We were there before, we can move beyond and excel, By Echefuna R G Onyebeadi

Posted by News Express | 22 September 2019 | 864 times

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Once upon a time, we had a country that was a role model, envied and respected across the world. 

We once championed the decolonisation of Africa. 

We were once in the forefront of pan-Africanism.

A Nigerian global phenomenon was once referred to as Zik of Africa! 

We were once the Eagles, Giants and Lions of Africa. 

We once gave hope to the hopeless and inspired freedom for the oppressed across the globe. 

We were once a key front-line State in the struggle to free the Southern Africa countries from colonial oppression, repression and subjugation, even though we weren’t domiciled in that geographic location. 

We were once at the forefront of the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Once upon a time, we were a prime destination for African Freedom Fighters and asylum of choice.

Nigeria was once looked upon as a shining light, leader and the hope of the entire “Black race” in the world. 

Our government once declared that Africa has come of age and can no longer be pushed about by colonial masters and foreign interests, while we continued to wallow in stunted growth. 

Once upon a time, Africa was the unconditional “Centre-Piece” of our foreign policy. 

Our educational institutions were once among the topmost in the world. 

Once upon a time, American first degrees were equated to our own Higher School Certificate (HSC), while many European and Asian countries’ degrees were not even recognized by our country. 

Once upon a time, our tertiary institutions were centres of academic excellence and destination of choice for international academic tourism. 

We once offered scholarships to fellow Africans, irrespective of their countries of origin in our tertiary institutions and elsewhere, who later became presidents of their own countries.

Once upon a time, our students were being offered two or more jobs to choose from while they were yet to graduate from school.

Once upon a time, an academic qualification was a SURE meal ticket and a guaranteed instant elevation to the elite middle-class. 

We once had security of tenure for civil and public servants, and a guaranteed gratuity upon retirement with regular and timely pension.

Once upon a time, the youths were referred to as leaders of tomorrow, which tomorrow now ever appears to be a mirage!

There was a time when young people were looking forward to a better tomorrow, which tomorrow has sadly become a reminiscent of the good old days! 

Once upon a time, our medical facilities were centres of excellence, even for international royal medical tourism.

We were once a developing country with a lot of firsts in Africa and around the world. 

Once upon a time, we had a television station which was the first in Africa, when some American, European and Asian countries were yet to see television. 

We once had flourishing automobile vehicle assembly plants (which would have blossomed into full manufacturing plants) that supplied our vehicular needs and for export. 

Once upon a time, some African countries used to come and buy our own fairly used vehicles. 

We once had flourishing multi-national concerns of mutual benefits like Kingsway, Leventis, Bata; Blue chip multinationals, etc, etc.

Once upon a time, our country had so much money that the Federal Military Government then was wondering what to do with money. 

There was once a government declaration that our challenge then was not money, but on what to spend our stupendous money!

There was once a time when our Naira was a strong global currency, which was preferred to British pounds (Sterling) even in London and an American dollar was far less than our own one Naira. 

We once had a Judiciary that dispenses JUSTICE to all manner of people irrespective of who they are, instead of delivering mere JUDGMENT often based on jaundiced Technicalities.

Once upon a time, the sale of “justice” to the highest bidder was alien to us.

Our Judiciary was once the last hope of the common man.

Nigeria once thrived and blossomed on EQUITY, FAIRNESS and JUSTICE! 

Once upon a time, the mainstay of our national economy was Agriculture - Agro-allied and Agro-based. 

There was once a time when urban migration of young people from rural areas was minimal, because they were actively engaged in the farms and agro-allied productive ventures. 

We once had a foreign affairs minister, among others, who was less than 25 years old. 

We once had national and regional leaders who were far less than 40 years old.

We once had service-oriented Leaders who were completely dematerialised. 

Once upon a time, an ethnic nationality retreated to their own native land, following what was termed massive genocide and declared their own independence; but, the country Nigeria wouldn’t have any of that and fought them, defeated them and asserted that Nigeria must remain one.

Once upon a time, Nigeria fought a “civil war” for three years without borrowing any money to prosecute the war.

Never before have governments borrowed and spent so much money in billions of hard currencies to placate those who took up arms against their own country and bandits in an unending war.

Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs): IDP Camps, terrorism, kidnappings, militancy and such like were once alien to our country, Nigeria.

Once upon a time, the name ‘Gowon’ meant: “Go-On-With-One-Nigeria”.

To “Keep Nigeria One” was once a task that must be done!

We once had equitable, independent and progressive regional governments wherein each and every region was allowed to move, develop and grow at their own pace. 

Once upon a time, the things that now tend to divide us were the things that used to keep us united as one. 

We once had unity in diversity!

We once hailed Nigeria as our own dear father and native land, where we all unanimously stood in brotherhood, even when our tribes and tongues differ!

Once upon a time, we had a country!

We were there before; we can be there again, move beyond, and excel.

Can we? 


•Prof. Echefuna R G Onyebeadi writes from Abuja.

Source: News Express

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