It is with mixed feelings that I write this letter to your great newspaper. I would like to congratulate Nigeria on her 54th birthday anniversary. This is indeed a great occasion that deserves to be celebrated because marking a golden jubilee plus four years is not a mean achievement.
However, I’m displeased about the state of Nigeria given the worsening conditions of its citizens. Unfortunate developments in the past few years have continuously ridiculed the country among its peers. I could recall there was a time when Nigeria was referred to as the “Giant of Africa” because of the great role it played in promoting the welfare and security of other African countries.
But Nigeria’s name as “giant of Africa” is fast fading away. It gives me great worry that the image of this potentially great country in the world has been so severely battered that it has now become a laughing stock.
Nigeria has a large number of citizens who constitute ready labour for its agricultural and manufacturing activities yet its farmlands and factories remain highly underdeveloped and unproductive. However, it is not that Nigerian citizens are unwilling to work, rather there are few jobs on offer owing to the fact that the power plants that used to power these factories and farmland have remained comatose and this has led to low productivity which in turn prompted a decline in the demand for labour. Isn’t it appalling that about fifty percent of Nigerians or more are unemployed?
Nigeria was recently announced as the richest country in Africa but this hasn’t rubbed off on the majority of its children as many of them still go to bed on an empty stomach.
One other disturbing fact is that thirty eight percent of Nigerians can neither read nor write. This is more disturbing because just last year it was reported that almost all children school-going age are out of school which implies that they are either on the street hawking or running petty errands for their parents.
This is a big eye sore! Gabon with less oil wealth and human resources has been able to send ninety percent of her children to school? Many Nigerian citizens who are due to commence tertiary education have been denied admission space. The schools are even in a worse situation than is popular knowledge as they lack basic infrastructural facilities. The schools are frequently shut down following industrial actions by teachers who often protest poor salary structure and inadequate funding of the schools.
The children of the richest people, in whose hands you entrusted your wealth and assets have turned blind eyes to this unfortunate development. Rather than address these problems, they have built their own private schools with loots from the national treasury while they avail their off-springs expensive but qualitative education abroad.
Finally, I would like our president Goodluck Jonathan to address the issue of corruption and work harder to provide free education for Nigerian citizens as obtains in The Gambia. I was both pleased as an African and aggrieved as a Nigerian when President Jammeh announced free education for Gambians from primary to upper basic levels. If a country like The Gambia with less resources can do that, why not a rich country like Nigeria?