There are hundreds of embassies abroad that are being funded to represent our dear country Nigeria but that has not helped the plight of some Nigerians living abroad who are being denied a nationality and facing discrimination. The classes of Nigerians vary from those who went abroad to study or even work and want to return home, to those that are in the corrupt system making a fortune from the failed system or some unemployable politicians that have forgotten about the civil war that we fought and are still fighting, those that have forgotten about the military regimes that once put them out of employment for years and finally, those who have forgotten that Nigeria was once a developing Nation but now classified as an underdeveloped country. Those are the class of Nigerians that want to continue to be Nigerians.
Today, most Nigerians are either Christians or Muslims, faiths that preach love and tolerance yet have so much dislike for each other which is holding back the country from moving forward.
With this blaring scenario, how can anyone talk about patriotism let alone demand such from its citizens? In the past few years, I have written many articles in this column on patriotism, also in my book HOW LITTLE WE ARE. I feel so bad that people are not reading anymore because the hopelessness of the situation we find ourselves in today was predicted and was written about so many times, so many years ago and we saw it coming. Not only that we saw it coming, but we also suggested even at the risk of harm to one’s life without fearing the consequences of saying the obvious because at almost 85 years old, I feel for the younger generation and the country that I may be leaving behind. I also did what I did and keep doing because I thought I was going to see a real change before I depart this wonderful country that I love so much.
Now for the benefit of those that have not been reading me, particularly in the past five years that I have been writing this column, I would like to lift a few lines from the article titled “Nigeria: A Fractured Nation”, I thought that the one thing that rings true in all the different scenarios and challenges Nigeria is faced with is the lack of patriotism that abounds in the country because only one who cares nothing for his or her country will work tirelessly to destroy it like so many of our leaders and some of us do. Lack of Patriotism cuts across tribe, religion, age and status.
In “A Fractured Nation: Patriotism”, I pointed out that the quickest way to bring back Nigeria to the one Nation it once was, is to bring back PATRIOTISM. Nigerians no longer belong to Nigeria and we must find a way of giving Nigerians some sense of belonging, something to fight for like HOPE, but not false hope. Security is not amnesty; Opportunity for quality education, not contracts or appointments; justice is not politics without defined ideologies. Nigerians know how to go from poverty to wealth despite the huge disadvantages in our economy. Nigerians also know how to handle ill health to good health without having to travel abroad for medical. My son would like to be able to work in every part of Nigeria the way I did. I told him that it is possible, but then we must first bring back Patriotism by going back to those things that united us, not the senseless political divisions, senseless religious ideologies and senseless ethnic boundaries that never existed but were created by men and women of fortune for selfish gratification.
True Patriotism, not lack of it, will make it hard for an individual to embezzle funds meant to provide health facilities for 170 Million Nigerians. A lack of Patriotism is the reason why an individual will embezzle billions meant for the construction of Federal and State roads. The lack of patriotism makes an individual or groups spend huge amounts of money that can be used to better the lives of Nigerians to sponsor terrorists and militants to kill and make life uncomfortable for Nigerians.
Today, most Nigerians, especially the young ones, would be prepared to dump their Nigerian nationality for that of European countries, the UK and the Americans. Some have already done so and we see them in sports, in music, and the Arts. We also see them in politics and the sciences performing on the global stage. Most are Nigerians by birth and we know them by the names they carry.
Apart from some soldiers, I do not know a single Nigerian that is prepared to die for his country the way Nelson Mandela laid down his life for the emancipation of his people in South Africa. Our military is being funded ten times over to defend the nation, also the security apparatus including the police are equally twenty times over to secure the Nation but having difficulties securing themselves.
Thus, Patriotism must be seen from the standpoint of every Nigerian belonging to Nigeria. The nation has gone through senseless wars, misrule, and leadership deficits, insurgencies and political racialism. These issues cannot be corrected or rebuilt in four or eight years, especially when those years still dwell in the bosom of sycophancy and incompetency. We must therefore seek leadership that can bring everybody together and not bring disunity or loss of sense of belonging in one’s Country and Nationality.
As can be from the aforementioned writings, I write from a standpoint of someone that lived and travelled the length and breadth of this country, sometimes living like a nomad, fished in many rivers including the chad, planted trees and established carbon prints, moved round some forests and hunted for food, farmed in so many lands, and shared farm products with friends and relatives all over the country. That was a beautiful Nigeria that gave me all that and a Nigeria I am not able to hand over to those coming after me which is regrettable.