Nigeria @ 63: ‘It’s still a long road to nationhood, fulfilment of dreams’
As Nigeria marks her 63rd Independence anniversary celebration today, the apex Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has tasked all Southwest governors to improve regional co-operation to move the zone and by extension, Nigeria, forward.
Leader of the organisation, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, said that in spite of the country’s 63rd anniversary celebration of freedom from Colonial rule, it still has a long way to go in terms of development and progress.
Afenifere said, “After carefully reviewing the present situation on social, economic, security and political situation in Nigeria, particularly in Yorubaland, Afenifere called on all the state governors in the zone to improve regional co-operation to enhance the standard of living of the people.
The organisation also observed that the Development Agenda for the South West of Nigeria (DAWN) and the Yoruba Agenda launched at Ibadan in 2017 provide a roadmap that the state governments can use to transform Yorubaland.
It decried the state of security in the country 63 years after independence, saying, “The Federal Government and security agencies should be more decisive and pro-active on security of the country.”
It recommended four approaches, which include immediate deployment of anti-terrorism devices and proper motivation of security personnel, engagement of local leaders in areas where insecurity is rife, saying reports have it that leaders in those areas are somehow complicit in how bandits succeed in their nefarious activities.
The group also recommended that deliberate efforts be made to get the youths gainfully engaged so as to make them unavailable for anti-social and inhuman activities, while it added that cases of banditry and terrorism be discharged expeditiously, and perpetrators of banditry be made to pay heavy prices. It charged the Federal Government to ensure accurate census is conducted to really know the population strength of Nigeria.
“The Federal Government needs to unify various forms of official identification processes in Nigeria. There is need to employ the use of Biometric System in the planned census exercise. It is observed that the system worked well as used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the purpose of registering people for the Voters Cards. We recommend this because of our belief that it would considerably reduce the avalanche of anomalies usually associated with head-counting exercises in the past.”
The group also pleaded with the government and Labour leaders to engage more in consultation to quickly resolve the issues surrounding the fuel subsidy removal and the attendant difficulties Nigerians are facing, just as it admonished government to redouble its efforts in finding a lasting solution to the intractable problem of exchange rate.
The group also said that as Nigeria marks its 63rd year of independence, it is expected that government at all levels will be more sensitive to people’s yearnings and the people would do more to hold their governments to account.
It said, “If those who have left have the opportunity of looking back, there is no doubt that the founding fathers of Nigeria would now be lamenting about what the country has become. It is certainly not what they envisioned when the country was in its infancy and when they fought heroically for independence.
“As we move into the 64th year of independence under a new civilian administration, it is hoped that by the time we are marking another anniversary on October 1, 2024, we will be able to say ‘Eureka, we are at last on the way to getting Nigeria of our dream – a true federal republic where life is abundant, secure and provides the atmosphere for everyone to reach his or her potentials in a legitimate way.
“We are hopeful that the Bola Tinubu administration will be able to get Nigeria out of its present travails and make Nigerians proud of their country.”
In another reaction, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum (YRLF), said Nigeria cannot congratulate itself nor beat its chest on its democratic journeys so far since 1999 to date when the current democratic governance started.
President of the forum, Akin Malaolu said, “We must admit that the nation has been wrecked by the political class the people voted into various democratic offices.
“Today, the Nation cannot boast of energy security and employment opportunities. And these two factors are key in the measurements of economic growth of any Country. The inflation rate is at an all time high, while interest rates are regularly unstable. The currency of the Nation is facing the vagaries of 100% in floatation and together with the fact that the leaders are themselves dumping the Naira for the dollar at an all time basis.
“We must confess that we are sad, not for ourselves but for the teeming mass of our people who are daily facing deprivations and hopelessness in their doleful shelters across the country. Nigerians no longer trust their leaders, many of whom are unfit and too self-centered for democratic offices.”
Not much has been achieved as a country – Oyakemeaagbegha
Spokesman of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Ezenobi Oyakemeaagbegha, in his commentary on Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary celebration, said that the economy has been seriously battered, the middle class has been completely eroded, and the poverty rate has increased, adding that all sectors of the economy are affected one way or the other, be it the educational sector, health, security, and the like.
According to him, inflation has increased, the present GDP is at 6.5%, while the dollar now exchanges for N1000.00 or more in the parallel market.
