Nigeria at 58 – Sorry I forgot your birthday

October 15, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Prince Charles Dickson



So, let me quickly wish you a not-too-happy belated Independence Day, my beloved Nigeria. And do kindly indulge me as I start this conversation cum birthday greeting with the following rider.


When Martin Luther King died he was 35 years old, an autopsy found out that he actually had the heart of a 60 year old as a result of stress. At 58, I wonder really how old Nigeria is as a result of stress, what is, and which is our official age, and our real age, indeed what even is our life expectancy as a nation and as a people.


Here we are at our 58th, gunmen still having a field day, one week it is 12, the next it is 24 killed, one month it is in Plateau state, the next month the killing fields move to Zamfara. Nigerians are killed in their numbers for no fault of their own, and very little is done in terms of state security provided for them; is it really a happy independence?


Our education is a state of higgedly-piggedly, only a few weeks to your birthday the controversy was about tuition for university, a position the government has since denied, but in your 58 years of existence you have made us believe that every rumor bears a tale of truth. Even if it was all false, the tertiary sector of education like others are comatose, teachers poorly enumerated, industrial strikes and actions, students are not any better.


The out of school children figures are really scary, and no one seems to care, is it really happy independence?


The political timeline is scary, the Aso Rock villa home of government has degenerated to a party house depending on which party is running the affairs of state, governors versus party chair, politicians versus the people and every day we are giving more promissory notes and we suffer continually from expectation fatigue, that puts so much strain on the 58 year old heart of the nation. Between the two heavy weight parties, the case of Taiwo and Kehinde, or Yan Biu…identical twins that carry a nametag? How happy is our independence?


Do you remember that tanker explosion in Lagos, since then there’s been more of such as poverty and lack of direction, executive orders without actions keep citizenry on the edge at 58, suffering from all manner of ill health and mental agonies. Talking about health…for the elite class, it is all about medical tourism at our collective expense, when they build hospitals that they do not equip, we worship them.


At 58 poor health services are compounded by strikes across the board by health workers of all cadre, and with each birthday or is it independence citizenry are forced down the path of unverified local herbs and self-medication because the cost of standard Medicare is no longer standard.


We cannot treat ourselves, soon we may not be able to feed ourselves, farmers cannot access loans and facilities are made to look like rocket science as the price of food items skyrockets. One cannot but ask where are the groundnut pyramids or cocoa farms. Is this the 58th independence year that we sought or fought for?


Everything doesn’t seem to be working, complainants turn accused, the police is not your friend and the judiciary on its own ensures that justice is delayed and eventually denied. At 58 the executive, legislative and judiciary are engaged in a complex shaku-shaku directionless dance.


Nigeria, happy 58th Independence Day, but are the Chinese not coming, or a case of they are almost everywhere, we owe them for XYZ and soon we may after all be dependent on them. The number of impoverished Nigerians moved the scary decimal point and the sea route to Italy for a better life and prostitution remains the chalice laced green grass.


At 50 we were the happiest people on earth, today really what are we…we are simply contesting the position of the world capital of poverty at 58! As a people we suffer Athazagoraphobia, the fear of being forgotten or ignored and fear of forgetting.


We just are quick to forget, slow to remember, selective in our recollections, hypocritical in our choices and we are trudging on in that manner without recourse to any future, so at 58, I recall on one of those self-serving trips to Malaysia, a member of the National Assembly told us of how the palm wine he drank in that country was sweeter that the one in his native Anambra, he shamelessly forgot himself the source of the palm trees that produced the wine. How did we get here?


We may argue, debate, disagree about what kind of growth ours is…how the current crop is working through its very docile arms at ensuring the creative potentials and ability of citizenry, but is there any hope that resonates as impact-on gestures other than the too many controversies at every junction?


The fact still remains that we do not possess a “how to” instrumentality that measures tangible success or performance in various spheres, too much knowledge, very little practical solutions, so we keep taking few steps forward and plenty backwards at 58; how happy a birthday?


What happened, all the economic theorizing, it was once Soludo, then Sanusi, there was Ngozi, we talked sovereign fund, excess crude account, all mouth-ables, a nation under a great burden of expectation yet losing steam each time hope rises and fatigue sets in and the circle repetitive as usual.


How do the kids on the power bloc realize that we have resources that are unlimited, untapped, and thus create a semblance of a system that mirrors a model or formula that ensures not only fair generation but distribution and allocation of resources, well, maybe at 60 the narratives would have changed—Only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.

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