For decades, Nigerians would dance on the streets to loud music on October 1, waving the country’s flag in pride to celebrate its independence from the United Kingdom. On the 63rd anniversary of that moment, the country’s streets are bereft of the usual celebratory atmosphere.

In Abuja, the capital, there were often banquets and concerts, sometimes backed by the government. But this time, as in recent years, 

the streets are quiet save for the flow of traffic as churchgoers throng Sunday masses. Over the speakers, some clerics can be heard soliciting divine intervention to rescue Nigeria from the pits.

For Olive Chiemerie, a 23-year-old bookstore manager resident in Ikeja, Lagos, it is pointless to celebrate. 

She was born just as Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 and used to participate in commemorative activities at school but has become disillusioned in adulthood.

“Becoming an adult in Nigeria under Buhari’s government makes it feel like I have been robbed of my entire future and I can’t do anything but to look on hopelessly as the country falls into disrepair,” Chiemerie told Al Jazeera.

Africa’s largest economy has long been in free fall since the Muhammadu Buhari administration, as youth unemployment, inflation, and debt are at an all-time high and continue to climb. 

More than 60 percent of the country lives in what the United Nations calls “multidimensional poverty”.

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