Cheta Nwanze’s ‘Why Nigeria is a failed state‘ makes for grim reading, because it is the reality of many Nigerians day in, day out. The indices make it very easy to despair about this country. We are ranked 14th out of 177 countries in Foreign Policy’s Failed States Index, which he in his article. The 2010 Human Development Index ranks Nigeria 142nd out of 169. Our Educational system is in tatters as many secondary school leavers can’t pass math or english, security is a mess, healthcare is non-existent. It’s all true.
What is also true is that there are ‘green shoots of recovery’, reasons to be optimistic. These reasons can’t be captured in figures. Yet. I am currently a corper, and I took part in both the registration and elections. For the registration I was sent to Sari-Iganmu, just off the Apapa-Badagry expressway. There is a rail project being constructed there that will span the length of the city, in addition to two lanes of traffic in either direction and should greatly ease the traffic situation. It is progress. I am sure that images of that and other construction work around Lagos played on the minds of the electorate in other South-West states this month, as they voted for change. They must have thought: ‘Fashola is doing it in Lagos, it can happen here. We deserve this’. If the new governors deliver (which I’m praying they do), real change will begin to spread across the region and beyond.
Every time I hear the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi or Babatunde Fashola speak, I think: ‘there is hope’. Every time I see how hard Attahiru Jega has worked in discharging his duties to the best of his ability, I see hope for Nigeria. In April last year, I joined my fellow youths in protest at the hijack of our government. That was the start of a movement that became ‘Enough Is Enough’, then ‘What About Us’, then ‘Nigeria Decides’, representing a growing number of young people who have decided to take back their country from vultures and vampires. All the election reports sent in from around the country on various platforms, the spirited debates, the rejoicing when the will of the people is upheld, those are not the signs of a failed state. If you want failure, look at Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Sudan, Haiti and so on. That is what failure looks like. Any nation that has Babatunde Fashola, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Attahiru Jega, Sanusi Lamido and so on in public office cannot be called a failed state.
This is not to say that the optimism is a blind one. We still have huge challenges. Which is why even though Nigeria has decided, we must hold our leaders to account every day from May 29 by being more involved in the process. It is the only way to improve the level of governance and the execution of good policies which will provide an environment for the rapid growth this country needs. How will we know we’re making progress? When the indices begin to go north. It is not going to be easy, but only by standing together with a common purpose will we succeed. One thing is for certain: slowly, surely, Nigeria has begun to move away from the precipice.