LAGOS, Nigeria – Nigerians must change their way of thinking if the country is to develop, a respected political economist told a crowd celebrating the nation’s Independence Day.
“We should change our mentality and strive to change the system if things would work well,” said Prof. Pat Utomi, who spoke at the celebration held
Thursday in Lagos. “We must change our way of thinking and value systems by giving attention to those things that are truly important.”
Utomi, who twice ran for president of Nigeria, was one of the key speakers for the program, which was organized by Covenant Christian Centre to mark Nigeria’s 55th year of independence.
“Our learning culture needs to be improved because only when we learn from our past mistakes we can begin the journey to greatness,” Utomi said.
Mbajunwa Obinna studies mass communication at the University of Nigeria. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)
Also speaking was Catholic Bishop Matthew Kukah, who said the problem with Nigeria is that the government structure is weak.
“‘I’m very concerned about this country because this is God’s moment for Nigeria. The question is this, ‘Where do we go from here?’ Nigeria is in our hands,” Kukah said. “Corruption is driven by greed and the fight against corruption is a fight beyond mere verbal and moral exhortation.”
If corruption is so evil, the bishop asked why Nigerians are so comfortable with it.
Youths who attended the conference were optimistic that Nigeria would be better.
Ifeanyi Kalu, 21, is an entrepreneur who said he is not giving up on Nigeria.
“With what I’ve heard today, I believe that can be a place we would be proud of. In the next 20 years, the Nigerian flag will be seen as the beacon of hope,” Kalu said.
Mbajunwa Obinna, 17, a student studying mass communication at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, said it will take time for Nigeria to come into its own.
“We are still at developing stage, which is not encouraging,” said Obinna, “but I’m hopeful that in the next 10 to 15 years we would be recognized as a developed country.”
Oluwatobiloba Akinsekeji, is a creative arts student at the University of Lagos. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)
Oluwatobiloba Akinsekeji, 21, is studying creative arts at the University of Lagos. She looks to her faith for Nigeria’s path. God will use President Muhammadu Buhari to change the country, she said.
“I can see improvement of the power sector and the reduced rate of corruption,” said Akinsekeji. “With this, Nigeria will be a better country.”
Nigeria independence is celebrated every October 1 to mark the day the country received
independence from British colonial rule in 1960.
In his Independence Day speech, Buhari, who came to power in May after beating former President Goodluck Jonathan by a comfortable margin, said Nigerians must change their lawless habits and their attitude toward public office and public trust. They must change unruly behavior in schools, hospitals, marketplaces, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and in offices.
Buhari said Nigerians must appreciate that everyone has a part to play if they want to bring about change.
Festus Iyorah is a Senior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at