Nigeria – Populous and Underachieving

Nigeria – Populous and Underachieving

By Sani Nahuche

Nigeria is more like the baby giant of Africa. This country is situated very close to the heart of Africa about 10 degrees north of the equator (at the western coast). It is the most populated nation in all of Africa and the eighth most populated nation on the planet. Nigeria has an approximate population of 196 million people (as of 2018) with the annual population growth rate of around 2.6%.

Nigeria has a literacy rate of about 61.3% for the total population with the female literacy rate around 50.4%. In other words, only about 50.4% of the female population above the age of 15 can read and write in Nigeria today. Although this literacy rate is far better than countries like Burkina Faso, this literacy rate falls far below expectations compared to countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, etc.

Nigeria is a very wealthy country regarding natural and human resources. It is blessed with a surplus amount of natural gas, petroleum, coal, tin, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, arable land, etc. Nigeria is a very “oil rich” country. It is the leading exporter of oil in Africa today and one of the leading oil exporters in the world (the 6th leading oil exporter in the world today). Nigeria’s petroleum industry remains the largest industry and the main generator of Gross Domestic Product in Nigeria today.

Ever since her independence in 1960, the stakes have never been higher for the most populous black nation in the world to stake a claim amongst other world powers. Alas, that was a cry either too soon or either too ambitious. Nigeria, 58 years later, still lies hopelessly like a patient that has been on life support for endless weeks to the dismay of family members – its citizens.

Plagued by series of coups during its turbulent military reign that held sway for the large part of 1966 till 1999, bar a brief return to democracy in 1979 -1983. Perhaps the most tumultuous era of the Nation’s history was the bloody and long fought ‘Biafran’ Civil war that was fought between the Nigerian government and the secessionist state of Biafra, that attempted to break away from Nigeria.

Looking closely, it is relatively easy to establish the fact that the nation has had her fair share of worries – as many other countries have – however, the saddest part of it all is that 19 years into a reasonably stable democratic system of government, Nigeria still lies in a ‘vegetative’ state. Beset by corruption, greed and a wanton disregard for the rule of law, the country has been held bondage by its very own leaders, with the large part of its citizenry only playing disgruntled spectators to the whole debacle.

Some of them, are still with PTSD of the military era. The major reason being why the best of them stayed away from politics is because they know better. For most of the elites now, I wonder what the reason might be staying away or grooming their kids or proteges to be ready for that role of leadership, as it has always been done not just here but everywhere else in the world. Even for those born with power, it uses to be a tradition at every part of the country either North, South-West, South-East, and South-South, those of the royal blood, they are groomed right from birth to be ready to take the affairs of the Kingdom.

The coat of arm of Nigeria

Now you hardly look to those houses for leadership, mostly those houses where the first to be bought over or swayed away by those same people who have held the Nation in bondage. Words may never be able to describe how a country blessed with so much fertile land for agriculture, massive amount of crude oil deposits, an ample amount of natural resources lay scattered throughout its geography and boasting of a relatively young and industrious population, now lay in a state of disarray, buried deep in corruption.

Corruption breeds contempt and contempt further gives rise to a whole host of social vices that can be hard to tame. Accountability and fairness have been thrown to the wind. guess. Religion has drifted from what it used to be and is now used mainly as a tool to divide the people and in some very rampant cases, make erroneous profits from unsuspecting and gullible followers.

Tribalism is reaching peak levels, and different tribesmen are finding it incredibly hard to coexist in peace and harmony. Politics have become a sad tale of grab as much as you can, while you still can.

Yet the people can’t pause and think that the National Assembly of Nigeria that houses both The Upper Chamber (Senate)109, in the?36 states, each divided in 3 senatorial districts while also each electing one senator and the Lower Chamber (House of Representatives) with a total number of 360 members who are elected in single-member constituencies, never had a single religious or ethnic disgruntlement or the other. Now imagine Three hundred and Sixty people from different constituencies in one room for about one thousand four hundred and sixty days with no single ethnic or religious scuffle that has leaked out for six thousand nine hundred and thirty-five days with a series of dramas that has transpired, from stealing the maze twice to so many rounds of boxing matches. No wonder Joshua Jackson decided to try his in the ring.

They marry their sons and daughters to each other, not caring about religion and tribe. Is it that they have disseminated the educational system in the country so much that the people are a bunch of working zombies that can’t think or see what is going on? Is this the most ignorant nation that has ever existed in all of God’s creation? Or are the majority of Nigerians just too dump and headless, that we get disillusioned by a few of them? This really feels like a Freddy Krueger’s Nightmare on Elms Street film series.

Infrastructure is a story of the past and. Health sector and education is in a dire state. The list goes on and on. This is a country that almost every child’s earlier words before he learns his name and most cases learn how to say Mama or Daddy, is NEPA! (Nigerian Electrical Power Authority) .

