At 60, Nigeria is totally dysfunctional and fragmented. This is not the idea of what a nation properly so-called should be. Unity of purpose is lacking among the component groups; the different elements within the country are at war against another other all the time. A country that cannot think and act as one cannot be in a position to define its interests and how it would use its resources to solve its problems. This is the reason why over 16 million children that are of school age are out of school.
The poorest people on earth are found in Nigeria as it is the world’s poverty capital today. The country is rich in solid minerals and it has a very good soil for agriculture, but its attention is concentrated on oil and gas. It exports crude oil at prices buyers determine and import petroleum products at the prices determined by those who use their own skills to improve on its crude.
After 60 years of tottering, Nigeria is headed towards total failure as its columns are caving in. Its days are numbered if it continues along this path. This is not the time for Nigeria to be dancing and celebrating.
It is time for it to put on its thinking cap. The starting point is for it to come to the table of brotherhood so it can be properly constituted and have a proper “we the people” constitution. Experience has shown that a diverse country like Nigeria can only survive and its different people can only live happily together on the basis of a federal arrangement.
Nigeria must make a decision to become productive and every section of it must contribute to national growth. It must discard the lazy idea of sharing oil and gas proceeds as that tends to poverty. The fourth largest exporter of agriculture in the world, Netherland, is not up to Niger State in landmass. In Nigeria, landmass is employed to fight only for a larger share of the so-called “national cake” which holds every month. There is no future in that for any country.
Making every section productive will create a new push for the country to fulfil its potentials. The various units will develop in healthy competition rather than fight over limited resources. The struggle over who controls the Centre will also be reduced to the barest minimum. There are ample resources to make Nigeria great and, going forward, to also extend a helping hand to the vulnerable in Africa if we better harness our resources. Finding this new paradigm should be the country’s assignment at 60. If we do, in 10 years we may not be able to recognise this country as its transformative power would have ignited the whole of Africa.
Nigeria will, thus, cease to be a disaster waiting to happen or a failed state which many fear it is at the brink of becoming – if it has not crossed the Rubicon already. Dr. Okei-Odumakin is President, Women Arise and Centre for Change, Lagos.