Nigeria @ 58: Echoes of Diverse Voices 

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Mary Nnah, Peter Uzoho and Ayodeji Ake, who sampled diverse opinion of Nigerians during the recently celebrated October 1 Independence anniversary, write that it was a tale of woes and despair, albeit dashed with a sprinkle of hope for a better tomorrow. Excerpts: 

*HRM Igwe Aston Chinwe Onuh, the Orie-Ihitte of Ihitte and Paramount Ruler of Ihitte Glorious Ancient Kingdom Ezinihitte, Imo State

I am not among those who celebrate 58 years of corruption, bloodshed and hardship. If anyone says I am celebrating Nigeria’s independence, I will look at the person as an enemy of the country. Instead, we should see ourselves as mourners to corruption, to the dead and living corrupt leaders, and to those who perpetrate evil against humanity. I see myself and fellow Nigerians as cowards who cannot rise up and stand against injustice. I pray for Nigerians, may God Almighty revive our hearts, minds and spirits to do what is right. And may He blind the eyes of those who will not allow our votes to count in the elections in Nigeria. Amen. 

*Onyeashie James, E. PhD, a university lecturer 

Nigeria at 58, in human terms, is like a life gradually going beyond the middle age, but for a country, it is not even dawn yet. For me, I just want to live in my home of choice, not in a refugee camp.  I just want to live in Nigeria where prejudice does not define my identity, where I can go to sleep in safety and in peace; a country where my neighbour is my family. 

However, politicians have succeeded in destroying my wishes. Today, Nigerians have turned against one another.  Peace is dead, security is a mirage, kidnapping is now a lucrative past time, cybercrime is now a choice vocation, infrastructure is decayed and in shambles, easy money coming from the commonwealth available to only politicians and their cronies. The social space is lawless and the security agencies are overwhelmed by inconceivable anarchy. Religion is no longer a unifying but a divisive factor and holy places of worship are daily desecrated. 

Who will turn the tide? For the sake of the unborn generations? Whose voice of reason will rise above their genetic greed? May I answer the above questions? Draw boundaries. Close the economy. Probe sudden wealth. Make formal and informal education compulsory and free up to the first degree level. Employ everyone who is a graduate whether from the formal or informal institutions. 

*Adeola Agoro, Proprietor, DeoAgoz Fotos

Nigeria is not doing badly at 58 but it could be better.  All over the world, most people would have served either their governments or private entities all their adult lives. By 58, they are waiting for retirement. How many people actually go on to work for themselves and make their own income and be totally independent at 58? Very few.

Yes, 58 signifies growth in number, but does it necessarily translate to true growth? 

Unlike human beings who get to the peak of their careers at 58 and retire, Nigeria is still evolving and growing. Undoubtedly, it is going through stages of life where we are experiencing uncertainties and economic challenges all due to bad leadership of past and present administrations. This is where the government of the day has to really sit down and tackle the challenges if we truly must be independent. Let’s see where we are now to enable us look ahead and see where we still have to improve.

Power generation is getting there, railway is back, agriculture is getting back to its vantage position, entrepreneurship is getting a boast with government incentives and the entertainment industry is making us proud.

Sadly, everywhere we turn, there are grave security challenges. Nobody feels safe in the country anymore. Kidnappings and ritual killings are the order of the day. 

There are too many unemployed people (old and youths) and there seems to be no hope for them. 

My prayer for the country is that we should face the highlighted problems as fast as we can.  We should stop playing politics with good governance. Nigerians on our part should be patriotic. We should stop giving the country a bad name outside. We will get there if we believe we can and I believe we can. 

*His Royal Majesty, Oba of Ugbo Kingdom, Fredrick Obateru Akinrunta

My message to all Nigerians is to exercise patience. We have a lot of resources to make us good. A lot of countries were experiencing what we are experiencing today and they are okay now. I’m very convinced that Nigeria is going to be great in the nearest future. For the youths, I will still have to emphasise on patience because when they are in a rush, it may create problem for them. And I pray that may bad things never befall us.

 *Dr. Joe Okei- Odumakin, Convener, Women Arise and Campaign for Democracy  

At 58, any child that is born since 1960 would have become a full grownup man. I want Nigeria to realise that we must remain the giant of Africa, we must agonise less, and organise more. Election like the previous ones we had shouldn’t be a do or die thing. We must ensure we do not ballot with our blood. Terrorism is on the increase but how long shall we kill ourselves? Life is sacrosanct. Our youths must be engaged and we must hold our leaders accountable. It’s so unfortunate that some people do not know their local government chairman and councilors. If we refuse to hold our leaders accountable, they will continue to short-change us. Each and every one must brace up with their permanent voters card to make a positive change. Nigeria is bleeding under the heavy weight of corruption and we must prevent it. It’s cheaper to prevent it and to do that, we must all join forces. Our leaders must be responsive and responsible and let’s not forget that free will of our people is important and not force.

*Princess Debo Odutola, COO/Creative Brand Director, TPS Luxury Limited

Our nation has had its fair share of economic downturn, terrorist attacks, political insanity and natural disasters but in all, we are still standing as a nation. The present administration has been able to ease the business process as well as encourage entrepreneurs to be more independent as a result of which more jobs have been created at different sectors of the economy. 

