Today as the “Giant of Africa,” Nigeria celebrates her 63rd Independence Day anniversary, this provides an opportunity to reflect on the journey so far into statehood since gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1960. No doubt, the nation has made great strides in a number of areas in her national life. However, it is important to recognize, nonetheless, that Nigeria continues to face a number of challenges that encumber its expansion and development. In this piece, I will attempt to examine Nigeria’s journey over the last 63 years and highlight the areas where progress has been made as well as the ongoing problems that need to be addressed.
Over the years, Nigeria’s economy has undergone both highs and lows. The substantial oil reserves of the nation have significantly shaped its economic environment. Nigeria’s economy has prospered during periods of high oil prices, resulting in greater revenue and investment in a variety of areas. However, the economy is now more susceptible to changes in the price of oil due to this dependency on it which has become a major cog in the wheel of progress.
The efforts to diversify the economy and lessen the nation’s dependency on oil are among its significant accomplishments. Agriculture, industrial, and technology sector promotion initiatives have been established, however, development in these fields has not yielded the much-desired result that we all longed for.
The severe economic issues of inflation, unemployment, and income inequality still need to be addressed. With the current administration’s effort towards stimulating the economy by introducing various policies like; fuel subsidy removal, floating the naira, and wooing investors from all over the world, it is hoped that these efforts would pay off in the long run. But with the headline inflation rate rising to about 25.80 per cent in August 2023 according to the National Bureau of Statistics the unemployment rate is still soaring high. Consequently, the renewed hope seems to be dimming by the day. The government of the day would require a lot of stamina to stead the ugly tide for progress to be made.
Nigeria’s transition to democracy has been characterized by a number of changes in civilian and military authority. The nation has made progress in bolstering its democratic institutions since the return to democracy in 1999. In an area characterized by political volatility, Nigeria has successfully held a number of peaceful elections. However, a number of questions have been raised about the integrity of the electoral processes that have thrown up the various political leaders at every election cycle.
The political environment is not without its difficulties, though. A significant problem is still corruption, and there have also been questions about the fairness of the elections and the influence of money in politics. The nation also faces security issues like insurgency, terrorist activity, and inter-communal disputes that endanger stability and development.
Nigeria has advanced in sectors like education and healthcare in terms of social and human development. The government has put policies in place to increase access to healthcare and education services.
However, the government must periodically review and rejig these policies to reflect the time and season we live in. The population of the nation has also increased significantly, and efforts must be made to take advantage of the demographic dividend through funding young entrepreneurship and empowerment programmes.
But Nigeria still struggles with severe poverty, particularly in the countryside. There are still high discrepancies between urban and rural communities in terms of access to high-quality healthcare and education. Inadequate infrastructure, child marriage, and gender inequality are all issues the nation must contend with urgently.
Infrastructural development has seen both successes and setbacks, particularly in the areas of transportation and energy. To improve internal connectivity and increase trade, investments are currently been made in the country’s road and rail networks. However, these initiatives frequently experience delays and expense overruns.
The growth of the economy continues to be significantly impeded by the power industry. To satisfy the demands of its expanding businesses and people, Nigeria’s power generation capacity is grossly insufficient. Power outages are a prevalent problem that hamper corporate operations and lower citizen quality of life.
Nigeria’s 63-year journey since becoming an independent nation has been characterized by both advancement and difficulty. The nation has the capacity to reach greater heights and has demonstrated resiliency in the face of hardship. Nigeria must, however, deal with the ongoing problems that hinder its development if it is to achieve holistic development in all facets of its national life.
The government must stimulate the economy for growth by diversifying it, sustain the fight against corruption, improve security, and invest in social and human development for the greater good of all. To promote economic progress and enhance the standard of living for all Nigerians, infrastructural development, particularly in the power sector, must also be given top priority.
Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day serves as a reminder that the country’s road toward development is ongoing and calls for cooperation, efficient governance, and a dedication to progress.
At 63, has Nigeria made any progress? The answer is yes, but there is still a lot more to be done for us to actualize the dreams of our founding fathers when they fought and gained independence on October 1st 1960.
It is therefore safe to say Nigeria as a project is still a work in progress that requires the conscientious efforts of all to make this dream come through in our lifetime.
A Communication Strategist and Public Affairs Analyst writes from Lagos