#NigeriaAt58: Let us ‘mark’ not ‘celebrate’ Independence Day

By Ikenga Chronicles October 3, 2018

#NigeriaAt58: Let us ‘mark’ not ‘celebrate’ Independence Day

–ThankGod Ukachukwu, 

Nigeria is 58 years and it has celebrated independence day with fanfare at the nation and state capitals since independence in 1960. I recall with nostalgia how as school kids in primary and secondary school we march at the local government or state capital stadiums to celebrate the event. However, we have come a long way as a country and we need to rethink our approach to national affairs. At this point of national life, there are unnecessary rites which we should eliminate. We need the culture of calmness found in far eastern countries like China and Japan where leaders are less excited and calm and excitement increases relative to progress achieved.

I differed writing an article on Nigeria’s independence day 1st October to gauge the mood of Nigerians. I didn’t want to be the naysayer or kill joy in whatever form. However most Nigerians vented their frustrations on the state of the country and categorically affirmed that that there is nothing to celebrate. Nigerians are disaffected with President Buhari and they have on various mediums and fora echoed with one voice that the past four years has been the most difficult in recent memories. The excruciating economy on the back of recovery from a recession has relapsed and is at the risk of a second recession as warned by the Central Bank governor. This depicts gloomy prospects indication of worsening economic conditions. Buhari administration has failed abysmally and is in near comatose. For instance, the president’s independence day speech regurgitated all the problems of Nigeria and didn’t highlight any significant improvements on what the administration met on ground in 2015. Nigerians have in turn blasted his speech which was empty and one commentator stated that it is “a litany of false claims, empty assertions and bogus promises.”

All the problems we know as Nigerians 20 years ago are still with us, in areas we made improvements, retrogression have occurred, for instance the electoral system which began to garner credibility after 2015 have been bastardised. Nigerians are fasting sliding towards voter apathy and many are beginning to give up. Youths today believe their votes won’t count. The recent election in Osun State where it was established the security agencies were nothing but neutral and all evidence points to the APC orchestrating advance election manipulation has destroyed any shred of hope and confidence many had prior.

The Independence Day celebration of 2018 is President Buhari’s 4th as president and should be one which should be celebrated with fanfare as a result of the achievements of the president. He was elected to drive change but Nigeria has stagnated and in areas where it didn’t, it has lost grounds. Nigeria ascended the ignoble position of the poverty capital of the world. Unemployment is at peak. Our democracy is not better than it was in 2015, no aspect of public life evokes hopes. Nigerians are under despair and are beginning to question the role of government in their lives. One twitter user narrated how passengers in a public bus in Lagos tackled a man who wished his caller happy independence. He was shouted down and queried what Nigeria has done for him to warrant the exchange of such pleasantry. That is the level we find the country Nigeria. Nigerians wish more than ever that President Buhari would be defeated in presidential election in 2019. They await the Peoples Democratic Party to elect its flag bearer who will mostly be the next president given an array of 14 aspirants jostling for the party’s presidential ticket and most of which unarguably posses more capacity, competence and vision than Buhari.

One of the definitions of mark is “an indication of (a significant event or stage)”. Similarly, celebration, the noun of celebrate means “acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity.” In lieu of the sad state we find ourselves, I would propose that we stop celebrating independence day with huge fanfare and MARK the event with minimal activities such as minimal military parade, lectures, symposiums, civil society and citizen engagements across the country in a less ceremonious way until this country begins to achieve significant progress that is worth of celebration. I so move.