Opinion

Unhappy Independence Day

By Jude Atupulazi

Prologue
Nigeria is 59 years old but still a baby.
She cries for everything. She has the money but
she cannot get what she wants.
She cries for food.
She cries for light.
She cries for water.
She cries for good roads.
She cries for medical treatment.
She cries for education.
She cries for accommodation.
She cries for employment.
She cries for this and she cries for that.

Nigeria, when will you grow and start behaving like an adult?
Nigeria look at your mates; stand up and do something. At 59 years you refused to grow, you sat down in one place for 59 years, lamenting and always looking for help.
Nigeria when will you grow and become an adult?
Nigeria you have money and natural resources; stand up and do something to help yourself.

I got the above piece from the internet early on Tuesday morning; our supposed Independence Day celebration. It just about summed up the state of affairs in the Nigerian Nation State. It also made anyone celebrating the nation’s independent anniversary look stupid.

But then, are we not a nation and a people known for their love of rituals? The ritual here isn’t the one connected with killing human beings for money. This refers to the ritual of repeating things at particular times, even when there is no reason for such. And so it came to pass that last Tuesday, public offices across the Nigerian Federation all closed in commemoration of the country’s 59th Independence Anniversary. Some people wore all-green outfits to mark the day. Some were busy sending good will messages to others. Yet some expressed belief in the Nigerian nation, telling us there were still reasons to be proud of Nigeria.

I have since forgotten what it feels like to celebrate Nigeria under any guise. I gave up hope ever since I discovered that I’m in a country that does not care for her people; a country of inequalities; a country of inequitable distribution of amenities; a country where the blind lead those with good eyesight; a country where hard work does not pay; a country where institutions supposed to correct us when we stray have themselves become tools and agents of societal malaise. Need I go on and on?

This is a country where the uneducated lead the educated; a country where special schools are indeed special because such schools admit those with poor results over those with far better results on the altar of quota system while the same quota system fails to thrive in appointments and politics. This is a country of absurdities.

We are 59; yet people still die from kerosene explosions because they have to resort to their lanterns owing to irregular power supply. This is a country where the citizens throw a party when they have electric power for up to a day. This, indeed, is a shithole country, apologies to Donald Trump.

So is this the country I should be celebrating? Certainly not. Last Tuesday I devoted my precious time to better things, at least much as my catarrh and malaria could allow me.
If you ask me, the public holiday devoted to our so-called Independence Day sounds to me like a charade; for if truth must be told, we ought to have liberated ourselves at about the same time as the South Africans. We simply weaned ourselves from our mother’s breast too early and became malnourished.

November 16, another Holiday too Many

Last Tuesday news filtered in that the Anambra State Government had declared November 16 of every year a public holiday. This is to honour Nigeria’s first president and a proud Igbo son, Nnamdi Azikiwe.

This came in the wake of a resolution by the State Assembly urging the Federal Government to declare the date a national holiday.

Well, I have nothing against honouring the Great Zik of Africa. He was an inspiration to many who also rose to become great. He was one of those instrumental to our independence from the White Colonial Masters. Thus, honouring him cannot be said to be a terrible thing.

But methinks that making the day a public holiday will be counter-productive, simply because we have had enough of public holidays. These holidays are costing the nation and states plenty as valuable man hours are lost, thus, further crippling the already lame economy.

Indeed, Nigeria is fast earning notoriety as the country with the highest number of public holidays in the world. The average worker in Nigeria will no doubt welcome this development with open hands. But the danger is that we are inadvertently building a culture of laziness.

Thus, I ask, shouldn’t Zik have been honoured in some other way more productive? I don’t think that establishing a foundation in his name will be such a horrible idea. Zik already has an airport, many roads and schools (both secondary and tertiary) named after him. He is also on Nigeria’s currency. I feel that even those are far better than declaring another day of waste in the guise of a public holiday.

While I thank our governor, Willie Obiano, for respecting the memory of Zik, I however think such respect should have been in the form of anything other than a public holiday. We have simply had enough. Let’s go to work!

2021: Zoning or not?

With barely two years to the next governorship election in Anambra State, the various gladiators are slowly warming up for the battle ahead. But what seems to be much on the front burner for now is the issue of zoning. It’s about whether or not the rest of the state should leave it for Anambra South Senatorial Zone which is generally seen as the next in line for the governorship.

On March 17, 2022 when Obiano will be handing over to his successor, Anambra North will have served its full eighth year tenure. This will follow the previous full eighth years served by Anambra Central. Already, the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has all but concluded that the South will have it. But the main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, seem confused at the moment as to whether to zone or not. Elements in that party are arguing that zoning deprives the state of having her best hands in any election. They also argue that zoning is only the brain child of APGA and therefore does not concern PDP.

Granted, the issue of zoning was seriously berthed in the last days of former Gov Peter Obi who insisted it would go South. He was then of APGA. Many people bought into the idea and it stood. Today, even though it has never been written as a document, it is nevertheless believed by many as the best alternative and one that limits chaos and amount of money spent.

But as the state braces up for that election, this issue is about being subjected to a stern test. But for me, written or not, zoning has come to stay. It will be most foolhardy of any party or individual to disrespect zoning. Anambra people have always shown they have a mind of their own and will always stamp their feet when they feel something is wrong.

They listened to Obi when he mooted the idea and brought in Obiano. But they did not listen to him when he attempted to truncate the full tenure of same Obiano four years later. But two years later, they voted overwhelmingly for the same Obi as the running mate of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Long before then, in the days of NRC and SDP, Anambra did not mind being different as the only SDP state in the South East; much the same way as it is currently the only APGA state in these parts.

Thus, Anambra people have proved over time that they have a mind of their own in making important decisions. Therefore, any party or individual contestant that wants to go against this zoning issue, no matter how popular, is bound to fail.

My candid advice to would-be aspirants is therefore to shun those urging them to come out while knowing they are not from the South. They will only waste their money and heat up the polity unnecessarily and still lose. Indeed, everyone outside the South should dig in where they are and wait for the time it will be convenient for them to come out.

Not heeding the zoning issue will make any violator dead on arrival. Our people are not fools.

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