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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Nigeria: 53 years of pain; yet hope in sight
Saturday, 14 September 2013 14:54

Nigeria: 53 years of pain; yet hope in sight

Written by Oriji Uzor Kalu
Nigeria: 53 years of pain; yet hope in sight Photo: sun news

All one sees viewing events in Nigeria with ordinary eyes are hopelessness, chaos and fear. But using the inner eye, what I see is hope. My optimism arose from the fact that Nigeria is a blessed and richly endowed nation, which has continued to survive despite the consistent looting of its rich mineral and financial resources. It has continued to grow in leaps and bounds in spite of our divergences and differences.

I know some Nigerians might disagree with my optimism, because there is too much suffering in the land. They are justified to hold such a view, after all it is only a blind man would not see the desolation and poverty that pervade our nation.

But beyond the sufferings and seeming hopelessness is a glimmer – the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, there is hope. The despondency that has been the lot of many Nigerians today is largely a product of the mind. According to Karl Jaspers (a renowned German psychiatrist and philosopher), man is entangled in the web of daily conflict with self and others. He enumerated such conflicts man undergoes with self to include suffering, struggle and fear. No matter what heights or positions of honour we have attained in life, there is still the fear that we might wake up one morning and see these things vamoose.


It is a possibility. This is why King Solomon aptly described our earthly struggles and possessions as vanity – chasing after the wind.

Can you point at anybody on earth who has no need? The more money you make the more money you desire. This is why we struggle unto death, leaving behind everything we have toiled for to be enjoyed by others. Who among us is sure of tomorrow? Nobody, I am sure. Tomorrow and its content are all known to God alone. So, why do we fret? Why do we dissipate energy on things that do not edify?


Yes, Nigeria is passing through difficult times at present. It is not peculiar to us. Some other nations across the globe suffer worse fate. What makes ours different is that our leaders lack humility and sensibility. They are too self-centred to recognise that the masses are suffering and dying from poverty, hunger, sickness and diseases.


There is no nation today that is insulated from economic strangulation and insecurity. If not for the menace of Boko Haram, I would have confidently claimed that Nigeria is one of the most heavenly places to live on earth. Before the advent of Boko Haram and other forms of insurgency Nigeria used to be regarded by investors and foreign fun-seekers as a haven. What good has God not blessed us with? We have clement weather all year round; arable land, rich human and mineral resources and a happy, understanding people. But we lack love. And when we lack love, we lack God. And when we lack God in our lives, we lack vision. And when we lack vision, we perish.

It is the lack of love that breeds treasury-looters, kidnappers, armed robbers, child-traffickers, rapists, ritual-killers, arsonists, terrorists, cultists, etc. Look at the looting that has taken place since the birth of our new democracy and you see the tragedy that has befallen us!


So, I do not blame any Nigerian that feels outraged by the goings-on in our nation. Nevertheless, the message I bring to all of us today is to keep hope alive and to warn those that make life miserable for the majority of Nigerians to desist from their evil ways and avoid God’s wrath. What justification do our leaders have for their inability to meet the basic needs of an average Nigerian? There is none I can fathom at the moment. I have been left in quandary – thinking about from where Nigerian leaders acquired their kind of wickedness and greed. I recall the days of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, etc.


These were leaders that placed nation above selves and sacrificed their lives for the good of the nation and others. I have been wondering what Nigeria would have become if our present crop of leaders had emerged 50 years ago. Probably, there would not have been any nation called Nigeria again. Or better put, we would have gone into extinction. Where is the nation, once called, Carthage? It disappeared from the face of the earth after the Carthaginian War, in which Hannibal the Great led a fruitless onslaught against the Roman Empire.


A nation can go out of existence for making a singular, avoidable mistake. For 53 years of independence, Nigeria has been milked and sucked almost to a point of unconsciousness; yet it has continued to survive. Oil thieves have vowed never to allow it to exist in peace. Recent reports revealed that the nation loses over N2.3 billion daily to these, often, faceless but very dangerous cabals that operate in the disguised name of oil thieves. If we look deeply we will see that the so-called oil thieves are top-placed Nigerians who use their acolytes to vandalize and steal oil from NNPC pipelines, providing them security cover. If this presumption is not risible then why have efforts made by the government to stop them failed?


The simple truth we have all failed to appreciate is we are systematically killing Nigeria by our greed, avarice and the large scale corruption that goes on daily. What future do we hope to bequeath to the coming generations of Nigerians? Is it a nation eaten up by locusts with nothing left to feed the majority that are hunger?


Our political party system has been traumatized by the mindless and covert scheming of politicians. There is no stable political space for the people to exercise their franchise. Elections in Nigeria have become are a mere academic exercise with the winners determined long before the due date. Those produced by this heavily-compromised process reign with terror and unconscionable dispositions. They do not listen to anybody or care for the masses they superintend over. This is the lot of the people of this country.

Kidnappers and other categories of social misfits have held all of us hostage. Nobody is safe any longer. It could be Mike Ozekhome today, who knows whose turn it may be tomorrow? It is for this uncertainty that every one of us should be concerned. It is not enough to ride in a bullet-proof car or for your car sirens to blare while driving through the streets. God forbid if anything happens, nobody will be safe. This is why we should demonstrate the eagerness to cooperate with the government to fight corruption and insecurity that threaten to destroy our nation.

