By Charity Loveth Odoh
Sometimes in May, I stumbled upon a particular movie that got me sober and thinking at the same time. It depicts the state of the hopelessness of present-day Nigeria where the citizens no longer have a voice of their own and the National treasure is devoured selfishly not minding the thousands of hungry citizens who live from hand-to-mouth out there on the streets.
A man who embezzled millions of naira meant for National development is praised and seen as a hero while a man who stole a loaf of bread through actions not justified was lynched to death.
Upon digesting the movie, I took to my WhatsApp page and asked a question via my post saying “Can Nigeria be great again?”
Funnily, I got some honest responses from my viewers some were of the opinion that the chances are slim while some said it is possible but a particular response caught my attention saying “Was it ever great?”
While I unconsciously answered “yes” quite unsure of my answer I decided to take a step back on Nigeria’s history, I discovered that though Nigeria practices a Democratic system of government yet it has had lots of ills and menace since it gained her independence.
According to records in 2012, estimation shows that Nigeria has lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence. Transparency International Corruption Index ranked Nigeria 144th out of 180 countries. Nigeria also ranked 149 on the global corruption index in 2020.
History also has it that a federal building mysteriously caught fire after the finances of officials working in the building were being probed between 1979-1983 during Shehu Shagari administration. In like manner, a Head of State could not account for the gulf war windfall which amounted to 12.4 billion between the years 1985 and 1993.
In a country regarded as the giant of Africa a one-time vice president connived with a US congressman to embezzle and hoard cash.
Can we then conclude that the country Nigeria was never great?
Back in the days when Nigeria was known for always taking the lead in every sector in the continent and outside the continent, it stood vehemently against the operation of the colonial Masters.
Nigeria gave diplomatic support and backings to countries like South Africa and donated $20 million to Zimbabwe to kick against apartheid.
In 1999, Nigeria provided troops in their numbers to support ECOMOG in Sierra Leone in a bit to end the civil war in Liberia.
However, it is no gainsaying that the cankerworm of corruption had eaten deep into the root of Nigeria government bringing us back to the question “can Nigeria be great again?” Which is a dependent variable on how an individual discharges every task given to him or her and the level of patriotism shown by the individual towards the development of the country.
A saying goes thus, “where the righteous rule, the people rejoice” it is therefore imperative for individuals to know that the betterment of this country lies solely in the hands of the youth who are the future leaders of the country.
A youth who cannot successfully handle finance and ensure a high level of accountability cannot rule a nation of over a 180million people.
Until youth, in general, begin to shift their gaze and attention from the new norma (Internet Fraud) and other fraudulent activities and begin to embrace the responsibility of moving the country forward with an optimistic state of mind then only can we be great again.