There comes a time in a nationâ€™s life just as in a manâ€™s life when there has to be a pause, reflections and certain questions asked on the journey so far. Nigeriaâ€™s progressive decline in all facets of life to the extent of becoming a failed state in spite of record material and human resources now calls for such an occasion of reflection and a genuine national debate over what kind of a nation we really do want to live in.
Ours is a tragic nation where blind tribalism has blunted all sense of reason, where there is no justice, no love, no harmony and no patriotism. It is also a nation that in the 21st century remains at odds with modernity as it shamefully lacks a database for its citizens and all the basic necessities of life such as roads, electricity, pipe borne water, functional hospitals and functional schools amongst others. Added to this, is a disastrous outing in every global index of social development. At the last count the United Nations and other international development organisations estimates that over 70% of Nigeriaâ€™s population live below the poverty line in extreme penury. Given our population, that represents a figure of over a 100 million people.
Life expectancy in Nigeria is among the lowest in the world, while maternal and infant mortality are among the highest in the world. Diseases such as Polio, Cholera and VVF that are near extinct elsewhere are still highly prevalent in Nigeria. In the failed states index, Nigeria is ranked in the same league as Somalia among the red list of failed and collapsing states. In the corruption perception index Nigeria ranks among the most corrupt red listed nations in the world. In the areas of ethnic and religious harmony, Nigeria ranks among the worst in the world having shamefully pioneered genocide in Africa, and with more than 30,000 killed in the last 10 years alone.
In the area of political stability and economic development, Nigeria in 2007 organised the most fraudulent elections to date in human history and remains highly volatile and unstable as a result of violent inter-ethnic power squabbles, while the economy bereft of basic infrastructure is undergoing a phase of de-industrialisation with factories closing down in droves and relocating to neighbouring countries. This has created a glut and time bomb of unemployed and under-employed youths estimated to be over 40 million. Another 15 million Nigerians are estimated to have fled the ravages of the nation, some of them through dangerous routes such as desert crossings and sea routes from Morocco and Libya to foreign climes.
The nation seems to be trapped in a cursed spiral of doom in spite of the longest running oil boom in the nationâ€™s history. In the face of these damning realities it has become obvious that the route travelled so far by Nigerian leaders has failed. Nigerians must now reflect and decide what kind of a nation we want to live in. Should we break-up the nation that has been a source of so much hatred and whose contradictions has stifled development or should we continue as one nation with new structures that guarantees true federalism and regional autonomy?
Should we continue our journey towards total collapse by continuing to ignore the absence of basic infrastructure that is taken for granted elsewhere or do we begin now to build some of the most sophisticated infrastructure in the world? Do we continue to ignore the millions of unemployed youths and the inherent time bomb or do we begin today to implement policies that will create jobs and other opportunities? Do we continue to allow generations flee our shores in desperation or do we implement policies that will keep them at home?
Do we continue to nurture a population trapped in extreme poverty or do we begin aggressive initiatives to eradicate poverty in our clime? Should infants and mothers in our nation continue to die avoidable deaths or should we take measures to end this indignity? Should our general population continue to expect to die before the age of 40 or should we improve the social conditions of the people and thus their life expectancy? Should our nation continue to play host to diseases that are extinct elsewhere or should we work to eradicate such diseases?
Should our political leaders continue ethnic power squabbles or should we evolve an organised political system that guarantees inclusion and rotation amongst the 6 zones? Should our nation continue to be a centre of religious intolerance, ethnic-cleansing and genocide or should it be a nation that projects peace and hope to the rest of Africa and the black race? Should our electoral process continue to be fraudulent and do we continue to tolerate the misrule and massive looting of the nationâ€™s coffers without any consequence or do we rise up and revolt against the leadership?
Should our nation continue to be the worst in every index of social development in spite of record resources or do we begin to change the trajectory of such indignity? Should we continue to treat our old people many of whom die queuing for their pension with scorn, our weak and disabled most of whom live a life of misery with disdain and our youths who go through life without any hope with nonchalance or should we begin to engage with and provide for the welfare of these most vulnerable people in our society?
Should our nation be one of hatred or of love? Should be it one of conflict or of harmony? Should it be one of neglect or of charity and brotherhood? Should it be one of penury and failure or one of success and prosperity? Should it be a laughing stock and a nation we are ashamed of or a stunning success that inspires pride in all of us and indeed the entire black race?
As Nigeriaâ€™s man made predicament gradually enters the psychological point of no return, and as another tragic year draws to a close without much hope or promise, every Nigerian, the leaders and the led, Muslims and Christians, Catholics and Protestants, Sunniâ€™s and Shiiteâ€™s, Jews and Gentiles must now reflect and ask these fundamental questions. Before itâ€™s too late, we must all now decide what kind of a nation we want to live in?