Today, I want to wish everyone Happy Independence. Our nation needs leaders to “restore the dignity of man” [thanks UNN] with the “fierce urgency of now”. Yes, leaders who are unimpeachable, diligent, and pragmatic, with traits of decency, honor and service. With them, Nigerians will rise to the mountain-top, experiencing the unbounded promise of Oct 1 1960 as Green White Green rose even as British’ Union Jack was lowered.
People who can engineer Nigeria into rebirth and restoration to offer a prosperous nation that is colorful, fluidic, vibrant, and open for change. May Election 2019 deliver that promise even as we celebrate the sovereign liberation from Britain. The fangs of evil are still evident around the land as corruption, tribalism, and nepotism are derailing a once-dynamic nation. Nigeria must be independent from them before Nigeria can experience the true promise of Independence.
We need a Leader – a person of integrity, broad knowledge, enormous vision and solid experience; one that can stimulate more vibrancy in the private sector and move the public sector out of its stasis. With that leadership, Nigeria will witness changes in trade, education, and commerce as battalion of knowledge workers emerges to give us the needed clout in the global arena.
I re-share a message last year that our generation has a moment on this Day.
In Nigeria, everyone is a victim. The rich, the poor, the welder, the banker, and everyone. The rich citizens believe they have paid taxes and nothing is returned through government services. The not-so-rich citizens believe the nation has rigged opportunities against them. From the north to the south, east and west, everyone has a problem with Nigeria.
Take a trip to Bayelsa State’s Kolo Creek. You will see wealth out of the sands, but walk few kilometers from the flow stations, you will see poverty. As an intern for Shell, I slept inside one of those Kolo Creek buildings. I had the best food possible, but was troubled in the evenings when the villagers would gather looking for crumbs to gather for dinner. I wept; it was painful to see mothers with daughters eating from crumbs in the midst of unbounded wealth in their lands.
Then I was sent to an Akwa Ibom village close to the aluminum smelting company. We had gone to mount telecom equipment. As far I could see, the waters were polluted. Yes, waters everywhere but not a single drop to drink. That day, we went through Ogoni, connecting with boats to Akwa Ibom. The villagers needed water, but could not find any, even when living nearly on top of water. Very painful.
Then I left the East/South for NYSC, and went to the North. I was stunned. What I saw in southern Nigeria was even manageable. As a student that grew up in the East, the mindset was that North was a paradise and the Southern part was marginalized. I am not saying otherwise here. I saw small kids begging for food, at scale, in Bauchi. That was not a possibility in Owerri. My heart broke because everyone is really marginalized in Nigeria. I had a different perspective of Nigeria.
Yes, everyone is a victim, in Nigeria. The difference is the form. The kids I saw in Bauchi were marginalized just as the villagers in Bayelsa. Nigeria needs to work for them. Let men and women be selfish enough to fix our commerce and markets even as they get rewarded for doing so. Let the greed of capitalism work in the land. We are positioned and we have opportunities, far ahead of many of our people. If things are this bad now, imagine the post-petroleum era when our small national budgets cannot even be funded