[email protected]: The labour of our hereos past almost going in vain

Nigeria just turned 61. Amidst the jamboree, if there was any, or need for such, is the unending question of when shall we get it right.
Seemingly,  Nigeria’s type of challenge, usually occurs mostly at the formative stage of a young nation. Existential threat in the country, today, is largely the culmination  of years of maladministration, misplaced priorities, neglect and dereliction of pristine role by political actors in the country
The foundational structures of the country was built on the core principle of justice, fairness and good governance. The founding fathers, despite socio-cultural and political differences were united around the principle of peaceful coexistence. It was however, for that reason, Kaduna became the hub for textile industry, where everyone, inspite of his background will call home. Kano also became home to thousands of non native, and non Hausa, where they established flourishing business ventures for decades. Lagos was regarded no-man’s-land where everyone felt at home, while Enugu and Onitsha were quite cosmopolitan and accommodating.
Overtime, identity crisis, uneven distribution of wealth and primordial sentiment, rather than exogenous consideration begin to manifest. This would become a lethal divisive weapon which stalled the attainment of nationhood.
Consequently, part of the current challenge in the country is traceable to this gory and unfortunate beginnings. Military incursions into the spheres of democratic rule was the final blow that drove the country into perpetual comatose, such that, at 61, it is still groping in darkness, finding the slight glim of brightness to illuminate the soul of the nation.
At 61, we could not improve on the little and humble gains made by founding fathers in the area of electricity. In 1964, as part of the First National Development Plan, Kainji Hydroelectricity Dam was conceived. It was designed to have a generating capacity of 960 Megawatt of electricity. Decades later, the power sector in the country remains pitifully low, which sees it struggling between a meagre 2000-3000 Megawatt, enough to keep the nation in a state of perpetual darkness.
Between 1996 and 2021, Nigerians spend about $21 billion on importation of  generators, and an additional $1.9 billion on powering the sets, which includes fueling and lubrication.Sadly, this is inspite of humongous amount of Dollars sunk in the sector by successive governments. In a survey on energy by the UN, it was reported that between 1999-2020, Nigerian government spend N5.164 trillion on the sector. This outrageous and incredibly huge amount was enough to build new power plants across all geo-political zones, and revive old ones.
Conceived in 1972, the Mambilla Hydro-power project is a 3.05GW hydroelectric facility, which has been in the news lately. For decades,  past governments misled Nigerians on the viability and progress work on the project. Billions of dollars was sunk, while officials barefacedly set date for commissioning. Nigerians were  enthusiastically       looking to that day, until a BBC Hausa report uncovered the monumental fraud. It was a phoney project, simple. At 61,  Nigeria might be in for years of power outage amidts high electricity tariff.
Across the world, leaders swore allegiance to defend the constitution and territorial integrity of their nations. Nigeria is not an exception. The county’s military exploits cannot be in doubt. Shortly after independence, it got involved in peace keeping operations, first in the congo in 1960-1964. So far, the country has been involved in 41 UN Peacekeeping Operations globally, under both UN, OAU-AU ECOWAS/ECOMOG. This underscores how strategic the country is in the global effort in combating instability and security.

Sadly, at 61, the country cannot effectively bring to an end criminality and terrorism ravaging most of its territories. The chain of events, which is an offshoot of criminality is threateningly increasing in an alarming rate. The threat of famine and hunger are directly linked to activities of bandits, kidnappers. Had framers accessed their farmlands,and cultivate good yields, the soaring prices of food items would have been minimally low. Multiple reports and surveys, by recognized international agencies like FAO, and others predict large scale famine in Northern part of the country. Horrifying reports of how armed bandits placed taxes on farming communities in North-West, inorder to access their farmlands is enough to propel government to go even hàrder on these terrorists..

Nigeria is not in short supply of combatant, dedicated and professional soldiers. Corruption in the military, and defense (Arms)contract as well as activities of war entrepreneurs or merchants, who, colluded with unscrupulous few in military is largely responsible for the heightened security situation, in the country. If current leadership in the country are serious about bringing to an end, this monstrous events, with the available resources and instruments of State at their disposal, it would be so fast, so quick..At the formative stage of the country, founding fathers envisaged and underscored the significance of education, thereby, setting the template and emphasis on primary school and girl-child education. These aspects are central to the development of the individual, society and country.Successive governments relegated and gave less priority to education, which, stunted the growth of the nation, in a way. In its Education For All, EFA, 2000-2015 report, UNICEF, recommend, at least 15-20 percent of country’s budgetary allocation to education.In Nigeria however, government struggle between 3-8 percent, which, contrast sharply with global benchmark.

Alarmingly, the number of out-of-school children keeps swelling. In a recent report, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children, with about 10.9 million, unable to access primary education. Sadly, the North has the highest number, which should cause sleepless night to stakeholders.ASUU, a volatile but necessary foe, is lurking around, threatening yet another strike. ASUU has been the good, the bad and the ugly reminder of everything wrong with our system.
With a near collapse of the health sector, the country is faced with a battery of challenge — dearth of medical professionals. Brain drain, as a result of government’s fallibility and insincerity saw huge number of medical professionals leave the country, which spell doom, for ordinary citizens. Successive governments had to contend with a yearly ritual — strike action. Like ASUU, the Nigerian Medical Association and other auxiliary health workers had to coerce government, through strike action to demand for improved salaries and condition of service. While ordinary citizens groan under these prevailing circumstances, the political actors fly out for medical tourism. 
Government-owned hospitals grapple with obsolete equipments and poorly paid staffs. Little wonder, young doctors and auxiliary health workers jump at the slightest chance to travel out at any given opportunity. Only recently, the United Kingdom employed 353 Nigerian doctors in the last three months. While, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, insidiously held a screening/interview for about 700 Nigerian doctors, in Abuja, for employment. This is an indication of a failed health care delivery system in the country. Certainly, this isn’t about patriotism, but neglect, on the part of government. Officials who frequent the West for medical tourism, eventually pays exorbitantly higher, to possibly the same Nigerian doctor they failed to pay back home. Monies spent on medical tourism was enough to build standard medical facilities across all geo-political zones.

No doubt, every nation, at some point had to contend with challenges, only dexterously inclined and patriotic leaders could save the day.Warped in the garb of democracy, Nigerian leadership focuses solely, on policies which appeals to them only. Governance to them, is ludicrously about sharing democratic dividends and loots, based on political patronage and affinities. This contributed to the sorry state of the nation..

More worrying is, at the peak of insecurity and killings, especially in the North, leaders from the region converged  to discuss mundane and vexed issues of zoning political power in a far-away 2023, while the region has become a theater of war..

Solutions to these myriads of challenges are staring us right in the face. Justice, Equity, Freedom, Good governance and equitable distribution of wealth. These are some of the founding principles upon which founders of this great country leveraged on.At 61, were those who laid their lives be brought back, surely, they’ll say their sacrifice is almost laying in ruins..

At 61, I’ll say loudly, Happy Independence Nigeria..Mohammed is with the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University-Zaria. He writes from Kano via[email protected]

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