Going forward, government still needs to look inwards on the issue of infrastructure, power and poverty alleviation.

We hope that within the next few years they will address the issue of manufacturing of hardware for the fashion industry as well as encourage foreign investors back in the country.

Finally, politicians should put the interest of the populace at heart. The political situation in the last two weeks has been a big embarrassment to the nation at large-issues of rigging, vote buying and thuggery should be put to rest in order to gain respect and confidence of the international observers. We are one of the countries of the world with a large economy, large population and at the highest poverty level, while money is in the hands of a few. The not too young to run bill should encourage a new breed of serious minded politicians who will take charge of the economy and make Nigeria great again.

*Bamidele Johnson, Media Consultant,   Strategic Outcomes PR

Nigeria at 58 means nothing beyond the digits. Dreams and hopes have been shattered, continue to be shattered and ground to dust, I am afraid, it will remain so. Both the leaders and the followers are guilty.  There are no innocents in the Nigerian condition. I suspect that for a lot of people, the independence anniversary is treated perfunctorily. It arouses no feeling of pride or anything of the sort. I am hoping, not expecting, that Nigeria will turn the corner. There is no reason to expect.  Absolutely none. Even hope is because there is nothing else to do.  

*Areh Austin, Publisher, www.inlandtown.com

Nigeria is a reflection of a failed state whereby we lack discipline in various spheres, from leadership to citizenship all are culpable in contributing to the entire mess we find ourselves today. Our national conscience and responsibility to the nation has been eroded over time because we have a system that supports corruption and lacks accountability. The recent Osun State election is a good example of how our cherished democracy is threatened during electioneering. Our so called leaders are so desperate for their own selfish interest; power supply still epileptic in this 21st century. We have an economy that doesn’t support businesses, rather give out loans to influential people to throw Owambe party. We also have misplaced priorities; conspiracy of silence in times of violence not acceptable. At 58 we have gone through a lot and we have a long way to go as a nation. As we celebrate in thanksgiving to Almighty God this Independence Day remembrance, let leaders and citizens use this time to reflect and rise to action to make Nigeria work again and make every Nigerian a stakeholder. #GodBlessNigeria.

*Olukayode Salako, Head, National Secretariat, Buhari/Osinbajo Mandate Group, Abuja

What Nigeria at 58 means to me is simply like the story about a 58-year-old man, who just realised about three or four years ago, that is precisely in 2015, that he had been wasting his life and not getting it right.  And so has now decided to lead a new path of doing things right, managing his life right and achieving better things for himself. So Nigeria at 58 is the story of a bountifully endowed country which had not been lucky with political leadership and  just decided to elect responsible and visionary leaders in 2015 to lead since after independence. Nigerians, in 2015 just decided to elect responsible, decent and modest human beings, and astute manager of economic resources to come in to help salvage the situation. So Nigeria at 58 is right now in the hands of the people I would call the right leaders, visionary, cultured and disciplined men, who have conscience and are passionate about restoring the glory of Nigeria, helping revive the bartered image of Nigeria in the international community. 

Nigeria right now is on the pedestal of getting it right because the political leadership is ideal for the country now. The political leadership has been making efforts to start repairing the country and that is why I am one of the campaigners for the continuity of this government. I am the National Secretary of the Buhari/Osinbajo Mandate Group, one of the mainstream campaign projects for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria to work for the mobilisation of Nigerians to vote for Mr. President to continue to pilot the affairs of Nigeria as ideally as he has done in the last three years. 

Yes some people may say times are hard, it is not abnormal that when you are renovating a house you go through some inconveniences until the renovation is completed. Nigeria is under renovation and President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo are the repairers. The country is now getting it right because the economic resources of the country are now in the hands of leaders who have been managing the resources very well and are deploying the resources to where they are going to be useful for the growth, development and progress of Nigeria. 

I want to see a Nigeria at 58 and beyond where we would have responsible leaders that will continue to run the economic and political affairs of the country prudently and manage it for prosperity. Nigeria at 58 is a country which deserves greatness and prosperity and I believe Nigeria is on the path to that if we would continue to encourage quality leadership that has conscience, vison and mission to continue to grow the country. And by the grace of God, we would soon get to where we would be one of the greatest countries of the world. Nigerians deserve good life in their country and that cannot happen when we continue to allow irresponsible and visionless human beings and political gangsters to continue running the affairs of the country. 

*Mr. McEva Temofe, Founder/President of African Economic Merit Awards and the CEO of Purple Hundred Company, a media/consultancy firm

At 58, Nigeria demands change. Since Nigeria had her independence, it’s been the same consistent cry by the citizens for the government to provide common basic amenities to no avail. After the Biafran war that occurred from 1967 to 1970 and after the secession attempt was thwarted by the Nigerian military, the possibility of having a progressive nation looked uncertain. There was no concrete referendum to proffer lasting peace and unity with different tribes and in 1999,  democracy came to play in Nigeria.

It is time Nigerians change their demand from the government. The nation should look beyond good roads, steady electricity, poverty alleviation initiative and start demanding for a Dubai. When that happens, only leaders with vision will be elected on credibility. 

