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Nigeria @ 58: The dilemma of a nation – Growing up or Growing older?

As one begins to witness changes even beyond the physical composition in the growing metamorphosis, it whispers promises of freedom but, however, Nigeria at 58 raises a question: is the nation is growing up or growing older? While the latter depicts that the nation is getting more consumed by responsibilities the former shows that things are not unidirectional. Growing old seems easy, growing up comes with a lot of pains, sacrifices and appeasement.

The poignant story of this nation has a mixture of both pleasant and unpleasant phenomena which have shaped the nation to this stage — unemployment, hunger, poverty, insecurity, level of hopelessness and misery have all gotten to their peak leaving the nation in hands of a careless and confused guardian. Our independence seems to have birthed selfish leaders instead of “selfless” leaders who fight and cling to power for personal interest.

However, Nigeria’s 58 years of existence which is either tilting towards experiencing changes as regards growing up or heading towards the elderly status as it grows older shows a reflection of the dangers and challenges that a country has faced while growing up. On the other hand, it depicts the prospects and possibilities that the nation can envisage for as it heads towards a diamond jubilee.

Even at the growing up phase, it appears we’ve squandered a greater part of the hopes, aspirations and momentum heralded at the early days of independence but however the nation has grown older as an indivisible entity which has navigated against all odds. Many might harbour the thoughts of the nation growing up at a slow pace in terms of qualitative increase, the years of existence after independence might equally not be the favourable time to assess the country’s status.

Nigeria has decided to grow older and remain complacent in mediocrity, we’ve refused to grow up in terms of agreeable vision or destination to a brighter rewarding future, excelling at anything or to be renowned for greater feats. Interestingly, the only time we appear to be growing in a common cause is when the “Super Eagles” are playing and, as usual, losing a match.

Some countries around the world are growing up every new day to do something different — of course something productive, some are growing older with an expansive population with nothing spectacular to show forth. However, while the nation grows older, the growing up phase of this nation is at stake and it is our combined and collective efforts coupled with responsibilities capped with “selflessness” to re-engineer the paths of greatness so that at the end of the day, even in the old age, the unborn generations can have an unshakable foundation to rest upon.

Down the memory lane, 58 years of Nigeria’s independence, dissecting the growing up years, — more than 25 years was spent under Military rule — more than 18 years under civilian rule, this is how the nation keeps ageing; but it appears Nigerians are still slaves to oppression from their own fellow countrymen. While our leaders have decided to take the celebration as one the numerous auspicious moments in the nation to light up fireworks — soaked in sun and cloaked in fun — we are still yet to give much thought to the extraordinary document that officially set our nation on its path to independence.

As the journey to another celebration of independence surfaces, looking back with one’s mind racing through the 58 years of freedom, it keeps one developing sorts of impatience from within. A country so vast in size and expansively structured, relying on “oil” as major national income under a crafty central government, then there’s need for a reevaluation of the nation’s vision and mission. Even as individuals growing up in the nation, we are stinging one another like hostile insects forced into a basket.

As we celebrate yet another Independence day amidst uncertainties — beyond the rhetorics, insincerity, empty promises and Jaw war speeches, we still have a long way to go. However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The nation’s growing up phase seems to be pregnant with so many absurdities because it has failed to harness its potentials despite the great sacrifice made by the early founding fathers. To a large extent, we need a clearer and insightful understanding of Nigeria’s independence beyond the patriotic merriment, colourful display and jamboree.

Alao Abiodun is a Journalist, He writes from Lagos.

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