Independence could be described as a state of not being reliant on others. The fellow is not under the control or rigid influence of another. It could mean having sufficient means for a comfortable livelihood. An individual could be said to be independent as much as a nation, depending on his/its status.
Again, a nation is tagged sovereign when it has power to exercise rule. Such nation has exceptional quality. It has and exercises supreme and ultimate power.
The pre-independent Nigerian nationalists understood these two (2) concepts in their totality before embarking on agitations for self determination and rule. They were tired of imperialism. They didn’t want to be treated as slaves even in their father’s land. They could foresee a peaceful and more prosperous nation under indigenous rule.
Our founding fathers wanted Nigerians to be led by Nigerian leaders just like the Israelites demanded from Samuel, “give us a king.” Ask them why they needed a king. They would tell you they wanted to be like other nations. Our patriotic fathers wanted Nigeria to be like other sovereign nations.
They believed we had all it takes to govern ourselves as an independent and sovereign state. They did not see any reason why we could not compete favourably with the western world where self determination was entrenched.
Sovereignty involves making laws and controlling resources without the coercion of other nations. In such land, there is autarchy, nationality and nationhood. In a nation so described, rule of law is upheld. Every citizen is equal before the law. There is no bondman nor the task master. Every citizen is constitutionally free. Apart from the basic law of comparative advantage, the economy of such country is not tied to another nation. Such economy is devoid of taking dictates from International Monetary Fund or World Bank.
Aside, the compatriots have their civic rights and responsibilities, backed by the constitution. In such nation, security of lives and property is paramount and topmost in the duties of the government. The government protects the citizenry against internal and external aggressions.
With all these in mind, the whole nation went agog when on October 1, 1960 Nigeria was granted self rule from the colonial masters. There was a sigh of relief, joy of freedom and aspirations of a better society and a better future where Nigerians would be limitless.
It all started well. The economy looked promising and at a point, it boomed, that the government of the day felt there was a need to celebrate our wealth in “FESTAC,” even though some economists have condemned it. We started playing the “big brother” for our fellow Africans.
But from the 80’s, the narration started changing. It was like a child’s play. No one ever thought it would deteriorate to this level. The one time prosperous nation now languishing in poverty and the citizens suffering because of the poor management of our resources.
And today, it’s a bad as 74% of Nigerians declaring Nigeria unsafe to dwell in. The insecurity in the land is as bad as bandits attacking the convoy of a sitting president. It’s regrettable that insecurity and kidnapping, ill-perceived killing and decapitation of innocent citizens, diminishing value of human life, including social injustice, which is negatively affecting the economic life of the citizenry, are ravaging the country like wild-fire.
In an independent and sovereign nation, it’s the government of the people, by the people and for the people. This is elusive in Nigeria, in that it’s the government of the few for the few (oligarchy). There is a wide gap between the leader and the led, social injustice everywhere.
Agriculture as a sector has always engaged a large number of the populace in terms of employment. The activities of the bandits have sacked farmers from their farmlands, bringing an untold acute shortage of food supply.
It has got so bad that a school of thought remarked that we were not ripe for independence when we got it. They opined that we should surrender the management of the nation to our former colonial masters.
We now borrow money to finance our deficit budget. We are so indebted to China that the fear of seizure gripped many people. Thanks to the Chinese envoy that allayed of fear recently that China has no intention of taking over any of our major facilities.
Nigeria is far from being independent or sovereign. We depend on other nations for everything to survive. There is no more Balance of Trade in our international transactions for reasons of overdependence on foreign goods. The manufacturing sector in in comatose. Most multinational companies have moved out due to lack of power supply.
Nigeria has been adjudged “international headquarters of poverty.” There is brain drain. Professionals are crossing our borders in search of conducive environment to operate. Our youths will rather choose to go for “second slavery” in Europe or America. There is fear of one tribe overrunning the other, causing disintegration everywhere.
Regardless of all these quagmires, the situation is not unredeemable. Nigeria and Nigerians can be free again if we do the needful.
Firstly, we must promote justice with equity. Again, we need to make Nigeria a project of all Nigerians by making all and sundry to have a sense of belonging. Whatever that is due to each federating unit is given without regard to race, colour, tribe or religion. Then, we must promote patriotism by caring for all. All the things holding us down must be looked into. These include: corruption, money politics, tribalism, and winner-takes-it-all-attitude of political class. More importantly, our leaders should be more visionary just like our founding fathers.
In addition, there must be proper devolution of power, where Federal Government is more concerned with serious matters such as security, monetary policies and external affairs.
In attending to our economy, there is urgent need to create jobs for best brains to enable them stay in the country to enhance their contributions in developing the nation, not forgetting to fix our public utilities.
If all these are put into consideration, Nigeria and Nigerians would not only be independent but sovereign in the real sense of it. It is only when this is achieved, that we can begin to talk of celebrating independence anniversary. Otherwise, independence anniversaries will remain mere jamboree and it would be inconsequential.