They neither mixed nor missed words. It is a groundswell of opinions. And they all aligned: Nigeria is an elusive nationhood still in the works.
This is how Nigerians assessed their country after 60 chequered years of independence. Their honest views:
Ayodele Boluwatife, 77, retired headmaster
I could remember that Nigeria had so much potential and respect at independence. We were in the same ranking with China, India and Malaysia.
We had the tendency to grow. But the discovery of oil and its mismanagement was the beginning of our problems; the beginning of mass corruption; the beginning of ethnic agitations and all that.
The military also contributed so much to our problems and now the current crop of political actors.
The only solution is for Nigeria to revert to regional government, this presidential system is too costly. The centre has too much power and resources, while the areas where the resources are produced are suffering.
Let Nigeria be split into six regional governments with everyone servicing the centre. Let each region develop at its pace having its own police, systems of education, health, agriculture and so on. Let the centre controls only the military, currency and foreign affairs.
Kolawole Ojo, born
October I, 1960
My parents told me it was double joy for them when I was born on this great day of Nigeria’s political independence. I grew up to enjoy almost everything free of charge or with little cost- good quality education, health care and all that.
Our founding fathers were patriotic. There was no noticeable corruption, unlike the current political leaders who are self-centred, tribalistic and very corrupt.
I believe that the only solution to Nigeria myriad of problems is for us to split like the USSR. A situation where a tribe is dominating is unacceptable honestly there are no equal opportunities in Nigeria. The commonwealth of the nation is in the hands of a few largely concentrated in a region.
Ojotile Arome, 32,
Honestly, I don’t believe in Nigeria project. Our leaders have failed us. With so much resources yet we are suffering. And probably the youths are at the receiving end.
I graduated seven years ago without a job. Somebody said I should bring ₦400,000 for him to help me into one of the federal agencies. Where can I get such huge sum of money?
I mean everything in this country has collapsed. As a student you will struggle to pass your WAEC/NECO, after that you struggle to pass JAMB. If you are lucky to have the cut-off point you will go and face the post UTMEA.
If admitted you will spend extra years to graduate because of ASUU strike. If you manage to finish then you can stay at home for two years before being called to NYSC. After NYSC you can stay till eternity before you get a job and finally get married. This is too choking.
To me, the solution of Nigeria is revolution. We need a Jerry Rawlings of Ghana to cleanse this country of corruption. This is my personal conviction.
Mohamed, civil servant
I believe our major problem in Nigeria is leadership and the huge cost of governance. For example, how can a senator be taking over ₦47 million while a civil servant who creates the wealth gets miserable ₦40,000 a month?
So, let there be two-party system with a unicameral legislature. Let all legislative positions be on part-time basis, with single tenure of five or six years for governors and president. Let all positions be zoned on rotation basis among the senatorial districts in the case of governor and among the geographical entity in the case of president.
I believe if we amend our constitution to include all these, it will reduce corruption, lower cost of governance and then increase patriotism and efficiency on the part of our political leaders.
Bayo Arowolaju Sr,
I was already in Primary Six in 1960. To celebrate the independence, we were fed in school, given independence cup and flag as souvenirs.
Unfortunately, since then Nigeria has been retrogressing. In the 70s, I was in the university where I studied virtually free because of financial assistance from the state and federal governments.
That was when students spent only 50 kobo on feeding a day, yet, ate the best food, which some of us couldn’t afford in our homes. That was when employers were coming to the university campuses scouting and recruiting graduating students with many incentives like car loans, good salaries and allowances.
That was when Nigeria was an industrial giant, almost self-sufficient in our local needs, including cars and textiles. That was when dollar was exchanging for between 60 and 70 kobo. All these “goody-goodies” started evaporating in the 80s and today nothing is left from those good old days.
Now, 60 years after independence, it has been tales of woes and calamities. Even when Nigeria was fighting a civil war, Nigerians never had it as bad. This is in comparing the economic, social, security, wellbeing and transparency concerning the generalities of the Nigerians.
I was already a full adult when General Yakubu Gowon as Head of State made the civil servants smile with increased salaries and allowances with paid arrears called Udoji. That was when public servants and teachers started buying cars and building houses or having good or improved standard of living.
Today in 2020, there is nothing good that can be evidenced about Nigeria from the federal, state and local governments. And the worst part of the issue is that, there is no hope for a better tomorrow. The dollar that was 60 kobo in the 70s, is today about N500. That is a big shame. Indeed and in truth, in my opinion, Nigeria has failed Nigerians.
