Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It shares boundaries in the west with Republic ofÂ Benin, Chad and Cameroun in the East and Niger in the North. Its coast lies on the gulfÂ of Guinea in the South and it borders Lake Chad to the northeast. The total area ofÂ Nigeria is 923,768km2 out of it, 910,768km2 is land while water occupies up to 13,000km2.
Nigeria, the worldâ€™s most populated black nation, derived its name from Niger area andÂ came into being in 1914 through the amalgamation of northern and southern protectoratesÂ by the late Sir Lord Lugard.
Nigeria, itself, is 96 years old since the amalgamation. She gained her politicalÂ independence from the British Colonialists on Saturday 1 October, 1960 which brought inÂ indigenous political leadership.
Ever since then, there have been governments both military and civilian which have not toÂ date, justified the exit of the British colonialists or brought to the people theÂ political and economic gains of independence. The colonialists and our own earlyÂ nationalists created milestones which remain lustrous and prominent like mountain ridgesÂ along the landscape of history.
What is instructive is the knowledge that it is the coalescence of such positive andÂ negative forces of individuals which has helped to make us what we are, and helped toÂ affirm our peopleâ€™s faith in a still enduring, humane ethos which has remained,Â to date,Â a distinct feature of our identity. The past is certainly important as a backdrop to showÂ us where we are coming from and hence, furnish us with a firm footing to confront theÂ world.
It is even more important as a mirror, to show us who we are in the present and to bringÂ us as well as reflection of who we are going to be in the future.
Nigeria is a country with favourable atmospheric condition that makes her terrain andÂ vegetation blessed with abundant natural resources. Nigeria is rich in culture andÂ wealth, prosperous in natural and human resources, endowed with mineral resources thatÂ have become a source of envy to many other nations.
She also prides herself â€˜The giant of Africa.â€™ Where have all these taken us to? After 50Â years when we stopped paying obeisance to the Queen, we, the giant of Africa, are stillÂ moving at a snail pace.
When the excavation and extraction of these mineral resources started, especiallyÂ petroleum, my dear country was financially buoyant enough to implement her developmentÂ plans to the fullest. Then we began to see a country with a promising future, butÂ immediately we became a sovereign nation, things began to turn upside down. We began toÂ experience quagmire in development.
Regrettably, however, Nigeria, as a country, has witnessed a lot of political andÂ economic crises from her independence to date, some of which are the wetie politicalÂ uprising of 1965, the military coup of 1966, the civil war of 1967-70, the religiousÂ riots of 1981, 1988, 2002 and 2010 in the northern, the annulment of 1993 presidentialÂ election and so forth.
The greatest crisis rocking Nigeria from her inception as an independent nation are theÂ monstrous twin brothers of bribery and corruption in both government and private places.Â The police, the customs, the civil servants are all collecting bribes as a way of lifeÂ and looting the state treasury as well.
They are joined in this shameful acts by the political office holders, other armed forcesÂ members and many other Nigerians. The shameful acts have rubbished the positiveÂ orientation of Nigerians resulting in national infrastructure failure and inhumanÂ treatment of Nigerians who are derided as criminals all over the world.
Today, nothing seems to be working in Nigeria as education is already bastardised,Â electricity supply is epileptic, road network across the country has become death traps,Â civil service delivery is laughable, drug peddling activities of Nigerians have reachedÂ an alarming rate, the airports are no longer safe for aircraft to land, mass unemploymentÂ visible everywhere as qualified able-bodied adults are largely unengaged, poor livingÂ standard as most Nigerians cannot afford 3 square meals per day, increasing wave of armedÂ robbery, kidnapping, assassination, unsafe environments and so forth.
The leadership is not right. This winner takes all syndrome is bad, the average NigerianÂ politician is selfish. Once he gets there, he takes everything, leaving nothing for thoseÂ coming behind. We cannot run an economy like that. Now the rich cannot sleep because theÂ poor man is awake. If a man has billions of dollars now he will find it difficult toÂ drive his Rolls Royce on our roads at night, whereas people still drive Rolls Royce onÂ the streets of London at 1 a.m.
You canâ€™t find an English man having billions of dollars in his account without beingÂ judiciously utilised. But when you have people here who suddenly amass billions, I callÂ that primitive stealing. Stealing what you donâ€™t need. Some Nigerian politicians areÂ behaving like monkeys because when a monkey gets into any farm, it does not eat more thanÂ four combs of corn but it makes sure that it destroys everything.
Therefore, as an independence message to our incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, IÂ enjoin him to start demonstrating a clear departure from the materialistic tendencies ofÂ his predecessors. His ideology should be tailored towards bequeathing good and enduringÂ legacy to Nigeria. Wealth without good name amounts to nothing.
Mostly responsible for all the aforementioned problems is the misappropriation ofÂ available resources by our leaders. Nigeriansâ€™ hope of seeing their country joining theÂ developed world has been a mirage. This hope can only be realised if we have dedicatedÂ leaders that wish the country well.
