Unlike most kids in primary school today, I wasn’t so passionate about school. I didn’t always look forward to school days. Nothing in the four walls of the class room piqued my interest, especially when it comes to reading and writing. I would reluctantly get dressed for school but hurriedly get back from school. Each day, I would impatiently glue my sight on the classroom wall clock, doing the rounds in tandem with the hands. At the end of the whole school day, trust me to be the first to put on the football cloth after lunch. This daily routine of my lackluster attitude towards studying aroused some interest. In fact, it occasionally engendered series of meeting between my parents and class teachers at different level. Owing to this, my uncle voluntarily took it upon himself to pick on me regularly. If I wasn’t reading, I would be answering questions on what I learn in school. Since that was the case, I started caressing a newly found art of cramming; I mastered the habit of ‘chewing and regurgitating’ like a goat. Some of the generally asked questions were based on Nigeria and not Math, English or Science which I think my uncle wasn’t good at either-smart uncle. Questions like ‘when was Nigeria created?’, ‘ who designed the flag, the freedom fighters, the coat of arms, what the flag color represents, what the coat of arms means?’ etc.
Since combination of questions could just find its way to me anytime I was at home, it was expedient I crammed all topics to be pro-actively battle ready for my uncle. However, I had a positive angle to the rigorous effort of learning and committing to mind as I deemed it then; some of what I crammed stayed with me-like the color of Nigerian flag, what it symbolizes and the coat of arms. At that tender and naive age, I knew what Nigeria as a country represented. What she ought to be; where she was coming from as well as heading to.
The Nigerian flag -represents what Nigeria is supposed to be. Designed in 1959 and first officially hoisted on October 1 1960 .The green stripes represent Nigeria’s agriculture, the forests, the abundant natural wealth and its lush vegetation while the white represents the river Niger, peace and unity.The Coat of Arms-It has a black shield with two white stripes that come together, like the letter Y. These represent the two main rivers flowing through Nigeria: Benue River and the Niger River. The black shield represent Nigeria’s good earth while the two horses on each side represents dignity. The eagle represents strength, while the green and white bands on the top of the shield represents rich agricultural land of the inspiring country. The yellow flowers at the base are called spectabilis, Nigeria’s national flower. It was chosen for inclusion in the coat of arms as it is found all over Nigeria
THE NIGERIA THAT WAS GIVEN BIRTH TO
A careful analysis of both the Nigerian flag and the coat of arms will expose the embedded synchronism which I think is not out of place or co-incidence. They both are careful definition of what country Nigeria is and a set of guidelines, aimed at setting an indigenous developmental path for the country. While other country pride in their endowment, culture and strength, a possible replication was aimed at and efforts were initially entrenched towards the construction of a country of hope from our resources. This I am sure was what the fighters, our heroes saw that led to agitations upon request for self government. The vision was there, the fighters were available and the will power to forge for a self government was almost impossible to ignore. The visionary understanding of what Nigeria is, made way for a common front between the culturally different ethnics. Irrespective of what different literatures expound about the relationships between the north and the south, one thing could not be taken away; the fact they saw a great nation in Nigeria and the need to fight for her right as one. The vision was for a peaceful Nigeria, naturally endowed with every thinkable treasure, gloriously blessed with great minds and individuals of self esteem and unquenchable dignity to do the right thing at all times. The Nigeria that ought to emerge after independence was a country, such that pride in the rule of law, basked in selfless service as to maintaining developmental policies for growth- economically, socially and politically, operating the principle of equity, lawful discharge of duties and responsibilities. The selfless fight for independence was meant to usher in a service to humanity by highly incorruptible public/political officers whose only interest was to better the lot of millions of Nigerians.
They understood only Nigerians can serve Nigerians better. With one voice they clamored for a country for Nigerians; in patriotism they tirelessly maintained an indomitable stand irrespective of cultural affiliations. Though with diverse languages, they engaged in transformational conversation in a globally recognized language. They left their homes, tribes and norm to cultivate a foreign ideology in a bid to release the colonial chains from the neck of Nigerians. At independence emerged a nation that could only get better, a peaceful, dignified and endowed society of strong men of focus, ideas, peace, hope and national interest. In the words of Sir Abu-Bakar Tafawa Balewa “Today’s ceremony marked the culmination of a process which began fifteen years ago and has now reached a happy and successful conclusion. It is with justifiable pride that we claim the achievement of our independence to be unparalleled in the annals of history. Each step of the constitutional advancement has been purposefully and peacefully planned with full and open consultation, not only between representatives of all various interests in Nigeria but in harmonious cooperation with the administrating power which has today relinquished it authority.”
This is the Nigeria I know. The Nigeria I read about. The Nigeria our heroes labored day and night, with their life at the precipice to liberate. I remember the walk, the agitation and clamor. The tired less enchantments, sleepless drilling and consistent strategy to win the country over from colonial masters. I read about the contributions of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello, Anthony Enahoro. I liked the history on the day we took independence, it exposed the activities that happened, the handing over etc. on the faces of our heroes were smiles of victory, and an aura of hope for a better future was obvious
THE NAIJA WE ARE CLONING
Unfortunately, we have cloned a new Nigeria called Naija in theory and practice. An era that promotes obtuse approach towards positive change, an era that introduces the atmosphere that condoles infectious mediocrity and myopic evaluation of ineptitude and decadence that brutalizes every hope. Naija is the subtle abbreviation of a conceptual derivative of the terror men inflicts on each other in Nigeria. That is why you will hear people say ‘Na-I-ja, you bad o’, or say ‘Naija will Ja or outsmart you.’ The era evolved a decomposition of the belief system that once permeate the length and breadth of the country. The conceived adventurous ego at independence that surfaced from a collective will for victory, which was void of lapses, and which, if concretely erected upon would approve of a societal might has been trampled upon. Naija, though as an alternative to Nigeria may not be the cause of the errant mentality in the system. However, the model flow of a disjointed behavior of people finds expression under the period of Naija. Thus, Nigeria as a name or as the embedded challenges in the country has informed a spiral progression of havoc-ridden mindset, a convention in destructive tendencies. Although we can’t blame the problem in Nigeria on the name Naija, but series of unconstitutional activities find strength during the period.
