30th September, 2010
As our country marks 50 years of nationhood with fanfare tomorrow, Nigerians have mixedÂ feelings over what to make of the jamboree. While some believe that any form ofÂ celebration is misguided and amounts to celebrating failure because of the nationâ€™sÂ wasted opportunities since independence, others argue that Nigeria has moved forward inÂ the last 50 years and the progress must be acknowledged and celebrated.
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, for instance, believes that those clamouring forÂ celebration are mostly the youths who lack sound memory. According to him, thoseÂ celebrating â€œwere born into an entity, into a muddled example of what a developingÂ society should be.â€
To him, the only thing he can see are wasted opportunities and dashed hopes; a nationÂ grappling with failure of leadership, where nothing is working.
However, Mr. Mahmud Jega, Editor of Daily Trust Newspaper, says those who argue thatÂ Nigeria has nothing to celebrate for its 50 years of independence must go back to theÂ 1970s and see how far we have come.
He said there are more road networks across the country and that a journey that tookÂ about four days in the 60s and 70s now takes less than a day, even though the roads areÂ not in top shape. He also said there are improvements in telephone service delivery andÂ other aspects of life that call for celebration.
Renowned scholar, Kole Omotoso believes there is hope for Nigeria to reinvent itself inÂ spite of the wastage of the nationâ€™s resources by successive administrations sinceÂ independence.
According to him, â€œI have become more and more optimistic, perhaps because living outsideÂ the country, I have seen what other societies are trying to do and what weâ€™ve done. Itâ€™sÂ unbelievable the kind of things we achieved here, which so many other countries have onlyÂ just begun to even think of.â€
We acknowledge that Nigeria has made some level of progress in the last 50 years. One ofÂ which is that we have remained united despite a myriad of problems. Some countries thatÂ went through a civil war broke up, but by sheer divine intervention, Nigeria has remainedÂ one country. That in itself is an achievement. So, there is reason to rejoice.
But, we also believe that when compared with other countries that were at the same levelÂ of development decades ago, our country is lagging far behind. We could have done betterÂ with our vast human and natural resources.
Billions of dollars that were stolen over the last 50 years are enough to have taken ourÂ country to a new height of development, peace and stability. Our failure can beÂ attributed to a poor, corrupt, insincere and insensitive leadership. While we acknowledgeÂ that we have come a long way, we call on Nigerians to ensure that they vote out badÂ leaders in the next election, for it is only with good leadership that our country canÂ move forward in the next fifty years. A country so blessed like Nigeria should not beÂ where it is today.