OPINION: NIGERIA@60 AMIDST DESOLATION

“The purpose of government is to enable the people of a Nation to live safely and happily, government exists for the interest of the governed and not for the governors” (Thomas Jefferson 1743 – 1826).

No one will discount the progress made in several areas of our national life since the country got its independence from the British colonial masters. Nigeria and other contemporary countries that got statehood with our country are now in the league of developing Nations worldwide. In spite of our enormous wealth and the forthcoming “Nigeria at 60” independence celebration, the citizens’ are in misery. This is because by each passing day, Nigerians swallow the bitter pills administered to them by their leaders.

At this moment, the country and its citizens are witnessing the diamond anniversary of the nation’s independence amidst harsh conditions. The ‘Talakawas’ living standard in the country only moved from bad to worse, because they cannot afford three square meals per day, therefore the anger on display is a reflection of the bad situation in the country.

The leaders have perfected their manipulative skills such that even civil society groups, professional bodies, and religious organizations have fallen to the spell of poor leadership, they irrationally make decisions, decisions that have caused the people to carry heavy burdens on their neck. They have been manipulated, deceived, abused, used and dumped by the leaders who should have their best interest at heart. Nigerians have been disappointed to the greatest level by the developmental shape of the country in the last six decades, where every sector is decaying due to lack of political will from our leaders and proactive citizenry role.

The nation soon will celebrate its diamond anniversary, yet our leaders are taking citizens for granted because of the citizens’ failure to make concerted effort in ensuring that the right things must be done. We can either celebrate or sober reflect on major problems bedevilling us as a people and as a nation.

Critically looking at the role of followership, it must be reiterated that every Nigerian is a major stakeholder and therefore owes her a duty to salvage Nigeria from the quagmire of poor leadership. The success or otherwise of leadership will not be in isolation from followership. Therefore, both leaders and followers are guilty in the event of a failing state. The support given to leaders in Nigeria which allows them to have their way in almost everything is the fault of the citizens.

However, 29 May, 2015 marked a new dawn with the inauguration of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) as the new president after beating the then sitting President (Goodluck Jonathan) at the polls with high hopes and expectations from the citizenry that the new President, PMB would lead Nigeria’s turn-around and create the basis for its improvement and prosperity. Unfortunately, the person we brought into office in 2015 as a “Mr. No-Nonsense” has disappeared, the notion of: “if Buhari catches you” syndrome no longer scares anyone. “Sai Baba” diehard and supporters get mad with the way things are now moving, where our perceived “Lion King” is encircled by jackals and hyenas and even rodents. Those not fighting for the administration are having a field day!

Despite all these setbacks, Nigerians exercise tolerance with the hope that; President Buhari would still lead Nigeria’s turn-around and create the basis for improvement and prosperity. In the five years of this administration, all hopes have been lost. There is growing resentment against the current government by the citizens because of the administration’s inability to speedily address the challenges inherited from previous administrations.

It is time for the government to be sensitive to its policies so that it will not be perceived as being anti-masses. Despite the billions of naira proposed to be pumped into numerous infrastructural projects by 2040, Nigeria’s infrastructural deficit will soon hit $878bn making it hard for businesses to prosper. More than 100 million Nigerians are languishing in poverty with a life expectancy of 48.8%. Now, Nigerians will celebrate this year’s independence anniversary amidst suffering, nearly half the population living in extreme poverty and the World Bank has predicted sluggish growth this year coupled with unemployment.

Nigeria @60!

The nation’s educational sector is so depressing, it has declined tremendously and the nation’s major roads are in a state of despair with almost every sector worse than the other. The state of security, electricity, health, just to mention a few, is so embarrassing. Nigeria celebrates its Diamond Anniversary amidst desolation, with citizens battling for survival and mind-boggling skyrocketing food prices due to foodstuff merchant’s impunity, yet the masses are being punched. What the masses are experiencing now is just like what they went through in the late 80s. The only difference is that the populaces are at the mercy of foodstuff merchant’s unlike in the 80s where government security agents stormed warehouses where foodstuff merchants hoarded essential commodities and sold them to the populace at controlled prices.

Interestingly, Nigeria’s problems have been identified by most analysts and social commentators as the absence of true leadership. This I believe is just one aspect of the truth or reality. The reality of the matter is simple, poor leadership in the context of bad followership. Throughout the ages, in every society that has evolved successfully, social reform and change is initiated by followership and not necessarily the leadership. Both leaders and followers are guilty in the event of any failed or failing state. The support given to leaders which always allows them to have their way in almost everything is the guilt of the citizenry. In fact, citizens are regretting to say that “our yesterday as a nation is better than our today.” There are no indices to show that citizens of tomorrow would be any better.

*** Abba Dukawa can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com