Comparing the Nigeria of 1960 and 2020. How Far, How Well? By Caleb Onyeabor

Newsie Events:- #Opinion
In his Independence speech, Nigeria’s first and only prime minister rightly said that political Independence is totally worthless if it does not translate to stability and economic security.
Sixty (60) years after, our political Independence has not translated to stability and economic security. Using the words of Balewa, 60 years after, our political Independence is still worthless.
It will only be just to compare how Nigeria was in 1960 to how it is in 2020. 60 years is enough time to move forward, it is also enough time to move backwards.
As of 1960, there were not more than 5 tertiary institutions in Nigeria. In 2020, we have over 30 state-federal universities and polytechnics, over 40 state universities, polytechnics and colleges of institutions and over 70 private universities. Is that progress? In terms of quantity, yes. In quality, no. The quality of education one got in the University of Ibadan for instance in 1960 is higher than what another will get in the same institution in 2020. We have higher institutions in numbers, the quality is nothing to write home about and incomparable to what it was in the few universities the country had in 1960. Development is a thing of quality and not quantity.
As of 1960, there were railway lines connecting major cities in Nigeria. The railway sector was very functional and reliable. Travelling by train was a common thing in 1960. In 2020, we don’t have a functional and reliable rail system.
As of 1960, unemployment rate was nowhere near what it is today. The number of unemployed graduates in 2020 didn’t exist in 1960. In terms of employment rate, Nigeria was better off in 1960 than it is in 2020.
In 1960, Nigeria was not the poverty capital of the world. In fact, it was labelled one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In comparison, the number of poor Nigerians in 2020 almost the same as the number of the entire population in Nigeria as of 1960.
Inflation has grown at an exponential rate so much so that comparing the inflation rate in 1960 and in 2020, will be synonymous to comparing the gap between the earth and skies. You wouldn’t be surprised if the cost of 5 cups of garri today can get you a bag of garri in 1960.
In 1960, Nigeria was food secured. The country produced what it ate and could feed itself without blinking an eye. A consistent amputation of the country’s agricultural capabilities has plunged the world’s biggest black nation into a food crisis.
As of 1960, Nigeria’s Economy was not monocultural and susceptible to the fluctuations in the price of crude in the international market. Nigeria was an exporting nation and held the title of the world largest producers of palm kernel and other commodities. In 2020, that record is nowhere to be found. Nigeria is more import-dependent in 2020 than it was in 1960. In other words, in 1960, the country was more self-sufficient than it is in 2020.
More importantly, Nigeria was safer in 1960 than in 2020. There was no terrorism in Nigeria in 1960 as in 2020. The rate of highways robbery, gunmen attack, banditry and ethnic violence being experienced in 2020 makes 1960 appear as heaven.
As at 1960, Nigerians who travelled abroad to study all wished to come back to live and work in the country. In 2020, not less than 7 out of 10 Nigerians will prefer living the country to never come back.
To be fair to 2020, there is internet connection. A development that didn’t exist in 1960. We have more airports in 2020 than in 1960. Better roads in 2020 than in 1960 and more urban areas in 2020 than in 1960. A bigger GDP in 2020 than in 1960.
The level of corruption in Nigeria in 2020 is a million times worse than what it was in 1960 and the reputation Nigeria had in the international community in 1960 is far better than in 2020.
Comparing 2020 to 1960, 1960 can rightly be described as the good old days. 60 years down the line, Nigeria’s Political independence is still worthless.
Years of bad leadership from both the military and civilians have dragged the country into the mud of systemic problems and converted the country from being one a cheetah to a snail in the course of pursuing development objectives.
60 years is enough time to move forward and enough time to move backwards, Nigeria has painfully chosen the latter. An option that is slowly but progressing dragging the country into a position where it will be forced to decide its existence as a nation again.
Caleb Onyeabor writes from Enugu and can be reached on WhatsApp via +2347032829241
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