Nigeria @ 61: A Multi - Ethnic, Multi - Lingual, Multi - Religious Conglomeration Ostensibly At War Amidst Hunger

By David Fidelis

 Today, Nigeria is  marking her 61 years anniversary of attaining independence from her colonial masters ( Britain).

No doubt, the  predicament and untold hardship confronting Nigerians since the attainment of the independence calls for this epistle.

To start with, the Yoruba people will say "Okun Inu ni'n gbe ti ita". Meaning that, one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

To be frank and sincere, there is nothing worth celebrating about the 61-year old journey. At 61, we are still crawling. At 61, most Nigerians still find it difficult to have two quare meal per day. At 61, we are still confronted with corruption of the highest order. At 61, most Nigerians can't sleep with their two eyes closed as a result of insecurity, just to mention a few.


A recent visit to Oja Oba market in Akure revealed how the prices of most food items have increased astronomically. In effect, , life has become increasingly difficult for many Nigerians, especially the low-income earners, the unemployed and other vulnerable people.

Beans, which was formally seen as a last choice of food for most poor Nigerians have become a rich-man's food. For example, a market survey showed that a ‘Rubber’/ 'Kobiowu' of beans, which was sold for between N200 and N250,  now goes for between N900 and N1000 or more. 'Those days, who dai chop beans?'

Even garri, used by most poor Nigerians to blend  beans while eating has become a gold. A 'Rubber' of gari at the Federal Secretariat in Akure is now being sold between N500 to N600.

The cost of filling  1kg cylinder of cooking gas has increased from an average of N200 in 2018 to N600 as of September 30, 2021. while a  12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas has increased from an average of N6,200 in July 2021 to N10,000 as of September 2021.
At the Popular Alade Market in Idanre Local Goverment Area of Ondo state, a 25litres of Palm oil as of 29 September, 2021 is  being sold between N19,000 to N20,000 while 5litres is sold between N3,800 to N4,000 at Emure-Ile market in Owo Local Goverment Area of the state.


This relentless upward movement of prices is discouraging to many families with limited budget. It also adds to the stresses and frustrations of many people, making life unbearable for them. It is distressing to see that foodstuffs, among other things, cost more by the day, and that taxes and utility bills of all kinds keep increasing. 

The cost of living is rising relentlessly. For many, bread and milk have become a luxury, and three meals a day a rarity. Rice is now usually eaten only on festive occasions because of its high cost. Those who suffer most are the unskilled labourers and poorer people, who are in no position to demand the higher and higher incomes needed to keep up with rising prices. For these people, especially, inflation is a thief, a thief that robs the most in need.

Regrettably, when late music star, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti released his hit song titled: “Suffering and Smiling” in 1977, little did he realise that 44 years later, millions of Nigerians will still be ‘suffering and smiling.

In fact, many of his song lyrics taunt the government’s policies as well as the almost unbearable reality many Nigerians faced. Songs like Zombie and Suffering and Smiling amongst others detail the grueling reality for the average Nigerian who is reported to earn less than $2 a day.

Fela has been beloved for decades, but his music is scathingly critical  of the failures and violence of the state. 

In his song, “Suffering and Smiling ,” Fela quotes religious leaders enjoying themselves, while the masses continuously suffer and wallow in abject poverty, in cramped spaces, while paying homage and acting like sheep to political and  religious leaders by doing their every bidding.

No break, no job, no sense as Nigerians are on record as being some of the happiest people in the world, and suffering and smiling continues to be the mantra.

An Economist, Mathias Godwin Otiko said "Fela and other reggae musicians had seen  our predicaments so many years. People like Lucky Dube in his songs (corruption, political game and more), Raskymono ( track: under pressure - which is just happening), Mandator (rate race style) and so many of them are simply amazing prophets.

"They have passed these messages to us for long time now but we did not pay much attention them. One musician sang 'the world is bad o' then around 70s or early 80s. That should have been the time that reasonable action should have been talking to meander/pervert the present day doom".

From 1960 to 2021, unemployment, corruption, abject poverty, illiteracy, political instability, insecurity, economic retrogression, mismanagement of resources, desperation for power, ethnicity, bribery , theft , dishonesty, religious bigotry, unpatriotic mindset have been increasing in geometric progression while  developments in the country is moving in arithmetic progression.

It's quite appalling, horrifying and heart - breaking to state that 61years after independence, we are still recycling corrupted set of old brigadiers as our leaders. Fellow Nigerians, for how long are we going to remain stagnant?

61years after independence, power supply in Nigeria has been erratically unstable as our government, under its watch , has metamorphosised it's nomenclature form NEPA to PHCN and it's ultimate privatization managed by DISCO. In most communities in Nigeria, the people living in such areas have access power supply for the last 15 to 20 years . Fellow Nigerians, can a nation grow and develop without constant supply of power to it's citizens? 


The statement of the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May in South Africa in August, 2018 that “Much of Nigeria is thriving, with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy, yet 87 million Nigerians live on less than $1 and 90 cents a day, making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world," is an indication that we are still an ambassador of poverty.