Iyabode Ayodele, schoolteacher
Nigeria has such great potential that it is painful to see what it has become today. At 60, we really should not be where we are today. While wishing Nigeria happy 60th, it is imperative that we review the structure of the country and do what we must to grow.
It is either restructuring, regionalisation or a clean split like Yugoslavia. The current situation is retrogressive and we are not growing at the pace we should. It could be better, It should be better. Happy anniversary.
Dayo Audu, businessman
It is time we realised that Nigeria is old if compared to human age. Nothing has improved since her independence nor benefits the masses, except we want to deceive ourselves.
It is not a matter of any political party taking the mantle of leadership all our leaders and politicians are pretenders and deceivers. It is time we prayed that God arrest the hearts of all our selfish leaders, who know the right thing to do for Nigeria to move forward but aren’t ready to do it.
I still believe God can forcefully use the so-called leaders to make Nigeria a better and happy country. If God could use some people to better the life of that late musician, Fatai Rolling Dollars, at his age then. God can still intervene to help make Nigeria a better and happy country. God bless Nigeria!
Lots of things are wrong. Our leaders are not getting it right. The vision of our forefathers who struggled for the independence has been negotiated by the crop of politicians we celebrate today.
Issues that characterised Nigerian politics today include greed, tribalism, intolerant, sycophancy, religious hypocrisy and corruption. The way forward, love for one another, unity in diversity. Government at all levels should have the interest of the masses in mind, fairness, just, good leadership and God fearing leaders. Cost of governance should be reduced, unnecessary travellings, protocols should be reviewed.
Segun Ifedapo, civil
Nigeria at 60 leaves a bitter-sweet taste in one’s mouth. It is obvious that the contraption called Nigeria is not making progress. Nigeria has been wallowing in the murky waters of backwardness because of bad and visionless leaders.
The political class has enslaved the populace with their self-seeking agenda with no plan for the future. To compound everything, our borders have been opened to bandits, marauders and Boko Haram bent on destroying everything. I see no future for this country except God intervenes.
First of all, we congratulate Nigerians for 60 years of independence anniversary. But from all said and done, our people have been suffering especially since the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, things have not be going well. For example, power supply has been epileptic there has been inadequate water supply.
Things were a bit better before Buhari came, people are now finding it difficult to even feed, coupled with the COVID-19. People have become hungrier. We have not met the expectations of our founding fathers.
Things were better during the time of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Co. The country now focuses on borrowing money from whatever source Nigeria is in debt year in, year out. And those being favoured are the politicians because they are the ones who have access to easy money.
The way out is that let the president re-visit the areas of economy where people can eat and feed, where people can actually smile.
Prince Ambrose Imobhio
I want to thank God that we have a country that we can call our own. And secondly, the founding fathers, those who fetched this independence for us like the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Herbert Macaulay, Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Belawa who laboured to secure this country, would be regretting to see what is happening in Nigeria today.
It is shameful the situation we have found ourselves, Nigeria is retrogressing. We are supposed to be the leading example to others. Look at the way they have messed up this country that these distinguished elder statesmen fought for. Everyday you hear policemen being killed, people invade farms to kill without hindrance we have security agencies that are supposed to be working yet things are deteriorating.
But my greatest happiness is that we still have a country we can call our own, that we have own self-assertion. It is imperative now for us to sit down and analyse, x-ray and examine the issues and fashion the way forward out. We need to be close to God because things are not moving well the way it is supposed to be.
However, I must appreciate Buhari because he has tried in the area of incentive to farmers. We now have local rice in our markets today because of the encouragement to farmers.
The journey so far has been challenging. There are certain areas we have succeeded; there are areas we have failed as a nation. We have leadership issues, our leaders, specifically, have not done well. They are very inconsistent in the running of this country.
In a country where there is no equity, it is only when you treat everyone equally that peace can reign. Sixty years is worth celebrating as a nation. But if you compare our founding fathers and the current situation we found ourselves, we should sit back, reflect and think of what to do to salvage this country.
We should look at the situation critically and go back to the drawing board. Our founding fathers – Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and others were principled people who did not segregate. They saw this country as one nation and God did not make mistake to bring us together as one nation.
We should go back to the way our founding fathers started the journey. It is not late. If we don’t do that, we will not achieve our desired objective.
Let me be sincere, we have not be enjoying anything since this present government. And even the past administrations did not do well but this is the worst government in this country. Generally since 1960, there is nothing to write home about apart from the First Republic. There is epileptic power supply, no pipe borne water, people are consuming borehole water thereby endangering their health and adding salt to injury. There are no good roads, dilapidated buildings in schools.
