Take your time and read this from the beginning to the end, Nigeria's 52yrs of broken dreams, curled from Punch.
Sad reflections hallmark Nigeria’s 52nd Independence anniversary from Britain, which holds on Monday, write ADEOLA BALOGUN, ’NONYE BEN-NWANKWO, BOSEDE OLUSOLA-OBASA, and COMFORT OSEGHALE
Seasoned actor, Chief Femi Robinson, who used to appear in the popular television drama series, Village Headmaster, was just 20 when Nigeria gained independence from Britain on Oct. 1, 1960. Like many other youths of his time, he was excited and filled with the hope of a better and prosperous future.
On Independence Day, Robinson joined thousands of jubilant and enthusiastic young Nigerians at the Tafawa Balewa Square (known as the Race Course at the time) for a parade.
“We were all very young and pleased that we were going to be given a new flag. So we went marching. Many of us wanted to join the Nigeria Police Force, some of us wanted to continue with agriculture, but only a few were interested in becoming lawyers or politicians.
“That day, we sang the old national anthem, promising to remain united despite our diverse ethnic backgrounds. We were all singing like brothers. We never thought that one day we would aim guns at one another,” Robins recalls.
Now 72, Robinson thinks back to those days when the future looked bright and was full of promise for the young nation with nostalgia. He would have loved to be transported back in time to reconnect with those halcyon days.
The old man feels frustrated by the fact that all the shared dreams of a strong and virile nation and a golden future were broken many years later.
At independence, Robinson and his friends were optimistic that the political sagacity witnessed, especially in the South-West under the leadership of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, would translate into a full-blown national agenda when Britain’s Union Jack was finally lowered.
He says, “We had great intellectuals like Anthony Enahoro who could stand up and demand independence from the British colonial government. And we were ready for the cultural and agricultural revolution begun by Awolowo in the Western Region at the national level.
“Unfortunately, today, we don’t have food to eat. In those days, food was plenty. We didn’t have to plant most of the food that we ate before they germinated. The soil was so fertile that when you ate mango and you threw away the seed, it would grow. What has happened now? The youths are not willing to engage in farming in the villages anymore. Everybody is running to the towns to look for money.
“I am not happy at all. What I dreamt of was the agricultural and cultural revolution that this country was witnessing at that time, which made me, a scientist, to switch over to culture only to discover that my culture has been destroyed. We don’t believe in our own craft anymore.”
Indeed, those who witnessed the country’s transition from a colony of Great Britain to a sovereign entity in 1960 have constantly lamented the changes that occurred in the country.
Many of these changes have deeply affected national unity by splitting the component ethnic groups along glaringly divisive fault lines. They have eroded shared values, installed a culture of corruption, deepened poverty, and eventually placed Nigeria at a crossroads at 52.
Superstitious as it may seem, Robinson thinks that the country’s fortunes might have dipped after the old national anthem was dropped by the then Federal Military Government for the present one.
“I don’t know why it was changed. I think that is where the problem started. The Devil began to ask why our tongues should not differ. Eventually, we lost what South Africa has gained. Today, South Africa has overtaken Nigeria and nobody seems to be worried about it,” he says.
Robinson believes that despite the fact that Nigerians fought a regrettable Civil War, he believes the present crop of national leaders can steer the country out of its present situation, which he blames on the activities those that hate to see the people united and prosperous.
Using the Village Headmaster as an illustration, he says there were efforts to ensure that the rulers of the country, especially the military, did not neglect their responsibilities to the people.
He says the Village Headmaster, as did other popular TV sitcoms in the 1960s and ’70s, had an important role to play: to mirror the society and thereby contribute to the development of the country.
The old man says, “The cast of the Village Headmaster comprised actors and actresses that were intellectually sound. We always put the military rulers of the country on their toes. Unfortunately, they were not intellectually fit to comprehend the objectives of the drama series. So, they were afraid of the Village Headmaster and actually plotted to kill it.
“In the fictional Oja village, anybody that stole was ridiculed by a crowd who would take the thief to where he committed the crime and everybody in the village would be invited to come and ‘see’ the face of the thief.
“Have we been doing this to top-ranking government officials who have been robbing our country blind? No, we haven’t. This was one of the things that Village Headmaster was teaching at that time.
“If those big thieves that the EFCC has accused of stealing public funds are made to face a large crowd in the open, amid drumming and singing of abusive songs after them, perhaps there would be no corruption in the society.”
“We are growing old, nobody should expect the Village Headmaster to go on forever. Let the younger ones grow. Today, these little children should be telling themselves that it is wrong for us to receive bribes. The world is changing and so Nigeria should also change ::: Source