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Today, the president will address the nation – like he did last year, and like every leader in his position since 1960 has done annually on the 1st of October – and he will speak in complex, complicated language that will indicate everything and mean nothing to the common Nigerian, from Ajegunle to Damaturu. He will wish us well. He will tell us to endeavour to live at peace with each other. He will tell us to be unified. He will tell us to be good, law-abiding citizens. He will not explain why we need to loan money from China when loot stored away on foreign shores by Sani Abacha is supposedly being recovered. He will not mention that in 2017, not one of Nigeria’s four refineries worked at up to even 50% of their capacity at any given time (take into account that Nigeria is the world’s fifth largest producer of crude oil and that we import much of our gasoline, despite being a major exporter of oil). He will not mention the fact that Nigeria is currently the highest contributor to maternal mortality in Central and Western Africa; in 2015, our morality ratio was 814 deaths per 100,000 live births. We will not mention the 10.5 million Nigerian children who are out of school, the highest number in the world, and 60% of which are girls. He will not mention the dilapidated condition of our educational system; how we churn out more graduates than our job market can absorb. He will not mention that most of the successful entrepreneurs who have become world-renown did it without the help of government or a banking system with crippling interest rates. He will not mention a political structure that allows people without the slightest bit of education rule the masses; or a federal structure that would rather operate from the centre than allow states function independently and flourish No. He will not mention the power situation. Sorry. Instead he will read off facts (which, I pray you, double check) about his administration and roads built and bills signed. He will paint a palatable picture; he will mix facts and pseudo-facts all up, place a pretty bow on top and wish you a jolly good day.

You & I

So, this Independence Day, let’s ask ourselves, truly; what exactly are we celebrating? Because, since our leaders do not care enough to ask the questions and face the issues that matter, it is left to you and I, to ask these tough questions and demand real answers – ­Which way, Nigeria? Happy Independence Day.

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This article was first published on 1st October 2018 and updated on July 11th, 2019 at 12:03 pm


Ibiene loves poetry and good books. She is the author of a collection of poems and short stories, 'Loving Gladys' (2020).

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