On the occasion of our 61st Independence Anniversary today, I congratulate my fellow compatriots for how far we have come – we have trudged on with resilience in the journey of nationhood, despite sometimes very bleak horizon or challenges that seem insurmountable.
I understand that most Nigerians celebrate this day with mixed feelings. Some don’t even think there is indeed anything to celebrate, while others think the nation has not risen to its full potentials or fulfilled the expectation of citizens, or it hasn’t risen to the level anticipated, in the comity of nations – we cannot fault these lines of thought, however we might choose to view the situation.
At 61, we have faced a civil war, gone through the shackles of Military dictatorship for over 30 years and effectively only stabilised in a democracy for only 21 years – very short period compared to the United States’ 244 years of Independence for instance, but not too short to make remarkable progress.
Whilst leadership deficit continues to be our bane, we cannot say Nigeria is not a great nation, make no mistake about that. Across our length and breadth, we are blessed with enormous resources, our soil is fertile, rare minerals that can make our nation prosperous are abundant, while God has been good to us with the climate. Natural disasters hardly happens here, unlike the “saner climes”.
Asides leadership deficit, we see a preponderance of our citizens do that same thing they complain about in their sphere of influence – lethargic, intolerant, exalting primordial considerations above national interest, propensity to cut corners and corruption, ethnic jingoist amongst others.
This shows that what ails us is actually a microcosm of the Nigerian society, after all the leaders come from among citizens. Therefore, until we resolve to make this union work first as citizens, we won’t make a headway.
Despite the agitation for balkanization in certain quarters, I strongly believe we can find a common ground to make our nation work for all within the context of justice, fairplay and mutual understanding. We need to listen to each other and come down our high horse – this will require shifting ground on some areas, persuasion and consensus building, but the prospects of achieving that is greater than breaking into smaller Republics with an uncertain future.
Addressing the leadership deficit starts by participating more in the electoral process. Only 18% of registered voters in Lagos voted in the last Elections! Which means that about 5.3m people stayed away! Just over 34% voted nationally, yet we rant in our cocoon about what is working or not working?
To make this country better, we all have to put our hands on the plough. Those that are passionate about Politics, that have a calling to make things better should take the plunge. Even the holy scripture says ” John 1:5 “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”. The more light that shines into the murky waters of politics, the better the prospects of getting good governance and building a prosperous nation.
To those in the private sector, the civil servant, the business man, the artisan, the entertainer amongst others, Change begins with you! As that change permeates of landscape, it will ultimately lead to a better country for us all.
Despite all, we are a great nation, let no one tell you otherwise. And we are on the march to a glorious and more prosperous future. Together, we can!
Happy 61 Independence Anniversary, Nigeria.
Segun Tomori is a member of the APC Young Stakeholders and the Executive Director ( Communications), Redpole media