My brothers and sisters, May I say happy 50 years of homelessness,
illiteracy, poverty and, above all, hopelessness.
Retrogression, by the simplest dictionary description, is
going or moving backward or in a reverse direction.
Biologically, it could be regarded as a return to a lower,
less complex stage or state; some sort of degeneration.
Politically speaking, it could be, loosely, used to mean
decay or collapse in state infrastructure and gradual
erosion of socio-political institutions and values.
And I have heard so much about this deceit that there is so
much to celebrate about. Some say, just for being alive is
enough. Others say because we are still together as a
country is worth celebrating and yet some have these
fantasies that we should not compare our selves with those
countries that are over 300 hundred years such as USA et al.
One obvious murmur from our senior citizens is that life
today is worse that what it was even before the
independence. It is true that there were not such things as
2010 model of limousines or abundance of GSM phones, etc but
all these technologies and digital systems have no direct
consequence as a yardstick to measure our progress as a
nation state if they have not been deployed effectively in
the administration of our beloved country and consequently
raising the standard of living within the political space we
There are a lot of differences between possibilities offered
by science and technology and deployment of such for the
good governance of people within a nation state. That is why
none of our states or central government is run on
technology because this will expose our mentally sick
rulersí ill gotten wealth. Freedom of information bill has
become an anathema in the eyes of our rulers just because it
will offer the citizenry an opportunity to know how they are
governed. So the absence of that bill has rendered what
science and technology has to offer, as it relates to
information dissemination, a nullity.
Nigeria, after fifty years if existence as a nation state is
neither in the fore front of scientific discovery nor is she
amongst the high ranking nations that have deployed
scientific and technological findings for the benefit of her
citizenry. And this is not because Nigeria is poor or
geographically disadvantaged. It is not because Nigeria is
bedeviled by perennial natural disaster. It is only because
our rulers, from post war era, have no realistic index - and
consensus - for measuring the progress of nation state
outside the toga that we should be happy that we are alive
and merged in one redundant project called Nigeria.
But why those alibis do not make sense to me is that
firstly, almost all of us know our birthdays. Whereas some
do not remark theirs elaborately, some do theirs in grand
style. But when we talk about fifty years of Nigeriaís
independence - as a nation state - or we look at fifty years
in the existence of a nation state, we are saying a lot more
than individual birthdays of either all Nigerians or a
Nigerian for that matter.
Secondly, it is only a crazy man who will think his child
will develop the way he did. We do not expect ourselves to
crawl the way nations did before the advent of all these
manís ingenuity in scientific and technological findings.
The resources within our disposal should make us grow over
and above those nations that are older than us.
But the danger in diffracted meaning of progress in a nation
state is that, in state theory, I was told - by my more
experienced and expert friends that - there is so much to be
derived from general consensus about true development and
sustenance of it.
The consensus has to be weaved around the proposition that
economic development or raising of standard of living of the
people, within a nation state, is a highly important and a
worthwhile objective to strive for and this goes beyond some
mere notion but concrete conscious psychological human and
infrastructural development which gives rise to some kind of
crazy patriotism. But the reality on the ground, as I stated
above, is the absence of such a consensus which will give
rise to conducting a sound economic policy.
This is why I defer with people who sit down and wish that
mere songs of zero corruption from people like President
Jonathan is what will bring the change just because he is
singing about a song he does not even believe in or how else
would one look at dolling out awards and squandering all the
billions for no just cause. He does not realize that the
zero corruption he is talking about cannot take place unless
all those activities that tend to impoverish people such as
throwing up billions in misplaced celebration are completely
done away with.
General Babangida was once quoted as saying that because we
were not scavenging from dust bins, we should not see
ourselves as being poor while the current honorable Senate
President was once also quoted as saying that telephone was
not for the poor. This is the mentality of people who are
ruling us and who want to keep ruling us. So from onset, our
rulersí definition of progress or growth, in a nation state,
is in disarray with all known tenets of good governance and
social systems of mankind.
