By Abu Onyiani

Nigeria is the most populous black nation on Earth. It is amongst the most blessed in human and natural resources in Africa. It is also amongst the richest in Africa, as Lagos alone, the economic capital of Nigeria grosses more revenue than all but 7 African countries, including Nigeria. Also, Nigerians in diaspora are amongst the most educated, and dedicated groups in their host nations, most notably in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.With Access to Sea, beautiful places that can be converted to tourist centers, and arable lands for agricultural activities, diverse ethnic groups, and natural resources, it could have passed for realism if people had predicted in 1960 that Nigeria would be amongst the World economic and military powers. Sadly though, the reverse is the case.

From 1960 till date, Nigeria has had leaders afflicted with varying degrees of maladroitness, nepotism and religious bigotry. Mostly, these incurably inept leaders have relentlessly looted the country dry. Then they take loans from International Organizations and economically powerful nations, and embezzle as much as they can from it. REALITY OF NIGERIA TODAY. Simply put, Nigeria is in a continuous downward spiral, and it is only a while before we hit the rock bottom.

When Late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua became Nigeria’s President in 2007, he announced his plans (the 7 point agenda)  for Nigeria, in what is now infamously known as the vision 2020. Since he died, two presidents, Goodluck Jonathan under whose watch ministers and government officials stole money like it was an offence not to, and the mostly unaware Muhammadu Buhari, have done nothing towards actualising that goal. In fact, Nigeria is far worse than what was reasonably imaginable in 2007. The present administration have even shown that they have no regards for the lives of innocent Nigerians. From watching armed herdsmen butcher innocent farmers, and whole communities sacked because they protested against indiscriminate Open grazing of the herders, to authorising the brutal clamp down of protesters by oppositions, and the youths against bad governance, most notably the #ENDSARS campaign of 2020. 

 Everything that can make a nation prosperous lies within our reach, so it is therefore disgraceful that, notwithstanding all of the above, Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world, with a vast majority of Nigerians living below the poverty line. Nigeria is also amongst the least in terms of literacy. A study in 2008 puts illiteracy level at 33.9 percent, and there is not much evidence that fingers a considerable improvement on this debilitating situation. There are presently as much as 10.4 million children out of school, a fact that further reinforces the opinion that the political elites have weaponised poverty and illiteracy. There is a also deliberate propaganda by the government, advising more youths to go into (subsistence) farming, whereas, mechanized farming is what developed and developing nations engage in.

Nigeria today is a cesspool of corruption and insecurity. The Aroma of these, combined with the stench of nepotism and religious bigotry is the very odor that drives our best (economically and intellectually) people and foreign investors away to nations that are more accommodating. Often times, we hear Americans using the phrase the American dream, to mean something they’ll like to achieve in America, the Nigerian Dream is to leave Nigeria while you can. The nepotistic disposition of the ruling elites today is exactly why the chances of another civil war is increasingly materializing everyday, and why calls and arguments for secession of some parts of the country begins to make sense to many. 

20 years ago it was unimaginable, but we have become a nation where violent terrorists controlled some parts of the nation, where they tax residents of some local governments, and murder them at will if they assume their orders were disobeyed. This is a nation where Bandits, who carry out their destructive activities of kidnap, murder and cattle rustling with reckless abandon are invited to have round table discussions with governors, who are unashamed to display their lethargic haplessness, to the chagrin of sane individuals. This is a country where captured terrorists are “Rehabilitated” and sent back to the society. Although, these pardons can encourage more terrorists to lay down their arms, especially as many were brainwashed from infancy, it could also mean that the government lacks the will or sense to punish criminals, especially as the fight against Islamic fundamentalists is very much on. The global terrorism index of 2020 places Nigeria as the 3rd most terrorised nation in the World, ahead of Syria, Pakistan and Somalia. 

The Epileptic power supply in Nigeria contributes to this growing poverty and restlessness in it’s citizenry. This pushes Nigerians towards generating their own unclean energy, that is mostly unaffordable to the impoverished populace, in spite of the dangers of air pollution associated with fuel generators and the irritating grating sounds that accompanies it. To understand how poor electricity output is in Nigeria, on most days, there is a power generation and distribution of 4000 megawatts of electricity for a nation of over 207 million people. New York City with a population of just over 8 million people distributes over 11000 megawatts of electricity per day. It is obvious that the government has no plan to increase power distribution in the country. As a matter of fact, the only thing that is constantly increasing is Electricity tariff. Another of such moronic increment is scheduled for later this year.

