Africa most populous nation, Nigeria, on yesterday clocked 60 years since gaining independence from colonial power, Great Britain in 1960. For over a century, Liberia stood out as the only independent republic on the continent of Africa. It is without doubt as history tells us that those colonized nations of Africa looked to Liberia as a source of inspiration in their quest for independence and self-rule.
Both Liberia and Nigeria share strong ties, even blood ties that go back to the foundation of the Republic when hundreds of slaves, recaptives from the Bight of Biafra along the coast of Nigeria and from the Congo. More to that hundreds of Liberians, mainly of Kru extraction, settled in Nigeria and as in Ghana taking with them their music which eventually evolved into what is known today as High-Life.
Additionally, many of those immigrants obtained high levels of social mobility in Liberia and contributed significantly to the building of Liberia. During the years of civil conflict in Liberia, many Nigerians laid down their lives in sacrifice to the restoration of peace in Liberia. Many are today lying in unmarked graves around Liberia.
Like Liberia, Nigeria also went through a brutal civil war that lasted from 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970 while, Liberia’s civil war lasted from December 24, 1989 to 1997 and then from 1999 to 2003. Both nations are blessed with an abundance of natural resources and both have very youthful populations. Additionally, both countries have experienced military rule and suffered tyranny and oppression under fascist military dictatorships.
For Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, the occasion of his country’s 60th independence provided an opportunity for sober reflection on how to get to where his country needed to go and how to get there. He painfully lamented the fact that for 29 years of its 60 years existence as a nation has been under military rule.
While admitting that the Nigerian economy, like every other economy in the world, was in crisis and that his country still faced security challenges, he highlighted a problem which is probably no different from that which obtains here in Liberia. And this is what President Buhari had to say:
“Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control”.
President Buhari further noted, “an underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester. In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline”.
“We need to begin a sincere process of national healing and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are”.
“The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration”.
President Buhari’s address to the Nigerian nation could have very well been an address to the Liberian nation for all the ills he flagged out are the very ills plaguing the Liberian nation. Virtually the entire nation appears to have lost its sense of moral rectitude which President Buhari maintains, “is driven by unbridled craving for political control”.
In the context of Liberia’s situation as well as that of Nigeria, probably, a craving for political control is a craving for wealth for illegal access to the national purse and along with the acquisition of wealth comes the craving to maintain power at all costs and illegally accumulate wealth at the national expense.
Today, our national institutions are in a state of crisis wrought mainly by the effects of systemic corruption and bad governance. And the current national leadership, consciously or subconsciously appears to be taking the country along a trajectory that may lead to even greater crisis over which it may have no control.
The economy is in tatters with threats of wider strike action by public sector employees while a bungled Voters Roll Update(VRU) continues to proceed amidst glaring signs that the process, already corrupted by a host of irregularities, may suffer hitches and run the risk of incompletion. The NEC Chairman provided hints that several mobile teams headed for the southeast had become stranded with their vehicles stuck in the muddy roads for days.
Whether the planned December 8 elections will be held on scheduled given all the setbacks currently being experienced in the run-up period remains uncertain, at least for now. But judging from how things appear to be going so far, it can be safely opined that the elections will not be held on schedule, if they will be held at all.
One thing which is clear in all this is just what Nigerian President Buhari flagged in his Independence Day address to the Nigerian nation- a loss or near complete “loss of moral rectitude and an unbridled craving for political control”. This is the challenging situation in which this nation now finds itself. Finding its footing may prove to be an even greater challenge. Perhaps we need to look to the “young infant,” Nigeria to show us a way out. What a Pity!
Congratulations Nigeria and Happy Independence!