5 60-Year-Old Nigerians Talk About When Nigeria Was Good

October 1, 2020

Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.

Today, Nigeria turns 60 as an independent nation. But how has the journey really been, especially for people who have been there from the start? We decided to ask a few older people to take us through Nigerian at inception and Nigeria now.

1. Funke, 60/Female

I was born in 1960, in Igbara-Oke, present-day Ondo state. Things were easy back then. Everything went smoothly, and there were no thieves. You could travel from Lagos to Abuja and nobody would waylay you. We didn’t have electricity then, but it didn’t matter. 

There were few private schools, and the government fed students. On Independence Day, students would line up and they would be given many souvenirs like pencils, rulers and bottles. If you were resuming school, all you had to take along was your house wear and your pail for fetching water. The rest would be provided by the government. Once you graduated from school, you were guaranteed to get a job. 

During the days of Gowon, the economy was going well. If you bought rice for one kobo, you wouldn’t be able to finish it. However, as the population increased, things got harder. Now, how much is rice?

2. Akin, 60/Male

When I was in primary school around 1970, things were not bad like this. There was not much proliferation of private schools and most schools were public and well funded.

On Independence Day like this, all the schools were given free food, rulers, notebooks and many other things that students would take home.

The economy was strong. Our leaders focused on agriculture. The healthcare system was also well funded, especially under the era of the Unity Party of Nigeria headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

On this Independence Day, I just want to tell Nigeria to go back to the regional system. If we go back to the regional system of government, there would be competition among the regions to be better.

3. Emeka, 60/Male

As kids, 2 kobo was enough to feed us. However, things have drastically changed. 

With regards to the transport sector, there were the usual danfos, taxis and molue in Lagos state. And the transport fare was like 20 kobo or 50 kobo.

During the days of Muritala Muhammed, if you bought something for ₦20, you couldn’t finish it. However, by the time it got to Abacha’s tenure, things were changing. Still, you cannot compare those days to now. The price of fuel has increased, and it has really changed things. The price of things has become more expensive. 

The inter-state journey was much safer back then, too. If you had a fault with your car on the way, you could fix it on the road. However, these days, you cannot travel at night.

Right now, my prayer is that God changes the heart of Nigerian leaders. 

4. Elizabeth, 60/Female

When I was born, Nigeria was peaceful. Healthcare was better. You could walk into a government hospital and get a stress-free consultation. The hospital staff did not intimidate patients. They were friendly.

You could rent a house for as low as ₦5. However, nowadays, if you don’t have  more than ₦100,000, you cannot get a decent place to live. Transport, food and housing have become very expensive. 

My opinion is that Nigeria has not gotten better in 60 years. I want to tell our leaders to have the fear of God and grow genuine love for the people. If they can imbibe these qualities, I think the country will get better. 

5. Dele, 60/Male

Growing up, it was on one of Nigeria’s Independence Days that I drank Coke. It was so big I couldn’t finish it. That day was such a happy day for me and my friends.

However, things have drastically changed. In Divisional Teacher’s College, Oye-Ekiti where I attended, we were paid ₦80 naira, even as students. School fees were ₦50, and it was subsidised. We had good meals because there was adequate feeding for students.

On this occasion of Nigeria’s independence, my advice for the government is that they allow themselves to feel embarrassed. They should look at how things were before and how things are running in other countries and do the needful. The government must try to make Nigeria better.

Check back every weekday by 10am for more Zikoko Citizen stories.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

April 30, 2021

The subject of today’s #AbroadLife is a 22-year-old man who left Nigeria immediately after secondary school. He talks about  being lonely in Canada and why he wants to come back home but can’t just yet.  When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria? I didn’t make the decision. My parents made the decision […]


Now on Zikoko

September 25, 2022

Simi and Taofeeqat became best friends in SS2. Before adulthood came between them, they gave each other cheesy love letters and long hugs. In this #LettertoHER, Simi wants Taofeeqat to know she misses her.

Recommended Quizzes

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

December 29, 2021

A new year is right around the corner. Before we go into 2022, enjoy some of our top quizzes from this year. 1. QUIZ: Only Nigerian Gen Z’ers Can Make It To The End Of This Musicians Quiz Forget about your age. If you can make it to the end of this quiz, you’re definitely […]

November 20, 2019

Last month, we thoughtfully made a quiz telling you guys exactly when you’ll marry, but some of you claimed that your spouse was nowhere to be found. Well, now we’ve created one that’ll tell you exactly who you’ll be dragging down that aisle. Take and start planning that wedding: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are […]

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

More from Citizen


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.