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Nigeria @ 50: Sober reflections on a chequered history (5)

ALL of these glaring shortfalls notwithstanding, there is much that still could and must be. And done properly this time, we will not need to spend another 50 years correcting the mistakes of the past.

Instead, we can take advantage of retrospection to still extract the most out of what we did right or almost did right, rapidly undo what we did wrong and their consequences, and with a new passion, dream and total participation and empowerment of all Nigerians, act more rapidly to regain control of our destiny.

We can repower up the forceful engine of nation-building and set out with confidence, authority and total participation, to build the great Nigerian Dream having duly revised and augmented it with new knowledge and hindsight.

The very credible commitment to do so will reverse the growing skepticism and cynicism that are dangerous in that they often become indifferent to facts or reality, resulting in an atmosphere in which everything becomes bad, everyone untrustworthy and nothing is right.

Once we commence on this path, Nigerians will again become their old selves, eager, enthusiastic, confident, committed and courageous.

If we do so, and remobilize our people with a new, responsive, responsible and fair and equitable democratic political context in which we learn to win and lose, and when we lose, come again and win, we can make it as a nation, make it big time, and more than recover the grounds we have lost in the last few decades.

A young man interviewed shortly after the ceremonies at Eagle Square said, in proffering a solution to Nigeria’s challenges: “Leadership is fundamental. When you have good leadership, the nation develops”. It could not have been better said.

If we do our part now, all of us at home and abroad, and of all generations, we can build the solid foundation on which our young generation can in turn build the structures and institutions for a greater tomorrow, confident in themselves, trusting in our wisdom and judgment, and embraced and empowered by the people as a whole, in a unified, common march to a greater tomorrow that is more worthy of our heritage.

This is as it can, should and must be.

It rained a bit that historic morning 50 years ago at Independence Square, Lagos on Saturday,
October 1, 1960 the representative of the Queen of England handed over the staff of political authority to Prime Minister Alhaji Tafawa Balewa amidst so much pomp and pageantry. The volume of celebration was toned down by the seriousness and soberness of our founding fathers and mothers for whom that day marked the culmination of a long hard struggle that began several decades before.

It also rained 50 years later the mornipg of October 1, 2010 at Eagle Square in Abuja at the beginning of the grand fiftieth anniversary celebration ceremonies. Commentators remarked on this coincidence and called the downpour “showers of blessing”. In his invocation, the Chief Imam of Abuja prayed for peace and prosperity.

For his part, the Reverend Ayo Oritsejafor, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, calling out the name Nigeria several times in a loud booming voice, said: “Today, Nigeria sings a new song. Nigeria has a new name. That song and that name is ‘Greatness’”.

Solders marched past. School children marched, danced and displayed acrobatic virtuosity. President Jonathan, humble in his demeanor and fervent in his address to the people, especially in his pledge to empower the youth so that they can live out their legitimate legacy, displayed a humility that all Nigerian would-be leaders need to emulate at this critical time when they must regain the trust and confidence of the people.

Mr. Joseph OKPAKU  Sr. is President, Telecom Africa Inter. Corp., New York, USA.


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