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Opinions of Thursday, 1 October 2020

Columnist: Vanguard

Nigeria in 1960 and Nigeria in 2020 at a glance

Poverty

1960

Nil – Per Lord Macaulay, 2nd February, 1835

“I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”.

2020

The poorest country in the world.

Over 50 percent of Nigerians live in extreme poverty;  while over seven million Nigerians are in urgent need of life-saving assistance (European Union Parliament Resolution, January 2020)

Also:” Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world” (World Poverty Clock, June 25, 2018) Available at: https://qz.com/africa/1313380/nigerias-has-the-highest-rate-of-extreme-poverty-globally/

Also: “After living in denial, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics confirms Nigeria’s poverty capital status” (Guardian News, May 15, 2020)  https://guardian.ng/politics/after-living-in-denial-nbs-confirms-nigerias-poverty-capital-status/

Hunger

1960

Everybody had enough – Per Lord Macaulay and my personal experience

2020

Prevalent among the lower class.

According to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises,  Nigeria ranks in the list of the world’s 10 hungriest countries. With a score of 27.9,  Nigeria suffers from a level of acute hunger and undernutrition that is categorized as “serious”. Nigeria only ranks better than several conflict and war-torn countries.

(Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, the Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti are the world’s 10 hungriest countries in the world)

Unemployment

1960

No unemployment – Per Lord Macaulay above and also from personal experience

2020

According to the Q2 2020 unemployment report published by Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics,  more than 27% of Nigerians are unemployed.

One in every two Nigerians is either unemployed or underemployed.

Occupation

1960

Predominantly farming

2020

* Farming abandoned.

* The occupation of youths is mostly politics

Politics

1960

Mainly by retired Civil Servants and Principal of Secondary Schools. They were contented and ready and willing to serve and reform the country without salary but Sitting Allowance.

2020

* Now a profession.  * Highly monetised. * Do-or-die politics.

* Mostly for jobless people who rely on godfathers

* Politics is now the most lucrative enterprise

Corruption

1960

* Unknown in Nigeria.

* Abominable and detested

* Introduced to Nigeria by European, Lebanese and Indian Contractors, Businessmen

* Forbidden by native laws and customs and traditional religion.

* Instant judgment by Sango, God of Iron and Thunder

2020

* Prevalent

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2019, Nigeria is the 2nd most corrupt country in West Africa, and 34th most corrupt country in the world.

“Corruption worse in Nigeria, new Transparency International Report says” (Premium Times, January 23, 2020)

Begging

1960

* Unknown in West and Eastern Regions. Few in the North

* Beggars were stoned by youths in Western Nigeria.

2020

* Common throughout the country.

* Found on the Streets, Churches, Mosques and at Parties

Terrorism and kidnapping

1960

Existed only in the dictionary

2020

Found everywhere. On the street, in the house, in the farm, offices, schools, day and night.

According to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria is the 3rd most unsafe and terrorism-prone country in the world, ranking behind only two war-torn countries, Iraq and Afghanistan

Also: According to the United Nations, “Nigeria is a pressure cooker of internal conflicts and generalised violence that must be addressed urgently”   See   “Nigeria needs urgent action to end “pressure cooker” of violence claiming thousands of lives, says UN rights expert” (UN, 3 September 2019)

In January, 2020, the European Union Parliament moved a motion for urgent resolution of Nigeria’s high level of terrorism and insecurity, stating that   “the security situation in Nigeria has significantly deteriorated over the last years, posing a serious threat to regional and international security; whereas human rights violations, violence, criminality, and mass killings are widespread and constantly reported, notably in the North-Eastern Region of the country”.See: “European Parliament resolution on Nigeria, notably the recent terrorist attacks”(Res. 2020/2503(RSP)), January, 2020Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2020-0064_EN.html The UK’s recent Foreign Travel Advisory on Nigeria warns that “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria” https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nigeria/terrorism

Religion

1960

* Liberal * West and East mostly Christian* North –   Islam

2020

Cause of armed conflicts in many states and one of the reasons for the emergence of Boko Haram

Travelling

1960

Safe (Day and night)Safest in the night

2020* Night travel is virtually abandoned and if done, it is very risky

* Daytime travelling – Fear of kidnapping.

* Most roads are in poor state of repairs

Types of government

1960

* Federal Constitution * Regional * Parliamentary system * Peaceful until 1965 in the West * Fast development in all Regions

* Donated by the military and falsely described as Constitution made by the people.* Unitary Government in the name of a Federal Constitution* Weak and undeveloped states* Constitution: Concentrates power in the Centre; cause of poor development* Godfatherism: breeds transactional leaders

2020

* Donated by the military and falsely described as Constitution made by the people.* Unitary Government in the name of a Federal Constitution* Weak and undeveloped states* Constitution: Concentrates power in the Centre; cause of poor development* Godfatherism: breeds transactional leaders

Class of people

1960

Three classes existed: * First Class – The Oba, the Chiefs and Ministers. Members of House earned only Sitting Allowance.* Second Class – Teachers and Civil Servants and some Businessmen   * Third Class – the ordinary people No rich or wealthy class.

2020

We now have;* Superrich or super-wealthy class   * The weakened middle class consists of Teachers, Civil Servants and Businessmen* Extremely poor people now in majority.

Education

1960

* Highly qualitative and functional* Compared favourably with that of UK

2020

* Has dwindled in quality and functionality * Poor funding* Poor infrastructure* Strikes and * Poor accountability in public universities.

Currency

1960

Nigeria Naira stronger than Dollar and Pound Sterling in 1960.

2020

$1 = N462 (parallel market)£1 = N600

Foreign debt

1960

$150 Million

2020

Population

1960

45 Million

2020

Currently 214 Million, and is projected to be 392 million by 2050. Source: US Central Intelligence Agency, Fact Sheet on Nigeria

REMEDIAL MEASURES: 1. What are we celebrating on October 1, 2020? 2. Certainly our constitutional foundation is in need of restructuring urgently, 3. No amendments to 1999 military constitution can make 1999 constitution a peoples constitution;

4, In order to avoid imminent collapse of Nigeria, we urgently need a sovereign national conference to produce a true federal constitution similar to 1960/63 constitution, 5. I believe that a strong united states of Nigeria can emerge from a constitution that produces transformational leaders as against transactional leaders.

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