Something is wrong with the country. The way out is that our leaders should focus on these issues there should be massive infrastructure. Really, our leaders lack knowledge, wisdom and understanding. They only go there to empower themselves, take care of their personal pockets and leave the masses to suffer.
So at 60, what are we celebrating? Is it abject poverty and squalor? I recall in the 90s, people would go to the market to purchase fowls to celebrate independence and to thank God for another year for the country.
Now it is not so. People are crying and dying. What are they going to celebrate with? See the youths out there; there is nothing to celebrate. What are they going to eat? People are just mourning and weeping, no celebration.
Saheed Adeola, Blogger.
I don’t know what we are celebrating about Nigeria at 60. The county today is more divided along ethnic and religious lines. Insecurity has become the order of the day. Yet, we want to roll out drums to celebrate six decades of underdevelopment.
The country is hinging towards the precipice. Nigeria at 50 was far better than what we are seeing today. The economy is in shambles; people are being killed unabated and government has failed to find solutions. Of course, some people believe that we have a reason to celebrate because the country is still intact. What is the essence of unity without purpose?
Nigerians should use the 60th anniversary to reflect on the issues that have militated against our progress as a nation. This is better than making unnecessary noise about 60th celebration.
Salman Daud, Mason
No matter the situation in the country, Nigerians must give thanks to God for bringing us this far. Despite all the challenges, Nigeria is still standing. Whereas, some nations that did not go through a fraction of Nigeria is going through presently, had disintegrated. So, let us thank God and continue to pray for the country.
Joke Monade, PoS
There is nothing to celebrate. How do we celebrate? What do we want to celebrate? Is it the hike in pump price of petroleum or electricity tariff? Is it the incessant killings by Boko Haram and the wobbled economy?
At 60, as a nation, we should be among the best countries of the world, given the abundance of both natural and human resources. But the situation in the country is gloomy. It is sad that the so-called giant of Africa has gone not to slumber, but deep sleep.
Ihekoronye Vining Chibueze
Our leaders have failed us completely. Therefore, celebrating 60th independence is uncalled for. I am a graduate of Business Education from the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, in 2017.
When I failed to secure a job, I became a worker at a construction site. So, what do you celebrate in a country where youths have no future?
It is difficult to roll out the drums of celebration because the nation is bugged down with many problems it could have solved since 1960. Nigeria’s economic managers brought down the nation with their bad economic system, which over devalued the Naira.
In fact, Nigeria lost its imaginative leadership in all areas as a certain group forced them out of the government with many turning refugees overseas. Nigeria has lost its imaginative leadership and its role among African states where she is expected to uplift neighbouring states we once did that with our surrounding nation states.
Nigeria has drifted away from its place in the global economic financial and diplomatic position she holds around the world. Countries all over the world are disregarding and disrespecting her citizens because Nigeria is at war with herself where the country is being overrun by terrorists and bandits and government not able to bring stability to the nation.
Nigeria has all it takes to be a great country that will compete with the Asian Tigers. That will come only when we get the right leadership where all the regions inside Nigeria cooperate with the leadership.
The government of Buhari in many areas and many times suffers from lack of proper feedback to the President causing many policy decision failure which presents the President bad and not conversant with reality.
At 60 years of independence, Nigeria has now fallen below a “mere geographical expression” as pronounced by the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo. It is now an undefined geographical area bedevilled with imploding and exploding economical, socio-political, even ideological contradictions pushing her to the verge of bloody resolution.
The resolution long-sought before independence by the founding fathers would have turned the geographical area into the ideal example of what nationhood should be in the African continent.
The founding fathers could not achieve the common grounds needed for nationhood until the military came with a coercive option. A forced union that has since kept the country together by force. Hence, ensuring the ever elusive nationhood we still find ourselves.
The question at the heart of Nigeria is not whether she is overdue for a resolution, but it is whether the resolution will be a final dissolution or a reinvention of true nationhood.
The paradox, however, is, both resolution types have very strong adherents from all parts of the country. May God save Nigeria!
Our journey is at best a show of shame and total lack of capacity to rule ourselves. Look at other countries that we got independence before them. They are doing better than we are.
After 60 years of self-rule, there is hardly anything to show for. We have failed in nearly all ramifications. Is it our economy that we can boast of? Is it infrastructural development? Institutions? Education? Our laws?
Is it our inability to harness our enormous natural resources or what? We have unfortunately failed terribly. Most unfortunate is that our leaders see themselves as conquerors and the country as their empire, without the interest of their subjects at heart.
It is a mixture of ups and downs. In all we thank God that we are where we are today even though we wish we were in a better position than this.
