Growing up in an educated and politically conscious family comes with daily debate about the state of the nation, action and inaction of government, optimistic and pessimistic perception of government policies as well as flowing ideas on what the government lack, fail to and need to implement. Daily at newspaper stands around the nation, we see citizens engage in arguments and lay down their thoughts mostly aggressively. On the television or radio stations, we listen to various personalities from different fields, both professionals and academia, elaborate on the pros and cons of government activities without being biased as much as they can afford. While these discussions, debate or arguments, which ever qualifies the situation at hand, goes on, there’s always a recourse to the history books. Then we hear, “in 1974 or during military government, Nigeria was…”
Victor Hugo rhetorically asked, what is history? He answered that “history is an echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the Future on the past.” Whenever we have a conversation with an elderly, we are constantly reminded of the good old days. The days when everything was peaceful. They constantly emphasize on the low cost of things and the affordable standard of living. We are reminded of the period when #100 had value and cold buy a lot. when coins were spent. At the University, our lecturers also sarcastically compare the current educational system with that which they passed through in the 70s and 80s. We are told of how they were being fed and accommodated almost freely. We are also reminded of the value that naira had in comparison with dollar.
Well I really understand their frustration and disgust for the present economic situation of Nigeria. Majority of Nigerians who rejoiced after Nigeria gained independence in 1960 envisaged a massive infrastructural growth. This hope was further strengthened by the booming oil market. Nigeria had viable agriculture as well as the numerous raw materials present in our territory. By 1972, $1 = N0.658, 1973 $1 = N0.658, 1974 $1 = N0.63. Its strength then began to decline from 1985 $1 = N0.894 (N1.70 Black Market Rate) to 1986 $1 = N2.02 (N3.90 Black Market Rate). By 1999 $1 = N21.89 (N88-N90 Black Market Rate), 2000 $1 = N85.98 (N105.00 Black Market Rate), 2001 $1 = N99-N106 (N104-N122 Black Market Rate) N153.21-N162.9. By 2014 $1 = N170-N190 ,2015 $1 = N199-N300, 2016 $1 = N300-N320. During this period, cost and standard of living increased and deceased respectively in a geometric proportion.
While our elders sit down to reflect on the past glory, we are faced with a dilemma of how to transform the fortunes of our beloved country. Some blame it on leadership, others blame it on corruption but as citizens, we isolate ourselves from the blame. Maya Angelou said “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Its high time we dropped the constant once upon a time mantra and collectively fight to better the lot of masses who now live below $2 per day. Luxembourg, Switzerland, Norway and many were once in economic down slide but were able to transform their status and are now part of the community of advanced countries. Brunei utilized her oil to great effect.
Many will say we do not have the willed leaders to carry out these changes but the question is, as citizens, how involved and conscious are we towards the policies rolled out by government? To Haile Selassie, “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph”. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; Non but ourselves can free our mind…” These words of Bob Marley should constantly inspire us to rigorously clamour for a better Nigeria. Living in the past has a way of stalling progress. That’s is why progressiveness utilizes the experience from history to guide its present without relying or reliving the events in the past. Think about it!