Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Saturday, October 01, 2016

October 1st, Nigeria's national day

The following commentary appeared in Nigeria's Guardian. The author, Reuben Abati, is one of Nigeria’s leading public affairs commentators and a media professional with a multi-disciplinary background in drama, management, journalism and law (according to Wikipedia).

Nigeria At 56
As Nigeria marks its 56th Independence Anniversary, very few Nigerians would expect any form of celebration or excitement. Independence from colonial rule in 1960 has brought the country so much to be cheerful about, but 56 years later, also a lot of regrets. I am not one of those who imagine that we would probably have been better off if we had remained under British rule, but that there are some Nigerians who still entertain such impossible thought indicates the depth of the people's anxiety about Nigeria's post-colonial reality.

The big issues are well-known: the failure of leadership, corruption and perpetual anxiety about the future. Every October 1, Nigeria is described as "a crippled giant," a "toddler," "a broken nation." And the various editorials, year after year sound so repetitive as they focus on an economy that is not working, the failure of public infrastructure, leadership crisis, the bad habits of the political elite, religious and ethnic violence, disunity, national insecurity and so on.

As we mark October 1 this year, we should perhaps avoid the beaten path and draw attention to the reasons why we should be happy with our country and proud to be Nigerians… We are still the country of some of the most talented people in the world…

I also look around and admire the energy and creativity of the Nigerian youth…

We are also a country of resilient people. It is what keeps us going…

We are still the biggest market in Africa…

As we celebrate Nigeria at 56, we should remember that this country has survived a civil war; it has survived religious and ethnic violence. It has remained one entity despite calls for its dismemberment…

Our institutions still need to be strengthened…

We are a nation of different peoples, cultures and ethnicity brought together by destiny, and circumstances and colonialism. To transform this into real nationhood is the main challenge we have faced since 1960…

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