Dear beloved Nigeria, yesterday, Sunday, October 1 was your birthday. I congratulate you on your 63rd birthday anniversary.
It is wonderful seeing you grow to this mature age and I thank God for being alive to share with you the joy of being an independent country.
Many that are supposed to rejoice and celebrate this day with you are in the grave.
Many are in the hospitals, many are in their homes still raising hope that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
There are many others in Nigeria today that don’t even know where their next meal will come from.
Such is the irony of a nation that is destined to be great and become the leading giant in Africa.
Dear Nigeria, it is interesting to note that the Republic of China, one of the leading economies in the world today got her independence exactly 11 years after you.
China has remained one of the formidable countries in the world today. The Asian country has also become the world super-power and her influence on the global stage is awesome.
China’s independence was unique because it marked the beginning of an emerging, enterprising nation that was ready to discover herself and fulfill her dream.
Apart from China, countries like Singapore and Malaysia are great nations that looked up to Nigeria as the greatest potentials from Africa.
And today, those two countries are far, far ahead of you, leaving you behind with little or no hope.
The success stories celebrated by China, Singapore and Malaysia are the rewards of good leadership.
So, as we celebrate your 63rd birthday anniversary, it is very important for us to look back and go back to the drawing board and reflect on the journey so far.
Dear fatherland, there is need for us to look back and see how you have fared as a nation in the last 63 years of your nationhood.
At 63, you are not getting younger, there are other countries in the world and even in Africa that is doing very much better than you are doing.
But be that as it may, I think there is an urgent need for us to ask some questions about the journey of your life at 63.
Where did you get it wrong? When did you missed the road to your promised land? Who altered your destiny and that of your citizens?
How do you intend to get out of these systemic failures? At 63, you have reached a milestone of your life.
I remembered when you got the independence from the British Colonialist, our forebears and great nationalists, like the late sir Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and others raised our hopes that your birth would bring forth the desired hope of a prosperous nation.
They raised our hopes and we were hopeful that Nigeria’s independence from the British colonialist will help us to better the lots of Nigerians.
Dear Nigeria, it is sad that today, the very foundation of your life as an independent country is being threatened by corruption, nepotism, and insecurity occasioned by bad leadership.
All the ethnic nationalities that make up the nation live in mutual distrust and there has been a dearth of good and responsive leadership in the running of the affairs of government.
Leadership has always been the bane of your progress. In the course of your life, your citizens have also suffered a lot, endured unpleasant situations.
In the last 63 years, things have gone from bad to worse and nobody is sure whether you have been cursed for doom.
In the course of your life, we have had years of military rule. We have also had democracy. But in all of these, Nigerians are still at the receiving end.
Dear Nigeria as you celebrate your 63rd birthday, your citizens are wallowing in pain and abject poverty.
In spite of the huge potential of both natural, human and material resources that it has pleased God to bless you with, your citizens are suffering and they are hit hard by the policies of their leaders.
Between 1960 and 2023, it has been 63 years of moving a step forward and three steps backwards.
From the late Sir Tafawa Balewa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Agui Ironsi, and General Yakubu Gowon to the late Murtala Muhammed, Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, the late Chief Ernest Sonekan, Sanni Abacha and Abdulsalam Abubakar to Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umar Yar’Adua, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to Muhammadu Buhari and president Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is sad that Nigeria’s story is that of a clueless leadership.
At different times in the history of your life, all the leaders mentioned above have had a shot at the helm, except two- Obasanjo and Buhari that were even fortunate to rule and lead Nigeria twice.
But in all of these, it is the same old stories of failures, tales of woes, missed opportunities and unmet expectations.
Dear Nigeria, you got it wrong in leadership. And it is sad that those that are lucky to be at the helm in the last six decades of your life did not share the same vision with that of the founding fathers.
You missed the road to the promised land when corruption and nepotism became endemic in your polity and ways of life.
Sadly, it is these same leaders and their political allies that altered your destiny and that of your citizens?
And now we are groaning in poverty amid prosperity. Our democracy is evolving uninterruptedly for 24 years, but the citizens have been contending with various challenges.
In the past 24 years, democracy has come to stay, giving us the best opportunity to choose our leaders in a free and fair election.
But as much as we tried to elect purposeful and visionary leaders, corruption will rear its ugly head and we will lose the battle to pure rigging.
Today, it is “Emilokan” and for the citizens, the economic situation is as bad as to say “Enikan lo mo”.
Dear Nigeria, as we basked in the euphoria of your 63rd birthday anniversary, the Federal Government is still trying to save you from the looming industrial action of the Nigerian Labour Congress billed to start tomorrow, Tuesday October 3.
And as far as I am concerned, the only good news from president Tinubu’s independence day national broadcast is the temporary increase of N25,000 in the salary of civil servants for the next six months.
Dear Nigeria, how will this sudden and temporary respite reduce the burden of the Nigerian citizens when a bag of rice, the popular staple food among the poor is N52,000? How will this new wage increase impact the life of an ordinary market woman in Lagos, Kano, Sokoto and Kaduna markets?
How many of the Nigerian Labour force are the civil servants? What are the numbers/population of the Nigerian civil servants? No data? No information?
Telling the truth, at 63, Nigeria is confused. Removal of subsidy has, rather than becoming a blessing turned out to be a curse, especially with the daily free-fall of our naira, economic somersaulting, political distrust and renewed suffering, I find it very difficult to believe if Nigeria will conquer the world like China, Singapore and Malaysia and other countries that have truly discovered their peculiarities and potentialities among the comity of the nations in the world.
Dear Nigeria, it is true that the brunt of true reform processes and that of enduring progress are difficult to bear, but in the midst of all these reforms, your citizens should be allowed to breathe before the fulfillment of the renewed hope.
It is agonizing when a litre of petrol product is sold for close to #1000, it is a big disgrace for Nigeria when major pharmaceutical companies and investors are leaving the shores of Nigeria for other African countries.
Dear Nigeria, it is nothing but loss of hope when the four refineries in the country are dead, and the president gave assurances that one of the refineries would be fixed before December.
Dear Nigeria, no country will be happy when a large percentage of the citizens are leaving the country in droves to seek a better future for themselves and their families.
I think Tinubu’s administration needs to engaging Nigerians more in driving the vision of his renewed hope agenda. This is key in this tough time.
Finally, dear Nigeria, I will like to conclude by saying that though the reality of the present situation in the country is different from the usual campaign promises of politicians.
Fixing Nigeria within six months is very challenging, however, President Tinubu needs to cover a lot of grounds by doing his very best to stop corruption before it kills Nigeria.
Obviously, Nigeria is racing against time, it is better to restructure this country in order to save Nigeria from possible implosion.
Kehinde Aderemi writes from Lagos