When Nigeria gained independence, there was great hope and optimism but over the years, there has been a downturn in the fortunes of the nation.
The peaceful transition leading to the Union Jack being lowered and the Green-White-Green flag going up was a sign of hope, optimism, aspiration and high expectations, especially with the abundant resources both in agricultural products, mineral, and human resources.
The human resources included well trained educated elite who had the best of education in ivy league schools in Britain and other parts of the world.
The likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alvan Ikoku, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji (Sir) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and others all had a dream of an egalitarian society where everyone was equal, after all, they were all coming from such a society.
Nigeria's founding father, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello
Photo Credit: Vanguard
There was an abundance of mineral resources and deposits in every part of the country, from Enugu to Port Harcourt, from Kano to Jos, from Calabar to Lagos. In fact, the country was the dream and envy of all and the British felt they had left it in good hands.
But then came the first coup of January 1966 staged by a crop of young army officers led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna among others. The casualties of the coup included the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Western Region, Samuel Akintola, the finance minister Festus Okotie-Eboh among others.
The second counter-coup in July 1966 led by Yakubu Gowon was seen as a northern coup and a revenge for the coup led by the Igbo officers.
And since then, Nigeria has had it all wrong. After several years of military rule, the gamble with democracy has been what it has been: a gamble. It is a known fact that the brand of politics practiced in the country has not lived up to expectation with the country being divided along ethnic, tribal and religious lines.
Anyone seeking political office in the country is not looked at on his merit but where he comes from and the religion he practices, leading to a sequence of mediocre being in power while those who have what it takes to provide leadership are discarded into the waste bin.
Nigeria has not had it so bad as it has been in the last 16 years with the people in power only going in for what they can get and not what they can do for the country. Corruption has become the order of the day and every attempt to nip it in the bud is resisted with by every means possible.
Presently, the National Assembly has been engaging in mundane things instead of doing what they were meant to do. None issues are being thrown to the public on a daily basis. Things that do not impact on the people or should not even be considered and a lot of energy dissipated.
The present day democracy in Nigeria is where the seat of power has become populated with the worst brains in the land. We now have a situation where less intelligent people occupy power positions where they take all forms of obnoxious decisions and make all manner of stupendous policies for the larger society.
Their understanding of leadership does not go beyond the number of houses they own in cities and abroad, the number of cars they own, training their children abroad after their activities have led to the collapse of the educational system in their own nation state and flying abroad for medical treatment because they have destroyed the health care services in their own land.
They also go to the extent of flying home in helicopters because the roads are bad and they also feel insecure.
In the last few weeks, if the Senate is not engaging the Comptroller of Customs for not wearing his uniform, it is the Secretary to the Federal Government who is being summoned. If one Senator is not involved in a certificate scandal, the Senate President is fingered in vehicle importation mess while the major things like the budget are relegated to the background.
The first quarter of the year is about rounding up and the 2017 budget has not been passed yet these lawmakers are busy pursuing some wearisome and prosaic vendetta.
They should not be religious bigots who use religion to hold down their people. It is only when very primitive and less intelligent people occupy power positions that governance is shrouded in secrecy so that the populace will not have knowledge of their cruelty and absurdity.
It should be emphasized that for a nation to move forward, it must have leadership whose idea of a nation state should go beyond the number of cars they have, the number of houses they have acquired both locally and internationally, amount of dollars and naira in their foreign and local bank accounts.