Sunday, 27 September 2009

Nigeria at 49...Pulse of the young generation

Thursday this week, the entity called Nigeria will celebrate its 49th independent. Already, entertainment events and and public discussion forum have been lined up at home and even parts of the world to mark the day. For instance, in the city of New York, United States, Nigerian residents are gearing up for what they tagged ‘the biggest Independence Day ever’, with fuji musician, Pasuma, and others, billed to mount the stage. In Finland, Nigerian Students are already putting finishing touches to their plans to mark the Independence in a grand style on October 2, with the Green and White Gig; at the CAISA, The Multicultural Center, Helsinki. Sure, similar events will be happening in London and even parts of Asia -- indeed everyhere Nigerians are resident. Back home, there is a hand full of concerts, gigs, movie premieres, comedy and others… in different parts of the country to celebrate Nigeria at 49. Children (for those, who are lucky to be in school) by now, would be sweating out in match past rehearsals, while government functionaries are getting set to take the traditional saluteand offer the usual long, sometimes boring and meaningless speeches full of loads of promises but little modicum of sincerity. As usual, there will surely be a public holiday! On October 1, 1960, Nigeria was granted its independence by the British colonial power. The transition to independence was peaceful, with profound goodwill on all sides. The future looked very bright, and as the most populous black nation with impressive human and natural resources, expectations of Nigerians at independence were high both at home and abroad. But beyond the mere survival of the nation, the mood of the nation today seems to be that of despondency, anger, resentment, and seeming hopelessness. Because of the colossal mismanagement of its resources by its leaders (both civilian and military), Nigeria’s future now appears bleak; has been bleaked nearly all of its adult life. The situation in the country calls for a sober reflection by Nigerians on the missed opportunities of the post -independence years, and a critical analysis of the reasons for Nigeria’s failure to meet its post independence challenges and the modest aspirations of its people for a good, secure, and decent life for themselves and their children -- the future leaders. Do we really have any reason to celebrate? If yes, what exactly are we celebrating? Is there still hope for the entity called Nigeria? Is the future still as bright as ever? The Guardian Life sought the opinion of some young Nigerians on the issues and bellow is their individual reactions: Ajuluchuks Ugo Okeke: (Motivational speaker, novelist and journalist) Good a thing Nigeria is 49 years old. Unfortunately, there’s little or nothing to celebrate; though our continuous togetherness as a nation is all worth celebrating. Nevertheless, I enjoin every well-meaning Nigerian to keep praying for that Daniel in Aso Rock whom we are yet to see. Uche Nnaji: (CEO Ouch Fashions, Lagos) We have celebrated enough without results afterwards. Let our leaders show us a long-term plan to give common electricity to the people. Onos Bikawei: (Performing artiste) I think we have democracy to celebrate though there hasn’t been lot of changes. But we have the GSM revolution, which has done a lot for our society; it’s not something so massive but is something worth celebrating. Shola Adenugba (Artiste) There are a few things worth celebrating about Nigeria at 49. We have a failed state but a successful social system where politicians can loot freely and the law enforcement either— look away or aid them; our universities are in a bad state; roads are bad; no power supply…yet, the people are strong and intelligent. I think the relative peace and the Nigerian exuberant spirit is worth celebrating. 49 years after, Nigeria can boast of bright musicians and entertainers and we have proven that society can exist in spite of no social amenities. Hassan Taiwo Soweto (National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign) Today, Nigeria is a classical example of a failed state. If we dare look back, we will realise that given the enormous resources that Nigeria has and the sordid picture of mass poverty and destitution that prevails at the same time, indeed Nigeria was better off 49 years ago. Close to 80 per cent of Nigerians are poor and a lot of them are jobless. Many companies are folding up leading to a colossal loss of jobs. Our health sector is on the verge of collapsing, with Nigerians dying like flies from ailments that could be treated in our backyards. When it comes to education, our hearts bleed. 49 years ago, thousands of students, irrespective of their social status, had access to education up to tertiary level due to the free education policies of the then government. Those days, students had subsidised meals of chicken, coffee and tea at university cafeteria whose services equaled the best restaurant in town. Hostel accommodation was conducive with pillowcases, mattresses with free blankets. No Nigerian student today has received anything free, not even a free cube of sugar from government. Segun Adefila (Artiste) 49! 49!! 