A report by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had  revealed that more than 40 percent of extremely poor people in the world will be living in Nigeria and DR Congo by 2050. Poor nutrition, high maternal and infant mortality are major contributors to relatively low average life expectancy in Nigeria and by 2050, Nigeria will have 152 million people in extreme pour leaders, have they done well?overty, out of a projected population of 429 million. Isn't that shameful?


The administration of our past leaders from  1960 ( Alhaji Tarawa Balewa) till 1999 , crossing till 2021 can best be described as fiddle- faddle , shenanigans which hasn't yield any results towards the development of the country and it's citizens. 

Fast forward to the present adminstration of Muhammadu Buhari. In the build up to the 2015 general elections, PMB made lots of promises both attainable and non attainable which made Nigerians believed that he was going to be our messier. However, the reversed was the case as he denied making such promises.

A Lecturer from the Department of Mass Communication and Director of SIWES at Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Dr.  Rahman Abubakri Olaniyan once said, "despite the very high level of confidence a large section of Nigerian population had in President Mohammed Buhari which led to his victory in the 2015 presidential election, his leadership has been allegedly characterised by selective anti-corruption war, astronomical increase in price of petrol, administrative lapses, policy somersaults, lopsided appointments, appointment of dead people as board members of some Federal Government agencies, incessant herdsmen's attacks' among others which almost cast aspersions and dark cloud on his chances of being re- elected in 2019".

The denial of some of his campaign promises even drew the attention of  the Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu. According to the Millionaire Publisher, "the President in his usual candour and uncommon honesty announced that one of his major campaign promises was no longer feasible and practicable; the plan to pay unemployed youths a paltry sum of "N5,000 monthly stipend was thus summarily jettisoned. 

To be accurate, what Mr President said with a wry smile was that this was a campaign promise of his Party and was one of the cardinal points of his Party’s Manifesto but he had not personally campaigned about it and it was not going to be a priority of his administration in view of other more significant and important challenges. Nigerian youths took great risk to get Major General Buhari elected". 

He added that, "they  trusted him with their lives and expected the change mantra to become reality as soon as the People’s General regained power after being sacked as a military ruler in 1985 but our hope was hope against hope".


Aside that, calls by most Nigerians for the Restructuring of the country has been a song of lullaby to  president Mohammed Buhari.
Even, Professor of Jurisprudence and international Law, Prof. Akin Oyebode  affirmed that restructuring is the best solution to the problems confronting the nation, stressing that any country that intends to command the respect and loyalty of its people must exercise the reciprocal duty of protection towards them. 

Prof. Oyebode who was the Guest Lecturer at Governor Rotimi Akeredolu's  Anniversary Lecture made the affirmation while delivering lecture on the theme: Re - Thinking the Nigeria Nation : Issues and Challenges held at the international Centre for Culture and Events, ( The Dome), Akure the state capital. 

I took kin interest to listen to Prof Akin Oyebode, as he said Nigeria is a multi - ethnic, multi - lingual, multi - religious conglomeration ostensibly at war with itself in the quixotic and frenetic quest for nationhood stressing that unless the forces of reaction and ethnocentricity are effectively combated, the country would continue to make progress only in a negative and reverse direction. 

" The multiplicity of ethnic nationalities numbering over 400 must be conceded, ways must be devised and necessary adjustments must be made to infuse the people with sense of belonging and collective stake in Nigeria incorporated.

" There is a felt need for social engineering and endearment of various constituencies in the polity in order to carry along as many people possible through socially relevant and justifiable social - economic and political programmes and policies in the overall interest of our collective need and national progress".

According to the Prof., undue emphasis on ethnicity and religion should be seen as unnecessary and avoidable hindrance to achieving the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians, calling for the balance of class forces within the polity. 

According to him "the pernicious and callous aggression by Fulani Herdsmen across the country should serve as a wake up call to all men and women of goodwill and humanitarian disposition on the necessity for peaceful co - habitation among Nigerians". 


It has become necessary to re - invent the country and re - create the basic values of love; mutual respect, fairness in inter - personal relationship and neighborliness which had help hold the country together.

There is need for a moral rebirth - arrangement in order to advocate the benefits of one nation and one people not through hackneyed programmes such as NYSC but innovative policies that would fire the imagination of our youth; de - emphasising state of origin, ethnicity; religious and cultural orientation in favour of a broad national ethos and love for commitment to a united Nigeria.

More so, the battle against corruption must not be partisan and culprits must be seized without class, ethnic or political consideration. So far, the battle seem corrupted with partisan and other considerations soaked in obvious vengeance. Such selective approaches can only make the battle a mere flash in the pan and ultimately promoting disunity amongst Nigerians. 
Also, in view of all the problems bedevilling our economy, the concerned authorities should endeavour to properly manage the situation before it spins out of control. 

This present generation must see good things about Nigeria because as man thinks so is he. Our Nigeria  today is what we thought about her yesterday. So, for us to have a good Nigerian tomorrow, let's fill our minds, brains, mouths with good things about our dear country and the result will be printed for us tomorrow. 

As the Bible shows, God will eventually provide a system of government that will solve permanently all difficulties of  our 61-year-old Nigeria

Happy 61st Anniversary  to all Nigerians

Fidelis David O. is a practising Journalist, Feature Writer, Polemicist and a Public Relations Practitioner based in Akure, Ondo State.07060835375(SMS Only).

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