The 52nd Independence of Nigeria: Principles and Realitiess

UthmanOdus By UthmanOdus, 27th Sep 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

This areticle reviews the Principle and realities of Presidential Speeches in Nigeria with particular reference to the occasion of her 52nd Independence celebrtion.


There is difference of opinion among scolars, about whether Nigeria's Independence in 1960 was truly politically and economically independent. Some say it was a mere 'Flag Independence' alone, while we were, and still are, politically and economically dependent, blaming our present underdevelopment on the seeds of discords planted in Nigeria, by the departed colonial powers and thus, making our economy serviceable to their's. But my argument is that, given the same parameters, fellow African Countries that gained 'Flag Independence' alongside Nigeria, and indeed, other Countries that attained theirs' after Nigeria, like Mozambique, Angola, Ghana, South Africa, to mention but a few, have been able to reclaim 'True Independence' status given the same terrain of disunity as ours, by restructuring their socio-political, socio-cultural and socio-economic frameworks pattered after the peculiarity of their people. Thereby creating the foundation for development for their country. Today, for instance, these countries can boast of steady and unterupted power supply. This fact, among others, and without going further, sets the tune and bearing for any Country yearning for development to indeed, develope. Nigeria as at today, is still in the 'wheel-barrow stage' of power generation with flimzy excuses for inefficiency every year while other hitherto perceived smaller Countries are thinking of other better means of making life meaningful to their people.

