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NIGERIA, MY COUNTRY

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Nigeria, the land of my ancestors; the nation where I was birthed. Nigeria is a beautiful country endowed with abundant human and natural resources.

With a population that exceeds 200 million people, there are ample opportunities, especially for international trade.

Nigeria is abundantly blessed with natural resources, boasting as the largest producer and exporter of oil in Africa, and the 13th largest in the whole wide world.

With the resources at the country’s disposal, it’s no surprise that it has the largest economy in Africa.

In a utopian world, Nigeria would’ve been one of the most powerful countries on earth and a desirable investment spot.

However, that’s sadly not the case.

It’s been 61 years since the nation gained her independence, and she’s still far off from reaching her full potential.

In 1960, when Nigeria became independent, the world had its eyes on the most populous black nation, and for the right reasons.

At that time, Nigeria boasted excellence in intellectual and educational pursuits, business, international diplomacy, as well as military and political leadership.

When Congo was in tumult, the UN peacekeeping forces relied upon Nigeria for leadership and military support. This occurred when other countries needed help too; they turned to Nigeria. 

Nigeria spearheaded the anti-apartheid struggle in Southern African countries such as South Africa, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).

The West African nation also supported and funded liberation movements in Namibia, Angola, and Mozambique, amongst others.

The African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regarded Nigeria as their lifeline, and to a great extent, they still do.

While this might seem like an impressive outlook, Nigeria’s affairs aren’t in order indoors. The country faces several problems.

Home to over 250 different ethnic groups, the country’s progress has been stumped by incompetent leaders and uncommitted citizens.

With all the resources at the nation’s disposal, Nigeria is still plagued by high unemployment rates, poor infrastructures, and an ever looming threat of dissolution.

Another issue is insecurity, which has become an ever-growing problem over the past decade.

While Nigeria has been combating a lot of problems on various fronts, the rapid deterioration of security is threatening to break the nation apart at the seams.

Recent research into the effects of the insurgency in the country’s North-Eastern parts reveals that it has dented Nigeria’s stability, development, and sovereignty.

The country’s armed forces are underequipped and overworked, and it’s been a struggle to battle the terrorist unit- Boko Haram- and defend the nation’s borders.

The case is similar for the Nigerian Police Force. The substandard equipment and poor training have made them underdogs when fighting against criminals.

One can’t help but wonder if there’s a way to stop and reverse Nigeria’s downward spiral.

Inscribed on several yellow commercial buses synonymous with the bustling city of Lagos are the words, “No condition is permanent.”

This is proof that there’s resilience in Nigerians. It’s one of several reasons why I believe change is possible.

The grit and hope displayed by Nigerians, from the slums to the average class citizens are admirable.

People are holding out hope for a better future, for themselves and their children.

There’s evidence in a bright future as even with the past woes, Nigeria is breaking new strides in terms of success.

A few months ago, the Federal Government approved a $5.8 billion hydroelectric project, with a capacity of 3,050 megawatts.

This is the nation’s largest ever in the electrical power sector, it is done in collaboration with China, and the project should be completed by 2027.

The objective is to provide stable electricity to at least half of the nation, something that has been a pipe dream until now.

Agriculture is another sector that’s recording growth. The government, in an attempt to reduce total reliance on oil, has encouraged grain farming.

This will create diversity in the economy, an essential ingredient for growth.

In this line, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched the Anchor Borrower’s Program in 2015.

This initiative is a multi-billion dollar program geared towards agricultural development by aiding small-scale farmers in raising their production capacity.

As Nigerian highways have been deteriorating in functionality over the years, there’s a new attempt to relieve strains on them.

This is embodied by the investment in rail transit, which hasn’t been in proper use in the nation for a long time. 

A 186 km train route connecting Abuja, the federal capital, with Kaduna, a key northern city, was built for $1.1 billion.

Meanwhile, a $1.5 billion train project will connect Lagos, the country’s commercial capital, and Ibadan, 150 km away.

In general, the investment climate in Nigeria has improved significantly.

It’s proven by Nigeria’s rising 24 places in 2017, on the World Bank’s “Ease of doing Business” rating from 169th to 145th.

It’s undeniable that there’s more to do if the country is to reach great heights.

However, one can be optimistic, as reports have touted Nigeria as one of the top ten countries improved by recent reforms.

One of the sectors that have experienced massive growth over the past decade is the Telecommunications industry.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, there are more than 150 million active users amongst service providers. An impressive statistic, considering it’s the largest in Africa.

As with any place with opportunities, both foreign and domestic investors have been cashing in massively on this.

In 2016, Nigeria’s Telecommunications authority revealed that mobile phone subscribers spent a total of $6.6 billion that year. The year before, the figure was at $5.6 billion.

This implies steady growth, and even bigger ones, as the industry is expanding even till 2021.

As a developing country, Nigeria has its share of inconsistent political history.

Even with corruption being a constant roadblock for growth, Nigeria is improving.

I and many Nigerians have hopes in the future of the country.

Citizens have started demanding accountability from their leaders and considering the past decades, Nigeria’s democracy is relatively stable now.

Without a doubt, our hopes for a better future shall be rewarded.

Nigeria, my homeland, will rise.

 

Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota

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