However, it is crucial to point out that all these vices and issues that now besiege Nigeria are not from the blue. In fact, they have been looming like dark clouds before a torrential downpour. Most of Nigeria’s numerous problems are mainly as a result of long-neglected issues that have either been entirely disregarded or somehow left to fester for the selfish interests of a select few.

Currently, there is a lack of trust for the government, despite a recent change in leadership. Though the country’s leadership has its own shortcomings, I won’t be too hard on them, because the President is a man of an impeccable character but it is so unfortunate we are having him at this part of his years. I can’t imagine President Buhari after the first four years of the PDP, winning the 2003 elections. I rather challenge any one of the best Vice President this country has witnessed.

It seems the nation is stuck on the same old loophole. There have been issues of terrorism, wanton killings in various parts of the country, nepotism and not forgetting the fact that most people have not hidden their dismay for a seemingly incompetent and indecisive government.

One big problem Nigeria has as a nation is continuity. The People’s Democratic Party had that opportunity for the sixteen years to strategically re-align this country to what it’s supposed to be but alas. They are marauded by the same people that the only source of lively hood for them is the wealth of the state, the wealth of the people, the people that cheer to their names whenever it is called. They steal their wealth, their kids’ and grandkids’ wealth, turn around, give them peanuts from that and promise them flowing taps of milk and honey right into their living rooms in this 21st century, and they clap and they cheer.   

It is indeed a trying time for a nation that is struggling to count any meaningful accomplishment 58 years after the British government gave it full reigns over the affairs of its country. Nigeria can be likened to a problematic aeroplane nose-diving 33,000 ft from the ground and gradually nearing a catastrophic end with every passing second. However, there is hope that one day the pilot may be able to get things under control before it’s too late – at least, the so called number of 190 million people is fervently looking to the heavens for a miracle.

For people outside Nigeria in order to understand the extent of the problems Nigeria is facing, imagine if the child protective services in the U.S catches wind that a father doesn’t even know and does not care to know the number of children under his roof, I doubt if all those kids would be sleeping under his roof before the next morning. That’s the problem! I challenge the president and all those before him, to give us exact figures of the children under his care as the father of the nation.

As much as roads, rail, hospitals, schools, security, electricity, water and so on is very important for any nation to develop, I still think they are all secondary to what Nigeria needs. First thing first, is finding out how many Nigerians are there? Where they stay? What do they do for a living? How much do they contribute or make? What do they need to improve their lively hood? Why do they always go to the hospital? Are the kids in school? Are the teachers doing enough? How much do they earn? Do they need extra training? What can the country do to improve the conditions of those teachers? What are the security challenges in those communities? Who are those people causing problems? Where are they from? Where do they stay? Who do they interact with? How do they get funding, from whom, when and by what means? These are questions that any responsible father or parents can ask if he/she knows how many kids they have.

These are things that if you have full account then you can encounter any issue or predicament. For those clamouring for restructuring, they need to realise that these are the questions no matter how much we face lift our issues and challenges, we need answers. With that, the perfect and most suitable structure we deserve as a nation will fall in place.

The youth should stop raising their voices and clamoring that it is our time. This generation is too old to understand the new world. The generation before us has brought us to where we are. Were they born old? No! Unfortunately, they were too impatient, that a few bad eggs from them decided to take it by force. In return they ended up killing the generation before them and had nobody to help guide and build them accordingly.

Let’s not be too much in a hurry and make the same mistakes they made, we need to pick the best of them to help guide us to build a better Nigeria, a Nigeria that they also have been robbed of. We should take our generation as a lost generation and strive to make it a different Nigeria for our kids and the generation after them.

It’s time for every Nigerian to stand up with a voice. We know the best of us, we know the people we could put our lives on their hands.

Every single politician you elect has a little bit of weight in terms of responsibility of your life and families on his hands. It is time to wake up and realise that they work for us, we pay them. Every single one of us is like a Chairman of a Company. We can fire them even if they dress wrongly. It is our constitutional right to remove them even if we just feel like it. That is what democracy is, we decide, we make decisions, we make the laws. We don’t like a particular law, collectively we voice our opinion and we strike it out. If we want a law to be inserted into the constitution, we collectively put it in and it stays.

That is the collective power we have. You steal our wealth, finance criminals, robbers, killers, assassins so we take you out and make you realise that you are only there because we allowed you to. It is not your right rather it is our right and our decision to put you on that seat. Those cars with the sirens, if they get too loud for us, then we tell you to switch them off! Those houses you feel so entitled to are just the rent we pay for you to stay in. It is ours and we and we only have the right to do and undo what we want.

Nigeria! It is time to wake up; we should be searching things on google like the constitution, the law, my rights as a citizen, what are the duties of elected officials, not learning how to do one dance or the other. We are better than that; our voices are much more powerful than we give them credit for. It is time we start testing our vocal cords. It is time we unite against one enemy, one collective enemy we all have: corruption and corrupt officials. It is time we start holding them accountable for as little as pens brought to their desks.

“We are the sum of every decision we take, and the last decision doesn’t define who we are.” 

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