Come the first day of October, 2012, Nigeria will celebrate 52 years of political independence from the shackles of oppressive and exploitative British colonial rule. The dreams and expectations of the patriots that worked assiduously for the realisation of project independent Nigeria were that of a vision of a people dwelling in a land with great infrastructure providing the greatest benefits possible to its peoples and tongues. A land where its people will walk in liberty and freely express themselves with their abundant creative energies to overcome the backwardness of the evil called colonialism.They had envisaged a giant that would one day drive the transformation of the African Societies leading to the emergence of Africa as a major global player politically and economically.
African people and indeed Nigerians had great expectations of this emerging nation with great potentials and the continent waited for its leadership while the nation waited for the great transformation that would ensue.
However, Nigeria has since then turned into a huge disappointment to majority of the people that had had high hopes on the promises that it possessed. A combination of deep internal political schisms and serial inept but corrupt leadership despite the huge resources both human and material robbed the nation of the various opportunities to transform itself into a great nation that would deliver to her citizens the best possible benefits.
This failure to get it right in these past years has foisted on the people one of the greatest burdens of the contradiction of increasing suffering and deprivation in the midst of increasing revenue to the government. The syndrome of “rich dad, poor children”. Access to basic social services – medical care, Education, Housing, Food and Transport have all constricted over the years. Unemployment has burgeoned and continued increasing, manufacturing continues to suffer adversely and worse still, and there is an increasing threat to the political stability of the nation posing serious danger to its corporate existence.
The present security challenge posed by the unfortunate events in the northern part of the country has presented the nation with the greatest threat to dismemberment since after the civil war in 1970. It has exacerbated the poverty in that region and has imposed massive sufferings and deprivations on the hapless populace dislocating thousands in the process.
As we mark this national day, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) believes that our situation is not hopeless and that we can stop this continued slide into anarchy. We believe that we can reverse all these adversities and march back to the path of greatness that has always been the destiny of this nation even at conception.
We know that this will not be easy but the Congress is assured that there is hope for this nation but it requires hard work and our collective determination to make the necessary sacrifices and change needed to generate the critical mass for development. It calls for the people at the top to arise and take responsibility for the parlous state of affairs and be determined to redeem the nation through a positive change to leadership styles and objectives.
The nation must seize the opportunity presented by the current centrifugal forces laying siege on the polity to forge a united and progressive country that we can all be proud of. This is the only way to put a lie to the desires of the various criminal elements both local and international who seek the breakup of Nigeria. We must be determined to prove them wrong.
That is why we believe that at no other time in our history than now do we require a genuine and honest conversation between and amongst the diverse cleavages and interests in country. Our people deserve to be told the truth which is capable of throwing increasing light on the affairs of the land and lifting the mood of despondency that has enveloped us as a nation.
We therefore call on all political actors in Nigeria especially those currently in position of authority to eschew all forms of greed as the reverse portends greater danger to all Nigerians and Nigeria. The Political and Economic space must urgently be opened to build an inclusive nation that would allow all to creatively contribute and participate in the hallowed effort of nation building. The present trend that concentrates Political and Economic power in the hands of a very few minority portends disaster and is therefore not sustainable in the long run.
Let us use this period to remind the government that the People remain the greatest asset of the nation. Building the people by investing in them, creating a strong middle class and putting the citizens back to work should be the best way to go. This is what will eventually solve the security challenges, stabilise the polity and drive progress.
The Congress therefore urges those in leadership positions to use this occasion to seek the restoration of the people’s confidence in the nation by also showing an unwavering loyalty and faith in its capacity to become great again. The loyalty of the present leadership to the Nigerian project is questionable. Their children in different schools abroad questions their faith, their insensitive trips abroad for medical care while the hospitals in Nigeria remain comatose poses serious question about their commitment to this country and their penchant for foreign properties and accounts raises deep concerns in the minds of the citizenry. They must change this perception by domesticating all their affairs during this celebration for it to have a meaning.
It is also important that we use this occasion to reflect on those ethos which drove our founding fathers and nationalists into the trenches and barricades. As we ponder over them, our collective resolve now must be to defeat cynicism, give a crushing blow to divisive tendencies shaming all the enemies of this nation so that we can revert once again to that glorious path – our place in the sun.
What this nation demand of us is not only to serve with all our strength: we must trust the strength of our unity. We must not only defend her unity, we must restore her glory. For too long we have been on the path of self immolation, we must move on to the path of restoration.
Those principles and philosophies that therefore make a nation truly independent should be at the heart of our pursuit as a nation. . If the rest of the world is seeking avenues to whittle their dependency on other nations especially in strategic spheres, we should also seek the same. That is what gives meaning and underpins the essence of our independence. That is what we must truly celebrate.
We wish all Nigerian workers and Nigerian people a great independence anniversary!