As we mark the 62nd anniversary of our Independence, the only thing really worth celebrating is the fact that, at least for now, there is still a country called Nigeria. She is weak, worn and near coma, but still alive. The disease assailing her is curable. That gives us the reason to hope.

As our founding fathers negotiated the terms of our independence under the watchful eyes of our former colonial master, Britain, Nigeria was envisioned as a democratic republic where the different tribes and tongues would become a brotherhood greased by justice, equity and inclusion. It would be the Giant and Big Brother of Africa, the home and pride of all Black people.

Unfortunately, the lumping together of a largely Muslim (Sokoto Caliphate) North with pro-West Christian/Traditionalist Middle Belt and South amid fiercely rivalling ethnic groups, some of them bigger than some major African countries, resulted in unmitigated instability.

Ethnic, religious and regional rivalries and conspiracies have led to a three-year civil war, coups, counter-coups, armed agitations, separatist rebellions, pogroms, massacres, jihadist terrorisms, violent and unnatural crimes and other factors that have left the nation perching on the brink of the abyss.

Because of insincerity and hidden ethno-religious and regional domination agendas, the numerous constitutional and national conferences and constitutions created since independence seem to have exacerbated rather than solve our twin problems of lack of unity and growth.

These primordial factors are used by the ruling elite to hoodwink the masses for their support, but what do they get in the end? What we get include worthless educational and health systems. The rulers, including the intending rulers, educate their children abroad, while the children of the common citizens languish at home due to incessant Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, strikes.

The same problem bedevils the backward public health sector. Frequent strikes by doctors have led to massive brain drain. Meanwhile, our rulers shamelessly run to foreign countries for healthcare.

Our political system favours the emergence of powerful but old, tired, sick, recycled, incompetent and clueless leaders who have nothing to offer except personal and ethnic aggrandisement and freeloading of our commonwealth. Meanwhile, Nigeria has a surfeit of well-educated, vibrant, young and high performing men and women who are among the best in the world. The system sidesteps them and keeps recycling dead woods.

We must shun ethnic, religious, regional sentiments and any form of inducement that have been used to keep us in chains for 62 years. We must rescue this nation from the evil grip of wicked leaders.

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