NIGERIA @ 54: IS THIS THE FUTURE?
It has been almost a score of weeks since I engaged in an intellectual battle of wits and words on the podium of debate but as an intellectual who knows about the bright future of Nigeria I cannot fold my hands and watch in stark oblivion as my dear nation groves for a torchlight in the dark trenches of indignations and invectives. A century after the conception of the fetus called Nigeria, the fetus is no longer a child but a matured man celebrating his 54th birthday with tremendous mirth. Sifting through the pages of history to learn from what the heroes and heroines of struggle have done. Indeed I can boldly share the gospel of the glorious future in which we find ourselves.
Facts are sacred and opinions are free. It is an acclaimed fact that every nation on earth has one challenge or the other. The most revered nations of the world; United States, United Kingdom, Germany and a host of others all have their peculiar problems and challenges. The rate at which a nation overcomes her challenges gives birth to success. The most populous black nation in the world, Nigeria successfully contained Ebola Virus Disease with eight deaths from 20 reported cases; EVD has now landed on the soils of North America and Europe with their experts screaming for help from Nigerian geniuses. The US is in hanky-panky over the dilemma of a possible outbreak of EVD but Nigeria in her glorious future is unperturbed.
Nigeria is gradually overcoming insurgency with headlines about bomb blasts and gunmen massacre getting obliterated from our tabloids. The US still faces threat from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Terrorism is Terrorism irrespective of where it occurs. With the glowing light of education flooding the dense darkness of ignorance that have permeated Northern Nigeria; the insurgency which is one of our greatest challenges will find its permanent place in eternal abyss. The Federal Government created 125 Almajiri model schools equipped with state of the art learning and teaching facilities with a target of reaching 400 model schools.
In a bid to heed to the words of one of Africa’s great minds, Nelson Mandela which says that; “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, in the past 54 years Nigeria ensured that the mighty streams of education flowed to the nooks and crannies of the nation. Nigeria as at today has 40 Federal Universities, 39 State Universities and 50 Private Universities which sums up to 129 universities in 36 states. Nigeria’s educational sector has nursed literary sages, giants in intellectual corridors and iconic individuals like the first African Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Chinua Achebe, Ken Saro Wiwa, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Philip Emeagwali (1989 Gordon Bell Prize winner), Prof. Eyitayo Lambo and a host of others. A great future blessed with great minds booming with creativity and innovation.
In this momentous year; 2014, Nigeria emerged as the biggest economy in Africa and 26th in the world which depicts the growth in our economic sector. The nation is known as the largest exporter of crude oil in Africa and the United States’ largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and supplies a fifth of its oil (11% of oil imports). The US depends on an independent Nigeria for crude. Beyond the preponderance of oil deposits is the availability of invaluable mineral resources; gold, bauxite, coal, limestone, tin, iron ore, lead and zinc. Apart from the resources, 33% of Nigeria’s territory is arable which shows other sources of income to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nigeria has one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world, major emerging market operators (MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and Globacom) basing their largest and most profitable centres in the country. Nigeria has got wonderful prospects coupled with our growing population which means a growing market. 28% of Forbes’ 40 richest African entrepreneurs are from Nigeria which includes Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote who was among TIME magazine’s shortlist of 100 most influential people on earth for year 2014. A prodigiously gifted nation blessed with wealthy individuals.
The sweet memories from the memoirs of our heroes past remind us that our success is not momentary but ripe enough in this momentous year for the celebration of our glorious FUTURE.
It been quite an age, I smell dust in solemn romance with history, as the warm-images of the past stroke my vivid-memories of what the past held. This brings to remembrance the dreams I had for the future of this courtroom. Speaking of the future, my motherland is six years away from her diamond jubilee as she clocked 54. But the multi-billion dollar question still seems unanswered; Is this her future?
October 1, 1960, the midwives of our nation’s independence held the nation with so much optimism, joggling her left and right while singing the songs of hope and redemption. Like a barren woman who had just finally become a mother, the fathers of our nation recited to the listening ears of child-Nigeria, what they wanted her to become. They whispered in her ears the echoes of tomorrow, painting her a picture of her future, and telling her to believe in the beauty of her dreams.
Tafawa Balewa, the first man to bath child-Nigeria said to her in the independence-bathroom that day; “child-Nigeria, you’d play an active part in maintaining peace and preserving civilisation. I promise [on your behalf] that, you’ll not fail for want of determination”.
54 years down the line, the child has become the mother of the man, but not the kind of mother he envisaged. Preserving civilisation has become too burdensome a task, maintaining world peace still lies in “dreams-street”, she grapples with the ailing problems of survival.
What is civil in the rule of insurgents on Nigerian soil? What is peaceful about polarization along ethnic, religious and political lines? As we age-on, we are in motion and commotion? The “phoenixing” of Abubakar Shekau, the thrice dead Boko Haram leader keeps reminding us of how far we are from peace and security.
We are opposed to abortion, but on a daily basis there’s an abortion of our dreams. Many say we are in the future since the future started yesterday, but I say to them; tell that to the Chibok girls who have been held captive for over 160-days with no hope of freedom, and hear them lynch you with words of the how much they love to be in the past than in some sad future.
The world gives us a round of applause for our swift containment of the Ebola virus disease; Washington post refers Texas to us to learn how to curb the deadly virus. Rather than focus on how to convert this positivism to the betterment of our healthcare system, our insensate leaders are in a tug-of-war to decide who takes credit. PDP today, APC tomorrow; politics has become the terrorist responsible for the isolation of future and desolation of our destination.
The captains of the Nigerian ship sail with burnt maps and broken compasses, yet you ask why we are headed for the land of the unknown? 2015 has taken over the minds of political stalwarts, that today no longer matters to them. Lord Byron said, the past is the best prophet of the future, but sadly our past doesn’t prophesy our future-In 1980, a dollar was less than a Naira, with N1=$1.08, but today $1=N154.8. The withdrawal of the U.S. from purchasing Nigerian crude oil led to the dwindling of our economy, before big-brother-China came to our aid. Dependence in Independence!
Speaking of brotherhood, I hear our “little-brother” on the Gold coast wants to lighten our dark-paths, lest our future be without power. What are brothers for?
Malcolm X aptly expressed education, “as the passport to the future for tomorrow belongs to them who prepare for it today”. The situation remains sadly-sore as UNESCO emphasizes the over 10million Nigerian children who are still out-of-school, with another similar figure having access to nothing but crippling facilities, leaving us at the relegation zone of world education. If Education is the passport to the future, and Nigerian children do not even have the passport, don’t you think it’s rather illogical to say we are in Nigeria’s future?
Questionable education, Insecurity garnished with insurgency, political insanity, social imbalance, economic dependence and so on. If this is the future, then I want to belong to the past! I rest.
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgement. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.
NIGERIA @ 54: IS THIS THE FUTURE? Send reservations, comments and suggestions to 0813-224-5150 or 0813-697-3059 or firstname.lastname@example.org