Nigerians deserve a better country – Reginald Tobin

NEWS DIGEST – As a people, Nigerians have always been positive minded and hopeful to one day see the country of their dreams, to see a Nigeria that would work for all- one which citizens would be proud of.

It is hard to deny that Nigerians still believe a better country will emerge, as citizens have continually shown patriotism to the nation amidst glaring failure. If not, how do you explain the case of a nation where the wellbeing of its citizens have never been the main priority of its leadership, a country where the people are wrapped in frustration due to the failure of the system, yet, still very much gallant, standing tall and continuously rendering non-stop services to their fathers land? This can only happen in a nation where the people believe there is still a ray of hope.

However, the better Nigeria we hope for is not unachievable or one which will take a century to come to pass, but one which only a reciprocation of love can bring.

Nigeria is a country filled with people who have always demonstrated true love for the country, a nation with people who have readily played their roles as citizens but have not been treated fairly and taken care of. Well, the reciprocation of love in this context is simply giving back to the people the basic amenities they deserve as citizens.

As a people, we are in dire need of many basic necessities. Nigerians are in need of constant Electricity, quality Education, a stable Economy, adequate Security, among other things.

Like the popular saying goes; If there is life, there is hope. In Nigeria today, Insecurity is felt in almost every part of the country, and it has become a national concern. The issue of insecurity in Nigeria has gone beyond the ordinary. Currently, Boko Haram Insurgents have taken over some parts of Northern Nigeria, leaving its dwellers in distress. Some Nigerians have become IDP’s (Internally displaced persons) in their own land due to gross insecurity. This is not the country Nigerians deserve, we need a Nigeria were securing the lives and properties of the citizens will be the main priority of the government. We need a country where we can dwell peacefully without the fear of being killed, terrorized, or harassed on a daily basis.

Similarly, Education is one of the most important sectors in which every serious nation must invest. When I talk about education, I mean “quality education” and I do not think the Nigerian government has done greatly in providing quality education for the masses. What we mostly have when it comes to education for primary and secondary schools are rickety buildings of a minimum of 6 classrooms (mostly substandard). We have just a few public primary and secondary schools of quality standard and we need more, to begin with.

In Nigeria, the government only provides free schools instead of quality free schools, forgetting that we need quality schools to get the quality education that is worthwhile. The education sector suffers greatly in Nigeria because the government cares less about education. For instance, public universities in Nigeria which is supposed to be a model are now littered with poor infrastructures hardly maintained. Students of public universities are hardly comfortable while learning because the public varsities are overpopulated.

Students offering general courses sometimes cluster together in a class with no air condition or even a single fan working, some at the back unable to see the lecturer or hear the voice of the lecturer clearly because there is no microphone for lecturers to teach their students.

In some public schools, students sit on the floor to take lectures due to the bad condition of sits in the classroom. This is saddening. I must commend the resilient Nigerian students who never gave up despite the hard conditions.

In all sincerity, these common problems will not cost a fortune if the government really cared. The government has always proven to be careless in education from the unserious manner with which they handle issues whenever the “annual” strike rocks these universities. Annual? yes, because It is fast becoming a tradition that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) must embark on strike at least once every year. However, The reason the union has always given for its unending strike is that the Federal government owes them a debt and has refused to fulfill payment after reaching an agreement.

My question is simple; If the claims of the union about the government owing them the said amount are true, then why is the government finding it very difficult to settle these lecturers once and for all, just to avoid the continuous strike which is fast becoming a norm in the system? I think if the government really cared, they would have gone the extra mile to solve this problem.

Today, public schools are derailing because private sectors are doing better than the government in terms of education. People now see public primary and secondary schools as schools for the poor. Parents now prefer to send their children to private universities where they will not be bothered by these common issues that rock the public universities.

Having said all these, this is not the Nigeria we deserve, as citizens and students, we deserve a country where education will not be taken for granted, we deserve better.

Let me also have a little ride down the health sector. Just some months ago, the deadly Coronavirus pandemic had hit the grounds of Nigeria. What we really needed to manage this unexpected situation was well-equipped hospitals with state of the art medical facilities for treatment.

Shockingly, it dawned on us that we had just very few of these in our country. This I will say really exposed how poor the health sector in Nigeria is. It made Nigerians know that we really do not have good hospitals built by the government. It revealed to us that the people we call leaders do not care if we die due to lack of proper health care, because they have the resources to jet-out of the country once they need the same.

This time around, there was no way out as all borders were shut due to the pandemic and those who usually fly out for treatment had no option but to share in the pain of poor Nigerians as they fell sick. Unfortunately for some who contracted the virus, they didn’t make it. Maybe the facilities in the hospitals they were taken were not adequate to handle their complications. Just if we had better medical facilities, if we had standard primary health centers with enough bed space across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, we would have done better during the pandemic. This should be a wake-up call to those in government.

During the pandemic, patriotic Nigerians volunteered to be health workers at the various isolation centers across the country. This is how far Nigerians are ready to sacrifice for this nation in spite of the wickedness and treachery of those in power. So don’t we deserve better? I think we do.

It is high time Nigerians get a better country. A country where people will be rewarded according to their good works and contributions to national growth. A country where civil servants will earn more than politicians and also smile home with a bountiful reward after thirty-five years of diligent service to the nation. A country where Nigerians will not spend almost their monthly salaries buying essential commodities due to the cost as a result of a bad economy.

We need a country where there will be a constant power supply for businesses to thrive and for Nigerians to live happily. Nigerians are so much in need of a nation where there is hope for tomorrow, a nation where the aim of the government will be focused on the common man. Most importantly, we deserve a country where we can elect our leaders by ourselves, not some people without conscience foisted upon us. We need a country where votes at the polls reflect our choices.

So far, Nigeria as an independent nation has suffered for sixty years, let the next sixty years bring glory.

Reginald Tobin is a writer and citizen journalist based in Port Harcourt. He can be reached via;
Mail: [email protected]