Nigeria At 50: Success And Failure


Nigeria achieved political independence from Colonial rule on October 1, 1960, eac:h of the three dominant political parties in the country then was in control of one of the three regions that made up the federation.

The Northern Peoples’ Congress was the ruling party in Northern Nigeria, the National Connial Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) was-the ruling party in the East, and the Action Group (AG) controlled government businesses in the West.

In fact, it was crucial for a proper appreciation of the politics of that period to actually note that each of the parties controlled the region of origin of its national leaders.

However, Sir, Ahmadu Bello, the NPC national leader and the Sar’duana of Sokoto was the premier of Northern Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the NCNC leader was until the December 1959 federal elections, the premier of Eastern Nigeria, while Chief Obafemi Awololo of AG led the officially recognised opposition in the federal parliament, (after math of NPC, NCNC plotion sequel to the 1959 election), he too had been premier of Western Nigeria before both Awolowo and Azikiwe resigned their office of premier in their bid for that of the federal prime minister.

The feature of politics worldwide after the collapse of first republic which hailed credible opposition, started new alternative party for second Republic, where Mallam Aminu Kano of the Northern Redemption party, the AG reemerged as UPN (Unity party of Nigeria), the NCNC simply re-christened NPP, the old NPC metamorphosed as NPN (National Party of Nigeria). That was how regional political sentiments began in Nigerian political battle field.

In fact, fifty years after attaining independence, corruption in Nigeria has indeed reached a massive proportion. Imagine, at the dawn of January 15, 1966, barely five years after Independence, Nigerians woke-up to a strange sound of martial music, which marked the beginning of the long military rule in the country.

In deed, the mission of the junta then was the destruction and elimination of the corrupt apparatus through which the first Republic Politicians sought to perpetuate themselves in power. In his address to the nation, the leader of the “revolutionary coup” Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, a major, vowed to deal decisively with the political profiteers, the soldiers, the men in the high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10% , those that have corrupted our society.

How, the objectives and promises remain a dream, since the military institution ‘s constitutional duty was not for governance but protection of lives and properties. Besides, Aguiyi Ironsi, late military head of state, who was toppled the same year, paving way for Yakubu Gowon.

In fact, Gowon’s government went through 30 months of gruesome civil war with Biafra. Nigeria emerged from the war more conscious of becoming a great nation, which with the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan come 2011 as the most aspiring educated leader in Nigeria, he will actualise the Nigerian dream of 20-20-20 vision.

It is on record that Nigeria and Nigerians have suffered on corrupt practices occasioned by bad administration in the hands of military leaders.

Perhaps’, the general malaise, indecision, indiscipline, corruption and economic waste that characterized Gowon’s post-civil war regime made Murtala Muhamed’s take over a welcome change.

Muhammed took the country through a dramatic and breathtaking pace of events. He purged the civil service and retired all the military governors and other top ranking officers involved in corruption. Unfortunately, he was assassinated on February 13, 1976 in an abortive coup led by Bukzuka Dimka, lieutenant colonel.

This brought Olusegun Obasanjo, general to power, albeit hesitantly. So on October 1, 1979, after general elections, the military handed over power to the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

Even though the Shagari administration launched an Ethical Revolution and went ahead to create a ministry of national Guidance, corruption assumed the status of a national monument.

In deed, politicians then, introduced some aspects of the corrupt apparatus for political control which led to the first military coup d’etat in first republic.

Consequently, on December 31, 1983, the military struck again in an attempt to avert a complete breakdown of law and order in the country as a result of continuing tension and massive corruption.

In fact, Muhamed Buhari, major general, took over the mantle of leadership. The regime accused the civilian- government of mismanagement of the nation’s economy, profligacy, corruption, indiscipline and the proliferation of public appointment in complete disregard to the nation’s economic realities.

Although, little progress was made in various directions, most of the problems proved in tractable and even defied the draconian decrees of the despotic government, that regime was cut short by almighty Ibrahim Babangida, a general, and military president, which his administration was characterized by high level of assassinations, corruptions, annulment of June 12 election and absent of social infrastructures nationwide. Babangida’s administration nevertheless recorded indiscipline in the history of the nation.

For Nigerian to be among the fast growing nation, there must be structural change, because the June 12, 1983, that Killjoy cycle that has been the burden of Nigerian’s social life since 1960 re-enacted its hold. The Abiku-child has died again.

A presidential election. Considered the freest and fairest in Nigerian’s history was annulled, shredding the soul of the nation, plunging her into another long military-induced nightmare from which the people did not recover until May 29, 1999.

