In celebrating Nigeria togetherness, it is important to note that just like the butterfly that passes through several transformation stages, so has been the journey of this great nation. Although we have made some progress, patches of challenges still litter our corridors. Before proceeding, it is imperative to divide this essay into bits to explore our journey from history to the future for the purpose of my audience who may be ignorant about some salient issues.
The geographical region now known as modern day Nigeria was once, known as a slave coast but this changed in 1870 when slavery was abolished. The landmass has been home to many ancient and indigenous pre-colonial states and kingdoms over millennia, while the name “Nigeria” was coined from the Niger River by a British journalist named flora Shaw in 1897. Due to the abundance of agricultural and natural resources, the Royal Niger Company controlled trade in the territory but after Great Britain revoked her charter, the company sold its territory to the British government for 865,000 pounds. By 1914, Lord Lugard amalgamated the southern and Northern protectorates to form one Nation on the 1st of October 1960. Agricultural produce from the regions catered for the needs of the country until 1958 when oil was discovered in Oloibiri. After independence, young Nigerians united to provide leadership to the citizens of this wonderful country, but this was cut short by a military junta then came the regrettable civil war. The war fought together by brothers, claimed the lives of many precious Nigerians. After the war, we settled back as brethren to reconcile and work for the purpose of one indivisible nation. In 1999, fate helped us to return to civil rule. Despite interruptions, we have remained one.
According to Collin Powell “a dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; It takes sweat, determination and hard work”. Armed with this counsel, the nation and her youths are working together presently to build a great nation for the black race. There is the establishment of presidential infrastructure development fund, construction of rails, roads and ports for easy transportation, energization of education and economies programme, insecurity war, launch of solar power Naija to deliver 5 million off grid solar connections, establishment of survival fund, National Youth Investment Fund and NSPWP to reduce unemployment etc.
Towards the end of 2020, #Endsars, an anti-police brutality protest saw a majority of Nigeria marginalized youths who make up 35.6% of the total population create a powerful movement that shook the nation and demonstrated freedom from ethno-religious tensions that usually plagued the unity of citizens. Although hoodlums hijacked the move, the Government responded in unison to disband SARS.
As a mathematics teacher in a local primary school, I am using this period to create awareness among my students from different ethnicity about overcoming corruption and insecurity, avoiding civil war re-occurrence, and how they can team to make Nigeria great. Despite disappointments in some quarters regarding the countries slow progress, this year’s topic serves as a catalyst for the emergence of a new Nigeria.
I foresee a country where together her citizens cultivate virtues of morality and uprightness, where office holders shun nepotism, where leadership becomes an opportunity to serve instead of milking the economy and where all form of differences are relegated to the background, and unity becomes the hallmark for everyone.
A Nigeria where trafficking is not practiced, where the youths that should have migrated to Europe will team to become job creators. A place where women are indispensable members of the society, where polices that protect the girl child right are enacted, and where a girl can freely choose when, where and whom to marry.
A place where everyone can recycle, and where unemployed graduates become multi-million business owners who can employ Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity.
A country where the education system is practical based and does not follow “garbage in garbage out” format. A place where students will be able to undertake jaw breaking research capable of providing cure to Aids and Cancer, and where intellectuals will be given seed capital to run businesses, and develop an entrepreneurial mind-set irrespective of their course back ground
A place where a cocoa farmer in Lagos will use a soil sensor produced by his brother from Ebonyi to know the right land for use, where my aged grand-mother in the village will use drones to monitor and harvest her palm for supply to Northern Nigeria . A society where no one will go to bed hungry for lack of food.
A Nation where youths will use their STEM knowledge to run free and fair elections, where youths will shun corrupt practices like rigging, snatching of ballot boxes and vote buying. A society where an 18 years old Governor will chair the Governors forum meeting, and where women will be able to use their smartphones to determine the outcome of an election. A place where communities will fund innovative ideas capable of playing multiple roles. A place where youths will build roads that can convert heat energy during the day to light up streetlights.
A Nation where wildlife conservation is the duty of everyone. A society where her natural habitat has the largest diversity and where our elephants will not be poached but protected by community security guards. A place where everyone is encouraged to plant and nurture a tree in his or her lifetime.
A society where Muslims from the North will freely relate with Christians from South and where everyone lives as brothers and sisters, where all land in a community belongs to everyone, where crop farmers and herdsmen can co-exist without clashes, and where all citizens irrespective of age, sex and religion can own a land.
A place where community mobile courts exist to resolve conflicts among citizens, where a poor man on the wheel chair can defeat an erring president , and where the litigation process is shortened for the benefit of all.
A place where the transport system is available, affordable and accessible by all, and where an Ijaw youth will use his meagre pocket money to embark on a trip to Kaduna, for the sake of understanding the landscape of Nigeria. A place where a sick Fulani migrant is cared for in Ogbomosho.
A place where tourists will prefer to visit for a day rather than spending a week in Las Vegas because of our love for each other, where bokoharan ,banditry and other vices are abandoned and where communities in Southern Nigeria will join hands with conflict zones in the North to create safe havens for all.
A place where a Musa, Obi, Taiwo, Akor, Terna, Ebele, Ponsak, and Okon will represent the country based on merit to win Africa’s first FIFA World cup.
A place where our refineries refine oil locally for our consumption, and a place where we all embrace the “One Nigeria” philosophy for the purpose of creating a dream nation for the generations unborn. So help us God. Amen