The current phase of the nations developmental evolution is obviously not what our fathers of honor fought for. As encapsulated both in the flag and coat of arms, the proposed state was such that would promote peace, love and oneness- the major reason they reached a modus Vivendi. Sadly enough, the current crop of leaders, in whatever capacity (local, state or federal) and from whatever sector (private or public), have no concern or regard for other people that are not so privileged. A public display of inhuman handling of Nigerians by those in power is a direct deviation from what ought to happen in the country, a system that encourages a sharp realistic difference between the rich and the poor, where over 70 percent of the people can’t feed on $2 a day, an amount that can’t buy the shoe of any of the public servant. Yet, they sit in the office, expending on a lifestyle that can gloriously cater for hundred people at a go. Instead of fighting corruption; nip it in the bud-they are fighting those who are genuinely trying to fight corruption. Instead of providing for the people, they are tirelessly suppressing efforts of those who took it upon themselves to do so. They constantly pride in eulogies in deceit. They like to hear ignorant praises. Love to be referred to as heroes when they are villains. They detest the truth; a sincere criticism suffers counter criticism and who ever dare to ask questions live to feel the full weight of government.
Our democratic system has turned to a demon-crafting system, where men and women in power daily think out the evil to pay people that have done nothing but vote them in power. The diplomatic strength of a nation, meant basically for international relations to bring good tidings to the citizen has been turned to be the powerful defensive tool of government within the country. Party politics has taking over people politics, service to humanity has been sidelined by service to human-in-it i.e. human in the system (public/civil servant). A good budget, adequate implementation and proper execution which is the hope of the electorate is now the yearly hope of the elected, the budgetary allocations on contracts now determines how much each of them can steal.
Away from government, the electorate are neither carrying on the legacies of our heroes, we scarcely show love to our neighbors. In our own little way, we create an atmosphere of inequality and oppression. While the government is in the far away Abuja or each state and local councils, we individually trample upon the expected growth of our immediate environment. Otherwise, why should a contractor collect money and not do the job? Why should an entrepreneur establish a special center to manipulate examinations for student thus leaving the education sector far worse? Report has it that failure has been recorded in WAEC and NECO for five years while Jamb is not an exception. As much as we blame the government, whose fault is it when a lecturer indulges in mal practice,when student pay or sleep with lecturers to pass? Who will share in the blame of the corrupt police officers collecting open bribe? I know of a man who heartily hate government and its apparatus but will never join government, neither will he do the little adjustment he could in his environment. I have heard several parents tell their children, don’t marry from this tribe or that tribe yet, can’t find where the constitution stipulated such. Does the government make us hate the housemaid? Or make us act greedy and stingy? We keep doing evil even when we know it is bad. Otherwise, can a lawyer openly defend you when you dupe someone? Can you morally boast you cheated someone? And why did we even in the first instant collect a token to vote a candidate in? How many of us are asking questions about the various party candidates each election year? Why is there a pronounced affiliation first to a particular tribe before Nigeria?
Is this what our fathers die for? Is this what they labored for? I am sure they didn’t go through what they did to have a divided Nigeria. No matter the theoretical explanation of the emergence of Nigeria, an empirical truth looks us in the face: do we go ahead in isolation, alienation and struggles of divide or we try to amend the dislocated parts of the country. Can we pride a Nigeria of integrity without the fear of prejudice and deceit? Who can the youth trust and place their hopes on? Who can the child in the womb lean on for direction?
I wait the day when the youth will see the problem to be beyond the peripheral outlook, when we shall see that the problem is one that stems from what our soul is carrying, inflated mostly by our biased and corrupt mind. A day when it will dawn on us the outward look or event is just the manifestation stage of what cooks daily within us occasioned by what we see, hear and digest each time. We are always too forward to apportion blames but rejects responsibility to lay the foundation for the construction of haven for ourselves. Truth be told, ‘the evil man soweth is what he reaps’ is the irony that faze 160m Nigerian. Unfortunately as a youth, we have joined the group of evil doers in throwing the dart of misrepresentation. Each day, we pull the trigger of discord, releasing bullets of violence that inflict, maim and instill pain that can never be recovered.
Let us as youths ask ourselves an important question; since we tend to praise our heroes to have sacrificed so much to build this nation and quick to accuse their protégés for destabilizing and destroying the country, who shall our children and generation to come blame; the people we have been blaming or us? If we toll the route of dishonesty and corruption, aren’t we equally guilty of the same irresponsibility? A science rule stipulates every object assumes a stagnant state until a force is applied. However true that is, a wrongly applied force i.e. a little too much of force or a bit too low will misdirect the object, and result to fulfilling no precise objective. Also, it will make the intention complicated to execute. Unlike the age bracket classified as our uncles who cannot even look evil of corruption and mismanagement in the eye. The youth are talking, lending their opinion, advice and prayers. But talk is cheap if afterwards you will still give that bribe, runs that jamb, WAEC or admission. If you will still bribe that police, pay to get contracts and indulge in nepotism and favoritism, If you will still entrench the principle of “can’t beat them so I join them”, or the unethical discharge of civil responsibility to the advantage of few and detriments of many.