Nigeria has failed to fix up in past elections since its independence. It can't afford to let another opportunity slip past in 2019.
Nigeria will be 59 in 2019—the year of its general election. Yet this nation of some 180 million still has a problem finding its feet in a fast paced world.
For Africa’s most populous country, it will be 59 years of poor leadership, coups and counter coups, infrastructural decay, grinding poverty, massively rigged elections, inability to generate and distribute stable electricity and a political class for whom corruption has become a way of life.
Yet the world still looks up to Nigeria for some kind of direction and hope. Yet the rest of the African continent banks on Nigeria to turn the corner somehow.
That optimism for Nigeria from the outside world is not entirely misplaced. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with an enterprising people to boot. More than 50 percent of the nation’s population is young. And Nigeria boasts some of the most intelligent, smartest people on the planet.
Young Nigerians have left their country’s shores to conquer the world in arts, entertainment, sports and science. However, as smaller African countries continue to get it right, Nigerians are wondering when their time will come.
“As Nigeria celebrates its 58th Independence anniversary on the cusp of a historic election cycle, it’s a time that calls for deep sober reflection by the citizens”, said Kwami Adadevoh, a young businessman who has made a name for himself in the country’s real estate sector. “Are we where we ought to be as a nation and individuals? As citizens, have we done our utmost best individually to take our nation forward? Do we make strong enough demands of the leaders we elected?”
Japheth Omojuwa, a leadership expert and social media influencer considers Nigeria its own worst enemy. “In Nigeria. If you show too much sign of competence, love for the people and ability to get the job done, the political system will make sure to game you out!”, he says.
Omojuwa adds that, “the 1999 constitution guarantees the welfare and prosperity of political office holders, for some, even after leaving office. No matter how poor Nigeria is, the guarantee is backed by law. It also structurally guarantees the poverty of most Nigerians”.
Another opportunity beckons
In 2019, Nigerians will head to the ballot yet again to see if they could help steer their country away from the leadership curse pathway. But the signs don’t look particularly promising—the nation’s dominant political parties continue to be plagued with accusations of corruption, and the governing APC has chosen 75-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari to continue to fly its flag in the presidential election.
Yet among Nigeria’s young, vibrant, creative population, hope for a better nation remains.
“Happy Independence Day to my Great Country, who made me believe that regardless of unfavourable conditions, I can make it!! That is the Spirit of Nigeria! Hope! Perseverance! It’s time for us to take our future into our hands, be involved, demand great governance!”, said singer Mr. Eazi.
Nigeria’s survival as a nation beyond 2019 will be hinged on its ability to battle Boko Haram extremists who have waged a brutal war against the state since 2009. The terrorist sect has kidnapped and killed thousands, razed whole communities and displaced millions in the years that have followed.
Yet optimism in the Nigerian project abound.
“One thing that's clear from the many unforced errors that have happened in Nigeria's political landscape, is that our political elite only think in the extreme short term", political analyst, Cheta Nwanze shared on Twitter.
Among young, enlightened Nigerians, the overriding sentiment appears to be that the ruling, governing class has dealt the nation an unfair hand in 58 years. With another election in the horizon, Nigeria has another opportunity to fix up or continue to dance dangerously toward the precipice.