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Nigeria @60: The Nigerian Project

From the rising of the sun to its going down,

From the Olumo Rock to the Niger River,

Through the cave in Ogbunike to the peak of the Mambila Plateau,

Nigeria is blessed.


The storm persists through our toil,

Men are sore, should they cave in?

But we must row our father’s boat,

Cause Eldorado is in sight.

On the 1st of October 1960, Nigeria gained independence. We became, in theory, free from all forms of subjugation and we were now to determine and steer the course of our lives. Like every newborn brought into the world by his mother, much was expected from the newly created most populous black nation in the world.

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The attainment of independence was not without sweat, blood, and sacrifices. In fact, it was an actualization stemmed from the development of progressive movements, overtime by different generations; the development of political parties and pressure groups in Nigeria between the 1920s down to the 50s.

However, it seems all along that we were studying the political craft of the colonizers. We were keenly interested in their governing style because immediately independence was given us, we assumed from where they stopped. We located the throne, sat on it, stretched and collected their whip and with it, we’ve exerted untold penury on our people. We isolated ourselves from the people; from the core areas of society that needed special interest and development, just as the colonizers had done. Thus, Late Professor Chinua Achebe of blessed memory said in his book, There Was A Country, ‘popular faith in genuine democracy was compromised at its birth.’

The foundation of the contraption called Nigeria was built on water hence the directionless autopilot. It all seems clear in some perspective that we were not ready for independence but thirsty for what the colonizers enjoyed or we the people, without active participation and due diligence, hurriedly placed our destiny in the hands of a few. The most important ingredient of governance and nationhood, the people, was sold by the people themselves and bought by political scavengers. Consequently, it is safe to say that the precarious position Nigeria finds herself, today is as a result of the people. We are the problem of Nigeria (the ruling class and the proletariat).

Nigeria is a multi-coloured Nation that is beautiful in its assemblage. From human resources to natural resources, God blessed us with diversity in different fashions. It is very important that every citizen sees his placement from this angle: A human being – Nigerian – and any other extraction or affiliation. For the fact that we’ve been fused together makes us one body and it is imperative for every Nigerian citizen to discover that they are first a human being and then a Nigerian. Every other group, ethnic or religious is secondary. Thus, we must fight for the advancement of our nation because what affects one definitely affects the other.

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It is the lack of this understanding that has launched us into untold backwardness. Sectionalism continues to play a negative part in the day to day piloting of the Nigerian ship. If we must entrench equality, fairness, justice, and competence, we must do away with sectionalism. This is a cankerworm. In the past 60 years, growth and development have been stunted, conflicts and strife have been instigated and actualized, incompetence has been enthroned, violence is ubiquitous, and folly has been glorified. As Nigerians, we need to draw out from within, that human part of us in relation to our neighbours. With sectionalism as the paramount ideal in our minds, we cannot elect those who are fit to fill elective positions and when an unfit person is enthroned, the nation continues to lag.

We seem to have mastered the act of sectionalism in Nigeria and the political scavengers have latched unto it. Power belongs to the people is a cliché but it can never be overemphasized. We can never elect the right people into power if we do not have the right ideology. Sectionalism is a cancerous ideology that has eaten deep into the Nigerian fabric. We must have the Nigerian outlook in everything we do. Nigeria should come first. Sectionalism promotes division and we cannot progress if the composite units are not united. A progressive and competent leader emanate from the minds of thoughtful and liberal people and not conservative and sectional minds.

I am a firm believer in the Nigerian project. Post-October 1st 1960 has been one of disillusionment for the people of this great nation. Nigeria is far behind where it needs to be in the global scheme of things and it can only get to the promised land if we come together and pilot the affairs of our nation. We must directly be involved in the Nigerian project and eradicate the primitive political apathy. One man or group can not change Nigeria. Nigeria is ours to fix.

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Chidozie Prince Ahaneku

I am a poet. I am a moderate thinker who abhors radicalism on every front and believes that most things are relative. I am a social and political critic. I love writing, reading and international politics.

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