Tottering On The Edge Of Underdevelopment At 55th Anniversary

As Nigeria performs the sacrifice or ritual of celebrating 55 years as an independent nation and a member of the International community, without any positive change, this period in the country's history would have insulted our collective sensibility.

Indeed, the journey to democracy and nationhood has been tortuous. The country is in dire straits.

At the time of the departure of the British colonial masters, Nigeria was considered to be one of the emerging great nations of the world, like the proverbial child of great promise.

After enduring a devastating civil war, military rule, and now, democracy, with greedy and self-serving leaders, the country has continue to slide deeper into underdevelopment despite the advantages which oil wealth conferred on us..

The "Trouble with Nigeria" the title of the late Chinua Achebe's book gives a fitting and exhibit description of the state of the nation. "Nigeria is not a great country. It is one of the most disorderly nations in the world.

It is one of the most corrupt, insensitive, inefficient places under the sun. It is one of the most expensive countries and one of those that gives least value for money. It is dirty, callous, noisy, ostentatious, dishonest and vulgar.

In short, it is one of the most unpleasant places in earth. " Add to that, a country of" kleptomaniacs" whose insatiable quest for power has put a country of great potential and promise on an almost irreversible track of imminent explosion.

We celebrate independence at a time when insecurity in varied forms like terrorism, kidnapping and armed robbery are at an all time high.

Government says the economy is growing when factories are either closing down or functioning far below installed capacity:

they are winning the war against corruption but indicted persons in monumental frauds like the fuel subsidy mega-scam are cosseting with their co-travellers in the corridors of power.

Misrule and it's insult ant poverty are traced to the rise in religious extremists in Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has crippled the economy of the North and sent thousands of innocent Nigerians to their early Graves.

It is unfortunate that a country that offered so much in hope and possibilities for its citizens at independence has today become a land of suffering, insecurity and near hopelessness, signposted by youth unemployment, poor electricity supply, incessant ethno-religious crisis,

no thanks to rudder less and bumbling leaders who have failed to lead a well-endowed nation to harness the talents of its vibrant, energetic and resilient people.

We can spend the next few hours cataloging the problems of the country and we would still not scratch the surface.

Rather than fully maximize the country's potential for mutually assured prosperity, a privileged few has hoodwinked the Nigerian people.

The result is what we have today: a country exhibiting all the characteristics of a failed state, the serial denial of government officials notwithstanding.

Echoing Achebe, the problem of Nigeria is the ruling elite and the failure of leadership. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything therein but the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the challenge of nation building.

Unarguably, those who started the Nigerian journey, the likes of Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo and others had good intentions before they were hijacked by rogues and rascals donning the garb of leaders.

The strong grip of rapacious, thieving and vacillating class of people masquerading as leaders as turned a promising country into the poster child of corruption and underdevelopment.

While it will be unfair to blame the current leadership of the country, post-independence, truth is, the present administration as proved as incompetent and vision less as its predecessors in its fickle efforts to take the country out of the doldrums.

The Buhari government has shown little or no seriousness in moving the country forward. Over four month since the mantle of leadership fell on him, the country's future has never been this bleak. The people have been left to gnash their teeth and rue lost opportunities. The nation is forlorn.

Nigerians must turn deaf ears to the rhetoric that celebrate growth without visible development. Infrastructural deficit has become the opportunity cost of corruption, negatively impacting our socio-economic development.

We must reverse the high cost of running our federal system of government comprising over 30 members from cabinet and 469 members of the National Assembly, if we are to tell a better story of the next 47-years of our independence.

At the milestone of five decades and five years, we must do away with tyrannical tendencies that engender impunity, disregard for the rule of law, and the fundamental right of Nigerians.

We are afforded another opportunity to define for ourselves, what the value of development means to us as a country and if we have developed at the pace of our peers- Singapore, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia.

Successive leaders have failed to build on the development framework of federalism with all its essential features as given to us by our heroes past who struggled for our independence.

There are many figures in the public domain about how much our leaders have stolen from the country since independence.

From Nuhu Ribadu, a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, we learn that the amount is more than six times the total sum that went into rebuilding Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War via the famous European Recovery Program.

The ERP was $13bn. The political class and the ruling elite must take the blame for the abyss the country find itself. Nigerians must as a matter of urgency begin to build a nation of our dreams. We cannot continue to tax, but take off.

Kazeem Olalekan Israel,

( By: Kazeem Olalekan Israel )

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