Right now, the unfulfilled dreams of the Nigerian nation will be certainly fulfilled with the emergency of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan after 2011 general elections.

Going by investigations and analytical reports, military leaders especially, Ibrahim Babangida and Late general Sani Abacha left the oil-rich nation in deep financial ruin. Nigerians were appalled when it was revealed that they amassed stupendous wealth for themselves, their families and relations.

Besides, the class struggle for wealth as well as the glorification and deification of materialism has become the rule rather than the exception. In deed, no amount of draconian legislation or judiciary measures, divorced from the fundamental restructuring of the material base of the society, can eliminate or eradicate corruption in Nigeria. Corruption is indeed a wasting disease like cancer even if its beneficiaries regard it as mother’s milk.

Against this backdrop, there are comments of the active players mostly Northern leaders in Nigeria’s political scene since independence.

According to Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belewa (1959-1966), I have a really difficult job-trying to bring Nigeria into one, our fear is not that we shall

fail, our fear is that we might disappoint millions of fellow country men who have confided to us the task of managing their affairs.

In his own comment, Maj. Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi ( January 1966-July 1966) coined that, the Nigeria armed forces have been invited to form an interim military government for the purpose of maintaining law and order, but military leaders have completely failed Nigerians.

General Yakubu Gowon (July 1966-July 29, 1975) maintained that we consider it our responsibility to lay the foundation. of a self-sustaining political system which can stand the test of time in such a manner that each national political crises does not become a threat to the nation’s continued existence as a single entity and which will ensure an orderly transition from one government to another.

According to general Murtala Ramat Muhammed (July 1975-February 12, 1976), Nigeria has been left to drift, if this situation is not arrested, would inevitably result in chans and even bloodsh.

While, General Olusegun Obasanjo (February 1976-october 1, 1979), said that the brigand nature of political and state administration in Nigeria since 1948 has successfully reduced politics and administration to intra-elite squabbles and manipulation. The total devotion to this macabre politics has uninvitingly turned Nigeria into an odd paradox in several respects.

Alhaji Shehu Shagari (October 1, 1979-December 31, 1983) posited that, there is need for a dedicated leadership and citizenry imbued with faith to cultivate a wide spread national filling for “one Nigeria”

That Nigeria went through a period of unrest and political turmoil which threatened the corporate existence of our nation. It should be noted, however, that in the process of nation-building, these experiences are not uncommon. That many countries which are great today had similar experiences.

Major-general Muhamed Buhari (December 31, 1983-August 27. 1985) had this to say, we have dutifully intervened to save this nation from imminent collapse. This generation of Nigerians and indeed future generations have no other country than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together.

In his own statement, general Ibrahim Badamusi Babangida (August 27, 1985-August 26, 1993), said that Nigeria had since independence, a history mixed with turbulence and fortune. We also have witnessed our rise to greatness followed with a decline to the state of be wildered nation. Our human potentials have been neglected, our natural resources put to waste. A phenomenon of constant insecurity and overbearing uncertainty has become characteristics of our national existence. Remember the N 12.4 boil wind fall, the death of Dele Giwa, Kudurat Abiola and June 12, 1993 annulment remains a history for Nigerians.

Chief Ernest Shonekan (August 28, 1993-November 17,1993), reiterated that Nigeria was widely regarded as the natural leader of Africa, and we Nigerians had no qualms at portraying ourselves as such. Fifty years later, we mus-t admit that the dreams, hopes and aspirations raised have not been fully realized. Ours has been a history of one political crises after another, of economic opportunities lost.

In his own coment, general Sani Abacha (November 17, 1993-1998) described Nigeria as like a vehicle which has seen reduced to a cannibalised contraption. It is a vehicle heavily buffeted by the elements and badly battered by the military juntas.

The first president of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Ojiaku, 1981: 191), coined that let it not be said of us that we struggle all these years to win independence for our people, and when we had the chance to build a heaven on earth for them, we made a colossal mess of our country because, in our selfish materialism, we allowed our private prejudices and partial affections to distort our interest to our mother- land.

Let it again be said of us that when we obtained power, we regarded it as an end in itself and not as a means to bring peace, happiness and contentment to our people.

Perhaps, for fifty years of Nigeria’s independence, the North has controlled the affairs of this nation for forty-two years, while West had eight years of the – business of state. But Niger Delta Region has not being allowed to, irrespective of the presence of crude oil that sustain the national growth and economic vibrancy. This time is the turn of the region, under Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the emerging president of Nigeria come 2010.

Agomuo resides in Port Harcourt.     


Godspower Ibe Agomuo