“The South-South region suffers most in all of these. All the old roads in this region are dilapidated, no new constructions, no real show of federal presence, and no meaningful employment for youths, which has caused youth restiveness and aggression.
“Generally, no meaningful development has taken place in the region over these 63 years of independence, considering that the region contributes the most in terms revenue for the country.
“Why we are still in this state, is because the cost of governance is so high, and there is looting of public funds and high level of corruption. There is just and no commitment to leadership,” Oyakemeaagbegha said.
He also called on the government to reduce the cost of governance and fight corruption. The dependence on only crude oil has affected the country the most, the government should diversify, concentrate more on agriculture, and encourage the establishment of more SMEs. Local production should be encouraged; the refineries should be fixed, while also encouraging local refining of petroleum products by individuals that can afford to do so.”
Journey To Nationhood, Socio-Economic Development Constrained By Structural Defects – PANDEF
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Dr. Ken Robinson said it is important to commend and congratulate all Nigerians on the Nation’s 63rd Independence Anniversary. This is because, for him, “though there are challenges, there are reasons to congratulate ourselves.”
Robinson said: “PANDEF acknowledges the hardship and suffering Nigerians are going through, coupled with the challenges of insecurity, youth unemployment, and corruption, amidst the harsh economic strains on the populace, particularly, in recent years. Regrettably, Nigeria’s journey to Nationhood and its socio-economic development have been constrained by structural defects.
“As some have inferred, Nigeria was a “forced marriage”. On January 1, 1914, Lord Frederick Lugard, the Governor of both the Northern Nigeria Protectorate and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, signed a document consolidating the two, thereby creating the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, an action that was supposedly done, basically, for administrative convenience and economic exploitation.
“There have been needless coups and disruptions of the governance process – and there was an unfortunate civil war. That war ended over fifty years ago, but sadly, we are still fighting wars in our hearts and minds – wars of grim bitterness, hatred, and vengefulness. The Nation has continued to witness violent conflicts in various parts. The cleavages of ethnocentrism, sectionalism, and parochialism have persisted over the years. Thus, dilating the foundational fault lines.
“The task to get Nigeria out of the present quagmire, and to put the country on the path of development and progress, is not that of the government alone; it’s a collective responsibility of both the government and the citizens. We must re-appraise ourselves and provide answers to some serious questions. This country belongs to all of us, and therefore, we must all contribute our parts to make it work.
“However, the government must lead the way by demonstrating greater commitment to democratic governance, and become more inclusive, fairer, and equitable in its programs and policies, likewise, in appointments and distribution of projects.”
PANDEF stressed that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu needs to demonstrate and reassure Nigerians of his administration’s sincere commitment to the well-being of all Nigerians; north, south, east, or west; irrespective of religion or ethnicity.
“It’s clear that the President inherited a massive governance burden but he must deal with the situations forthrightly, with sincerity of purpose and strong political will. He must work for the good of all Nigerians!
“At this point, it may be necessary to restate our call for the Restructuring of the country, to correct some of the fundamental imbalances.
“With specific regard to socio-political developmental issues in the Niger Delta, we expect President Bola Tinubu to depart from the callous indifference of the previous administration, and devote the needed attention and seriousness to dealing with the age-long problems of infrastructural development, environmental protection, and economic justice in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, which continues to be greatly impacted by the activities of the oil and gas industry, and remains the live-wire of the national economy.
“Critical infrastructure, particularly, major federal roads, in the entire region are in deplorable states. It will suffice to mention the Eleme-Onne and Patani-Kiama-Mbiama sections of the East-West Road; as well as sections of the Port Harcourt – Aba; Benin –Auchi; Benin-Sapale-Warri; Benin-Agbor, Sapele – Agbor; Calabar – Itu, Ikot Ekpene-Aba highways. The poor conditions of these roads are suppressing social and economic activities in the areas to widespread poverty levels.”
Osagie, Afejuku lament sorry state of region
Dr. Samson Osagie, former Minority whip, House of Representatives, and Prof. Tony Afejuku, former lecturer, English and Literature, Uniben, have lamented the sorry State of South South region since Nigeria independence.
The duo in a separate interview with The Guardian, felt highly disoriented over the underdevelopment of the region despite the huge resources accruing to the oil rich region.
