Nigeria’s Independence Day Submission
By Oyinkan Olaniyan
The nation called Nigeria has, since inception, been touring a cycle which seems to have no end. Since the supposed independence of the nation, there has been a continuous cycle of dependence: dependence on godfathers, dependence on other countries, dependence on politicians, dependence on ‘long legs’, dependence on corruption, dependence on tips, dependence on crimes for survival, dependence on individually generated amenities (power, water, road network, etc.) among others. The people called Nigeria have never really believed in the nation called Nigeria and it is heart-wrenching that in the times we are in, the level of faith anyone has in Nigeria is tinier than infinitesimal.
The question “is Nigeria really independent?” has consistently been asked in the past 61 years. Now we are left with the question “is it really worth celebrating?”. Is there anything to celebrate in the nation Nigeria? Is there peace in co-existence? Is there security of the lives and properties of citizens who will celebrate? Does the Naira have any value left? Is life bearable enough for the citizens to celebrate? Is the economy buoyant enough for celebration? You may not be able to give answers to these questions in the affirmative.
The average Nigerian is quick to point at the root cause of the above mentioned woes of Nigeria: leadership, governance and administration. In fact, it is very true that Nigeria has, since independence, had the problems of poor leadership and bad governance at all levels, from the military to the civilian administrations. However, we tend to forget that the followers make the leader, and a people’s leader is only a reflection of the people he is leading. The Nigerian government has indeed failed its citizens, but much more than that, the citizens are failing one another. This is why, for whatever reason, a person decides to kill or kidnap a fellow Nigerian.
The now apparent sequel to the popular saying “the grass is greener at the other side” is “when you water the ground”. Nigeria is a fertile land for good leaders as evidenced in the way quite a number of Nigerians home and abroad are beginning to represent the Nigerian dream positively. Watering the fertile ground will require being better followers and electing better leaders. That is when we can put an end to this cycle of pseudo-independence and become truly independent. However, we cannot be better leaders without first being good followers.