Today marks the 53rd year of Nigeria’s existence as an independent Nation and yet the myriad of problems that have been plaguing our Nation for decades are still rearing their heads high. Many have said that today is not worth celebrating because of the state of our power sector, the current strike action in all tertiary institutions, the current security challenges, high rate of unemployment and most importantly the high level of corruption in our country.
I therefore urge us to see today as a reminder that our Nation has come of age and ask ourselves why we are not where we are meant to be? Independence day should not be a day of mourning because a mourner is someone who has accepted his fate and lost the hope of regaining whatever or whoever has been lost. This should not be our attitude to the current state of our country. We have to seize this opportunity to demand accountability and transparency from our government. I was disappointed when Mr President just reeled out the usual “Fellow Nigerians” speech without outlining the track record of his administration and addressing the current problems we are suffering, especially the ASUU strike and the Boko Haram insurgency.
On the ASUU strike I am of the view that ASUU has failed the Nigerian students, they have shut the gates of all our universities for three months now because the Jonathan administration has refused to ratify the agreement they entered into with the Yar’ adua administration in 2009. At least the Federal government has given out the sum of 130 billion naira and yet ASUU is still adamantly demanding 400 billion naira . The revitalization of our Educational sector cannot be done instantaneously, it would take a number of years before our obsolete educational sector can be totally revamped. Its not all about injecting billions and overnight our Universities would be locking horns with the Ivy League’s, that is absolutely impossible. Rome was not built in a day, in the words of Phyllis McGinley “Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy” They just have to swallow the humble pie and compromise a bit, its not cowardice but a way of weighing things up in order not to jeopardize the entire educational sector, because they also have a stake in it. The future of Nigerian students has been threatened by this protracted strike, students have suffered a lot from the fight between these two elephants ( ASUU & F.G) The government should also on their part stand on their words and assure ASUU of their commitment towards education from now onwards and live up to that commitment.
The Boko Haram insurgency should be given conscious and urgent attention, a lot of lives have been lost, families and businesses have been destroyed. Mr President has to ensure that our security agencies step up their game in the war waged against terrorism and he has to also give us a periodic progress report from time to time.
The only high point of today’s independence speech was Mr President’s decision to set up an Advisory committee that would convoke a National conference, where all our problems and basis of existence as one whole would be discussed. It is a a laudable move but the youths must be actively allowed to participate in this national conference, it should not be a platform for old men to negotiate their selfish interests.
We don’t have to loose hope in our highly endowed nation and the energy we channel to making a mockery of our leadership should be channeled to bringing up ideas that would make our nation a better place. Let each and everyone of us celebrate the hope we have in our nation today. We have a bright future as a nation. I leave you all with the words of Margaret thatcher “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country”.
God bless Nigeria!