A lot of factors have contributed to our setback but I believe that the worst of all is poor leadership. We lack the right people occupying the right offices and the lack of continuity has also done us a lot of bad. Religious and tribal as well as sectional sentiments have also contributed tremendously to our setback.
The way forward is for we the people to know what we want and so set aside sentiments and make sure that we hold the people accountable and elect the right people irrespective of sectional affiliation.
I would also suggest that our leaders at all levels to start seeing leadership as a call to service rather than a promotion to demi god status.
For those of us who have been around for a long time, and have a little experience of the colonial era, I must say that irrespective of our down moments, we are better off on our own. Life is a journey of continued learning and we are learning every day. We are no exception. Even the world supper powers today started from somewhere and all had such experiences.
We are growing, maybe not at the pace we would have wanted but time will take care of all these things. The fact that we have experienced more than two decades of uninterrupted democracy alone is a huge achievement. Our ability to remain together despite predictions of separation is also a great achievement.
Unfortunately, we have serious leadership deficiency that has resulted in low levels of patriotism and more commitment to sectional interests rather than national interest. That is the cause of this pervasive corruption and other ills in the country. But things would sure get better.
Edigin Osazee, rights
Nigerian independence has not yielded the expected socio-economic and political growth owing partly to intermittent interruption by the military. Political rivalry laced with ethno-religious differences has been a major bane of forming a united front as a nation.
Infrastructural development is becoming more difficult to attain owing to dwindling resources and high level of avaricious disposition by the political class.
First step in moving the nation forward is the building of citizens’ confidence and reawakening of patriotism. Leaders should be altruistic in their thinking and commitment in order to compete with other nations who we had independence at same period of time.
The country has not fared well. We got our independence in 1960 and the country has not grown. The country is still battling with so many things.
Most of the sectors of the economy are not moving forward. At this point in time, the country is still battling with electricity problem.
We cannot boast of 24 hours of electricity when Nigeria is the one providing light for her neighbouring countries. We keep hearing how they have spent trillions of naira on power yet there is nothing to show for it.
Let us also look at the area of pipe borne water. It baffles me when I see people still putting their containers in their wheelbarrows, looking for water in the streets. This is very bad. Nigeria should try and improve on the economy and make life meaningful to Nigerians.
On the other hand, the country has only fared well in the area of anti-corruption and the reduction in the killings in the Northern region of the country. These are the only areas I believe we have made progress.
I want to congratulate Nigeria on the attainment of this landmark. For under any situations, 60 years is not a mean feat. So, if Nigeria were to be a human being, by now, maybe he may have been retired from service at 60, meaning you have come of age.
But it is rather unfortunate that Nigeria has not been able to attain its full potential in all facets of life. That is not to say that the country has not also made giant strides in many areas of human endeavours.
Give and take, you can look at the areas where Nigeria has made impact. You can look at the areas of sports and human development. When I say human development, individually, developing themselves.
When you talk about religion, some of our pastors are those that have made marks all over the world. You have the likes of the Adaboye, Oyedipo and Papa Idahosa. These are men that have taken the nation far. These are men that have also taken the nation to limelight.
Look at the area of sports. We have footballers like Daniel Omokachi, Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Mikel Obi. They have also made Nigeria a brand because when they see them playing, they will ask, which country are they from? They will say Nigeria. In that regards, Nigeria has made a giant stride.
And very importantly the unity of the country. Immediately after the Civil War, we know that Nigeria has had its own ups and downs but somehow, the country is still united. And that is why we are still able to celebrate 60.
That doesn’t mean that the country has gotten it all right. There are a lot of areas that Nigeria needs to improve on. Going forward, most importantly is the issue of election.
Nigeria has not got the issue of democracy right. That is the foundation we have to lay first and every other thing will follow. The elected officials should be accountable to the electorate.
The electorate should see themselves as kings who will be able to determine the outcome of the election. You cannot just sit in your house and say this man is the next governor. I vote and I don’t vote, it doesn’t matter. Well, they know how they are going to do it and get their candidate, no.
The important thing is democracy, the vote of the people should count. Democracy comes with a lot of features where you have freedom of association, freedom of the press, most importantly. If all these attributes are imbibed, they come with democracy and when we imbibed them, Nigeria will go places.
I will say our journey as a nation has been very tempestuous, full of ups and downs. As far as the political sphere is concerned, we can say we are making slow progress.
Attaining a height in our political journey is so far from 1960 till date, it cannot be said to be very excellent. There is still a long way to go in the political swing.
All that we have succeeded in banishing now is the undue military incursions in the political affairs of the country. The country still has a reason to celebrate for having a stable democracy.