Every administration that has assumed political power in this country over the last four decades has failed fundamentally. Part of the failures stem from the malfunction to deliver good governance, which heralds the provision of basic social amenities to the public. Rather than fulfilling and delivering on election promises, they are busy amassing wealth (public funds) within their confines, building empires at home and abroad, and taking expensive vacations and medical trips.
While the failures persist, corruption thrives and is viewed as our major challenge. Despite the efforts of previous and current governments to combat the monster, the situation is not improving as new techniques of corrupt practices resurface in both the public and private sectors. While I struggle to believe that all hope is not lost, I am forced to accept that we are living in a failed state. But the unsolved puzzle of all times is how much longer we need to be in this state.
Though corruption and corrupt practices have continued to threaten our economic, political, and social stability, there are these twin issues that have received less attention, deepening our woes and threatening our coexistence. These twin problems of religion and ethnicity appear to be the mother of all cancerous problems in the land, causing anarchy and acrimony.
Our multi-ethnicity and religious sentiments have made our unification appear incompatible with different priorities, visions, and aspirations. However, prior to independence, Nigerian nationalist leaders from various regions, ethnic, and religious communities convened in a series of conferences and legislatures to discuss a common future and self-government. Then we could coexist and talk about a common course of action. However, the situation is clearly different because we only coexist in words and not in reality. We have become enamored with the self-centeredness of religious and ethnic resentments, as well as bigotry.
These resentments have caused us to lose the brotherhood that once existed among our countrymen, giving rise to casual attitudes toward one another, public offices, and national resources. It has resulted in a decrease in the value of human lives. Since independence, we have witnessed mismanagement of national resources and misrule by multi-ethnic and multi-religious coalitions of successive governments. These have deprived the critical mass of basic social amenities and impoverished them.
In modern Nigeria, nepotism is the driving principle. The place of merit and credibility, like the spear tyre, is in the back seat or, better yet, in the trunk. Political appointments and job placements have defiled the norm of screening to select the right and deserving candidates to a large extent, as religious and ethnic bias have found their way to become factors in making such decisions. This has taken its toll on us as deserving candidates scurry through the streets in the sweltering heat in search of the chance to make a difference.
It is fitting that if we continue to rely on religious and ethnic sentiments rather than rational thinking to bring about merit, we will continue to debate the way forward, revolving the circle in search of a government that will protect our common interests if we have one. We need to go back to the drawing board and look for the values that brought our fathers together, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. We must retrace our steps to create the Nigeria of our dreams.
We must be deliberate in our opposition to hatred and embrace brotherhood. We must learn to accept our differences, which is what makes camaraderie so appealing. To achieve this status, we must all take a step back and conduct a critical examination of our system and ourselves. This assessment will provide us with honest insights, allowing us to heal the system and build the Nigeria of our dreams.
A Public Relations, Social Analyst, and Corporate Communications Expert writes in from Lagos.