come to an end. Just soon.
The independence day celebration calls for sober reflection where Nigeria and her leaders can look forward to creation of more equitable jobs which will bring the average Nigerian above poverty level, and also securing lives and properties of her citizenry and making the economy stable for businesses and foreign investment. Until all these are adhere to, Nigerians should not celebrate another independence.
Chukwudi Ogbu is a Journalist. Wrote from Enugu, via Chukwudiogbu12@gmail.com
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