The year was July 25-28 1961. The government of United States under President JF Kennedy received a prime minister from one of the most prominent countries in the world, at the time. The atmosphere was glorified by citizens who lined up on streets wrestling anything in their way to catch a glimpse of this august visitor. The prominence of this prime minister was seen in the faces of Americans in every works of life as they cheered and applauded him on every speech he delivered. He was held in high esteem and complimented with honorary citizenship awards by the state of Chicago and New York. He was bestowed with the highest honorary degree of doctor of law by the University of New York.
As he was ushered in to address the delegates from Asia and other African nations, he was seen as a constructive force in Africa and throughout the world. Who was this man and which country did he come from. Was he from Russia or United Kingdom, of course, he was neither from Russia nor United Kingdom. He was the prime minister of the federal republic of Nigeria by the name, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was elected the prime minister of Nigeria 1960 after the country was granted independence by the British imperialist. He traveled to United States in 1961 at the invitation of President JF Kennedy.
It was glaring that the respect accorded to this man by the United States Government and their citizens was evident of Nigeria's greatness in the community of nations. The charismatic and undaunted posture of Tafawa Balewa, combined with his eloquence was a representation of Nigerian's intellectual disposition in the field of education. From that stance, one would have predicted at that time, that given time, Nigeria would become one of the world's industrial super powers. It is pertinent to mention here, that in 1961, the United States was still recovering from the great depression and recession that had hit the country years earlier. Countries like China and Japan were also recovering from the shackles of poverty as a result of the devastating effect of the Second World War.
While the Chinese and Japanese were seeking refuge in western countries and treated with disrespect, Nigerians were respected all over the world. It is interesting to know that, though Nigeria had not yet explored her natural resources like petroleum and other mineral resources, her economic mainstay was agriculture. In the years to come following 1960, Nigeria will discover and explore abundance of natural resources like petroleum, coal, copper, gold, tin, ore, limestone, lead, zinc, etc.
Anyone who grew up in the sixties and seventies in Nigeria will agree with me that though there was corruption, yet there was equitable distribution of wealth to a large extent. According to Marcus Garvey "Progress is the attraction that moves humanity". Nigerians were respected and proud of themselves everywhere in the world. As years progressed, the prestige, pride and the progress of Nigeria began to diminish. A group of military elements came together and usurp their military prowess and destabilized an elected government and as they trade powers among themselves; they savagely wreck the country and crumbled the resources. Consequently, Nigerians have become laughing stocks all over the world. Nigeria problem started in 1966, with the advent of coups and counter-coups followed by unimaginable level of corruption. However, Nigeria was economically stable until 1979 when the government of Obasanjo decided to return the country to democratic rule.
By 1983, after 4 years of civilian rule, Nigeria was bankrupt by politicians and plunged into debt to the tune of billions of dollars. Consequent upon this, the military had to come back and took over power. Two years after Buhari/Idiagbon took over, there was again another coup headed by Babangida/Abacha. Babangida/Abacha regimes which lasted 14years was characterized by human right abuses, unrestricted and massive embezzlement of public funds. Criminal enterprise was established by Babanjida to derail Nigeria economy and before Nigerians could realize what was happening, austerity measure was introduced and implemented.
It is believed that in 1990 during the US -Iraq war, Nigeria had made billions of dollars from the sale of petroleum products but Babangida's government squandered it as he and his men opened accounts in foreign banks and siphoned the nation's money with impunity. He introduced what is now popularly known as "419". Babanjida who is often referred to as evil genius was a house hold name in Nigeria for his evil ingenuity. He was known for his ability to camouflage any situation, wreak havoc and go scot free. Since 1999, Babanjida had been summoned on several occasions by the judicial panels to explain the disappearance of billions of dollars during his autocratic government. Babangida again has proved to Nigerians that he is above the law by refusing to honor the court order. He ruined and rendered the economy of Nigeria to rubbles. He eventually walked away from the office and handed the affairs of the nation over to his criminal enterprise after everyone clamored for his resignation. Babangida's criminal enterprise has remained in control of the government to date.
We have seen countries like China, Japan and India whose economies in the early sixties rose from depression to become some of the world's industrial super powers. There is overwhelming evidence to prove that Nigerian leaders and Nigerians themselves are the architect of their own misfortune. "the life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous" Federick Douglass. It is most unfortunate to see that Nigeria as a country is made up of a people that ultimately hate themselves and have no love for their country. Today, Nigerians are migrating and seeking refuge in different parts of the world. While the citizens of other countries are welcome by other nations, Nigerians are rejected and returned to their home. They are humiliated, castigated, and treated with disdain. "There is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it; as of the individual, so should it be of the nation" Marcus Garvey.
Nigeria is a failed nation not because her natural resources have dried up or disappeared but because Nigerians have no interest in the progress and development of their own country. They connive with foreign agents to sabotage their economy. Almost every leader in Nigeria both past and present has foreign accounts through which they embezzle public funds. Apart from Emanuel Noriega of Panama who was indicted and jailed in US for drug related offense in the early nineties, Nigeria is the only country in the world where their leaders are prosecuted and jailed in foreign countries for money laundering. "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him". Abraham Lincoln. It is unfortunate that Nigerians are not proud of their country. The only concept understood in Nigeria is that the only way to succeed is lies, fraud, dishonesty, compromise, and stealing. It is very sad. Nigerian leaders have become embarrassment to Africa continent and black race. The reputation of Nigeria is so damaged; that many Nigerians in Diaspora are finding it difficult to accept that they are Nigerians.
Nigeria has since joined the league of the poorest nation in the world. Nigerians are thrown into jail with or without a cause in different countries. In Brazil, there are estimated 495 Nigerians in jail, and in China about 1000 Nigerians languishing in jail. The poverty rate in Nigeria is 80% and it was recently announced that among 80 countries, Nigeria ranked the worst place for a baby to be born in 2013. www.nairaland.com/1110278/nigeria-ranked-worst-place-born. The level of lawlessness in Nigeria is beyond the control of the law enforcement agents. Kidnappings, armed robbery and human sacrifice are the order of the day. "where justice is denied, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe" Frederick Douglass.
Many infrastructures in Nigeria have broken down. The condition of the Nigerian police force is despicable and has degenerated to obscurity. The population of South Africa is 70million and yet they generate 40,000Megawatts of electricity for their citizens while Nigeria with a population of 160million can only generate 4000Megawatts. Public officials and some well to do Nigerians are trooping to countries like India, South Africa and Spain for minute medical checkup or treatment. Nigerian hospitals are devoured of modern equipments and also lack constant electricity to operate effectively.
Our education system is among the poorest in the world and unemployment is rising in a geometric rate. Students in the Nigerian universities now spend 8 years to obtain bachelor's degrees instead of 4 years. Many families have resulted in sending their children to Ghana where it is guaranteed that they can obtain bachelors degree in 4 years. A country where PhD holders are applying for jobs in companies as drivers, the value of education is rendered useless. Christians and Muslims are compromising their faith. Though churches and mosques are springing up everywhere, the country is at its worst moral decay. Nigeria, an epitomes of beauty, a blessed nation, how are the mighty fallen!