Nigeria is going through one of its toughest and darkest moments. The boundaries of its nationhood are being sorely tested. Peace and Unity have become very brittle words.
The Executive Director, Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu in a statement pointed out that the citizens are daily contending with endemic insecurity: terrorist attacks and kidnappings are rife across the country. Other forms of violence from both state and non-state actors have taken on a troubling normalcy. Citizens are also contending with an unprecedented economic crisis.
According to him, Due to terrorist attacks across the country, agrarian communities have been under siege and unable to supply the nation with essential food products, creating food insecurity. The failure of the government to refurbish old refineries or build new ones has resulted in the astronomical rise in the price of petroleum products – the main stay of the nation’s energy starved business sector. Industries are struggling under the weight of increased energy cost, with no commensurate increase in the supply. The impact of the covid-19 pandemic has also combined with these factors to exacerbate the already fragile economy, resulting in massive job losses and several businesses closing down.
Young people are struggling. Across the nation, the morale of the educational sector is at an all-time low. Several schools have shut down due to terrorist attacks and kidnap of students. Several young people are also out of school due to the economy and the impacts of Covid-19. Parents are unable to meet their critical needs of food, shelter, healthcare and education.
Human rights violations are also rife. While poverty and insecurity undoubtedly have increased the incidents of human rights violations, human rights violations are also increasing the already endemic poverty and insecurity across the country.
We could go on listing the knotty issues Nigerians are currently contending with that makes celebrating the occasion of its 61st anniversary difficult. We choose however to celebrate the resilient spirit of Nigeria and Nigerians! The incredible nation and its people who keep “taking a licking but go on ticking”. We choose to see why the nation goes on. We choose to see why there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
You see, Nigeria was built not just on British aspirations of a colony on whose wealth and labour will be used to consolidate “Great Britain”. The TRUE Nigeria was built on the grit, sweat and blood of men and women, young and old, abled and disabled, educated or not, a people who not only share the common identity of its geographical perimeters; but also choose to build a NATION they can call their own. Not a nation for their colonialists, their own nation. A legacy for generations to come. A territory beyond geographical boundaries, a prosperous territory in the spirit of brotherhood and unity, where peace and justice reign. They were and are Nigeria’s heroes and we celebrate them.
Nigeria’s heroes are not just pre-independent, or in the early years of post-independence, Nigeria’s heroes exist throughout its rich history, and will be the reason why this nation will go on and surmount its multifaceted challenges.
Last year, we celebrated the sheroes of Nigeria- the strong women who shaped and continue to shape its pride. This year, we celebrate its young people. We celebrate the young women and men who in the face of these struggles have continued to build the foundations, walls, floors, bridges and roof of this great nation. Some names, you may readily identify, but some are extraordinarily ordinary every day heroes who have rolled up their sleeves with defiance and wisdom beyond their age, and insist on a Nigeria of their dreams.
To them we rise and applaud, for them, we devote the month of October to telling their stories.
Perhaps you know a young Nigerian who is actively building Nigeria. Share their stories with us at email@example.com and we will amplify your voice.
Happy Independence Day Nigeria. May you be GREAT in our time, and on our watch.
Abiodun Baiyewu, Executive Director, Global Rights