My own Nigerian state with about 160 million people and still on the rising, the most populous black nation on the African continents, one of the richest black developing nation with abundance of natural, human and capital resources, yet poor. I will surely be ending this piece with several questions one of which is, which way forward? And to drive this piece to a sharper focus, I shall consider it from three different views – a bit of the past, present and the future, though there is not much that can be said here that would give a total picture of Nigeria but this little to stir your thought.
The past will be viewed from 1960 when we gained independence, when the driving seat of power was handed over to us by the colonial masters, though it was not all rosy per se, there were cases of coups, evil plot and assassination etc. but many who witnessed such times would now refer to it as “gone are the good old days” when people like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, sir Ahmadu Bello etc, were at the helm of affairs, times when children, youths and adults alike were most happiest as citizen and proud to be called Nigerians. I might not be able to say much about the past expect for tales told by moon light, yet much can still be written about the aforementioned glory days but due to space the present stares at me.
The present, at the seat of power today is Dr. Goodluck Ebele, Jonathan (GEJ), and his vice Alhj. Sambo, with an immersed contribution and support from about 109 senators and 360 members of house of representative to make laws – of which till now the freedom of information is yet to be made public or implemented. It is therefore no more news of how much we have suffered as a nation in many areas and sectors of the economy.
I will start first with the issue and reports of corruption, which I believe is the cankerworm destroying this nation, corruption, with a statistics that is enormous, debilitating and appalling. The international energy agency reports that Nigeria loses a whopping $7bn to oil theft annually! A November 25 2012, news story in the Sunday punch also revealed that “over N5 trillion in government fund have been stolen through fraud, embezzlement and theft since president Goodluck Jonathan assumed office on may 6, 2010”, if those colossal sums of money could be lost to corruption in less than three years of this administration, then it is best to imagine how much we have lost to the ogre since independence 52 years ago.
Yet another pressing issue of the present, the Nigerian political elites penchant for waste, it was observed that the president has fleets of aircraft and cars servicing only a handful, while the nation has no national carrier, also in spite of the monetization policy billions are earmarked for food and travels for government officials, while another whopping N2.2bn was recently approved for another presidential banquet hall despite an existing one built less than a decade ago. What profligacy!
Still more pressing issue, the energy sector which really needs to be looked into so as to revive the already comatosed economy otherwise we would continue to have growth without development. Someone asked a question “what kind of economy can survive on generators?” Nigerian still remains the largest consumer of generator on the African continent, if not the world. How then can small and medium scale enterprises survive?
Last of which I would touch amongst many yet untouched, bothers on the issue of Education and Unemployment. In the words of Zakaria “take charge of your country’s future by investing heavily in the education sector in order to provide quality foundation for Nigerian children” here is a fact that the Nigerian political elite should know but erroneously neglect, there are talents in this country and the only way to unlock this talents is through education as against music and sport as is the norm today. Currently the United States exports human capital in almost all sphere of human endeavor because they have invested heavily in education, research and training. Saying that our education sector is in a serious trouble is like repeating the obvious, troubles ranging from distorted educational polices, outdated curriculum, acute dearth of infrastructures and an eventual collapse of the system should nothing urgent be done. According to the alliance for excellent education, “Nigerian secondary school students academic performance fluentuate from mediocre to poor” and on the other hand, only 40 per cent of university student eventually earn a degree, a good percentage of those who earn the degree cannot think creatively and thus are unemployable, little wonder why my country’s unemployment rate as at January 2013 stands at 28.9%.
Questions, that yet remain unanswered till date are “how did we get here?”, “how can we escape from this accident waiting to happen?” it is notable that Nigeria is now steadily been left behind in the backwoods of world history, which leads to another “whence cometh divine inspiration to my Nigeria?”
In conclusion, I must remain firm in my resolve to state that, if we as a nation desire a great country and future with a strong middle class and an employable youth, then we must all appreciate that education is the only way to our collective aspirations. If not, which other way do we go?