A Review of the 52nd Predential Speech since Independence

Indeed, the Nigerian politics is that which can tempt any author to digress from the topic in focus due to the interrelated nature of the unfolding events thereof. So many reactions have trailed the 52nd Presidential Speech marking Nigeria's Independence. But in trying to assess their reactions it is pertinent to review the said Presidential Speech as revealed hereunder.
At first, the President recalled that "...Nigeria made a clean break with more than six decades of colonial rule, and emerged as a truly independent nation. That turning point was a new beginning for our nation". Of a true, when one recalls the nationalist movements and intellectual struggles that took centerstage in the pre independence epoch, and indeed, the attendant crop of leaders that parade themselves in the Country today, one can't help but to be dissapointed at our level of underdevelopment therein.
According to the President, "In 1960, our diversity became a source of strength, and the new leaders resolved to carry the flag of independence for the benefit of future generations". But sadly today, our diversity has become a source of weakness with Boko Haram terrorising the whole north, the militants in the south-south, south west and south-east through the instrumentality of kidnappings and hostage taking etc.
He therefore went ahead to mention some prominent once among nationalists, like "Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Herbert Macaulay ...". Even from their names, it is clear that they were from different regions of the country, but they were obviously united in their diversities.
The truth of the matter is that, at this stage in Nigeria, we ought to have gone far ahead of mere conjectures and believing that "one day, we would get there". Nigeria is indeed, "too rich to be poor" in terms of the diverse resources therein. It is on this basis that I feel quite dissapointed when, in the said speech, I found that, at the topmost in the administrations's achievements mentioned, there is"...We have cleaned up our electoral process; our elections are now globally acclaimed to be free and fair. Nigeria is now on a higher pedestal regarding elections". When we should be counting our achievements in human capital development, howmany underground turnels that can serve as alternative routes to transportation, overhead railway tracks etc.
According to the President "... particularly in the last two years, the Nigerian economy has done appreciably well despite the global financial crisis. Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 7.1 per cent on average". This claim, to me, only exist on paper. But in reality, Nigerians are interested in knowing howmany handsfull "mudu" of garri they can buy with N100 in the market. But as it is, as of date, most Nigerians cannot afford to acquire that. The result is untimely deaths because the said GDP figure hovers with circle of an elite few.
He added that "...Our country’s power supply situation is improving gradually. We are successfully implementing a well-integrated power sector reform programme which includes institutional arrangements to facilitate and strengthen private-sector-led power generation, transmission and distribution". As far as I am concerned, this claim is Abuja-based. About 85% Nigerians could not even listen to live broadcast due to power outage. Even the sub-urbs of Abuja do not power supply as at date. It therefore a shame that in this 21st century, we are still at the crude statge of power generation with all the endless debates on the matter before now.
On the issue of tariff, the present President posits in his speech that "...we have also put in place a cost-reflective tariff structure that reduces the cost of power for a majority of electricity consumers. I am pleased with the feedback from across the country, of improvements in power supply". This therefore shows that the people around the President feed him with the wrong information and he himself is too busy to personally visit such places to confirm for himself so that he does not see it as opposition when he is criticised. That is why, by now, most of these leaders, especially those surrounding the President; by now should be in jail because they are feeding fat on him and misleeding him.
This misleading of the President was also made manifest when he claims in his speech that "...Several government programmes and projects are creating wealth and millions of job opportunities for our youth and general population. Such programmes include: You-Win, both for the youth and for the women, Public Works, the Local Content Initiative in the Oil and Gas". Except for their relatives, I have not seen any average Nigerian that has benefited from any of these millions he mentioned.
In the Presidential speech, it was also said that "... we have drastically reduced the goods clearing period in our ports from about six weeks to about one week and under. We have an ultimate target of 48 hours". Here, I would say thumbs up for the present administration. But as a matter of fact, it was even more than six weeks as pointed out in the speech. Then, it takes over two to three months to clear such goods. The element of miss information therefore comes to bear.
The speech also adds that "We have put in place, a new visa policy that makes it easier for legitimate investors to receive long stay visas". Thumbs up for the administration on this as well. But sadly, the statement has no statistics showing the percentage increase of the visas issued to Nigerians and for what countries. These are facts that the President needs to show in order to show how serious the administration really is and ofcourse, that he is not being misled.
According to him "...The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has disclosed that, as at July 2012, 249 new members across the country had joined the Association, and that capacity utilization has also improved. The multiplier effect of this development on our job creation programme cannot be over-emphasized". This, to me, is a good statistics. But to what extent are they verifiable, because the President should expect that since he took that giant step to sign Performance Agreement with his Ministers, they are bound to continue feeding him with the wrong information with conjoured statistics, where necesary, to buttress their inactivity and inefficiencies. There is therefore the need for thorough proper verification of such information before making references to them.
Added to the above, it was found in the speech that ".... We are fighting corruption in all facets of our economy, and we are succeeding. We have put an end to several decades of endemic corruption associated with fertilizer and tractor procurement and distribution. We have exposed decades of scam in the management of pensions and fuel subsidy, and ensured that the culprits are being brought to book". All these efforts at exposing such corrupt practices among Nigerians by the President are quite loudable. But it doesn't end there. The next step is to quickly prosecute the culprits accordingly before they conterminate other Nigerians disease. To me, justice delayed can never be justice denied. So if the present administration fails to send a few people to jail today, subsequent administration(s) would surely send more people to jail tomorrow.
Perhaps the aspect that attracted most criticisms by Nigerians was the claim that "In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption". Most critiques say that the TI denied this claim. For instance, Ogala (2012) claims that PREMIUM TIMES contacted Transparency International seeking a copy of its latest report which the President referred to in his speech.
The group replied promptly disowning the President Jonathan and saying it had no such report.
“Transparency International does not have a recent rating or report that places Nigeria as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption,” the group said in an email to this newspaper.
It is on this basis that I submit that, indeed, leadership is not an easy task, to be successful therefore, the leader must pay attention to little details and profer solutions thereupon accordingly. Criticisms will come for sure, but such criticisms should be converted into tools for nation building rather being taken as enemity against the opposition.

