Independence Day: 61 years after, has the Nigerian experiment worked? [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

61 years after first gaining independence, Nigeria's colonially-enforced union cannot be said to be a resounding success or any sort of success.

President Muhammadu Buhari

For many people, October 1, 1960, is the most pivotal date in Nigeria's history. For many others, you'd have to go as far back as the 1914 amalgamation by Lord Frederick Lugard.

For what is considered purely economic reasons, Lugard merged the colonised Southern and Northern protectorates into one entity that'll later be called Nigeria and be granted its independence in 1960.

The amalgamation 'unified' various ethnic groups of different languages, cultures, and religions with all of its attendant problems.

When Sir Tafawa Balewa received Nigeria's independence charter in 1960, he inherited a new nation that was going to be bogged down by old issues from its past.

Some of those issues didn't take too much time to rear their ugly heads and snowball into the three-year Civil War between 1967 and 1970 that resulted in the death of at least 1 million people.

The Civil War, no matter how much its memory appears to be suppressed today, remains the culmination of the fragile state of co-existing in the country by two regions that appear to be on different ends of the same spectrum.

In fact, one would not be too far off the mark to say the one thing that binds this nation and unites all its several groups and interests is unhealthy mutual suspicion of one another.

This has contributed immensely to decades of instability in government as military dictators have at several points seized power and set the country back so much time that's hard to regain. This was until the country went through a dictator's ring of fire and democracy returned for the final time in 1999.

In the past 22 years of life as a democratic entity, a common reason bandied around for why Nigeria remains unfulfilling of its promising potential is the lack of quality leadership. There's no point flogging this dead horse as Nigeria's many leadership problems over the past decades are well-documented.

61 years after first gaining independence, Nigeria's colonially-enforced union cannot be said to be a resounding success or any sort of success that is backed by intelligent reasons.

The country is as divided as ever as ethnic and regional sentiments are more commonplace with each group struggling to emerge at the top of the political food chain.

To make the situation worse, the political schemes don't appear to improve the lot of the common people and merely serve as power-grabbing moves by the top actors involved.

With agitation growing ever louder for Nigeria to become a nation that practices true federalism, 'restructuring' has become a buzzword for politicians to attempt to curry favour with the electorate.

Despite all the juicy transformations and promises that restructuring holds, it has been observed to be nothing more than what the opposition uses to score points over the incumbent administration with a general political will to execute it sorely lacking across the Nigerian landscape.

If you take into account all of Nigeria's ills, it's easy to see why optimism is an extreme sport that you needlessly should not engage in.

When you really think about all the minor and major things that have to shift into place at the right time for Nigeria to become a nation that even appears to be on the right path, it's more than likely that you would give up on such a thought because it is nearly impossible to get all of the nation's moving parts to act in one accord and push a genuine national transformation through for the greater good of everyone.

October 1, 2021 is another vapid milestone in the existence of Nigeria as an independent nation, and there'll be pomp and flashy displays of how the nation is united in diversity and speeches about unity being the one true religion.

However, the nation will soon return to status quo and once again engage in all the things that hold it back from breaking away from its sordid past.

Lugard's experiment might have fulfilled its economic goals in the past, but the rest of Nigeria's history as a political entity has been tainted by infighting and general lack of harmony in too many regards.

If Nigeria ever turns a corner and actually rises above all its crippling issues that serve as enormous roadblocks to its progress, that would be...nice.

Until then, the Nigerian experiment has been as successful as the one time I tried to learn to swim (or drive) - an absolute trainwreck.

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