April 2021
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A Nation at 51

The Nigerian nation state just attained the age of 51 years , counting from October 1 1960 when it was declared independent of British colonial rule. But it would be 100 years old in 2014 as a geographical expression patched together by the colonial empire builders. Yet, with a history of almost a century old and more than five decades of self-rule, no one is celebrating . A culture of fear that Great Britain fought back and conquered in less than two weeks by a firm application of the law under the leadership of a non-military Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, has pervaded Nigeria since the conclusion of the presidential election in April this year. Threats from a fundamentalist sect now synonymous with terrorist bomb attacks and some other ethnic militia seem to have sealed the fate of Nigerians to a life of siege in their own country.
The issue of security threats has just been added up to compound the problems of large scale official corruption, collapsed state of infrastructure such as road and rail networks, poor service delivery in the areas of health, education, water and electricity supply and a frightening massive unemployment situation that the new Jonathan Administration is fighting desperately to contain. To make matters worse, most of the governors of the 36 states of the federation are not cooperating sufficiently to stem the tide of over-bloated bureaucracy, large scale embezzlement of public funds and poor service delivery. And the judiciary, which could have come to the rescue of civil society, by playing its constitutional role as the bastion of justice, order, civilized progress and the last hope of the ordinary citizen for redress, has itself been hopelessly corrupted by politicians who want power at all cost.
And sadly, no sooner the politicians are sworn in as law-makers and governors or even as local government functionaries than they begin to enact self-serving laws and dispute the recently enacted laws that they perceive not to be in their favour and even refuse to obey the laws they have enacted such as the Minimum Wage and the Sovereign Wealth Fund Laws. Even the federal government has difficulty keeping faith with the agreements it signed with the labour unions, such as the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government (FG) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The latter just called off its one week warning strike, yesterday. There are sundry issues about which organized labour is threatening industrial action, should government fail to respond positively and favourably.
For a nation at 51, these are huge challenges. But the challenges are not altogether impervious to solutions. President Goodluck Jonathan has been grappling with the challenges. In his broadcast to the nation yesterday, Dr. Jonathan did not delude himself or the Nigerian people that the challenges could be wished away, but rather, he aptly summarized the situation and indicated in no uncertain terms that his government is tackling the problems headlong. The security challenges posed by the Boko Haram menace, he assured, would soon be consigned into the dustbin of history.
With the new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), the President has tasked the judiciary to reform itself and convict offenders of the law to ruthlessly uproot the culture of impunity that has pervaded the land. If the judiciary is reformed as charged by the President, it should be able to successfully prosecute perpetrators of huge financial crimes that have turned the country into a republic of looters and launderers of public funds. When this happens, when the theft of public fund is made unprofitable attracting a severe jail term of 30 years for convicted offenders, public fund would be safe and available for the creation of more wealth for the good and happiness of Nigerians.
Among other things reeled out in the tape of the Jonathan transformative agenda yesterday for emphasis is the issue of infrastructural development, especially the power sector reform which appears to be kicking off in spite of evident sabotage, and the issue of job creation to absorb the teeming population. What is missing, however, which is contained in the bigger picture is the education sector. There is need for adequate funding of education and research projects and the imperative to make education value-adding to the nation’s development efforts.
Thus, in spite of the culture of fear foisted on the nation arising mainly from the terrorist activities and threats of the fundamentalist sect and, perhaps, the other ethnic militia, the Jonathan dispensation appears to be quite abreast with the issues at the front burner of the Nigerian State; and that what is cardinal now is that government needs time and the cooperation and support of all Nigerians to move the nation from backwardness to prosperity.

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