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By: Chris Onyishi

Published October 4, 2010

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 broach over.

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.


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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 without hope?

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 rightful owners.

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.

Lagos Nigeria

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