By Jilams Odigwe

Fifty-seven years ago, Nigeria gained her independence, fifty seven years ago, the Union Jack was lowered for the serene and receptive Green and white colors to be hoisted high. This is our story and odyssey so far. Nigeria has been a country that has captured the eyes of all nations on earth since its independence and despite its internal crises and tragedies, it has never lost its admiration or contempt from other nations. However, like Homer’s Odyssey, we are still finding our way home which is rife with bittersweet memories.

Nigeria has come a long way in its journey to regional and international recognition. There have been so many hurdles along the way most notable among them which we are still feeling its effects is the 1967-1970 civil war fought along ethnic and regional lines. This was a test of the highest order to determine our unity and this can arguably be seen as the beginning of our mistakes of this great country.

Nigeria will eventually get to its destination but they can only be desire before we can get to the Promised Land. Odysseus spent a decade at war, but his greatest battle was finding his way home, which eventually he did because he had that singular and inexhaustible desire to go home. Just like him, we must have the desirable qualities to go home, to go back to the way we started which made us got our independence in such a fashion that was unprecedented in the history of the world.

The story of our independence is one which should be heralded throughout generation. This is because the Nationalist leaders at that time were dogged, resolute, determined and focused in the face of overwhelming odds. Their never-give up attitude and singular desire just like Odysseus made us to achieve our independence with so sophistication that was greeted with good-will messages from all over the world.

Then, the gods of mischief would not let us be, preying on our Intelligence, it started with the western election crises which prompted the military take-over of the government. The actions taken by these “realists” young soldiers had an effect on the populace and things degenerated until the civil war. The civil war ended thankfully with the country still intact and rebuilding began. However, successive coup and counter-coup made the rebuilding process go at a snail’s speed.

Finally, we are back to civilian rule and the continuation of the rebuilding of this country. Nigeria is 57 and this journey has not been without its fair share of joy, triumph, defeat, sadness, victory, loss, etc that most people have even given up on the journey that we can never get home. Some many have lost faith and many who still had faith have passed on and it seems like all hope is lost and our cause is a phantom dream. The one truth I have come to acknowledge is that no hope or cause is lost, if there is still one “fool” who still believe in it. It is true because in the Nigeria of our dreams seems so far-fetched that someone will be mistaken for a fool, but it is belief that gets us where our hearts wants to be, it is belief that makes us not lose faith and it is belief that makes us never give up on the fact that Nigeria will be great.

Everyone in the world know the potentials and capabilities of this country, that is why they are disappointed of our current state and if in our disappointing state, we are still indispensable, then imagine when we are a delightful land, we will be unstoppable. That is why we must never give up on this country, we like Odysseus must never stop looking for our way home to the Promised Land. It doesn’t matter what scars we carries or what pain goes on in our heart, we must all have a singular desire to want to go home and general belief that we can get to that home that we have dreamed of since our independence.

We are in a battle with various elements that wants to hinder our progress. It is normal for them to want to pose as a hindrance because it shows that we are on the right path. No matter, the mistakes of the past, that desire must never fade, it must shine like a beacon that will draw others to the belief and make them have hope, because it is what keeps us going. As we clock 57 today, the battle will rage like never before, the storm will become fiercer than before, there will be progresses made and monumental setbacks, but we must draw on the strength of our unity, oneness and dreams of our founding fathers and we will prevail over all foes.

Just as sailors uses the North Star, Polaris to navigate their way home because it is fixed and constant, so also our desire, focus, determination and resolution should be fixed and constant to get to our destination. When we do that, we will see our destination just above the horizon. GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.

Odigwe Jilams from Warri, Delta State



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