Nigeria at 61: There’s more to do

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By Abideen Olasupo

As we honour Nigeria’s 61st anniversary since independence, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative believes this is a time to reflect on Nigeria’s journey as a Nation, especially in the light of the events of the past 12 months.

Last year, the Independence day celebration was followed by a series of protests across the country against police brutality and institutional failure. The demonstration, which is now popularly known as the ENDSARS protests, embodied young Nigerians’ frustrations, struggles and ill-treatment.

Yet, the government failed to address the core issues that young Nigerians raised and demanded redress. Instead, we have seen moves to stifle young Nigerians from speaking, shrink the civic space, and suffocate the tech space.

One of the major highlights of the last year is the ban of the social media platform Twitter. The platform, which served as a point of convergence for young Nigerians to coordinate the ENDSARS movement, was banned by the Federal Government. The reason behind the move is not farfetched. It is an attempt to shut down the voices of young Nigerians who are the primary users of the platform.

For a country that prides itself as a symbol of democratic values in Africa, the last 12 months have been short of that. Beyond this, living in Nigeria has become unsafe. The spate of kidnapping and banditry has raised the insecurity levels across the country. From South to East to North, Nigerians are living in fear.

Also, the economy has hit a downward spiral. As a result, there are more poor people in Nigeria today than we had 12 months ago. So the question remains, what is Nigeria celebrating at 61?

President Muhammadu Buhari’s independence day speech failed to address some of these issues. While the president claimed the country had made unprecedented progress under his administration, the data says otherwise.

Nigeria’s official debt as of March 31 is more than 33 trillion naira. It is estimated that 45% of Nigeria’s population will be poor by 2022. The naira continues to lose value, and Nigerians are being abducted or killed daily across the country.

We believe these issues have been with us for a long time, and the foundations precede the current administration. Unfortunately, however, this government has failed to make the situation better than they met it.

We can only honour independence day, but there is nothing much to celebrate. Until we start making the right policies that positively impact the common person’s lives, the essence of our independence will be lost on us.

 

Abideen Olasupo
Executive Director
Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative

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