The movie title "Long Walk to Freedom" can best describe the situation in Nigeria. Unfortunately, many so-called Patriots and national sympathizers fail to see this reality. Instead, they have continued to plead for more time on behalf of government, always referring to the United States of America who, according to them, it took over 200years to get to where they are today. What they fail to realize is that America didn't get to this stage by waiting on time alone- they had a vision, a roadmap to follow by, and they put structures in place to achieve it.
The term "Uhuru" is a Swahili word that means "freedom." However, many derivatives have come out of it to capture the context of several African nations today. In fact, there is a Uhuru movement by Africans that seeks to liberate Black Africans from the shackles of neocolonialism. Wikipedia accounts that it is centered on the principles of Pan-Africanism and advocates the economic and political liberation of Black Africans on both the continent of Africa and in the African diaspora, as well as building economic and sustainable development in Black African and diaspora communities.
The movement as led by Omali Yeshitela, the head of the African People's Socialist Party (APSP), presupposes that although nations in Africa and Africans in the Diaspora may have attained independence from imperialism (or colonialism if you like), there is yet a form of economic dependence occasioned by the imperialistic tendencies and actions of the white man. This is on one front. At the other end of the bridge is the democratic situation of African nations today.
Matthew Ashimolowo, a clergy once said that the irony of Africa is that it is the richest continent occupied by the poorest people. This is also the case of Nigeria which is the focus of this piece. The truth is, at this pace, it might take us more than 500years to get there. I continue to wonder why they don't make such reference to South Africa, a nation that, only two and a half decades ago broke free from the tight grip of Apartheid, has moved on to become one of the most industrious and perhaps, the most developed nation in Africa. Nigeria is marred by many challenges. One of it is its Democracy (or the lack of it). The jury is still out to decide whether we truly practice a Democracy that emphasizes true freedom. Again, sympathizers have lazily affirmed that the nation's democracy is "nascent."
Democracy, according to Abraham Lincoln- one time American President, is "Government of the people, for the people, and by the people." Harold Larsk, a renowned political scientist corroborated this submission when he wrote that Democracy is a system which allows for economic, social, and political equality. It therefore means that outside of these provisions, there is no democracy. Can we then truly say that Nigeria is in fact, a democracy?
So, while we look at the economic dependence of Nigeria on the West and our seeming lack of true Democracy, we may be forced to conclude that Nigeria, specifically the people, is not yet free. Since October 1, 1960 when the drumbeats of Independence filled our streets, we have been made to believe that this is "our Nigeria" when in fact all we see are bits and pieces of the real deal. 55years down the line, the story has not changed so much.
Today, despite the historic change in government, the popular reception, and overwhelming expectations of Nigerians on the Buhari Government, there are several indications that point us to the bitter truth that, indeed, our walk to freedom is a long one. The nation is today an economic mess with debts amounting to over $60Billion. More so, to think that global oil prices are falling and Nigerians are spending more for the commodity is a confusing paradox. Our overdependence on oil revenues has dealt us a hard blow and it seems a Herculean task to recover from the knock.
Terrorism, against the expectation of Nigerians, has not subsided despite the relocation of the Defense Headquarters to Maiduguri. Every week, we hear of a bomb blast in Postikum, another in Lamina, and yet another in a village near Sambisa. The stories keep coming and the casualties seem to be on the increase by the day. What started as a mere political antic ha today become Nigeria's worst plague.
Our political system is as ludicrous as ever, and we seem helpless in these situations. The recent National Assembly crisis is one that has quickly exposed a bitter truth that although there is a change of the ruling political party, but there is really no change in the people that make up this party. There is yet to be seen a clear cut ideological difference between the major political parties in Nigeria. It is getting clearer to Nigerians that perhaps the change they voted for is a long process, and again they will be asked to wait...wait for time.
The truth is that Buhari showed up like the legendary Knight in a shiny armour, with many Nigerians expecting that the problems of Nigeria will magically fade away after his inauguration. These past weeks have taught them that indeed, Nigeria is not yet Uhuru.
About Author / Additional Info:
An enthusiastic and passionate writer from Nigeria, with a leaning passion for the pen and a strong belief that the Pen is indeed mightier than the Sword.