By Abdullahi Yunusa
Our story is akin to that of a child born into affluence but prefer to live in abject poverty. It is the touching story of a nation born to bubble but presently covered in rubble. A land flowering with milk and honey, yet an appreciable percentage of its population live below 1USD per day! Ours is a story of water flowing everywhere, but none to drink. But are we cursed to remain wasters of opportunities or dream killers? I think the answer is no! Then, what is the problem?
I cringe each time I reflect on the many opportunities we have missed – the opportunity of building a country that other nations will look up to; the opportunity of using our abundant mineral resources to make life worth living for all Nigerians; the opportunity of having world class hospitals with drugs, passable roads, potable drinking water, constant electricity and a society at peace with itself and neighbours.
The history of our great country Nigeria in the last 100 years is replete with palatable and unpalatable experiences. In this regards, the contributions of our founding fathers were legendary and remarkable. Though most of them are now dead, but their individual and collective sacrifices to nation building remain evergreen in our minds. Their utmost belief in the country propelled them to give their all in their quest to build a prosperous and united nation where the rights of all citizens irrespective of tribe, religion or political persuasion would be protected. Quite early, they understood what their differences were and made efforts to resolve them amicable without resorting to bitterness or rancor.
Frankly speaking, what we have in our hands today is not a true reflection of the Nigeria that our founding fathers toiled hard to build. We have allowed selfishness; greed, ethnicity, political rivalry, corruption, nepotism and indiscipline deal fatal blows on those lofty ideals and dreams that our founding fathers had.
Undoubtedly, God and nature are very kind to us in this part of the world. We are blessed with productive, sound, literate and profoundly engaging human population. Nigerians are scattered across different countries of the world contributing their quota to global peace and growth. Professionals of Nigerian origin are scattered across Europe, America, Asia and the Caribbean practicising as medical doctors, journalists, university professors, nurses, lawyers, engineers as well as information and communication technology experts. Nigeria has in its soil abundant mineral resources. Before the discovery of oil,
Nigeria was revered for its agricultural success. It stood tall in the comity of food producing nations across the globe. In the north, we had array of groundnut pyramids, tomatoes and vegetables farms, hides and skin products being exported in large quantity. In the South, oil production farms, rubber and cassava plantations dotted the landscape and our brothers in the West made history as the region became the world’s largest cocoa hub.
That Nigeria, despite the challenging periods it has undergone and still undergoing since independence remains one, is no mean achievement. Countries of Nigeria’s size and resources have fought and lost similar battles thereby resulting in disintegration. Thank goodness, we are still together.
Oil remains our biggest problem. We have all become lazy. Nigeria that was once reputed as one of the world’s largest exporter of foods now rely on other countries to feed its people. Countries that once relied on us for seedlings have since overtook us and we now run to them for food. This is a huge challenge to everyone, especially leaders. For us to really get it right as we begin the journey into the next 100 years, there is the dire need for policy makers and implementers to accord agriculture more priority.
Education is widely acclaimed as the bedrock of modern day societies. We cannot afford to lag behind in this area. We must redouble efforts to invest more in the education of our people. It is not enough to build classrooms and libraries. Equally important is the quality of teachers and instructors. Government at various levels should as a matter of urgency strive to correct the decay in the nation’s education sector.
At a time countries across the world are daily breaking new grounds in science and technology, we must be seen to be making genuine efforts towards replicating same in our country. Our leaders and stakeholders in this sector should as a matter of deliberate policy roll out fresh implementable ideas on how best to make Nigeria an ICT hub.
Our industries have all gone comatose. Where are the once flourishing garment and textile industries in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos and other parts of the country? We should work towards industrializing our economy to enable it blossom.
As we begin the journey into the next 100 years, we must imbibe the core ideals of sacrifice, discipline, unity, honesty, transparency, accountability and objectivity in all our dealings. It is incumbent on our leaders to be good examples to their followers. Their words should be their bond. Nations are built on sincerity, openness, hardwork and determination of the both leaders and followers. Leaders must shun acts capable of halting the nation’s developmental aspirations.
Abdullahi Yunusa via [email protected]