Nigeria At 53



After 53 years of independence, Africa’s most populous country and the second biggest economy has remained a failed state. With enormous human and natural resources, Nigerians have remained stuck in squalor and hopelessness. Virtually everything around us has continued to fall apart. Insecurity, illiteracy, unemployment and corruption have continued to hit the roof while honesty, righteousness and good leadership have all eluded us.

Only yesterday, terrorists stormed a school in Yobe State and gunned down at least 40 students as they slept and set their classrooms and dormitories ablaze good.

A day before that, on Saturday, Boko Haram members shot dead at least 18 people in Kaduna and Borno States. Virtually every week, so much blood is spilled that the killings are no longer shocking.

No Nigerian feels safe anymore, even in the confines of their rooms. Many people now fear being attacked by terrorists, armed robbers, kidnappers or even police officers.

But insecurity is only part of the problem. Poverty, unemployment, inequality, corruption and hunger are also biting Nigerians hard.

Last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said there were more than 100 million Nigerians, out of a population of 167 million, living on less than N150 a day.

With so much poverty, millions of Nigerians go to bed with empty stomachs every night and curse corrupt government officials who have cornered all the resources.

Indeed, inequality has widened to a preposterous level with federal lawmakers  and political office holders such as governors, council chairmen and others, going home with millions of naira every month and ordinary Nigerians scrambling to get the crumbs falling from their tables.

Many Nigerians watch in disbelief as many state governments continue to claim they cannot afford to pay the N18,000 minimum wage agreed with the labour leaders.

Indeed, only about one percent of Nigerians have cornered about 90 percent of the country’s huge resources.

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So bad is the unemployment level that recently when the Nigeria Immigration Service advertised vacancies for employment, as many as six million Nigerians applied for the few vacant positions. The government claims unemployment among Nigerian youths is at 23 percent. Many believe it is above 50 percent among graduates and as high as 70 percent among non graduates. Underemployment is also widespread.

Corruption, mismanagement and outright theft have also skyrocketed so much so that trust in our political class has crumbled to near zero. Even the private sector is no exception. Gargantuan thefts in the banking sector and the capital market a few years ago have left millions of Nigerians impoverished.

Our institutions have all collapsed. We now have more strong men than strong institutions.

Indeed the fight against corruption has also failed.

As a result, our education system, health sector and infrastructure have all crashed and although billions of naira are budgeted every year, there’s nothing meaningful to show for the investment.

Hundreds of thousands of university students have been forced to stay home for three months due to a strike embarked upon by university staff. After spending months at home, many students are thinking of leaving Nigeria for neighbouring countries such as Ghana and even little Togo.

Nigeria is a country in crisis and at 53 there’s more gloom and doom than bloom.

It does not need to be that way. We believe that Nigeria should make a complete turnaround. We must strengthen our institutions, fight against corruption and invest in our future.

It is only when we do that that we can expect a different result, a brighter future.

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