Some people think that the future of Nigeria is all about Jonathan and his bid for second term. It is beyond all that. What is happening in Nigeria has a direct bearing on its corporate existence. There is no longer doubt that some Nigerians are hell-bent on scuttling our present democracy in order to achieve their selfish agenda. But we need to warn such persons that they are riding the tiger’s back. Nigeria is bigger than any individual or group that attempts to undermine its sovereignty.


The danger in the seeming gullibility of Nigerians (as I wrote in this column last week) is that they are exposing all of us to possible self-destruction. For how long will the masses look on and do nothing when actually they can do something? If we chose to remain silent, while our house burns all well and good. But posterity must call us to question someday – dead or alive.


I must commend the tenacity and doggedness of the Nigerian masses for absorbing their pains and sufferings with equanimity. Nevertheless, we need to go one step further by ensuring that those who govern are the right calibre of people. We can no longer afford to fold our arms and watch evil men take charge of our collective destiny.

For three weeks now I have laid emphasis on Nigeria’s socio-political developments in this column, because of the compelling need to gainfully redirect the consciousness of Nigerians and stimulate their enthusiasm about the need to continue to work for the development of our fatherland.

As a stakeholder in the Nigerian project, I stand a good opportunity to mirror the future and equate it to the present in order to offer unbiased and objective assessment about events in the country. One undisputable fact is that Nigeria has a very bright and promising future.

Its ability to survive all the pillaging and abuse of the past 53 years in the hands of mindless and corrupt politicians is a visible testimony to its special position in the divine order. At 53 (next month), Nigeria has recorded substantial and verifiable achievements, chief among which, is the sustained peace and unity that characterize our nation in spite of the antics of some wicked people. It is certain that many people within and outside Nigeria would have wished that Nigeria disintegrates. But God, in His infinite mercy, has bound us together as one indivisible people, united by fate and strengthened by our collective heritage.

I do not subscribe to the general notion that Nigeria has not fared well in the past 53 years, just because of the little problems that dog the path of our national development. Agreed, some avoidable mistakes have been made, but these are not enough to obliterate the gains we have made so far. Obviously, every nation has its peculiarities in the process of its development into nationhood. The United States and other developed economies had the dark sides of their histories. There are many reasons to support my position. But that is not the focus of this reflection.

My primary aim in this article, as I said, is to rekindle hope in Nigerians that the future is quite bright. Our nation and its people do not deserve the ongoing destructive media campaign, which tends to heighten tension in the country. The situation assumed a worrisome dimension since the crisis in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) came to the fore. I have refused to join the army of critics for the singular reason that I believe in principles. What is happening in PDP today could happen to any other political party. It is an internal problem that can be handled internally too.


My only fear is that the crisis might be allowed to assume a national dimension if its leaders failed to bury the hatchet, forgive one another and set aside their egos. Ego is a big obstacle to the running of the party. It is the same ego that is responsible for many of the problems we face today as a nation. I wish to urge the President and the helmsmen of the party to move swiftly and resolve the seething crisis before it snowballs into a huge conflagration. Nobody should underestimate the length the crisis can go if we failed to do the needful fast.

The degeneration of a nation into chaos and anarchy is always as a result of neglect of rule of law and constitutionality. There is no doubt that free and fair elections can only be achieved when there is respect for rule of law and the constitution. Aware of the significance of these two ingredients, the president has continued to work towards their realization, with the hope that substantial progress would have been made by the time his tenure ends.


Provision of social infrastructure is a critical area that government should look into. 53 years after attaining nationhood Nigeria is yet to be self sufficient in power generation and distribution. Even though the 6000 megawatts target has not been fully achieved as earlier planned, there has been a remarkable improvement in power generation and distribution in the past 2 days, at least. For instance, Umuahia has had steady electricity in the past 48 hours. How long this will last is what I cannot say. The hope to draw from this situation is that Nigeria can attain self-sufficiency in electricity supply if we put our acts together. And this also means that our nation has the capacity to develop into a global power bloc economically, socially, and politically.

From the position above, I do not intend to defend the excesses or inefficiency of anybody. Rather, I am motivated by sheer patriotism and the singular reason that all that Nigerians need at the moment is encouragement. Surely, mistakes have been made, but they are correctible. They are mistakes that come with growth and development. What President Jonathan and his team need at the moment is prayer and understanding by all Nigerians.


This year, as I had already predicted, will bring dramatic changes to Nigeria. All those that are working against the progress of Nigeria, will be arrested by the power of the Holy Spirit and brought back to God. God in turn will bless Nigeria and bring it out of its present coma and project it into the global arena.

I wish to advise Nigerians to remain focused, abiding in faith and resolute in the defence of our democracy. It will pay us better if nothing happens to our fledgling democracy. Anything in the contrary will smack of doom and retrogression.

God forbid!

Oriji Uzor Kalu is the former governor of Abia State.

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