By Ikeddy ISIGUZO, Chairman, Editorial Board
IF you are looking for miracles, there is one that refuses to cease. If you doubt miracles, you most likely have not heard about Nigeria, a country that has defied all predictions about her, plodding on to 50 to the consternation of its tenuous tenders and certified critics who ruled it dead decades ago and continue to reel out the dreadful forecasts ever so often.
At 50 today, Nigerians delight in calling their country names. They may be right, but one of the absurdities of the Nigerian situation is that its most violent violators rank among the vociferous condemners of her poor state. Nigerians – and the world – had high expectations of the child of great promise born on October 1,1960.
We fed the baby high doses of selfishness, leading to its malnutrition. Its stunted growth has left many of us asking if the nation would ever attain adulthood.
Even adults have their challenges, but it could be more testing battling with challenges of infancy and adulthood at the same time. Some say at 50 Nigeria is a young country, their excuse for accepting this fully grown adult that lives petulantly with a child’s brain.
Blame sharing is a Nigerian sphere of acclaimed generosity. We blame leadership for our failures, others say Nigerians are too docile to challenge their leaders.
Hardly has the country consistently witnessed sustained efforts to cater for its well being. Abilities of those who gain the reins of power have been spent in holding power for themselves forever or ensuring subservience of everyone to them.
In 50 tortuous years, we have waited for the leader who would be so consumed and passionate about the future of Nigeria, who would dream and transform the country.
The stopgap leadership of those years is evident. Each administration exits or is ejected after it adds to the problems. Promises of a prosperous future are proclaimed without concerns for the common good. Doubtlessly, a few have prospered, but they have realised that they are worthless since their progress ruined the country.
Nigeria is a huge oil well, yet in technical terms, a marginal field. Explorers could abandon it soon, a growing prospect with the expected dwindling influence of oil in future.
We ride the fringes of global interests. Outside oil and gas – and our huge population, a big market for goods made elsewhere – the world would have totally forgotten us.
These do not bother our leaders. What have they done with billions of dollars of oil revenue that dropped on their laps in 50 years? The attitude remains that whoever gets into office grabs the opportunity to look after himself.
Nigeria has spent 50 years groping for its future. Politicians paint pictures of a rosy future to cover up their failings. The disasters ahead, mostly man-made, are more endemic than our leaders admit.
There is the tendency to see the dangers in the Niger Delta, for example, in terms of the restiveness of the populace, rather than the consequences of environmental despoliation promoted with reckless enthusiasm.
Education and health
When our youth ask for a future, we empower them as motor cycle riders, and it is celebrated as poverty eradication, further ruining a future that policies have compounded for years. We whisper about the future because we never prepare for it.
Education and health are key factors in the human development index. We treat them as mere appendages to the overwhelming politics of governance which mainly consists of proving the importance of public office holders and their indispensability.
The 2011 elections offer opportunities for leaders with passion to rescue Nigerians from further ruin. A country without serious considerations for its future is doomed.
There can also be no future for a country where leadership is promoted as guaranteed access to unrelenting looting of the common wealth.
Nigerians should reflect on the next 50 years. The next set of leaders we choose, at all levels, will be the biggest pointers to how serious we are about ending the frustrating search for leadership that shows Nigeria truly belongs to us all. Something is terribly wrong with Nigeria.
It is not so much about the waste of the past 50 years. More dreadful is the destructive seeds so generously sown they can last another 50 years.
We must make the next 50 years better, but it will take some daring.