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Published On: Wed, Oct 1st, 2014

Nigeria @ 54: Time for Re-Collection

By Rufus Ibebe
LAGOS OCTOBER 1ST (URHOBOTODAY)-“Today is Independence day. The first of October 1960 is a date to which for two years, Nigeria has been eagerly looking forward. At last, our great day has arrived, and Nigeria is now indeed an independent sovereign nation”.
This was the first paragraph of the Speech Declaring Nigeria’s Independence by Nigeria’s First Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa – October 1, 1960.

Indeed, as he said, many looked forward to the actualization of that day. It was the day that Nigeria joined the league of independent name. It was also the day that marked the beginning of our freedom to create and implement our own rules and regulation ourselves. How we used this freedom that was given to us is another big question that should be asked among ourselves.
In the second paragraph of that same speech mentioned above, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa said, “words cannot adequately express my joy and pride at being the Nigerian citizen privileged to accept from Her Royal Highness these Constitutional Instruments which are the symbols of Nigeria’s Independence. It is a unique privilege which I shall remember forever, and it gives me strength and courage as I dedicate my life to the service of our country. This is a wonderful day, and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience, compelled to watch one country after another overtaking us on the road when we had so nearly reached our goal. But now, we have acquired our rightful status, and I feel sure that history will show that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace: it has been thorough, and Nigeria now stands well-built upon firm foundations”.
It has been fifty four years since we are enjoying impendence. But if we must be truthful to ourselves, be would find out that we have not achieved what we desire as a nation.
As usual, President Goodluck Jonathan would address the nation and tell them that we have improved in one sector or the other. But the average Nigerian knows that these are mere words of consolation from a government that have failed to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians in different part of the country.
It is true that we are celebrating fifty four years of independence today (1st October, 2014) as a nation. It is also true that we have failed as a nation to build the nation that our founding fathers had dreamt of.
I was not there when the dream of an independent Nigeria was conceive. I was equally not there when it was given birth to on the 1st of October, 1960. But I know that this is not the Nigeria that they dreamt of. The Nigeria that they had then is better than the Nigeria we have today. The Nigeria that they had was a Nigeria that loves law and order. It was a Nigeria that gave employment to the youth. They had a Nigeria that had Nigerians that loved and helped other Nigerians. So they had a hope of a better independent Nigeria. They dreamt of an independent Nigeria that would be greater than the Nigeria that they had. But today we have failed them. We are celebrating a fifty four years Nigeria that is less than the Nigeria that Herbert Macaulay lived in.
Our independence did not come to us on a platter of gold. We demanded for it before we got it. We fought for it before it was handed over to us. It was achieved through the struggles of many. They scarified their time, wealth and sweat to ensure that the day became successful. We did not go to war to achieve it but no doubt, we struggled for it. Our independence was before October 1st 1960, a dream. It was a dream that was believed to be of the best interest of all Nigerian. It was a dream that many were ready to die for. It was a dream that demanded the unity and collective effort of all. A dream that many doubting “Thomas” thought would not materialize. It was a dream that took many years to materialize. A dream our great nationalist fought to bring into reality. It was a dream of hope and October 1st 1960 was the day that dream came to past.
I am of the opinion that we have failed our founding fathers. It is my advice that we apologies to them. This apology must not be by mere words but through hard work and dedication to duty. We must first of all accept the fact that we fail together as a nation before we can think of a better way to get out this present sad state that we are into as a nation. We failed in one way or the other knowingly or unknowingly to us.
Many journalists have diverted from writing the truth. They now write what corrupt political leaders want to hear. They have sold their soul to the politicians for few naira notes. They have abandoned their duty and turn into praise singers for some undeserving politicians. Doctors have constituted themselves into an as body (Nigeria medical Association) that takes more pressure in striking (laying down working tools) than working to save lives. They care not if their actions bring about the death of patients who look up to them for medical attention. The few ones that manage to go work after the strike have been called off; usually demand for outrageous fees before attending to dying patients.
Teachers are supposed to be mentors to the younger generations. But today, our teachers have strops so low to the point of helping students in examination malpractice. University lecturers now take pressure in demanding bribe from students before allowing them to pass their course. Our female undergraduates are now sexually abused by lecturers that are old enough to be their grandfather before they can credit their courses. These negative actions of theirs, have turned our universities in a workshop were hoodlums are produced.
Our politicians who should only be blame for some and not all the problems that we are facing today as we celebrate fifty four years of independence. They have sworn to never to allow this nation to experience development. We must accept the blame for allowing them to succeed. They deliberately bring about policies that would bring crisis to the society and we help them to execute them. They rig elections in other for them and their evil aides to get into power. They embezzle public fund while in office and ensure that only those that will cover their evil deeds succeeds them. We help them to carry out their evil plans because they gave us some few naira notes. We should therefore, accept our own part of the blame.
As we clock fifty four today, we must think of how to create a better tomorrow. We must think of how to but an end to the present Boko Haram insurgency that have destroy many lives and properties. We must think of how to create jobs and revive the dying reading culture that we are experiencing in our society. We must think of how stop rigging our leaders into power. We must think of all the positive things that we can do in other to achieve a positive society. The best time to think of a better way to create the Nigeria that our founding father dreamt of is now.
To think means “to have a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences and making rational decisions”. It is also a medium of “employing one’s mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given solution”. I brought out the picture of the negative Nigeria so that we can be able to x-ray them to think about how to provide solution to them.
Since we are all accountable for the problems that we are facing, we must all be ready to think of how to provide solutions to them. Collectively we have failed as a nation. Collectively we must also think of how to succeed. Leaders brought the guns to be used in rigging elections. The masses used the guns the guns to kill themselves. The leaders told the masses some lies and they (masses) believed them because they were paid to do so. Now we must think of how to stop the leaders from deceiving us. We must think of how to tell the truth that they hate to hear. It has been fifty four years of trouble, pain and sorrow. We must think of how to put an end to it.
Why do we need to think? This is a very simply question that has a very simple answer. The answer is because we cannot continue to live like this. If we continue like this, we many not be able to celebrate ten more years together as a nation. We are faced with all these problems because we allowed tribalism and greed to overtake our better sense of thinking. We killed ourselves when other nations were building their nations and living in peace and harmony.
I have thought of a way to bring about a better Nigeria. It is your duty to think of our way also. I will share mine with you and expect that you share yours with men when you have discovered it. Mine is very simple and effective. Yours could be complex but I know we can put heads together and makes it the best ideal to have been brought into this earth by a human being.
Here is the solution to the problem facing Nigeria. Do only is good in the sight of the law. It is very simply. It may be good for you to kill a man that offends you. But since it is not good in the sight of the law, please do not do it. You may need to receive that bribe because it will help your family (hence it is good for you). But please do not do it because it is bad in the sight of the law. Rigging of elections, kidnapping, production of fake goods, smuggling, armed robbery, terrorism, gambling, prostitution, and human trafficking are all bad in the sight of the law hence they should be avoided.
We can do these things if actually we a developed Nigeria. Our founding fathers and generations yet unborn will be proud of us if we can do this. Our names will be written in gold and remember forever as those that think and brought about a better Nigeria.
Nigerians, lets us be the change that we seek by thinking of a better way to create the better Nigeria that our children would be proud of. I challenge you today to think of a way to get out of the mess that we have collectively put ourselves. We must think it is the only out.

Ibebe Rufus is a Delta State based journalist

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