As it clocks sixty one years as an independent nation, Nigerians continue to hope for the best for and from their beloved country. Nigeria, has certainly come a long way since attaining independence in 1960. It is the largest economy in Africa and the most populated black nation on earth. Nigeria is the second most endowed natural resource nation on the continent; and ranking among tops globally. From independence, Nigeria had all it takes to be among leading economies on earth. Yet, after sixty one years as an independent entity Nigerians hold a wide variety of opinions about their country. But for a vast majority of them it is a feeling of despair, hopelessness and loss.
Strangely however, Nigeria, a country rich in both human and natural resources, ranks low in most of the available development indicators. For example, on the poverty headcount, life expectancy and school enrollment ratios were 40.1 percent, 54.68 percent and 84.73 percentages as at 2018, 2019, and 2016, respectively. Obviously the poverty indicator is on the high side especially when we consider Nigeria’s population of 200 million for the same period. In absolute terms that translates to over 80 million Nigerians living below the poverty line (surviving on under $2 a day). The indicator for school enrollment is not favorable either. While countries such as Ghana, South Africa and Singapore post ratios of 104.84, 98.53 and 100.77 respectively. Nigeria as the giant of Africa lags behind with 84.73, indicating poor education focused policies. More worrisome Nigeria’s external debt stood at $33.3 as at March, 2021, and inflation rate is at an all-time rate of 17 per cent for the same period.
One obvious problem facing Nigeria is the absence of good leadership. Good governance is a prerequisite to growth and development for any nation. And it follows that good governance can only come with good leadership. For example, it does not make sense for a good leader to fail to prioritize education for his people; for education is the bedrock of a nation’s development. Yet, many Nigerian leaders choose to prioritize roads and provision of other infrastructure over education. However, good leadership should know that investing in education is by far more appropriate than investment in roads. This is because a well-educated people will be in a position to not only maintain existing infrastructure but create them.
Successive Nigerian governments have failed to place the country on a sustainable development plan due misplacement of national interest and priorities. Overtime Nigeria’s leaders have been unable to take advantage of the country’s abundance in human and natural resources as well as its diversity to chart a course for its ultimate but certain development; instead they tend to capitalize on its diversity to further divide their people for their selfish agendas. In the end vast majority of Nigerians have become disenchanted and polarized.
There are well pronounced tribal, ethnic, religious and sectional divides in Nigeria; yet even within these divisions there is further polarization. Because of their misguided insatiable and abnormal desire to enrich themselves, our leaders have denied the teeming masses their rightful entitlements. As a result bribery and corruption have been entrenched in the land and endangering all. Even the murderous and heartless bandits and insurgents ravaging the country are a deliberate creation of these inept leaderships. Through wanton pillage of the nation’s resources, mismanagement, nepotism, tribalism, corruption and incompetence Nigeria is at a brink.
Over the years Nigerians have been left with few choices: To throw in the towel and join the band wagon; to resign to fate in despair and watch the rape of their beloved country continue; cross the Mediterranean in search of an imaginary better life; or rise up and make a bold decision to take back their country from the rag-tag politicians. The buck stops at the individual voter’s desk.
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