The Realities and Conclusions

First, this paper should not be seen as an anti-present administration. It is well known by all, that in all fairness, the present predicament we find our Country is caused by an accumulated and carry over of myriads of problems. Consequently, (Taich: 2012) observes that "until they come to pass, they(Presidential speeches) still remain promises. Till then, I have 12months wait ahead". Another observation from an unknown author was that " I am confident that Nigeria will continue to be a source of pride to its citizens; to Africa and the Black Race and to humanity; a land that is known for progress, freedom, peace and the promotion of human dignity. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria".
In a related interview, when asked the question "But 52 years after, one gets worried. And many of us wonder; is this the Nigeria we fought for?", Chief Ayo Fasanmi reveals that "There is unemployment. Some of the institutions our leaders built are going down. The roads that were built even by colonialists then were solid. But the roads that are being constructed now are being done in order to achieve political purposes. You constructed a road yesterday and, today, you find out that it is falling to pieces". On this issue, I totally agree with him. What he has said is in line with my preamble in this article. Simply put therefore, in as much as we blame the long departed colonial powers for our woes, most of the infrastructures we are enjoying today - although built to facilitate the carting away of our human and material resources from the hinterland to the coastal point and ultimately to the metropol- were built by the colonial powers.

Also, Chief Fasanimi adds, when asked in the interview, what should be done to make an occasion like this (52nd Independence) a joyous one for Nigerians? that the progressive elements in this country must come together. There must be a rescue operation. The ship of state is almost submerged, and there must be a rescue operation.

In the South-West here, I only pray that we can win Ondo back into the fold. And the regional integration that the people are asking for must seriously be enforced. That is the way I see it. You can see what is happening in the South-West now. To me however, this view of his was not nationalistic in its entirety, rather, it is region-centric.
He also discredits the claim that Nigeria is going through the learning process when he opines that "I know that we must start from a point, but the most debilitating factor in Nigeria, which is looking like an incurable one, is corruption". Adding that it is like an in-built institution within another institution. That type of thing happens in other countries too, but the degree in this country is terrible.
If we had continued the way Awolowo started in the Western region or if they had allowed Awolowo to become president, or prime minister of Nigeria, the situation would have been different. Nothing works in this country anymore; electricity does not work, pipes are not running with water, the roads are bad, other infrastructure are decaying and even the educational system is not working said the Chief.

Another Nigerian also aired his view when he adds that "this is the best independence speech I have heard in a long while. Jonathan is gradually bringing something fresh to governance. The pillars of accountability and transperancy are being strengthened more than ever before. In the past, this speech could just be lengthy and void. But Jonathan clearly gave account of his stewardship and set out the priority of his government accordingly. It is a welcome development. I am proud of Mr. President said Arobam. But in direct contrast to that claim, Doctokwus (2012) submits that " Subsidy and pension scammers being brought to book? Perhaps in Britain, not in nigeria. 7000 new businesses? Sir, more have closed shop dan opened. Affordable tariffs for majority of electricity consumer? Sir, millions are crying over the unprecedented bills coming out of NEPA's offices. Even the prepaid meters seem to read differently.
However, Dedeike (2012) adds that "I believe you Mr President. It is remarkable that you have set out to confront the challenges of governance with all humility, sincerity and civility. I believe in your power reforms and the need to make generation, distribution and transmission private sector driven. The journey is rough and far but surely we will get there. Even though Nigeria havn't achieved much since independence, am still proud of my country and proud of Jonathan".
Others also show their level of understanding of the speech in light of the realities on ground. For instance, Lalaosky comments thus: Sir, if your real intentions is to do good and revitalize Nigeria again, then I pray God gives you the wisdom and strength to achieve it.
You haven't done much since you became the President but deep down in me, I know there is still time to right your wrongs. Do not surround yourself with Ministers that can't add value to the waning strength of Nigeria but with people that will put this Country on the world map. People that have progress of this Country as their main priority.
In as much as I would love you to ignore some anti-progressive haters out there, the truth is that even a mad man speaks the truth. So assimiliate the criticisms of the masses and use it to build a better NIGERIA with a roboust economy. Goodluck to you ... because you sure do need it...the road ahead is seriously tough. I hope you make it to the final lap, AMEN!!!
To me this last remark, with mixed feelings was quite polite enough for any positve minded to learn a great deal and give results. It is on this note therefore that conclude this paper with the words of my good brother and friend Azeez Suberu that " As we mark this historic day of our Nation, may we learn to depend on God who is the source of true freedom". May the Almighty God guide us to the right path.

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