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“Even after sixty years independent Nigeria is still a mirage”: Bishop Reflects

Independence Day in Nigeria.

On the eve of the celebration of 60 years since Nigeria gained its independence from the British, a Catholic Bishop has given a negative assessment of progress in the West African country, describing it as “a mirage,” grappling with “multiplicity of problems.”

“Even after sixty years, independent Nigeria is still a mirage, a mere mental construct, rendered even more unattainable by the multiplicity of problems that assail the country,” Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo has said in a statement shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, September 30.

In the statement, Bishop Badejo goes on to highlight “the multiplicity of problems” that the leadership of the country has not been able to resolve over the years.

“The problems of insecurity, violence, insurgency, corruption, unemployment, crippling inflation and pervasive criminality, might still not eclipse the hopes of an independent Nigeria,” the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese says. 

He bemoans the leadership of the country saying, “The lifeblood of a federal republic like Nigeria is equity in representation, distribution of resources, positions and privileges. Nigeria has however been asphyxiated by the self-serving, sectionalist, and tribalistic character of most of her leaders.”

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Bishop Badejo faults the country’s President, Muhammadu Buhari for reneging on his word at his inauguration in 2015 saying Nigerians were wrong to believe that he (President Buhari) would be different.

“The President has since put in place the most divisive regime of lopsidedness and marginalization in appointments and recruitments to favor the northern part of Nigeria,” the Prelate says and cites the recent appointments in the Nigerian Customs Service terming them “lopsided appointments.”

He adds in reference to the appointments, “In a barefaced manner and in such a multi-religious and ethnically diverse country as Nigeria, seven senior positions there all went to Northern Muslims.” 

The Prelate queries why the Federal Character Commission, Parliament, Council of Elders, the Nigerian Bar Association and other elite associations in the country have been silent “in the face of the obvious anomalies in governance.” 

“The questions that Nigerians ask in relation to the governance of the country show that after 60 years of Independence, Nigeria still lacks authentic independence,” the 59-year-old Nigerian Prelate bemoans.

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He adds, “60 years is more than enough time to wean Nigeria of the burden of non-performing organizations and associations which force Nigerians to ask ‘If thee cannot help, who can?’”

As a way forward, Bishop Badejo calls on the citizens of Africa’s most populous country to take charge of the affairs of their nation saying, “Nigerians must fight for independence anew. All hands must be on deck for we have no other country to call home.”

“We must fight for independence from thieving leaders and politicians, corrupt civil servants and unionists, bloodthirsty terrorists and tribalists, economic mercenaries and religious bigots and all sorts of social miscreants who merely seek their own cut of the national cake at whatever price,” the Bishop who doubles as the President of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communication (CEPACS) says. 

Going forward, he underscores, all Nigerians “must fight for a moral and ethical regeneration in the families, society and the country.”

“We must all oppose injustice and graft wherever they are found and fight for the rule of law applied equally to all. We must all do all we can to support one another in charity and solidarity to alleviate the sufferings of our co-nationals. We must make our leaders remember that the power of the people will always outlast the people in power,” Bishop Badejo says.

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In his considered view, “The strength of the nation’s diversity and the combined force of its peoples could still overcome any challenge if the very leaders who should nurture the country’s cohesion were not working against it.”

He calls on President Buhari “to lead the charge for the restoration of equity, fairness and balance in appointments and recruitments in Nigeria in order to restore the federal character of Nigeria and the confidence of the people and so exploit the strength that can be found in national unity.”

Referencing the 40-day prayer program initiated by members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Bishop Badejo says, “We believe that it has worked for our country. God is answering our prayer. It is left to us to recognize the opportunities he offers to us and seize them to (our) advantage.”

“Continue to lift our voices to God in prayer,” the Bishop tells his compatriots and concludes, “I wish Nigerians a successful journey towards authentic independence.”