It would appear that what growth and prosperous nation means
to us is what our rulers present to us. It would appear that
progressive nation state to us is when our rulers suppress
us to a point where we cannot even know what should be a
minimal decent life for a man. It seems to me that we have
been so much tortured to a point where we can no longer
determine what should be good for us. This is why whenever
we hear of where money will be sheared, we forget that we
should not present ourselves as beggars before these rulers
who use our resources to by our conscience. This is why we
throng to Eagle Square, at the slightest of notice, and we
go there to begin to say what is not in congruence with the
reality on ground. Canít we turn down these invitations and
ask for something more positive from these rulers. Will they
and should they, perennially, hold us hostage?
Let us, for some obvious reason, do a little digression to
bring some semblance of what a nation state means. India
emerged as an independent nation on 15 Aug. 1947 while
Israel emerged as nation state on 14 May 1948, as a result
of a decision by the United Nations. USA is a nation that
came to existence some 300 years ago.
From historical accounts, Indian and Israel have survived
plethora of hostilities, swimming, as it were, in bowl sof
war for almost all their existence.
When Israel celebrates, she does not do so because one
Netanyahu is alive, or because one Ariel Sharon has not
died. They celebrate with caution and say that a lot is yet
to be achieved. And if you see that Israel, under all these
hostilities, are exporting military and civil hardware to
other nations, then you realize that the essence of a nation
state is much more than an individual deluding him/her selve
of being in existence.
India as we know today, have excelled in all areas of human
endeavor; from space exploration to food security.
USA is a complex nation where her citizen who migrated to
the land, find it difficult to go back to their original
nations and yet they stay in USA to criticize her. But when
they find themselves in one critical issue, they rise up in
unison to collectively make a decision that will be
acceptable to a greater number of the populace. So we
discover that state and the citizenry are intertwined in one
form of covenant; when one progresses, the other progresses
along. In our case a few cabal progresses at the expense of
the state and the citizenry.
Does it make sense to anybody that in the last 50 years our
rulers have squandered huge God-given resources and more
than 80% of Nigerians are hungry, homeless, illiterate and
I get worried when I see NGOs asking people to donate
towards providing books and other forms of help to Nigerians
and other Africans. These NGOs should intensify efforts in
asking the fugitives who have impoverished the people to
bring out their rotten wealth and redistribute to the
When I see natural disaster in other parts of the world such
as Pakistan, China, Haiti, Chile, US, etc and I realize that
The Almighty God has spared us this calamity and yet our
leaders destroy us, I shudder.
Our rulers cruise about in window tinted limousines through
which they watch us drone about under abject man inflicted
conditions and they feel comfortable.
They cruise about in sirens while the more productive
Nigerians are locked up in traffic jams for hours upon
hours. They fly about in Jets while the more responsible and
creative Nigerians spend days upon days on death traps
called roads throughout the country.
They spend billions in tea parties, celebrating 50 years of
absolute senselessness, while a greater populace is dying of
all manner of man induced sicknesses.
Do these people have brains, and do they have blood in their
system. One after the other, I watched with tears how
President Jonathan dolled out awards to the very beings who
have contributed to our woes from 1976 to date. And I ask my
self what is President Jonathan really up to, if not to
garner support for his ambition. A more pragmatic President
would have stopped that mockery. As we speak today, not less
than $450 billion funds belonging to Nigerians are stashed
away in private accounts of these same people being
decorated in a one misplaced celebration.
And it is on this note that I keep praying and wishing that
there will be more Nigerians like Prof. Chinue Achebe who,
has severally, refusedto be honored by dishonorable rulers.
And we must all realize that it takes two to tango. Both
those who give and those who receive are liable. Prof. Wole
Soyinka and his likes do not have to receive any kind of
honor from the very political and military class they have
spent all their energy correcting and I am very sure that is
why he was not there in person. I certainly can estimate his
vision of a virile nation state. And that was why he
proclaimed, some time in the very near past, that ours was a
wasted generation. His stature is only being diminished by
such honor. So goes for our founding fathers
representatives. They should realize that Nigeria we have
today is not what their fathers dreamed for and fought for.
It is understandable when the OBJs and IBBs swarm around
such occasions and get honors.
Chris Onyishi 4th October 2010.