The judicial system has failed too. Many times, people are sentenced for decades for petty crimes, while looters, and terror apologists are pardoned and rewarded with juicy government positions and contracts. On a facebook post on the 7th of April 2021, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) narrated how they arraigned and secured the conviction of a former accountant general of Bauchi state, Yusuf Ibrahim Gokaru for fraud. Found guilty of stealing One hundred and eight million, three hundred and sixty three thousand, two hundred naira only (N108,363,200.00) from the government coffers, he was asked to refund around 70-80 million Naira back to the state government, and was sentenced to one year imprisonment, with an option of fine. This is the same government that incarcerates petty thieves for years, many times without a formal trial.

Recently, the president in a bid to intimidate IPOB secessionists, General Muhammadu Buhari issued a warning via tweets that was laced by the threats of genocide. Nigerians reported the tweet, and it was promptly deleted, because it went against twitter rules. The presidency went berserk. Many officials of the regime claimed that twitter was undermining Nigeria’s sovereignty as a state, as it had always claimed since the #ENDSARS protests. Consequently, Twitter was banned in Nigeria. The Attorney General of the nation, who only weeks before had displayed the government’s Igbophobia, after comparing the sales of spare parts to Open uncontrolled grazing, asked that nigerians who still used VPN would be prosecuted, even though it is unconstitutional.

Nigeria is presently at it’s lowest ebb since Independence. Our resources have been under exploited, our morale is low, there are bandits and terrorists operating in the north, there are cries for secession in the east, there is a war in Imo state against members of the Armed forces. In spite of all of these, there is little reason to suggest Nigeria is heading to an end, because the southern legislators will not likely ask for a referendum, and suggesting secession in this regime akin to an act of treason. In my opinion, the following points envisages what Nigeria would look like in 20 years:

1. One Nigeria: In my opinion, it is unlikely that Nigeria will break up into two or more groups by 2040. This is due to a number of economic and social factors which includes our most exploited natural resources, Oil, the constitution that provides no allowance for referendums, and the fact that there are numerous minority ethnic groups. For example, i am from Ososo, a minor ethnic group in Edo State, Nigeria. Whichever way Nigeria is split, Ososo will still be a minority, and it will be hard to believe -for many Ososos- that they will get federal representation, whichever way the country is split, since nepotism and ethnic superiority is a trait that is taught to many Nigerians. The China – Hong Kong issue, and the Spain – Catalonia issue provides evidence that even in advanced nations, secession is highly improbable. And as seen with the Sudan -South Sudan split, only years of war and bloodletting, and a mutual dislike from both groups helped realise the divide. It is also unlikely that there will be a coup d’etat in the next 20 years. On paper, it will be one Nigeria, although in reality the religious and ethnic divide will continue to cause problems.

2. New, Revised, updated or amended constitution: According to expert analysts, one of the biggest problems with Nigeria as it is presently constituted is the constitution. Hopefully, in 20 years, the government would have seen enough reasons to update or amend the constitution, since tearing it is not feasible. 

3. State sponsored Homophobia: Nigeria’s government condoles, and even subtly approves of homophobia. For example, under Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, homosexuality was officially declared a offence. Legislation made it an offence punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. Even further, the same legislation made speaking in favor of homosexuality an offence punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment. Even though it is regularly in the news that people suspected of homosexuality, especially cross dressers are lynched, nobody has made the news for being arrested or prosecuted for such gang lynching. In 20 years, it is unlikely that such law will be revised, especially in Sharia states like Kano and Sokoto. A Nigeria that legalises same sex unions is not feasible in the next 20 years. 

4. Overpopulation: Nigeria is well on course to double it’s over 207 million population by 2050. By such estimate, it is safe to assume that by 2041, that our population would have risen to at least 300 million. There will be mass migration from rural areas to urban areas. Cities will be expanded, and problems of Power (Electricity), traffic congestion and safe water will be a problem for such a growing population if such issues are not planned for now. Already, Lagos has the worse traffic situation in Nigeria, but other cities like Benin City and Warri are beginning to experience same nowadays, owing to the fact that there are more cars for roads that are deplorable and small, and vehicles remain the main, if not the only source of transportation in most areas. To reduce this, roads should be dualised, and built with the future in mind, other means of transportation like trains and boats should be considered and encouraged. 