Dr. Osagie, a legal luminary, said the Social Political development in South South has been so slow, although it has multiply into subdivided smaller National government with more recourses accruing.
“But, one can not say for sure that the Social Political development in the region can actually justify the huge amount of resourses that accruing to the region. So, since independence while it can be said that more resourses have engnorr from the South South region to Federal Government, being the oil producing region in the country, the development has been minimal in terms of infrastructures, in terms of education, in terms of healthcare and other basic social infrastructures.”
According to former lawmaker, developments are still lacking, to the extent, even as we speak, 63 years after, there are no good roads in the region, and this is very unacceptable condition despite the huge resources that has come out from the region.
He lamented that government Policy not fulfilled, since independence, even when the region has produce President of the country, South South region has suffered more underdevelopment compare to the resources that has come out from the region.
To improve on the development of the region and its citizens, Samson Osagie said government should declared a state of emergency to meet the needs of all and Sundry.
“So, I think a state of emergency has to be declared in South South region, and extra ordinary measure taken by way of the resources galvanized to face the challenge of the social economy development of the region.
“Government should also mobilize huge resources for social political developments, then focus on the development of the region as a matter of utmost priority, otherwise the current situation we find ourselves in the region, would lead to catastrophe which may affect the economy fortune of the country.”
For Tony Afejuku, “there is no government in the South South region; and if we have the type of things we are experiencing today wouldn’t have been”.
According to him, “No government right from Jonathan government. Look at our roads, no single one is good in the South South region. We are in the age of nothingness. We have never had it so bad. There is no government in the region who cares about the people, but only for their pockets. All of them, old or new have failed. So, let nobody deceive me. I’m too big now for any River to swallow. We have not gotten anything from them. I repeat, no government in the South South. No leaders in the South South region”.
He stated that since independence, “Nobody is interested in the improvement of the people. All they are interested in is kill them all, and come back alone”.
Afejuku, a social critic , hinted that what is happening here (South South) would happen in China, at least, somebody would have changed the narrative, as the only thing that can bring sanity.
He said they always have their ways because “all of them belong to different Cults, and different Society. They steal all our money, and nobody cares. So, no government in the South South. I’m saying this with no water in my mouth. I feel disturbed”.
Afejuku posited that the South South land needs to be cleaned with whatever, to set the right part for the region to avoid the come and eat and forget others syndrome.
‘Despite Challenges, Nation Has Made Appreciable Progress’
On another hand, the Paramount ruler and Muri Munene of Efut in Cross River State, HRM Maurice Okon Eyo 1 opined that since 1960 when Nigeria was weaned from the apron strings of the British colonial masters, the country had come a long way in its socio- political development.
“In our 63 years of independence, I can confidently say that the nation has made appreciable progress because no matter how difficult and challenging the situation has been, the country has grown with attendant signs of maturity.
“Though the journey has been rough, we have scored some successes as well as failures in polity, economy and infrastructure. I can gladly say that the country has almost stabilised politically after 24 years of unbroken democracy. In the last one decade, the economy has not been better. It has been excruciating pains on Nigerians arising from the economic downturn, especially in the last nine years
“The nation has been battling with the power sector, which is a catalyst for economic growth. While smaller countries of Africa and even Ghana have attained almost 100 percent of power sufficiency, Nigeria is still struggling to generate as much as 4000 megawatts.”
While appreciating the government, especially in the area of rail transportation, the fight against insurgency, the struggle to stabilise the economy and the battle to revolutionise Agriculture in Nigeria, the monarch urged the government to speed up on the improvement of electricity power supply, improved health system, educational system and most importantly, the economy to cushion the hardship being faced by Nigerians.
For Mrs Theresa Archibong, a civil servant in Cross River State, it is sad that after 63 solid years, Nigeria as a nation is still crawling. “Decayed infrastructure, lack of good access roads, poor housing for Nigerians, poor health facilities and lack of social amenities are huge challenges to Nigeria even after 63 years of independence. We need good leaders, a government with sincerity of purpose and the political will to bring this country out of the doldrums, and I believe that this government, with the support and cooperation of Nigerians irrespective of political leanings or tribal differences, can turn the situation around,” Archibong said.
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