By Kate Henshaw
How many of us have really thought deeply about the words of the old anthem:“Nigeria, We hail thee, our own dear native land, though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.

Nigerians are proud to serve, our sovereign Motherland”? Does it make us lift our heads high and make a personal vow to bring to life the meaning of the words? It should. I have seen several times the pride in the eyes of other nationals, be it at sporting events or occasions where their national anthem is played and sung.

With their hands on their chests which is pushed out like that of a peacock strutting her stuff, their heads held high, they are united in spirit to bring glory and honour to a nation they are proud of. Can we truly say the same of Nigeria?

It is over 50years since Nigeria gained her independence from British colonial masters, and sometimes I have wished they never left the shores of  Nigeria. Maybe if they had stayed a little longer, we would be better. No doubt the colonial masters had their selfish reasons while Nigeria was in their grip, like every other country colonised.

It is the spoils that are the focus of interest not the development of the nation in question. Have we been able to do much better for our citizens since then or have those we elected to serve us continued to plunder at will as if there is no tomorrow?

The amounts of money stolen from this country by different administrations are just figures to me as my mind cannot comprehend in hard cash. What then do we have to show for our independence? We are a country where every household has a generator /inverter for electricity, borehole and water purification systems for potable water;”maiguards”/ pseudo security men for protection.

We are a country where our leaders do not seek medical treatment here but abroad nor send their children to school within this country. We are a country that kills its own because our roads are in such deplorable states.

We are a country where our international and local airports despite the latest ongoing reconstruction, look like waiting rooms. We are a country where one must have more than one mobile phone but still cannot make calls and are charged for dropped calls as tariffs continually increase.

Our lawmakers are more interested in demanding for higher salaries and fighting amongst themselves  while the citizens look on in a helpless stance, wondering when a turnaround will come.

It is pathetic and quite an apology that with the vast amount of human and natural resources at our disposal, we still lag very far behind in terms of everything. Yes, everything!

Except you are extremely rich and on the Forbes list, you will find it hard pressed to find a common Nigerian who can state boldly that his or her basic needs have been provided for by our leaders; past and present.

Floods have ravaged farmlands, homes and displaced hundreds of men, women and children; buildings collapse at the drop of a hat and countless die from insecurity in the land. According to an online publication, all Africa, the latest report by a subsidiary of The Economist Group of London, Economist Intelligence Unit(EIU), Nigeria has been rated as the “ worst place to be born in 2013”.

A rare feat reserved only for very few countries in the world in the 66 years the EIU has been in this business. Nigeria ranked 80th out of 80 countries considered with a score of 4.74 out of 10, just below Kenya which scored 4.91.

The study measures the parameters that provide the best environment for the safest, healthiest and most prosperous life in the coming years. The quality-of-life index deployed in the analysis and research was calibrated around critical areas like trust in public institutions, crime and government policies. The year 2013 is just round the corner!

We as a people need to ask questions of our leaders. We have our thumb prints on ballot papers that put them there. It is not enough to grumble and pray. It is not profitable either to turn on each other.

Those of us who did not “check out” have a mandate to bring Nigeria to its rightful place. Let sentiments and selfish interests not cloud our judgements. We are one nation and must remain so.

In conclusion, the loss of another Nollywood veteran, Enebeli Elebuwa, hit me hard. 25 years ago, he was the face of a campaign urging Nigerians not to abandon motherland to seek greener pastures elsewhere during the brain drain era.

He believed in this country but sadly had to go seek health care outside of our shores where he passed on. May his soul, rest in perfect peace.

My appreciation goes to the Executive Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, for his assistance. May we not look back in some years to come and say to our children in the words of a man I respect greatly and admire, Chinua Achebe, “There was a country”… .


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