By Kelvin Saliu

To make an accurate prognosis of Nigeria in 2040 which is a little less than 20 years from today, means taking a look back at Nigeria 20 years before now. It is said that to predict the future, one needs to review or study the past.

As a 29 years old, 20 years ago, I was only 9 years old, but a smarter than average and highly observant 9 years old. Maybe I didn’t know much but I had an ability to gauge the emotions and the actions of people. The ones I couldn’t understand then, I understood a couple of years after from reminiscing and deeper introspections.

In my opinion, not too much had changed ever since. The same ways and the same methods of doing things, just that, a generation got older and a newer one emerged to grapple with an old, obsolete, unworkable system that suppressed and strangled their forbearers.
Some technological advances here or there especially in the branch of ICT surfaced, but that’s more like an equal opportunity developmental strides that cuts across the whole world and Nigeria for the first time wasn’t left out on something so important.

The progress of technological advancement provided a new market that has blossomed and provided employment to so many and raised their living standards, but the population expansion and explosion as well as the new entrants into the job market or should I rather say the “jobless market” has made light of the number of people sucked out of it by the opportunities provided by ICT. A case of one step forward and two steps backwards.

One of the major challenges of Nigeria is the propagation and practice of organized religion particularly Christianity and Islam who wield extreme views and usurp the thinking faculties and logical abilities of their adherents.
I looked back 20 years ago. I was resident in Kaduna state, Nigeria and it was the height of the Sharia crisis that almost sank Northern Nigeria. The fog of it never cleared because ever since, there had only been a fragile peace as crisis and tensions loomed and escalated until the recent outburst of general insecurity that’s enveloped it.

But not to digress, the Sharia crisis of the early 2000 in Northern Nigerian was the bloodiest religious crisis and revealed the rot and lethality of religious extremism which has bedeviled Nigeria. The mass killings and bloodletting which we witnessed and the trepidation and starvation and fear it waged on people. The fact that next door neighbors took on each other as though they’ve been fantasizing for such an opportunity and over no personal grievance but simply religious disunity and disharmony.

But 20 years after, not much have changed and I dare to say it is likely going to stay the same way on and beyond and even after 2040.
The only solution it seems for escaping the challenges of religious extremism and the wrought they deal is taking flight, and where possible, leaving with everything that has to do with you and yours. But this can pose an extremely insurmountable challenge for the average Nigerian hence the option we are left with, if any, is living one day at a time and hoping for the best or at the best rate, anything better than what it is now, but somehow, expecting the worst.

On the flip side, the tensions and pressure of various separatist groups across the regions could spell one thing, that there may be no more Nigeria as we know it in less than a decade from now and the signs are vividly clear.
Governance had taken a down toll since the emergence of the military and their cohorts into Nigeria’s political space in the early 60s and some wonder how it is possible that the country hadn’t caved in and imploded ever since, but the expected and I dare opine, the much needed break up is the viable solution to solving the issues with Nigeria and instilling stability.

I’ve opined that Nigeria needs to break into at least 15 separate countries as the current philosophical, ideological and social orientations  of the constituents that makes up the country has made it near impossible for a working relationship or a fruitful partnership. A house divided against itself is bound to fall.
But should Nigeria remain as one and persevere beyond the present trials of religious and ethnic tensions of the moment, then only an overhauling reform and an intellectually equipped, progressive and unbiased politically class steering the ship towards development can make the difference. And we do have such able leadership, but I doubt if they will ever be given a chance at power for the forces profiting from the current disrepair and misery in which Nigeria is are monstrous and formidable.

Nigeria in 2040 will experience a technological revolution and innovation as it’s had in the last 20 year, however, the existential threats it wallows in and the consuming consequences of overpopulation will spell more social under-development that will mean an odd reality. And of what good if I may ask is technological progress if it doesn’t translate to better living conditions and improved welfare?

(c) Kelvin Saliu 2021