Nigeria at 52: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly – By Femi Olabisi

01 Oct


“The Good, the Bad, the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic western film directed by Sergio Leone.  Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach are the three major characters.  The film chronicled three adventurous fortune seekers.  Of the trio, one is at the extreme of evil (the Ugly), one a ‘moderate’ evil (the Bad) and one that stands opposite to them (the Good).

Each of this trio represents the different stages of Nigeria’s peregrination and the search for progress and development from October 1, 1960, when Nigeria secured her independence from Britain.  Ordinarily, the journey ought to be a transition from ‘the Ugly’ to ‘the Bad’ and eventually the desired ‘Good’ that was the desire of the founding fathers.  Alas!  This was not to be.  Rather, it was a movement from the good to the ugly.

Fifty-two years after independence and thirteenth year of democratic government, Nigerian seems to be in extended infancy.  Official corruption, vote rigging, assassinations, youth employment, militancy, terrorism and host of other evils permeated our society.

October 1, 1960 was a dawn of new hope.  All was set to engender a new beginning for Nigeria.  With the demise of colonial rule hope was high that all will be well within a short period.  While colonial configuration put together ‘a marriage of inconvenience’ call Nigeria, everybody believed things would work out.

Independent Nigeria had its teething problems.  Prominent was the civil war that ravaged Nigeria.  Otherwise known as the Biafran was, the country was plunged into three years of implosion.  Precipitated by injustices, the rest of the country was pitted against the East.  Eventually, Nigeria survived and the war ended with “no victor, no vanquished”.

The 70s was the era of oil boom.  The country was so rich that the president then proclaimed that the problem of the country was not how to get money but how to spend the money.  As insane as the comment was, truly there was so much money.  Except that it was eventually squandered.

In Nigeria of yester-years, our currency was so strong that it was more valuable than the U.S. dollar.  But what do we have today?  Our economy has plummeted and our Naira is as useless as it can be.

Nigeria of yesterday excelled in all fields.  Our universities were well equipped and students received the best of education.  We heard of the exploits of first generation universities like Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife), University of Ibadan, Amadu Bello University, among others.  Today, the former glories of these schools and scores of other are in decline.  With archaic libraries equipped with antiquated books and laboratories sans of reagents, one can only hope for a better tomorrow.

We hear of huge amounts budgeted every year for road construction and maintenance, for the health sector, agriculture, education, security, etc.  But there is nothing to show for all these. Our health facilities are not improving, our roads are death traps and our education sector is collapsing.  Whatever happens to all these monies. 

Senior government officials and politicians travel out for minor headaches; hapless Nigerians are left at the mercy of our ill-equipped hospitals.  Children of the rich school outside the country; millions make-do with schools without facilities, politicians travel in bullet-proof cars and well-protected mansions; millions are at the mercy of armed robbers.

Some of us grew up without being able to differentiate between Christians and Muslims because of religious harmony.  I remember vividly that celebrations of Christmas, New Year, Eid-Fitri and Eid-Kabir were everybody’s affair.  Christians celebrate with Muslims, and vice-versa.  But today, the story is different.

Sectional, regional and ethnic groups were then an abomination.  Those in existence were mainly pressure groups.  But today, Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Egbesu Boys, Arewa Youth Forum, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Boko Haram, etc. have all mushroomed to redefine our corporate existence.  Everybody is obviously dissatisfied with the state of things.

Having been perpetually subjected to military dictatorship, the return to democratic governance in 1999 brought a glimmer of hope.  Hope was again rekindled.  But that too was to become another chapter in our litany of woes.

Our democracy only increased the number people to steal our money, and by extension, increase in the amount stolen every day.  Yes, we all decried military dictatorship, but it was not as corrupt as today’s democracy. 

While there are few imposed thieves during military era, our elected and ‘selected’ thieves steal more because they are more than quadruple military thieves.  Worse still, they represent nobody but themselves.

Nigeria celebrates her 52 years of freedom from Britain today, but are ordinary Nigerians truly free? 

A retrospection of what Nigeria was, what Nigeria is, and what tomorrow portends leaves much to be desired.

‘The Good’ was when Nigeria secured her independence and the prosperity that followed; ‘the Bad’ was when we were confronted with teething problem like the civil war; the Ugly’ is our current travails; leadership tragedy and avalanches of hydra-headed problems bedeviling Nigeria.

Happy independence anniversary to all Nigerians.

God Bless Nigeria!


Twitter: @ Femiolas

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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Thoughts


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