In Nigeria of today, no institutional sector is working. For instance, the educationÂ system in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. From primary to tertiary level, thereÂ is one problem or the other, ranging from non-conducive environment for learning, lack ofÂ educational materials and teaching aids in our schools, frequent industrial action by theÂ teachers and other non-academic staff.
Also, in the health sector, the facilities available are either outdated or in decay.Â This is manifest in the very rampant seeking of medical attention abroad by our leadersÂ and ther elites even for the simplest health issue.
Talking of power sector in Nigeria is out of it. Nigerians have been experiencingÂ epileptic and erratic power supply since independence. This has adversely affected ourÂ economy. Infrastructure and social amenities are virtually nonexistent. No potable water,Â our roads have turned death traps. No affordable housing accommodation for the mass ofÂ our people. Nothing is on ground to assure Nigerians of a worthy living. As a result, theÂ life of an average Nigerian has become miserable. Our everyday life is in abject poverty.Â We survive on whatever we stumble upon. Our desire is no more available while theÂ available has become desirable.
Election is here again, I urge all the eligible citizens of this country to cast theirÂ vote wisely in order to elect credible people into our public offices. Do not collectÂ bribe before you vote because if you do, you have indirectly sold your right andÂ mortgaged your future.
It is unsavoury to hear that an unrepentant tyrant like General Ibrahim Babangida isÂ planning to rule us again. His eight dark years of misrule saw the institutionalisationÂ of corruption and total destruction of our economy. IBB must be stopped at all costs.
However, in spite of these problems confronting the country today, I still hope to have aÂ Nigeria of my dream where the following will be obtained:
The Nigeria of my dream is the one where all sectors will be working as expected be itÂ health, education, power, economy among others. I want to see Nigeriaâ€™s education systemÂ competing with those of the developed nations like United Kingdom, United States ofÂ America, Japan, Germany, Spain, etc. In the nearest future, I want to see Nigerians enjoyÂ uninterrupted and stable power supply at affordable tariff. I long for Nigeriaâ€™s healthÂ sector equipped with adequate modern facilities. I see a Nigeria having socio-economicÂ amenities such as functioning potable water, good road network, affordable housing forÂ all and sundry; zero inflation economy and security of life and property. All these weÂ should all work earnestly for. And for these to be feasible, there must emerge selflessÂ leadership – patriotic leaders who will curb the worrisome stealing of public funds meantÂ for provision of basic amenities for the common benefit of all. Unemployment must also beÂ tackled headlong.
Nigeria of my dream must guarantee job availability to all able-bodied citizensÂ especially university and polytechnic graduates.
My dream country must inculcate good value system that de-emphasises materialism andÂ money worshipping.
I have a dream of a safe Nigeria. A country where there will be no armed robbers, whereÂ one can safely walk around in the night, a great and corrupt-free Nigeria. A NigeriaÂ where the leaders are approachable and humble, leaders who will not terrorise citizensÂ with sirens.
I dream of a nation where the honest and just would be celebrated rather than beingÂ persecuted; a society where leaders will listen to good advice and rid their domain ofÂ sycophants.
I dream of a Nigeria where universities are not closed for months and where children ofÂ the rich go to the same schools the children of the poor attend. A country where childrenÂ of the rich will not have to go to schools abroad because of lack of school facilitiesÂ and teachers.
I dream of a Nigeria where our economic standard will compete with that of other nations,Â where people will have access to housing and even the poor could own their own houses.
I dream of one-Nigeria where people from different ethnic groups will peacefully andÂ harmoniously cohabit.
The Nigeria of my dream will stand out and receive ovations from other nations of theÂ world. There shall emerge a country with premium human resources development. A countryÂ with democratic value, where elections will be free and fair. A country where everyÂ citizen has equal right, where every citizen can aspire to any position without fear orÂ molestation.
A country that is self sufficient, that can cater for its teeming population throughÂ comprehensive agricultural development. A country with articulated youth developmentÂ programmes.
And for these dreams to be achievable, we need servant leaders who are ready to trulyÂ serve the country selflessly with untiring patriotic zeal and who will be courageousÂ enough to stamp out corruption in governance and in our day to day businesses.
We have enough resources to develop as a nation but bad governance and corrupt leadershipÂ have been our bane, and if these anomalies are corrected, Nigeria of my dream would notÂ be a pipe dream.
Above all, Prof. Attahiru Jega, the INEC chairman, should ensure the conduct of a freeÂ and fair 2011 election. This is the greatest 50th birthday gift the JonathanÂ administration in conjunction with INEC can give to Nigeria and Nigerians as only thisÂ will make us truly independent, free from internal colonialism of a monstrous cabal.
I am proud to be a Nigerian. What about you?
â€¢Abdulkareem Sulaimon is from Owode-Egba, Abeokuta, Ogun State.