By Kate Henshaw-Nuttal
Here we go again, another October 1st… . It brings to the fore our yearnings for a nation worth its salt, blessed with abundant human and natural resources to re-assess itself and see if it is where it should be. Well are we? Methinks not! It is not about declaring a public holiday; it is about the next step, where do we go from here?
Nigeria is culturally diverse. From simple logic, it is easy to understand the galaxy of needs, consumption pattern, aspirations, opportunities and values. The consequences of the diversity of Nigeria, and her people are many and complex. It is because of the richness of her culture, diversity of people, abundance of resources that Nigeria could and should be in a much better place than it is today. Why is it that after independence we seem to be sinking lower in our status as the giant of Africa? We cannot seem to hold our head high in the comity of nations. Our green passport is still looked at with disrespect and distrust. We have no other country but this one, no matter where we go and how very well accepted we are outside of this country where we have sought greener pastures, there is no place like home. When I travel outside of Nigeria , I see how we consciously adjust ourselves and fall in line with laid down rules and procedures in other countries, we have no choice or we feel the full weight of the law;this is because they have a system that works. What is our system of operation as a nation?
Why is it that the basic infrastructure is so inadequate to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the citizenry? Power supply is totally unreliable hence the high cost of production for companies which is eventually passed down to the consumer. The people resort to alternative power supply(generators and inverters), millions do not have access to potable water, the environment is filthy( Ibadan as an example), the roads are unsafe but billions of Naira have been poured down a bottomless pit that has refused to fill up our potholes on the roads leading to numerous loss of lives, medical care is a far cry from World Health Organization standard, the standard of education continues to fall as we continue to experience brain drain, and there is no guarantee of safety and good quality of life.
It seems we have not been extricated from the vestiges of colonial masters’ apron strings. Even when the atmosphere is seemingly unsafe foreigners kept coming into the country;and no meaningful project is delivered without foreign partners’ involvement.
When we see ‘white’ it is right and ‘black’ is wrong. We will never make any headway this way. Granted foreign hands have had and continue to have, negative effects on our situations. But we have seen many countries with similar or worse experiences, yet they got out of their situations and took their destiny in their own hands. Examples can be found in many Asian countries;apparently their impact in the global economy has earned an accolade or sobriquet: ’’Asian Tigers’’. The Government and Asian citizenry indeed made a turn-around by re-awakening the vision for their countries to be great,thus genuine renewal of sense of duty to through hard work, transparency, accountability and discipline.
The truth is that when Nigerians see purposeful leadership, they appreciate and support it, even in an atmosphere of apparent discomfort. Example, the most popular administration currently is that of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State and one can see that across ethnic, religious and political affiliations, there is an acknowledgment of good work. A fellow state administrator once called him the best among them all. Another example is the leadership of Rivers State in the person of Rotimi Amaechi who made Port Harcourt habitable once more. If you go to Port Harcourt now, it is very busy with construction of roads, schools, hospitals etc to live up to his dream of making it a truly Garden City. From another perspective, the administration of the Buhari-Idiagbon in the 1980s brought about some visible changes.
I have a dream that Nigeria will truly experience great leadership that will indeed be selfless, decisive and impact on our lives. We as a people should play our own part and ask questions, hold our leaders accountable for every decision made that borders on our existence.