Opinion: Celebrations of a Banana Republic

by Solomon Dalung


If Chief Tony Anenih, at 80, is still chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority, while the former national youth leader of the ruling party came to office at the age of 61, where lies the future for the youths?

Fifty three years ago, the Union Jack was lowered for the green-white-green flag. It was greeted with celebrations of great hope which ushered in a nation considered to be the home for the black race. It was characterised by goodwill messages from world leaders projecting the aspirations of the negroid race.

The emerging leadership dedicated themselves to selfless service. Nigeria’s independence struggle, like others, was characterised by minimum bloodshed but, predominantly, it will be remembered for incessant incarcerations of the nationalists. On departure, Britain bequeathed legacies of unity in diversity, hard work, transparency, accountability, justice, equity and qualitative educational structures which were assets for national development. However, it was mere political liberation, with the economy still manipulated for neo-colonial advantage. The Marxist theory of “the economic super-structures determines the political structure” underlies the nature of economic relations of the new World order. The concession of a ‘flag independence’ might have been necessitated by budgetary pressure of sustaining colonialism as a policy.

To the founding fathers, leadership was service to humanity. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, etc, embraced the challenges of building a new nation, despite their differences. They considered leadership to be a responsibility given to man by God for the benefit of all. Even though their visions were short-lived, they laid the foundation for a great nation.

They achived great feats without oil- back then, the foreign reserve earners were groundnuts, cotton, skin and hides, tin, etc. from the North; cocoa from the West and coal from the East. These great minds never corrupted themselves with greed but considered the interest of the nation as paramount. Free education was introduced with foreign scholarships to build the builders of the new nation. The judicial system was effective and re-positioned to resolve all forms of conflict; while impunity as an aberration was not a trade-mark of the leadership. There was conducive economic environment and agriculture was strengthened to produce sufficient food for the people. Unemployment, as a concept, was imaginary, as every young person haboured high hopes of realising his potentials. This was the Nigeria then.

The situation today is despicable, characterised by despair. The degree of frustration is alarming, so much that many now recall the days of colonialism and what would have been. Nothing works well again. Hunger has been domesticated as an epidemic, yet few are living in undesirable abundance without justification for such status.

As further leaders, the youths have lost hope of tomorrow on earth; rather, they look more to better lives in heaven. As for leadership roles, they may be qualified to lead in their graves. If Chief Tony Anenih, at 80, is still chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority, while the former national youth leader of the ruling party came to office at the age of 61, where lies the future for the youths?

Today’s rulers benefited from free education with scholarship but there is no functional educational system at the moment. Sadly, the attitude of the country’s leadership portrays conspiracy against the people. Otherwise, how can the closure of universities be explained, yet the minister for finance’s arguments has been “the country has no money”. Could this be that since their children are schooling abroad, then the educational system here should be training camps for producing insurgent, ethnic and religious militias to be commanded by their children?

Our hospitals are no more mere consulting clinics but routes to transit to mortuaries, where once on admission, the family begins raising funds for the funeral rites. In the face of all these, our public officials, their children and immediate families treat mere headaches in foreign hospitals. The First Lady, during a thanksgiving service in Abuja, confessed that she “died seven times and was raised seven times” in a German hospital. If it were to be here, she would have since been condemned to the ‘voicemail’.

The Nigerian road network remains death traps characterised by potholes, while our leaders acquire private aircrafts. Therefore, they are immune from road mishaps. In fact, there are about 10 aircrafts in the presidential fleet, the highest ever in the world. Even the American president has only two while the British prime minister has just one. It is no more secret that most public officials own private jets. Some of them even abandoned their responsibilities to be trained as pilots just to pilot themselves.

The energy sector, the fulcrum for stimulating the economy, is epileptic, with trillions of naira being siphoned with fanfare; yet, it generates cancer from hydrocarbon-induced pollution. Every administration, from when we can remember till date, promised ‘fixing’ the sector within a short period, but ended up leaving it worse than they met it. Even the on-going transformation agenda has produced adverse consequences, including the auctioning of the PHCN, despite failure to pay staff benefits. Instead, blackmail and propaganda are applied as a silencing tactic.

Even Mr President’s ‘fresh air’ promise to Nigerians cannot stand the progress test. Despite this, due to a desperate zeal for the 2015 general elections, the foot soldiers’ defence for non-performance has been that the problems were not created by him. Granted, but what has he been able to do to do away with them? Their inability to explain the monumental looting that bedeviled the pensions and petroleum industries is shameful. May I ask, did Mr President inherit his ministers or did he appoint them?

Instead of good governance, religious and ethnic sentiments dominate the political landscape to the extent that a failed leader is a hero in his place of worship. He is even celebrated, instead of being admonished. I believed that if the devil comes with either the Quran or the Bible he can be elected life president of Nigeria because the constitution will be amended to accommodate him.

Imagine the acclaimed success of the Nigerian military in the war against the Boko Haram, yet innocent students were murdered in cold blood. Despite this, Mr President did not even address the nation to sympathise with Nigerians. Also, look at how a pastor and his son were killed in Yobe State, while the church was burnt. The massacre of over 50 worshippers in a mosque in Borno State followed. What of the recent killing of over 250 civilians in Benishek (still in Borno State)? Interestingly, all these took place under the watchful eyes of anti-terrorist garrisons in state-of-emergency areas. Yet, Mr President’s response to security challenges during his famous media chat was merely evasive. He could not even confirm if Abubakar Shekau is alive or dead!

As Nigeria marks her 53rd independence, it can at best be described as the celebration of freedom in a banana republic, where corruption, failed/bad leadership, religious bigotry, ethnic chauvinism, poverty, hunger, unemployment, insecurity, armed robbery, kidnapping, etc. flourish under official patronage. May God grant the souls of those who died in all man-made atrocities eternal reprieve. Amen.




Read this article in the Leadership Newspapers


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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