Too many people glorify our past as if we were doing better than we are now. In reality it’s not anything close to the truth.
Nigeria now has five satellites in space. In 60 years, we now do renal surgery, IVR and organ transplant in the country, while we have also recorded some good scientific breakthroughs. Could we have done better? Yes, of course; and we should do better. But the point of this article is that we often don’t even acknowledge what we have. To go higher, we must take inventory of who we are and where we are.
Happy New Year friends. I am starting this year with a message to my countrymen, Nigerians. Today I choose to celebrate Nigeria. I’m tired and fed up of all the evil reports. While I don’t deny all the issues and failures of our nation and in particular of our leaders, but I want to intentionally move away from all the stories of woes and point my countrymen to the other side of the coin. There is always another side to any story, as with any coin. In Nigeria’s story, there is also the other side that we hardly hear about. In this article, I’ll be using 60 years as an approximate age for Nigeria.
- Have you ever heard that Nigeria can’t produce anything, even an ordinary pencil? Stop speaking down on your country. Nigeria actually produces – automobiles, trucks, cars, copters, military wares, ships, pharmaceutical goods, agricultural machinery, etc. How many countries have done this after only 60 years of independence?
- At independence, we had only one university – the University of Ibadan. Today, we have 170 universities, 105 polytechnics and about 100 colleges of education. Compare that with what’s obtainable in other countries with similar fundamentals.
- At independence, our colonial masters only left us with 200 qualified medical doctors in the whole country. Today University of Lagos alone produces 250 doctors per annum. Nationwide, Nigeria produces 12,000 doctors annually. The Association of Nigerian Physicians in Northern America (ANPA), New York branch has 5,000 Nigerian doctors and medical professionals. This is the second highest ethnic group of physicians in the United States and UK, after India. Would you say that’s of no essence intellectual development, bearing in mind where we are coming from? Yes, they move abroad for greener pastures, but this too shall pass. It is a stage most countries pass through in their histories.
- 30 years ago, Lekki Peninsula was a mangrove swamp, including Ibeju Lekki that now hosts the Dangote refinery, which is said to be the largest single-train refinery in the whole world. Today, that whole axis ranks among the fastest developing estates in the world.
- When the British colonisers left our shores, there was not a single Nigerian pilot 60 years ago. We are still not where we need to be, but Nigeria doesn’t need to import all her pilots, as was the case a few decades ago. Today, we have female Nigerian pilots flying planes for international airlines.
- In sports, we were not represented in major international competitions before independence. Now, Tobi Amusan and others before her have put us on the world map in athletics. In soccer, our feats, especially in junior football, is unmatched and unparalleled in the history of the sport. We are the first African nation to participate and win a junior World Cup. We’ve won it five times, becoming runners up three times, and the only country to come close to us is Brazil with four titles and two runners-up. We have even won 27 Olympics medals, gold medals in football, sprint and high jump.
- Too many people glorify our past as if we were doing better than we are now. In reality it’s not anything close to the truth. All the so called cotton, groundnut pyramids, cocoa, timber etc., gave us only about $4 billion GDP as at 1960. Today it is over $500 billion.
- Within 60 years of corporate existence, we’ve produced a Nobel Prize winner, a Pulitzer Award winner, and other professional leaders of global repute.
- Nigeria now has five satellites in space. In 60 years, we now do renal surgery, IVR and organ transplant in the country, while we have also recorded some good scientific breakthroughs. Could we have done better? Yes, of course; and we should do better. But the point of this article is that we often don’t even acknowledge what we have. To go higher, we must take inventory of who we are and where we are. If we don’t know what we have, then we can’t be able to improve on it.
- At the time of independence, more Nigerians were dying than those remaining alive. Poor hygiene has now reduced to the extent that polio and cholera have been largely eradicated in the country. This had dropped the number of children per woman from an average of eight in 1960 to three to four in 2019. Infant mortality dropped from about 300/1000 to 100/1000 in 2021.
- Nigeria contributes about 5% of global fossil fuels. This earned us billions of dollars, which though not properly managed had still kept our finances going as a nation, helping us to experience the level of growth other nations cannot boast of.
- We fought the civil war and recovered, had 20 regime changes, survived about five military regimes, and now have over 20 years of uninterrupted democracy. If we compare our instability with that of some countries in Europe: Italy has had about 50 regime changes in the same period. Some other nations haven’t even had the privilege of regime change because of overbearing dictators who won’t leave office until death enables their exit.
- Most of us reading this post are now living in “cement buildings.” Do we want to know how houses were built 60 years ago? Pay a visit to your granny’s building in the “village”. Yes, we are not where we need to be, but we have moved a long way from where we used to be. Progress is not always in a leap but in gradual advancements.
- The Sardauna of Sokoto, late Ahmadu Bello, once complained that the entire Northern Nigeria had less than 10 graduates at independence. Today, the university named after him produces about 10,000 graduates yearly.
- Today, we don’t often hear of cases of human sacrifice by the authorities of the land. Yes we, unfortunately, still suffer in the hands of kidnappers and money ritualists. However in 1960, the Oba, Igwe or Emir of your village was a god! He even had power of life and death then. Today, you can take him to court if he infringes on your rights. This is far from where we used to be.
- Almost two million Nigerians write the JAMB examinations every year. That’s two million people who can at least read, in comparison to 90% of Nigerians who could not even read and write as of 1960. Today we still have illiterates, but not close to what we used to have back in the day.
- How many military generals did we have 60 years ago? How many naval admirals? How many air force commanders? How many professors? How many vice chancellors, How many military bases, Banks? Bank directors and managers? SME directors, music producers, world class singers and composers, authors, engineers, architects, businessmen and women? At independence, all we had then were itinerant subsistence farmers and the elites were village teachers.
- The entire South-West Nigeria had only one TV and one radio station as at 1960. Today, we have over 200 functional private radio and TV stations in the country.
Sunday Adelaja is a Nigeria born leader, transformation strategist, pastor and innovator. He was based in Kiev, Ukraine.
Culled from: Premium Times