5. Underemployment and Poverty: Poverty and the economic disparity between the elites and the masses is likely to be widened. Nigeria’s major source of revenue today is Oil. With the world going green, where the use of recyclable energy is currently been promoted as the future of the earth, may affect the value and pricing of oil. Also, employees have little to no power in Nigeria as of now. Many of them are owed for months without pay, and most are underpaid. Many Nigerians still earn less than $100 a month, for working between 8-12 hours, 6 days a week or more. All of these contribute to poverty, when labourers are deprived of their wages, or paid peanuts compared to what the value of their services are actually worth. This trend is likely to continue in the next 20 years, simply because relevant authorities are blind to this modern day slavery that Nigerians are forced to endure.

 6. Remain the economic capital of Africa: Even though Nigeria has one of the weakest currency in Africa, and that countries like Rwanda, South Africa, and Ghana are more secure and attract foreign investors better than Nigeria, one reason that will keep Nigeria as the economic capital of Africa is the workforce and innovation of it’s teeming and growing population. In 20 years, it is likely that Nigeria will begin to manufacture phones, electronics and other electrical appliances. It is also likely that made in Nigerian products like IVM Motors will receive the public’s patronage. Asides the population strength, another reason that will improve Nigeria’s economy is global improvement. Obasanjo is praised as the president who allowed the massive investment and usage of the Internet to Nigeria, but in reality, he couldn’t have said no. He was merely to be lucky as at the time when the world’s communication system was improved, especially as Nigeria never invested on research and development of the Internet. 

7. Reduced influence of religion on politics, and demystifying religious leaders: The level of freedom on religious issues and superstition that Nigerians currently possess is far better than it was 20 years ago, and thanks to the relentlessly promotion of freedom of religion by theists and atheists alike, there is every indication that many more Nigerians will be free to express such freedom. Basing laws on religious doctrines and texts will be kicked against -In the South at least- especially if they are nonsensical and moronic. On the issue of Abortion, it is likely that Pro Choice will have an upper hand against Pro lifers, especially as unsafe underground abortions are almost a norm amongst sexually active youths in the country. Also, it is easy to detect that, Religious leaders hold less power over their “Sheep”, than they held two decades ago. Many Pastors and Imams were shamed and criticized after telling lies and spinning conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is my belief that if Covid-19 had happened 20 years ago, many of these Pastors and Imams would have incited a violent protest against Satan and Illuminati, or whatever organization they believe was controlling the government  and imposing a Lockdown on them. It is also safe to assume that, there will be less all night prayers against witches and demonic owls, where congregations take weapons to church in the hopes of cutting demonic forces down. Superstitious beliefs such as reports of Missing Penises have drastically reduced, and will almost certainly become oral tradition by 2041. Stories of, and belief in Money rituals, women who gave birth to sheep and goats, and people who disappeared after giving money to beggars are already on a steady decline. State sponsored religious pilgrimages are likely to be reduced at the federal level, as it even be increased at state level, if you consider the Sharia states.

8. Better Housing: On housing, it is gradually improving even though there has been little government intervention in this area. In 2011, the Edo state governor Adams Oshiomhole empowered the ministry of housing, Edo state to serve notice to landlords that “Pit Toilets” were no longer acceptable in Benin City, and although like most directives issued by the government, government officials showed lethargy till it was no longer talked about. One thing we got from this, many houses improved their toilets, because they were threatened by the government. Also, new houses have discontinued the use of pit toilets, as the better Flush system is utilized, with less people having to share a toilet.

9. Internet and Social Media as a powerful tool for change: Less than a quarter of Nigeria’s over 207 million population have access to the Internet. Yet, we saw how Powerful it was when #ENDSARS protests were coordinated on social media. It is expected that more Nigerians will have access to the Internet, and social media by 2041, allowing it to be a force for social change and intellectual discussions and criticisms.

10. Emigration: Many Nigerians have their minds made up already to emigrate to another country. This is fueled by Health, Academic and financial reasons. Many Nigerians are tired of the corrupt system and will do almost anything to leave the country, for good. 

(c) Abu Onyiani