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  Sixty-two years ago, the green-white-green flag was hoisted and flagged above as the Union Jack was lowered, heralding the independence of Nigeria. One can only imagine the funfair and carnival-like atmosphere that pervaded the country on that auspicious day. Nigeria’s independence was well fought for, now it was time to prove why Nigeria was to gain her freedom in 1960. Many Nigerians held out hope. The country, alongside China, was tipped to become the next big economic giant.
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Seven years after Nigeria’s independence, the country in its infancy was thrown into a bloody civil war that consumed over three million people, mostly members of the southeastern part of the country. What followed after the war was an economic boom courtesy of crude oil in the Niger Delta. According to witnesses of this boom, the Nigerian naira was far stronger than the dollars. It was an era of plenty. Unfortunately, Nigeria might be blessed with natural resources, but she was cursed with bad leadership. Oil prosperity birthed crass corruption, and this financial corruption in return gave rise to poverty. By 1980, Nigeria was in a downward spiral, begging from those she once fed. This was to be made worse when gluttons in military uniforms in the coups, out-couped one another. Nigeria’s history, sadly, has been punctuated by military coups, and the bitterest of all, her economy managed by men meant to be confined in the barracks. Nigeria has been robbed and raped by the ruling class to the detriment of the common man.
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The long years of impunity and corruption have transformed Nigeria into the poverty capital of the world. As I pen down this heartfelt letter, I am forced to reflect on Nigeria’s nationhood. The biggest problem is that we are not yet a nation. Various ethnicities have been at each other’s throats. Episodes of inter-ethnic conflicts are seen all over the nation. Painfully, a dossier of prayers has been made on behalf of this nation and it seems God has taken great delight in being silent, knowing fully well that our problem as a nation is a human factor and not necessarily spiritual. At 62, Nigeria has not recorded any tangible success except in the area of entertainment and education, most of which are individual victories. No doubt, Nigeria is blessed with brilliant minds and people, however, the challenge of leadership remains. In addressing the maladies that befuddle the nation, many have called for outright disintegration of various components that comprise the nation; others are calling for restructuring, and only God knows what that means. In conclusion, in reality, every country in the world is faced with one challenge or the other, but one thing is certain, advanced democracies and economies are miles ahead simply because of leadership. As we proceed to the polls next year, Nigerians are given another opportunity to right wrongs and rethink what they want as a nation and all sorts. One can only hope for the best. But work must be done. Sacrifices must be made. At Connect Nigeria, we are committed to reiterating the need for Nigeria and Nigerians to keep pushing, because the Nigerian project is possible. We can get it right and we must get it right in 2023. Happy Independence Day, Nigeria!
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This article was first published on 1st October 2022

nnaemeka-emmanuel

Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.


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