How Great Is Nigeria! By Igbokwe Kingsley Chukwudi
The influence which a nation exerts, the respect which it enjoys, and the prestige accorded to it on the world scene, depend on two important factors: the size of its wealth and the calibre of its leadership.
— Obafemi Awolowo
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea and has a total area of 923, 768 square kilometres. It shares land border with the Republic of Benin in the west, Niger and Chad in the north, and Cameroon in the east. Nigeria has 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory in Abuja. The country gained its independence from Britain in 1960 and the independence culminated in a full status republic in 1963. It is multi-cultural and ethnic diversified with some 250 ethnic groups and over 520 spoken languages. However, the nation has been plagued with some challenges that seem to undermine its existence and unity like Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group aligned with al-Qaeda, which built up its presence in the Northern region of the country with harsh implementation of Islamic law and has caused estimated deaths of 100,000 persons and two million displaced persons; militancy in the Southern part of the country that has wreaked havoc in the oil industry in pipeline vandalism and untold kidnaps which prompted the government to set up an Amnesty Programme in 2009 by former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the creation of Niger Delta Development Commission in 2000 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo; the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu agitating for the independence of Biafra from Nigeria, etc. Despite these challenges, Nigeria has been able to maintain democracy for 18 years and since her independence, the nation with its diversity in culture, language, tradition etc. has proved among comity of nations to be indeed great. Therefore, in the words of Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, “The greatness comes not when things go always good for you. But the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” Hereunder are some of the points that show how great Nigeria is:
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over 500 billion dollars. The GDP of some states in Nigeria are worth more than some countries GDP in Africa. The economy of Nigeria is very strong and viable for industrialisation and foreign investment. Also, the economy has well-developed financial, legal, communications, transport sectors and stock exchange; in fact, the Nigerian Stock Exchange is the second largest in Africa. The major regions of the country, the West, East, North and South, are blessed with abundant natural resources such as oil, solid minerals, coal, lignite and coke, gold, columbite wolframite and tantalite, bitumen, iron ore, uranium, etc. and this is evident in Nigeria being the 12th largest producers of crude oil in the world with an average of 2,525,000 barrels per day and the 8th largest exporter. It has the 10th largest proven reserves of petroleum worldwide with some 85% income to the government. The capital-intensive oil sector provides 20% of gross domestic product, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budget revenues. With these, the nation has gained recognition in the world and has been a member of Organisation of Petroleum Countries since 1971.
In agriculture, Nigeria is blessed with fertile land and according to the National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria for the 3rd quarter of 2016, the major agricultural products exported from Nigeria include: frozen shrimps and prawns, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, flour and meal of soya bean, ginger, etc. Also, the availability of enormous landmass, water etc. help in grazing of animals thereby make large production of animal meat and other dairy products in Nigeria possible.
More so, Nigeria is multi-cultural. It is blessed with very rich cultures, which include, The Arugungu fishing festival in Kebbi State, which is celebrated between February and March every year, Eyo Festival in Lagos state, the Sango Festival, Benin Festival which is held at the end of every rainy season after harvest has been gathered, New Yam Festival (a.k.a. Iri-ji) which is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by the Igbos between August and September of every year, etc.
In addition, “Genetically, Nigerians grasp knowledge easily…,” said a Russian Diplomat, Artem Romanov. He made the statement in acknowledgement of a Nigerian, Dr. Victor Olalusi who scored a cumulative of 5.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) in a Russian University. At 22 Osarieme Anita, a Nigerian bagged a First-Class Honour at the University of Reading, United Kingdom making her the first black woman to achieve such feat. The Imafidons, a Nigerian family has been declared to be the smartest family in the UK. Therefore, Nigerians are known for their giant feats in education.
The nation no doubt is endowed with human resources in every stratum. Nigeria is proud of industrious people who have proved themselves in all aspects of human endeavour for instance, Dr. Stella Adedavoh who earnestly helped contend Ebola outbreak in 2014; and in any country, they find themselves. For example, Philip Emeagwali, a renowned computer scientist and the acknowledged father of Internet. In literature, Nigeria is proud of literary scholars like Wole Soyinka who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, the first African to do so, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie, Ben Okiri, Cyprian Ekwensi, Elechi Amadi, Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, to name but a few. More so, in the words of Charles de Gaulle “Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so.” Consequently, the wealthiest Black man and woman on earth are Nigerians, Aliko Dangote with estimated net worth of 14 billion Dollars and Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija with net worth of 1.56 billion dollars. Mike Adenuga, a Nigerian, owns the largest black-owned telecommunications firm in the world and it is called Globacom. In modelling, Agbani Darego was crowned Miss World in 2001, she was the first African to do so and did it at the age of 18; not forgetting ardent nationalists like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Herbert Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Anthony Enahoro who fought for the emancipation and unity of the country.
In sports, Nigeria has claimed many victories to remain in the map of greatness. In Olympics, Nigeria usually participates in soccer, judo, wrestling, boxing, weightlifting, tennis, long jump, triple jump, table-tennis and the sprints. The Nigerian men’s national team (Super Eagles) are three times African Champions. The Golden Eaglets (Under 17) won the FIFA U17 World Cup five times; Super Falcons (Nigeria’s women’s football national team) have won the African Women’s Championship nine times out of the eleventh edition. With these accomplishments in sports and many other games, Nigeria remains African champion.
Nigerian entertainment industry worth billions of dollars with high employment rate. In fact, Nollywood is now the second largest movie producer in the world and has contributed over 7.2 billion dollars to Nigeria’s GDP. Nollywood indeed gives the world a taste of true African glamour with its prolific movie production.
Consequently, the nation has gained membership of Economic Community of West African States, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, United Nations, G-19, World Health Organisation, Food and Agricultural Organisation, World Confederation of Labour, to mention but a few and, also Nigeria has been in the forefront to ensuring peace not only in Africa but in the world. Hence, Nigeria is the 6th largest United Nations peacekeeping contributors in Africa. Nigeria on gaining independence in 1960 sent troops to Congo to help restore peace in the region. Nigerian troops were also sent to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1964 to restore peace. South Africa could not have ended apartheid and achieved Black rule if not for the leadership role Nigeria played. Nigeria assisted to restore peace in South Africa during Apartheid.
In conclusion, a Zulu proverb has it that a tree is known by its fruit. The country Nigeria with its largest economy in Africa, exploits in agriculture, admirable culture, giant strides in education, sports, etc. without a doubt, is a great nation and this is what everyone within and outside Nigeria should be proud of. Even as the most populous country in Africa with population of over 170 million people, and one of the most religious nations in the world, its greatness is apparent in its ability to maintain relative peace and live in unity despite all hostilities in the nation like the activities of restive agitating groups like the Arewa Youth Coalition, Boko Haram, Indeginous People of Biafra (IPOB), Adaka Boro Avengers (ABA), militancy, etc. What a great people, culture and nation, Nigeria!
I am 4th year Law student at the University of Nigeria.