There has been setback in the education sector that requires urgent attention to avoid academic collapse in the nation; from nursery to tertiary, which calls for an immediate overhauling of the teachers and the learning centers. To sustain this sector, teacher’s training and retraining needs to be put in place and infrastructural and learning materials by the ministry of education has to be a major priority to have a sustainable legacy.

We have however witnessed rapid growth per GDP in the entertainment industry. Nigeria movie industry, Nollywood is rated the biggest movie industry in terms of output in the Africa and arguably the third only behind Hollywood and Bollywood. The music industry is also dominating the entire continent.

Security has been a big problem in for the nation since independence. From one insurgency to another, this has claimed the lives of thousands of Nigerians and has broken the benefits of foreign investors. While the nation is dealing with different extremist groups, minor criminal gangs operate in the country. Robbery, kidnapping, rape and other methods of crime still happen in the nation on regularly, which affects the peace in the country.

Corruption in Nigeria has been a major problem that has crippled the development of the country from ward to federal level. Political corruption is worrisome and it is common place that corrupt officials become celebrated and sometimes are appointed the highest chieftaincy title in their states. 

Nigeria has been rated the country with the poorest people and with people living below the poverty line in spite of the wealth that exist in the nation. Corruption, insecurity and leadership are the catalysts of poverty in the country. The good news is, there is consciousness amongst the youth for good leadership and as I made mention above, the demand must change for there to be good results from the government.

The importation of agricultural products has been a challenge in developing this sector and a major constrain to local farmers to benefit more in the labour and we must applaud the Nigeria Customs for the fight against illegal goods and smugglers.

I implore the Nigerian government to invest heavily in the youths entrepreneurship vision that has also helped China become what it is today and to secure and protect the future of the country. Technology should be a focus of investment if we really want Nigeria to lead Africa to greener pastures.  

*Dr. Ibilola Amao – patriotic citizen  

When a country is not making progress, certain questions should be asked. Who and where are the leaders? What conversations are they having? What plans do the leaders have for an empowered citizenry that would be capable and competent to challenge the quality of their service delivery? The answer for Nigeria is – absolutely none!!!. 

What can I say? I am quite disillusioned by the quality of leadership that Nigeria is plaqued with. Sadly, Nigeria is not even considering the best. It appears that the masses have been brainwashed to believe that the best is the old. Nigeria needs brand new people and the masses do not seem to see the nakedness of her emperors.

Let truth be told, the old order in Nigeria, has little or nothing to offer. Lives are being lost daily and the leaders don’t seem to care. Most of the leaders are in politics for selfish reasons. Some for their bellies, others for power or the fear of going to jail. Majority are not in leadership for the betterment of the country and its citizenry. The politrikcians and legislooters in Nigeria are happy to secure the future for themselves and their families to the detriment of others. 

Majority of Nigerian citizens are now enslaved and trapped by political masters. It is even much worse when the semi-illiterate leaders do not have the mindset to provide infrastructure, realistic salaries and a decent quality of life to the  citizens who serve in honesty at their duty post. Today, crooks are being rewarded and fraudsters celebrated. Leaders in Nigeria are the latest opportunists. Even, the spiritual leaders are unable to chastise their members because quite a lot of them  are just as guilty. The masses have been so impoverished, infrastructure has been so underfunded, education so bastardised, hospitals under-resourced and life has become so cheap and meaningless for the masses that they are willing to sell their vote for a mere N5,000 in Ekiti and N10,000 in Osun. This must not be allowed to happen in 2019.

For a country so blessed with natural, mineral and human resources, I am shocked at where Nigeria finds herself at 58 years. I am hoping that something dramatic would happen before May 2019. Nigeria can’t afford to continue to spend the majority of the nation’s income on funding the lifestyle of senators, legislators, public servants and their few accomplices who would do absolutely anything to remain in power.

Nigeria needs to become a safer and saner country where peace and justice reigns. I cry for my beloved country and I am no longer at ease as the center is no longer holding. Arise O Compatriots!!!. I call upon all well-meaning Nigerians at home and in diaspora to rise up and speak up. Now is the time to reflect on how low the country and her citizenry have sunk. As Nigeria begins the journey to an election year, which would make or break the nation, getting every man’s vote to count without financial inducement is a major handicap that must be overcome but Nigerians must not despair, but must continue to hope. ‘

An Ogba Magistrate Court Lagos has denied Suleiman Mohammed, 50, bail for allegedly raping a 13-year-old boy (names withheld) at his residence at Isale-Oja, area of Agege. 
The suspect, was said to have been arrested after the survivor raised alarm that drew the attention of neighbours and residents.”

 Upon interrogation, Mohammed admitted that he pleaded with the boy to allow him penetrate him anally as he gets sexual pleasure from sleeping with small boys. 

He however claimed that he released the youngster when he declined his offer.  Although the suspect denied penetrating the boy, the survivor claimed that Mohammed, having stripped him naked and begged him for anal sex, abused him sexually. Despite Suleiman’s plea, the presiding  Magistrate, Mr. Peter Nwaka, denied him bail.