Nigeria is a country that exist in the minds and hearts of beautiful and visionary citizens of a state amalgamated, almost against their wishes, by the colonial masters. 'Nigeria', on the other hand, is where we live in at the moment.
The fight for independence (and subsequent transition to a Republic) was for Nigeria; a self-governed state of opportunities and freedom where everything is done in accordance to set laws of the land, and orderliness is the anchor-act.
But, we live in 'Nigeria'; a self-ruled state known for her institutionalised acts of corruption, moral decadence, cultural dis-orientation, religious misconceptions, and vices those who fought for independence wouldn't have thought possible to find amidst the citizens of Nigeria, for whom they fought with the pen and might, even putting their individual lives at risk.
We are where we are. I once read someone say the problem with 'Nigeria' is 'Nigerians'. I also once heard a revered man of God speak about how badly 'Nigerians' are viewed abroad so much so his police commissioner-friend in the United Kingdom assumed there are three sets of people in the world; the whites, the blacks, and 'Nigerians'.
How did we get here? How did Nigerians get to become 'Nigerians'? Isn't this the country that once had the best military in Africa? Isn't this the nation whose Head of State once told the world money isn't the problem with us, but how to spend it? Do Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Emeka Anyaoku, and others in their league not have their roots here? Maybe they grew up in Nigeria, and what's been left for us now is 'Nigeria'. What a transition.
Nigeria began her shameful transition to 'Nigeria' from the First Republic. It just didn't seem so at the time. It takes time for a diseased leg to rotten; and smell afterwards. The military coup that ended the First Republic didn't even help matters. As bitter as it is to admit, that singular act of forceful Power-grab by the military which led to the emergence of the then General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi as military Head of State is what keeps haunting the Igbos. That, on its own, is a special discuss.
From the collapse of that very founding Republic, the country - Nigeria began her unenviable developmental decline to the nation - 'Nigeria'. This is not to say the country was perfect in their days, but the country was better at that time. They had a vision, even if they lacked the political will to drive it through. Visionaries were calling the shots and doing the dig in sharp contrast to what's visibly seen in 'Nigeria'.
What's the way forward? Simple; it's all about leadership. It is generally assumed that 'if the head is faulty, all other body parts will not be well'. Leaders from the Second Republic to this present crop of leaders haven't really had the interest of the nation at heart. The General Ibrahim Babangida-led administration clandestinely institutionalized corruption.
President Muhammadu Buhari, during his electioneering campaign, promised change from the status-quo. How much has he faired? Has he been better off than his predecessors? On a personal note, he may be trying his best but that is not enough for this nation. 'Nigeria' doesn't need a leader who fights just corruption alone, but a leader who along with the fight against corruption also offers leadership in the true sense of the word and deeply thought-out solutions to the very numerous problems of our country.
We can be great again. We can be the envy of all nations. Personally, I believe the journey to a better Nigeria starts when we, as a people, acknowledge we all contributed one way or the other, directly or indirectly, to make Nigeria the 'Nigeria' we live in today. Having done that, we should as a nation seek the face of God. Only God can raise a David for us. These Sauls we ask for will always run us down.
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