Another independence day

By Kayode Crown
There is little to celebrate this year as Nigeria marked it’s independence on the first of October. As the day drew near, everywhere was frozen by the strike called by NLC relating to agitations for a new minimum wage, as it seems the government wanted to postpone definite action on it indefinitely.

It seems the game of cat and mouse between the government and the governance has gone on forever in the country. It’s been a love-hate relationship which has ensured that our first democratic experiment was truncated via a military coup. And others soon followed, with the instigators, one after the other promising to win the trust of the people, but it was never to be.

However the incursions of the military into our political sphere have left lasting damage on our common psyche and foisted on us a centralised system of government, just like the military is run, that more or less crippled initiative and stifled development.

The army are not designed to rule, and if they rule, we should expect their top down approach to crush whatever fledgling capability that is being developed in the people.

So even now after 19 years of this fourth republic, we are still trying to stand on our feet as a nation.

The endless tinkering with the constitution is a testament to the fact that we are still being formed as a nation and we don’t yet know how we will turn out.

Also there are agitations for restructuring which seems to have reached a crescendo with many presidential aspirants singing the same tune.

Whether any of them would be able to deliver this is a matter of conjecture. But they seem to be able to read the mood,  seen how the nation has seem to totter on the precipice even with a government that seems to have come with the best of intentions.

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They might have realised that goodwill is overrated and that the nation is just too large, the challenges too huge, pervasive and long-term and corruption too endemic for one to refer to himself as a messiah who can wave a magic wand and salvage things.

They might have realised that what would it profit a man to say that he is the president of a country, but can only offer excuses when it comes to the task he has been elected to do.

Everyone knows that the essence of good leadership is the ability to delegate, so we hope whoever becomes the president next year and has been singing the song of restructuring (where delegation is institutionalised in the socioeconomic space) would not get there and sing a different tune, saying, my hands are tied.

Let me ask such an individual a question in advance: “You did not know that your hands would be tied when you deceived the people and climbed to the position of the president of the nation, on the back of falsehood?”

While speaking of his achievements in his speech to mark the 58th independent anniversary celebration of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, noted that: “We are making progress in the fight against corruption and recovery of stolen public funds and assets despite vicious and stiff resistance. The shameful past practice, of the brazen theft of billions of Naira is no more. Shady oil deals and public contracts that were never delivered have become things of the past.

“Consequently, and this is very evident across the country, we have done more with less in infrastructural developments. Roads, railways, major bridges, schools, energy and power, air and sea ports, welfare of serving and retired personnel both civilian and military including payment of legacy debt such as pension arrears, have been attended to.”

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Those are nice words but what people want to hear is what the government is doing about poverty seeing that Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world. This is definitely not something that the APC administration would want to have on its record in view of the fact that this is its first outing as the helms of affairs in the country.

But rather that sweep things under the carpet, this calls for a frontal approach, even up to declaring a national emergency.

We don’t care whose fault it is that Nigeria has the highest number of people statistically defined as living below the poverty line, what we want is action taken to rectify the situation. We need to have a clear path out of this quagmire. But it seems none is being offered and the pent up frustration in the people continues to increase which no level of the marking of independence day can help.

But there is something I want to bring to the attention of the general public. Why do we have march-pasts in this country?

Every celebration of a civil kind is not complete until some people are marching in front of the governor or president or even the local government chairman.

Is it not demeaning? Does it not impact negatively on the psyche? Does that not mean we are slaves and subjects, and the one we are marching in front, our overlord, that we are subservient to, beholden to?

It seems to me that this is a legacy of the colonial era, the military style parade where everyone passes in front of the ruler and salutes.

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It is unnecessary and a waste of time. We understand the importance of the parade for the military where physical agility and top down command is the norm, but what place does such a thing have in a civil democracy? None whatsoever.

But it has become a tradition and a completely meaningless and useless tradition at that.

But you might be wondering what is the big deal?

Note that if we cannot move on from and make a change in such a “small matter”, is it restructuring that you think we would able to pull off with entrenched vested interests ready to fight to a standstill to maintain the status quo?

Is a march-past part of the constitution? It is not. So why have we held so strongly to this after many years, as it is repeated year in year out ad infinitum. It is a waste of energy and time, which could have been deployed to more profitable engagement, rather than gratuitously marching in unison before someone as if we are his subjects and he will start deceiving himself as if he is some generalissimo.

It’s truly damaging to the psyche, this march-past. It is a way to establish superiority and inferiority. The person standing waving as the people march starts to feel superior, while those marching feel inferior, feel that they are victims of circumstances in the hands of the oppressor standing and waving.

This is something that should be expunged from civil life in this country. It smirks of bondage and lack of respect for the people to demand that they march past a stand.

Happy Independence Day Nigeria.

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