By Josephine Agbonkhese
This time in 1960 when Nigeria was still basking in the euphoria of her newly-acquired independence which marked its freedom from British rule, these Nigerians featured here today were either less than nine-month-old babies or about two months from birth date. As Nigeria celebrates 60 years of nationality, the country’s birthday mates bare their minds on how far the country has come, reeling out their aspirations and dreams.
I never thought a country could stop growing – Edward Oforka, UK-based Emergency Medicine Consultant
I grew up in East Central State which is now Enugu State. After secondary school, I hoped to study medicine, do my housemanship and get a car loan from the federal government, etc. But by the time I finished university, all that had stopped. In fact, I actually never thought that a country will one day stop growing or degenerate.
I qualified as a doctor, but had to leave the country five years after. So, I have practiced and lived in the UK for almost 30 years.
Now, having experienced life and the world, I can understand that Nigeria has not moved in the right direction. In the early days for example, you didn’t need to know anybody to get anything due you.
Nigeria’s problem is multi-factorial. As humans, we are 99.9 percent the same. So, I struggle to understand what has made corruption, dishonesty and lack of accountability so embedded from top to bottom in Nigeria.
You see cost of road construction contracts being multiplied 100 fold because everybody is putting their own percentage on it.
What is wrong with the way we think? Why can’t someone think that money would have created two more roads?
Majority of the members of parliament in the UK are graduates of Oxford and Cambridge and are all very sound professionals in their various fields. But what do we have in Nigeria? Politicians who have never done any other proper job but full-time politics all their life!
For the next 60 years to be different for Nigeria, something has to happen about our legal, educational and justice system to bring order and demonstrate to citizens that being honourable, honest, steadfast and hardworking pays; and can get anyone to the top.
This nation has divided her children like no other – Nkoli Obi-Ogbolu, Entrepreneur/ 2019 National President, International Women’s Society
Nigeria has entered the class of the ‘elderly’ now; so, we should call her ‘Dame Nigeria’. It’s now a Diamond Dame. I wish this growth will bring some wisdom into the ways Nigeria conducts her affairs.
As an elder, Nigeria should be non-partisan and strive to be a mother to all. Sadly, this elder called Nigeria has not done so well in that area; it has divided her children like no other.
I am using the metaphor of a mother in its strictest sense; you know what a mother does with her children. She knows her favourite but does not show criticism because she does not want to divide her family.
Nigeria has to do things properly and has to be wise. If you say you are building railway lines, let it not by-bass some people and go to Niger Republic.
This elder called Nigeria has to rejuvenate and start its cause all over again. Whether we are talking restructuring or whatever, there is something that has to give. This amalgamation has not done so well for us because we ourselves have put selfish interests before patriotism.
As we clock 60, I will advise that we restructure along regional lines and let people develop at their own pace. This so-called quota system we practice has only dragged us back. Look at our youths, dying in Libyan dessert because they are trying to get away.
I greatly miss our early days. Comparing today’s Nigeria to Nigeria of 45, 50 years ago is like comparing apple to orange.
My dream for Nigeria in another 60 years is that it becomes a restructured country.
I used to believe Nigeria will become like America—Rev. Elizabeth Monisola Olorunpomi, Minister/Singer/Event Planner
When I was a child, I used to believe that one day, Nigeria will be like America and we will not have to travel to America anymore; but that they will be the ones coming here.
That’s still my belief. Nigeria will not end like this. I pray endlessly for this nation and I believe we will move forward.
The problem with Nigeria is leadership. Each successive government, instead of building on the efforts of its predecessor, always wants to dismantle and start something of its own, afresh.
That is the major thing holding us backward. Until we learn to consolidate on the achievements of past administrations rather than destroying, we might continue to struggle.
I am not satisfied with how far Nigeria has come and that is why we all should continue to pray.
On what can be done to move Nigeria forward, I will say if God will do anything, He will use you and I. God will restore Nigeria because He owns this country; not us.
In another 60 years, I see Nigeria in its place of glory.
Nobody sleeps with eyes closed anymore— Okhen Iheanachor, Fashion Designer
I am happy I am 60 with Nigeria, but I am very unsatisfied with how this country has moved. Things were better when we were growing up.
Children were more respectful, education was of great quality and in fact, you cannot compare our primary school leavers back then to some of the university graduates we see these days.
Everybody had rest of mind; no killing, robbery, kidnapping, etc. But now, nobody sleeps with two eyes closed; everyone lives in fear.
I hope that in another 60 years, Nigeria will be better than what we see now; especially in terms of politics.
I live in Edo State and I must say that I really hope that the kind of politics played in the last governorship election will continue across Nigeria so that peace will reign in this country. That was the best poll I have ever seen in Nigeria.
For Nigeria to be great again, I advise that every one of us learns to be honest and faithful.
Bad leadership has held us backward—Inspector Allan Deorji Ezeakolam (rtd)
Nigeria at 60 years is supposed to have been developed economically, socially and otherwise like Singapore and Korea.
But because of bad leadership and governance, it has been impossible for Nigeria to move forward. As a 60-year-old individual, I am fulfilled with the progress made so far in my life; but with my country’s progress, I am unsatisfied.
The government of Nigeria has not created opportunities for the less-privileged and have neither encouraged development nor productivity.
So, I’m not fulfilled with how far Nigeria has come. 60 years after independence we are still faced, as a people, with insecurity and poor healthcare facilities while education remains a thing of the past.
We need to diversify our economy to become really productive. To attract investors too, the government has to really fight insecurity.
More importantly, the perception of our leadership should be addressed because our domestic issues affect us internationally.
If things are put in the right perspectives by our leaders, in the next 60 years, I expect Nigeria to have developed like America.