By Maria Famakinwa
As Nigeria prepares to mark her 60th independence anniversary, opinions differ on if it is worth celebrating given the myriad of challenges confronting the nation. Those who maintained that we should celebrate said that as long as we are still living, there is hope while others who think otherwise argued that there was nothing to celebrate in a country marking 60th years anniversary amdist increase in fuel price, electricity tariff, where good percentage of its citizens suffers to make ends meet.
To many, a man of 60 years is mature, expected to have family and in some cases, grandchildren which he must lay a good example that they will emulate. Such is expected to have retired if he is a civil servant, probably living in his own apartment and enjoying his retirement. They were however optimistic that all hope was not lost, if our leaders can address the major issues like socio- economic, security among others facing the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a recent virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting unveiled the logo for Nigeria 60th Independence anniversary celebration as he also revealed the theme to be “Together Shall We Be” to forge a more united and cohesive Nigeria. He said, “As we celebrate this anniversary, this government will work towards greater inclusiveness and look forward to the participation of all Nigerians. The 60th independence anniversary celebration will be observed for a whole year.
Celebrating 60 years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act differently has also forced on us the imperative of a low keyed celebration.”
In his reaction to the country’s 60th anniversary, the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, urged Nigerians to thank God for sustaining the country and should continue to celebrate because the country is on the path of greatness. The governor also appealed to Nigerians to be ready to make the sacrifices needed to achieve greatness for the country. According to the Governor, President Buhari had established democratic principles in addition to making a lot of fiscal policies to better the lives of the citizens.
X-raying Nigeria diamond celebration, a pubic analyst, Mr Dare Wilfred, who described this year as a unique and unforgettable one, opined that despite all the problems facing the country, there is still need to thank God especially for seeing us through the ravaging pandemic. He said,”We certainly have cause to celebrate when we consider how COVID-19 is ravishing the economies and people of highly advanced nations because with the comatose state of our healthcare system, hell would have broken loose if negative prophecies we heard regarding coronavirus had come to pass.
“We shall be ungrateful if we fail to realize that many countries with adequate health facilities could not safe their citizens from dying. We should forget about the challenges facing us as a country and come together to thank God, doing that alone is enough for God to answer our requests and change our country to what it should be. Yes, there are problems, but since we cannot solve it, why not hand it over to God as we praise him for keeping us. If you still remember that many innocent souls have been lost to road crashes, you will put Nigeria problem aside and thank God for keeping you among the privilege ones witnessing 60th independence anniversary of the country. It is only those who are still alive that can be hopeful of a better tomorrow. So, it is worth celebrating the country’s diamond jubilee”
A teacher, Mrs Ibukun Adesipe, also urged Nigerians to be thankful to God despite the challenges and added that there is no country in the world that is not facing one challenge or the other. Her words, “The only problem we are having is comparing our country with others. We should be told that there is no country that is totally free from challenges and we should also know that God deal with each country differently. If God can see us through the months of lock down due to coronavirus, we should be grateful. We should also continue to pray for our leaders for God to direct them to do the right thing. We also need to cultivate the habit of speaking positively of our country because our tongues are powerful. Though, things are not the way we want them to go, but we should continue praying for things to change. God who has kept us to see the 60th independence anniversary of the country has greater plan for the country and will see us through.”
Reacting differently, a trader, Mrs Janet Egbo, though, thanking God for sparing her life to witness the country’s 60th independence celebration but lamented that majority of the citizens are dying due to unfriendly policies of the government. According to her, many citizens have become jobless and depressed which was the reason some committed suicide.
Her words, “While I am thanking God for keeping me and my household to see Nigeria 60th anniversary, many parents like me who cannot provide basic needs of life for their children are not happy. Leadership is our problem. Despite promises made by various governments to improve the standard of living of people and make life worthwhile, we are yet to see it. Instead, the present government increase fuel price and electricity tarrif the same year the country’s economy is at lowest ebb due to the effect of coronavirus pandemic. Under normal circumstances, this is the time the government should roll out plan to ameliorate the suffering of the masses as it is done in most countries and not the other way round as we are witnessing. A 60th-year-old country ought to have overcome some challenges we are still batlling with. Most Government policies are anti-masses and we want this addressed.”
Sharing a similar sentiment, a civil servant, who simply gave his name as Rasheed, while congratulating Nigerians for the 60th anniversary called on the Federal Government to do everything possible to bring the country back to its enviable state. The man who bemoaned the high rate of unemployment across the country blame it on the increase in social-vices in the country. He said, “Most Nigerians are not happy with the state of things in the country. Majority of jobless youths have taken to robbery and other nefarious acts to survive. Foreign investors are not willing to come to the country because of the current state of things, eating three square meal per day is no longer bearable for most families, giving children quality education is now becoming a thing of the past in most homes.
“Celebrating 60th independence anniversary in a country with high standard of living despite increase rate of unemployment is unacceptable. These problems should not be the features of a country celebrating diamond jubilee. We are calling on the government to use the opportunity of this 60th independence anniversary to right the wrong and put smiles on the faces of the poor masses who elected them. At the independence in 1960, there was a groundswell of euphoria and hope in the Nigerian project. It is painful that 60 years later, the anticipated gains of nationhood envisaged by the founding fathers are still being awaited. Our leaders must do everything possible to return the country to the path of glory.
“As the nation marks 60 years of self government, it is not too late for Nigerians leaders to change and make democracy work for the people. Now is the time for our leaders to focus more on the Nigerian promise for history to be kind to them.”