The general feeling across the length and breadth of Nigeria as it clocks 54 years is that of fear, uncertainty, frustration, misery and confusion. We cannot roll out drums, organize street parties or carnivals to commemorate our 54 years of nationhood because all isn't well with us and our dear nation, Nigeria.
Nigeria and Nigerians are unfortunately trapped in a complexly dicey and depressingly intractable situation caused largely by years of misrule and poor governance.
Ideally, in the spirit of this momentous occasion, we should all be celebrating and popping champagne, but we cannot attempt that costly adventure at the moment for very obvious reasons. Top on the list of reasons we cannot celebrate in grand style is the security conundrum. Our security men cannot guarantee the safety of anyone, not even their own personal safety.
So, attempting to invite Nigerians to the Eagle Square in Abuja to dance to Davido's 'Skelewu' or Nyaya's 'Your Waist' is like walking straight into the lion's den.
We should discard this yearly ritual of wanting to sound or appear the most patriotic by openly admitting that all is well with our dear nation, when all we see and experience speaks of a country struggling to catch up with her peers in terms of meaningful development.
Nothing can be more suicidal than for a mass of people to keep living in crass denial, pretending that Nigeria has no problem. This is really sad and depressing. For how long shall we continue to grope in the dark? Isn't it laughable and annoying that Nigeria, a country blessed with abundant human and natural resources still struts and crawls behind less endowed and blessed nations on the African continent?
How come all our glorious and historic moments are in the past? It is very common to hear Nigerians repeatedly refer to the groundnut pyramid in the North, cocoa in the West, rubber in the South and palm oil in the East era. While it is cool for us to talk about our past in superlative terms, hardly we say anything good about the present and future. We are not even sure of what the future holds for us as a nation.
All that matters to us, especially our leaders, is simply how to stock up their homes with food, save well enough for their respective families, steal in advance and even in arrears and erect gigantic architectural masterpieces in choice locations across famous cities in world capitals.
I think this pathetic state of affairs in our dear country today should provide us a unique opportunity to reflect deeply on how best to address the mess that Nigeria has been plunged into. This should be moment for sober reflection and not time for partying or jamboree.
A time to truthfully confront these knotty issues and accord them the attention and time they deserve. This idea of wallowing in self-denial won't do us and Nigeria any inch of good. We all know what the problems are. Let's jettison the thought of convening another Confab or committee of 'Wise Men' to fashion out workable solutions to our myriad of problems.
The solutions are as handy as 'Pure Water'. One of the easiest ways to compound any problem in Nigeria is to set up a committee. I cannot boastfully lay hands on any problem that got a permanent solution in our chequered history via the setting up committee. Committees have become conduit pipes for draining the nation's resources.
Frankly speaking, workable solutions to our torrent of problems are not far-fetched. Brilliant solutions and answers to our national questions have been left to gather dust on bookshelves at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja. You really do not need to search too far to lay hands on some of those intelligent reports and recommendations as submitted by committees set up in the past.
Asking the current government to set up a new committee to advise it on how to cut down the cost of governance is tantamount to saying Steve Oronsaye and his team only collected allowances without doing any work. We don't need more colloquium, talkshops, workshops or seminars to really get to the root of our problems as a nation. Just a visit to the secretariat would be okay.
The landmark efforts and strides of our heroes past in all spheres and sectors of Nigeria remain unbeatable. Talk of universities that are currently doing the nation proud, what comes to mind are universities built in the sixties. Same thing is applicable to hospitals and healthcare centers. Our present crop of leaders has deliberately refused to give such worthy legacies the attention they deserve.
They have been left to rot. Most of those old generation universities survive largely on the exorbitant fees they charge their students; a development students aren't comfortable with. Even as these institutions are left without reasonable funding and attention from government, we still witness the creation of more universities in the country steadily churning out unbaked graduates.
Unfortunately, the only thriving sub-sector in the Nigerian economy is corruption. Corruption has eaten so deep into our system that some have adopted it as a way of life. They dress corruption in beautiful robes just to make it acceptable and normal.
This menace is not limited to public office holders alone. It has registered its ugly presence in all areas of the society. Our mosques, churches, schools, NGOs and traditional institutions are safe haven for corruption and veritable platforms upon which the monster is practiced.
Make no mistake of seeing politicians as the only corrupt people in our society. Corruption permeates the nooks and cranny of our dear nation. Ours is a society where elements with questionable character are celebrated and given national honors, while hardworking and patriotic citizens don't even hear their names mentioned on community radio stations.
We have lost touch with our core moral values. What matters to most Nigerians is simply how to make money, even if it will cost them their private organs. The craze for wealth and material acquisition has assumed frightening dimension in our country. Ideally, these are the issues that we should reflect on and seek for ways to solving them instead of flooding newspaper pages with sycophantic congratulatory messages for our President.
Insecurity is another deadly monster that has reduced Nigeria to a pariah nation. This is certainly not the Nigeria that our founding fathers fought so hard to build. Things have gone so bad with our security architecture that insurgent groups pay our military men to serve as their informants!
Of course, these groups pay them much more than they get from Nigeria. So chances that they would compromise is very high. Like other sectors, the security sector is now a shadow of it old self. We can conveniently narrate how our military boys shone brightly in various peace-keeping missions in the past.
But the story before us is worrisome. Our military guys have been reduced to Boys Scout or local Vigilante members. Things have really changed!
The worst hit is the health sector. Our hospitals have become death centres. What we have in the name of hospitals are mere structures littered with outdated equipment and occupied by salary-earning but very inefficient health workers perennially demanding for wage increase
Our leaders don't give a hoot about the pathetic state of public hospitals in the country. After all, they don't patronise them whenever they become ill. They have all it takes to be flown abroad to treat common malaria fever, while ordinary Nigerians down with life-threatening diseases like cancer, cardiovascular ailments and diabetes are left to die in public hospitals.
We cannot afford to be popping champagne in commemoration of our independence anniversary at a time many Nigerians cannot afford quality healthcare services within Nigeria.
As frightening and alarming as these situations are, I still believe that when our leaders commit our resources into worthy ventures that would address the needs of the common man and refuse to steal from the nation's purse, things would definitely change for good.
This culture of criminal opulence and display of stolen wealth must be discouraged. A system where famous paupers get elected or appointed to serve and suddenly become rich men and women overnight calls for worry. The way to realising the Nigeria of our collective dreams and aspirations lies in us being sincere to ourselves in all our considerations and engagements.
Yunusa wrote in from Imane, Kogi State. [email protected]
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN