‘Today’s kids don’t see anything special about independence anniversary’

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The fact that Nigerian kids today are not excited about Nigeria’s independence anniversary is a pointer to how bad things are in the country, a Nigerian lawyer has said.

“When we were growing up, Nigeria’s Independence Day was such a big deal,” the lawyer, David Augustine, told PREMIUM TIMES, Wednesday.

“Today, even the young ones in primary and secondary schools do not seem to have anything special about the day. Today existential concerns now occupy every moment of our lives.”

Mr Augustine, an Uyo-based lawyer, spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on the 60th independence anniversary of Nigeria.

The lawyer said since its independence from British rule in 1960, Nigeria has been grappling with myriads of problems, but the challenges have today “escalated to a point where tensions could be felt in every area of our national life”.

“The stress is so much that even those in government today are beginning to express open worries. Our country is turned into pieces by ethnoreligious and regional tensions. There are wide spread fears and suspicions everywhere.

“The much-needed unity continues to be elusive. Hatred and divisiveness are now openly canvassed and discussed, even among our leaders. Life is shrinking and discontent has become our everyday reality.”

He attributed Nigeria’s problems to corruption and poor political leadership.

“We have progressed to a two party system that emerged, not from the legal enactment of the Babangida era, but from the people of Nigeria. That is a remarkable evolution.

“We have, however, in practice seen two parties that are essentially the same in every other thing. We have a democracy that has no philosophy, a democracy lacking in ideology. The result is that we have a polity where power is rotated among politicians who rule without any direction; politicians who exercise authority with no ideology.

“We have a country where one can wake up a member of one party and go to bed at night the same day as a member of the opposing party. We are running a democracy where money is the only denominator; where corruption is not seen as anything to be ashamed of. We are in a democracy where development has no direction; where the people are of no consequence to those in power.”

He said Nigeria could overcome its challenges if it gets the right leadership.

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PREMIUM TIMES asked Mr Augustine if he thinks the agitation for the independent state of Biafra would slow down if the South-east produces a president in 2023.

He responded: “A Nigerian president of Igbo extraction is a good idea, only to the extent that it would massage the ego of being carried along and provide a platform for their elites to also sit on the bazaar table to share the proverbial national cake. If not, the concerns that fuel the agitation will not likely disappear.

“The South-east is today no longer the only region agitating. The middle belt and the South-west have joined.”

He added, “The reality of Nigeria is that the elites use ethnic subterfuge to cover their desire to perpetually rule. Being Nigeria president from any region has not led to any significant change in the lives of the ordinary citizens of those regions. How has Jonathan’s six years presidency helped the people of the South-south? How has the regime of Gen Obasanjo been of major life-changing benefits to the people of South-west and how has the long years of military and civilian leadership of the North benefited the northerners? The story of poverty, deprivation and utter hopelessness still pervade those zones.

“I am praying for the time we shall really evolve into a country only divided by workable ideologies and not pulled apart by tribal, regional and religious bigotry. We need a new nation where justice and equality will always prevail no matter where the president comes from.”



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