Independence day: Are We There Yet?

By Abai Francis

Of a truth, can we say Nigeria as a nation is truly an independent country? If yes, then why do the country’s leadership still harbour traits of dependent mentalities by their refusal to take independent actions that would project the country as indeed, a free nation?

While this write-up is not intended to ridicule or mock the country’s leadership in any way, however, it raises some vital questions of grave concern that calls for national reflections, and that if Nigeria must indeed move into the league of great nations, its leaders must jettison any harboured slave mentalities and begin to think outside the box.

To begin with, if after more than 59 years as an oil producing nation, Nigeria cannot boast of local refineries to help refine her crude products for local and international consumption, then what kind of mentality does the country’s leadership projects?

If after all these years of crude oil mining, Nigerians who reside close to the shores of oil and gas exploration still pay far more to acquire its byproducts and still lack basic infrastructures in their domains, what kind of mentality does the country’s leadership projects?

If despite the creativity Nigerians are known for in the fields of arts, business, science, etc. and they are yet to be meaningfully engaged to contribute to its growth and to reduce unemployment and crime, then what kind of mentality does the country’s leadership projects?

And if despite the abundant resources available in the country, the vast majority of the population are still living in acute poverty, then what kind of mentality does the country’s leadership projects?

The list goes on and on.

Every year we mark Independence Day but we have failed to prove that we are indeed ‘independent’. If we cannot refine our crude products ourselves; if we cannot do away with borrowing to satisfy the appetites of political elites; if we cannot end acute poverty despite the abundant resources at the nation’s disposal; if we cannot build infrastructures without depending on foreign contractors; if we cannot build our education and health institutions but keep depending on foreign ones; if our trade imports far outweigh our trade exports; etc. then when can we say we are truly independent?

While no country in the world can possibly live in isolation, the case of Nigeria is an extreme one that calls for urgent attention. Truly, Nigeria is a great nation with great potentials, having almost everything at her disposal except visionary leadership, the absence of which has continued to deny the country, access to the paths of her greatness.

And one of the major problems this absence of effective leadership has brought, that is retarding the country’s progress, is the lack of focus on human resources. Thus, Nigeria has proved true the saying that the availability of natural resources (nonhuman) does not solve problems, it is people that do. This neglect on the greatest resource of any nation – the citizens – is what today breeds ethnic, political and religious conflicts, thereby widening division across the country. And of a truth, can a divided house stand?

Countries like Brazil, China, India, and Malaysia were once poor countries but today they have risen up from the ashes of underdeveloped countries. Funny enough, some of these countries were not in possession of the natural resources but by tapping into their human resources and formulating a culture of value system, they were able to become truly independent countries.

Thus, the existence of a country’s political independence does not in any way guarantee such a nation to be truly independent, economically. To be truly independent means to depend less (not more) on others. And without been economically independent, no nation can truly say it is politically independent, because economic rules does not obey the rules of politics.

So, are we there yet?

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