Vanguard (Lagos)

31 January 2013

Nigeria: Possibilities of Nigeria at 100

NIGERIA will be 100 by January 1, 2014, a date that marks the British amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates, some say for administrative convenience, to form the country called Nigeria.

Activities are lined up to celebrate the centenary. They would stretch from next month to October 1, 2014.

Some would be wondering what we are celebrating. Others remain strident about what they call "the mistake of 1914" which lumped parts that were never in union together. Calls for different ends of Nigeria to go their separate ways have not ceased.

These are different ways of expressing the same frustrations about the poor progress Nigeria has made in critical indices of human development.

Away from politics and the tendencies of the opposition, Nigeria at 100 should be a celebration of enduring achievements that have improved lives and firmed the sustenance of Nigerians in an overwhelmingly competitive world.

Blames on leadership and docility of Nigerians to challenge their leaders have been listed as factors in the Nigeria's deteriorating state.

None of the positions provides answers to the more disturbing question of what to do with the country and its peoples.

Individualism shows in all we do. Those who lead, use the instruments of their offices to enrich themselves and constrain others - with such astuteness - from attaining power - that power becomes all there is to their leadership.

Barely a year to the centenary, our people still doubt the bases of our nationhood, a legitimate inquest with the rashes of polices that do not mobilise our people for the greater good of the country.

The crippling poverty that has found affinity with diseases, hunger, unemployment, injustices and illiteracy do not call for celebration.

Education and health are key factors in the improvement of the human development indices of any country.

They deserve more importance, no matter what else governments intend to do. They are also about our future, which appear to be of little consequence as we wobble towards 100 years.

A country with dim consideration of its future is doomed just as a future hardly exists where leadership is about access to the common wealth for individual use.

We must act in ways that can sustain the country on keen awareness of the importance of being Nigerian rather than sectional in our decisions.

In addition to the planned elaborate celebrations, the centenary provides vast platforms to examine ways of making Nigeria work better. We should explore them for their relevance to our struggles to attain stable nationhood.

When the fireworks of the centenary die, we should have commenced the construction of a nation bound in freedom, peace, unity, and abundances they bestow.

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