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Nigeria @ 58: Causes for reflection overshadow celebration

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NIGERIA gained independence from British colonial rule on October 1, 1960. That is news no longer, as even kids in kindergartens have woven several nursery rhymes out of it. Rather,   what many any adult minds await with bated breath is the nation’s score line as yet another day to mark the 58th independence anniversary of Nigeria knocks around the corner. Does it call for rolling out the drums? Or another day that should devoted to sober reflections?

Looking critically at present realities, not a few wonder whether there is really any cause for celebration.  Things don’t seem to be getting better. In fact many would not argue that they may be getting worse: whether taken from the prism of security, inflation, cost or standard of living, social safety nets of jobs, education, healthcare and so on.

Everywhere you go, only one dynamic denotes the general mood. And that is fear. From Ekiti to Osun State, elections are still a source of cogent fear that gnaws at national stability even as another general election looms menacingly, with incendiary tunes swirling east north and centre, making average minds to wonder if there will be Nigeria to mark another Independence Day anniversary. But some dismiss this fear as founded on the basis that similar prediction that there may be no Nigeria after 2015 proved dead on arrival.

If what was found out during a call at Eke Awka Market to sample views of street folks would say it, there is still so many “ailments” with the land with very little to celebrate. While some hinge their hopes on the fact that despite all the squeaks, the prevailing national unity – however thin it may be – needs to be celebrated. To people in this line of thinking, whatever threat of disunity today is the same as had threatened to rock the boat during pre-Civil War times as resurrected in June 12, 1993 “nationalism” from which Nigeria smarted back to what it is presently.

Another political dynamic of moment which attracts divided views across board is the recent call for restructuring. While some see it as the only panacea to contain agitations at this point, others take it from a standpoint of cynicism. To the latter category of Nigerians, those pushing for political restructuring may be holding another “knife” at their backs with which to finally dismember the country along any convenient line that suits their fancy.

Blaming this fear on what a trader in the market called “the laziness and failure of our leaders,” those taking cynical look on the call for restructuring say it may also be masking a conduit for self aggrandizement in the façade of agitation for resource control, even though they concede that continuing with 97 percent allocation formula as well as 5 percent quota of federal appointments and the rest compounds those “ailments” that riddle Nigeria as one nation.

Hence, some want to know what happens when more power is arrogated to regions. Will restructuring bring even development of federating units or would Nigeria still be entangled in same seismic webs of agitations as now.

That is why, perhaps, people in this school of thought stress that only a true unity of forces to push for agendas that would help Nigeria get it right, here and now. And the question becomes where should Nigeria get it right now or never? And the economy comes racing up for attention.

Something should be done to shore up Naira’s buying power at the foreign exchange market and tweak oil prices which presently averages far below $100 per barrel at about 2.1m barrels a day. This calls for conscious diversification stratagem but an agricultural policy in that direction known as Anchor Borrowers Programme, launched in November 2015, with 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation selected as pilot beneficiaries, is still turning out a bag of mixed grill even after over N43.92 billion has been released into this programme through Central Bank of  Nigeria (CBN) and 13 participating institutions.

Equally twitching people’s faith in Nigeria as the country goes into 58 years of sovereignty  is the recurring decimal of power shortage. Governments come and go but the quagmire reels on perennially, making those who cannot afford  private generators – even down to I pass my neighbour level – wondering when electricity power should begin to flow as a matter of course. As of September 12, production of power reached an all-time high of 7,001 Megawatts but how far has this translated to better life at households and firms in dire need of constant power supply? Analysts say anything below 10,000 Megawatts by 2020 is acutely insufficient.

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