By Richard Elesho/ Lokoja
Let me confess from the onset that Nigeria is older than me. My random musings about her 60th birthday is therefore as far as I know.
I cannot remember precisely my first Independence Day celebration. But I recall that every year, the day was a public holiday marked with march parades and dances. It was an attraction we children looked forward to way back, in my largely rustic village Takete-Ide.
The level of my historical knowledge notwithstanding, government has perfected a covid-19 compliant arrangement that is at one and the same time low key and grandiose. Perhaps, in a manner never before witnessed in history.
The powers that be has planned to celebrate the anniversary for one whole year. The staggered programmes will terminate on the 31st of September, 2021.
In spite of the pretensions at low key, the drums are being rolled out in high decibels. A year long celebration? According to Boss Mustapha and Isah Pantani- two men who shares Nigeria’s burden of leadership with President Muhammadu Buhari, the elaborate celebration is to allow Nigerians internalise the fiesta.
As Eagle Square comes alive Thursday morning, for parades and Presidential address many Nigerians languish in pains wondering if the birthday of a sleeping giant is worth the hype.
The giant of Africa held so much hope and expectations from her citizens and the outside world at birth. Hopes of freedom and rapid economic development that would liberate her citizens from the shackles of poverty.
Sixty long years down the line however, the country and her citizens are still far from realising the dreams of her founding fathers.
In fact, there is no denying the fact Nigeria has gone through worse moments in the past. The trauma of a civil war which claimed many lives; the despotism of military rule and the annulment of June 12, 1993 election adjudged to be the fairest and freest in the nation’s history attest to that.
Yet, the theme of the anniversary, ‘together’ immediately depicts a people struggling against disunity. The symptoms are everywhere. Nepotism, Boko Haram insurgency, banditry without borders, renewed agitation for Biafra and the clamour for Oduduwa Republic to mention but a few.
Nigerians are hungry. They are also angry. They are angered by the lack of food, skyrocketing prices of goods and services, insecurity, decayed and decaying infrastructure, injustice and insincerity of the governing class.
They are unhappy about the opulent display of wealth in the midst of poverty, by a tiny tribe of privileged persons. They are angry at the theft of their collective patrimony by those who should secure them.
They are so angry that one of them has wittily asked if at 60 their country should also be retired as provided for in the statute books of the country. Or the retirement parameters should be reviewed.
The scripture says the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the house of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecc. 7:4).
Let us be guided.