49!!! Hmm! Dubai, Malaysia, Nigeria. Half a word is enough ke? The difference is clear. Ibukunolu Babarinde At 49, there is nothing on ground to celebrate; the situation here is still a tale of pity. Nigeria is still several miles away from what a nation should be, and the confidence level of the citizens is reducing greatly towards zero. One day, nobody would talk about patriotism, because the Nigerian phenomenon is still a mirage. Speaking for the generation in which I have found myself, it is rather unfortunate to have been born into an enclave like this. Change is all what we need, but what ideology will drive the change? On what platform will the change come? Definitely, not with the existing political gangs that have made mockery of our democracy. Magnus C. Abraham-Dukuma Without being dishonest, as a people, we have some sort of gains and pains to celebrate. We have our emancipation from our white overlords and colonial masters to celebrate. Neo-colonialism still smacks us in the face, however, without being economical with the truth, we’ve had more pains than gains through the years. What more to celebrate than a dearth of the right leadership and nationhood. What more to celebrate than political killings amidst the nest of killers and a cabal of con men with a sprinkle of lethal dross; a celebration of darkness and poverty amidst abundant prosperity; a celebration of incessant strikes by ASUU, NASU, SSANU, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, NUT and a host of others; a celebration of failed political promises; a celebration of political hypocrisy and administrative profligacy and brigandage of the highest order; a celebration of police brutality and soul-sickening ordeals…Too much pain than gains! But we cannot give up hope on Nigeria. It’s still our fatherland, our home, and there’s no place like home. We still love Nigeria. We therefore cannot stop praying for visionary leaders and doing the little we can in our little corners to precipitate the much needed change. Abimbola Ojenike (Legal Practitioner) I couldn’t help seeing a reason for celebration in a nation that retains the topnotch on the global index for everything deplorable. I would be guilty of imperfect narration to recount a sad history of 49 years that has led to the complete alienation of the hapless masses of Nigerians. In fact, it’s a providential favour of sort that we still have the feigned statehood called Nigeria. But I think what is most disheartening in our present situation is not the gloomy social, economic and political posture itself but the emerging common consciousness that seriously doubts if Nigeria will ever get to the place of our dream. The people are fed up of hoping against hope. They can hardly believe the dreams of a new Nigeria until it becomes a compelling reality but how can we have the change if the people for whom the change is meant cannot believe the change? Bolaige Alabi We have nothing to celebrate at 49. What are we celebrating? Is it road? Most of them have become death trap across the country. Imagine at 49, we are still running after 6,000 mega watts of electricity supply, while other African countries such as Ghana were celebrating one year of stable electricity supply. What of education? Worst of it all, President Yar’adua abandoned his country with over three months strike and educational mess, then flew to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to join president Abdul –Aziz to commission University of Science and Technology. I remember what my late daddy said about Nigeria in year 2000 AD, “a fool at 40…” he had said then. Yemi Ademowo Johnson (National Coordinator of Young Humanists Network) At 49, it is infuriating that Nigeria is still far off from achieving true secularism; miles away from guaranteeing the rights of the irreligious (humanists and atheists); neglected the rights of the Nigerian child being molested as witches in different parts of the country; witnessed an increase in homophobia; initiated trickish dealings with the Niger Delta militants; and remain firmly rooted in crass religiosity and moral bankruptcy noticeable in corruption and bad leadership. With all these, I’d rather call for reflection rather than celebration. What is there to celebrate, anyway? Civil rule? Darkness? Poverty amidst Plenty? Alas, the time to reflect is now so that we can, maybe, have something to celebrate next year. Asim-Ita Emilia At 49, though there’s nothing to celebrate, there’s so much to be done. That we will be great as a nation is no doubt. That we are ready to work towards this state of greatness is the big issue. Olugbenga Adebanjo Nigeria’s journey of nationhood in the last 49 years has been a mixed bag. If I were to be entirely emotional, I would conclude that the Nigerian project has been a complete flop. But if I were to be more realistic with myself, I would say that the process of getting the foundation right (upon which the process of nationhood hinges on) is still some percentage out of the safe range. So, what is the foundation on which a nation is built? Good Governance! In times of adverse difficulty, the Nigerian somehow lives for the name, Nigeria. This optimism is the thread, which holds the nation and its peoples together. If there is anything to celebrate, it would be more of a stoic celebration. Anthony Nwanne Iwediunor (Leader, the Diamonds, winner Star Quest 2008) Despite the fact that people say a lot of ill things about Nigeria, we remain the fastest growing country in entertainment. Today, there’s nothing like freedom; we are free here. Our weather is very good; we don’t hear too much of natural disaster. I believe we are still growing. No matter what, we must celeberate Naija. Naija oni baje o!

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