NIGERIA'S 39th Independence Day:
Congratulations on the 39th Independece Day of our country. We Definitely have a lot to reflect on, but on this day we must all make a pledge to making a change in our own way. It is important that we do this so we remind ourselves of economic hardships that we have experienced in this Era and start on a positive note in the New Millennium. I wish the new democratic government success in its effort putting our country back on track.

Nigeria at 39: ATelephone Conversation

Special to and


"Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep!
Hotspur: Why; so can I, or so can any man
But will they come when you call them?"

-William Shakespeare (Henry iv)

"O'boy, how we go celebrate Nigeria's 39th independence day?"


"How are we going to celebrate Nigeria's October 1st?"

"How do you normally celebrate it?"

"We are having a big Owambe party. With a green-white-green kind of pump and

pageantry. Which is more deserving this October than at any other time in

our history."

"Wasn't that the same feeling that we had on October 1st 1980?"

"What do you mean by that?"

"Can't you see we are moving round circles?"

"When will all you cynics ever cheer up?"

"When will all you optimists ever look beyond the book cover."

"Now, tell me, what do you want to see happening in Nigeria?"

"I want to see Nigeria start addressing its structural problems. Nigeria

might have been saved from its military but the big task now is to save

Nigeria from itself."

"Are you saying that you are not impressed by where Obasanjo is taking Nigeria to?"


"Towards the path of progress and prosperity. Ain't you impressed by the restoration of Nigeria's dignity, the institution of open and responsible government? Look around, no political prisoners, no military dictators, everything is moving on accordingly. Ain't you glad about that?"

"I am not and I will tell you why. Nigeria is just like a balloon. A little prick, it will bust. And I don't like that. I do not feel secured knowing that my country is sitting on a cage of gun powder. I want to see it shaken up. I want to see Nigeria's foundation reinforced. You don't need political earthquake to reduce Nigeria to rubbles. A little tropical storm, it is all over."

"Be specific... stop being a prophet of doom."

"Rule of law. Freedom of information. Independent judiciary. True Federation. Qualitative education and so on and so forth."

"It is a gradual process. You don't achieve all these in 100days. We are making progress here and there. We have kicked out Buhari, placed Enwerem on the microscope, and we have frightened the hell out of Tinubu. The Abachas are now sleeping with one eye open and Babangida is for once puzzled at what is going on. Fuel is back and so is the fun of living. So what else were you expecting in 100 days."

"As long as these criminals who robbed Nigeria before are loitering around government houses and every corridor of power, I do not see any sign that there is a deep seated desire for change."

"What do you want Obasanjo to do? To grab them by the neck? When last were Nigerians as hopeful as they are today? The reform is gradually settling in and it is aimed at transforming Nigeria, if only people like you can be patient and stop once in a while, like today, and wish Nigeria well."

"Independence? What lessons did Nigeria learn in the last 39 years?" "That democracy is the only true path. That hardship makes a people to develop character and faith in themselves."

"What do you say about all these wars; intra and inter ethnic politicking? How many times are we gonna fall down before we grow up?"

"The tribe shall never die. But it will fade away as soon as performance and excellence are restored to the fore of public service. With prosperity people will quit bickering and they will see the sense in that principle of

one nation, one destiny."

"NPN, man."

"UPN, man."

"Now, what's up with this wind of laissez-faire capitalism blowing everywhere? We have never had a government, now why advocate for a limited government? It is like the failed IMF call for structural adjustment when we had no structure to adjust in the first instance."

"I am an arch-capitalist, you know, and I think liberalisation and privatization are ideas whose time have come. We have to free the Nigerian economy so that the industrious Nigerian people can maximise their potentials, create wealth, and help put Nigeria o a strong footing in the 21st century."

"I hope you will come out to say the same thing when they turn Nigeria into another Russia or India where very few well connected people control the resources of the country while majority are walloping in abject poverty. It is where we are heading to and it is scary. Without establishing the rule of law, without punishing the sinners of yesterday, we cannot embark on those free market economics unless we want to reward those same rogues."

"Let me assure you that Nigeria has been on the right track if you do not count the Babangida/Abacha years. Babangida opened the door for robber capitalism. Obasanjo is reversing the trend."

"Go tell it to the mountain. There are many scenarios that could play themselves out. The worst is if quasi-revolutionary forces are successfully set loose on our democracy."

"You mean, like all you Oduaa People Congress, and those advocates of a Sovereign National Conference?"

"Lets not go there, today?

"You can say whatever you like... Universal Primary Education(UPE) has been reintroduced as UBE; the movement for National Rebirth has also been launched, and the anti-corruption and anti-cult campaign are on the way. You will be pleasantly surprised soon. You will soon have Obasanjo's picture hanging beside Mandela's in your sitting room."

"You know what?"


"You dey craze."


"Never mind!"

"What? I did'n't hear you. Say it again."

"Never mind."

"Well, let me tell you, a new political order is being shaped in Nigeria, today. Nigeria has never been in control of her destiny as she is now. Within the collective consciousness of Nigerians, the wind of change is taking root. One day, when pessimists like you finally opened their eyes, they will be shocked at the transformation that had happened."

"Dream on. Keep deceiving yourself. The future of Nigeria is still in question. Nigeria cannot feed its people, cannot educate them, house or provide security for them. And you are here dreaming of glorious days."

"Glorious days will come, whether you believe it or not."

"How old again did you say Nigeria is today?"

"39 years old as an independent state."

"Meaning... one step away from 40?"


"What did they say about 40?"


"A fool at 40, remember?"

"That is nonsense. Life, for some, begins at 40."

"O' yeah!"

"Oh, yes! And good evening."

"Whoa! whoa!! whoa!!! You are chickening out, Mr. Optimist?"

"Nope! I am just offended. You called my country a fool?"

"Oh no, I didn't say a f-o-o-l. I said a f-u-l-l."

"Whatever. I'm out of here."

"Please wait! Please!"

"Now what? What next?"

"Nigeria is not 40, remember?"


"So you have a year to prove me wrong."



"What about you? Are you not part of us anymore? Is you job just to sit there and criticize?"

"Oh! my fault! I stand corrected, 'we'."


"Hold on... Am I still invited to your Owambe party?"

"Yes, but under one condition."

"What condition?"

"You have to say the Pledge of Allegiance."

"And what do I get in return?"

"See you, typical Nigerian. 'And what do I get in return?' A snail can try, but it cannot cast off its shell."

"Why the mimicking? You are asking me to say something people like Tinubu cannot honestly recite, all for nothing? Common now."

"You will get Ewedu soup, pounded yam, pepper soup, and isi-ewu."

"Can I come with Fela?"

"Yes, of course. But here, we prefer Shina Peters for it is celebration time."
-Rudolf Okonkwo is the Boston-based special correspondent of USAfrica The Newspaper and