Arise o compatriots, Nigeria call obey …
This is the first two lines of the National Anthem of my beloved country, Nigeria. These words always brighten my spirit whenever I echo it or hear some beautiful harmonics of it being played. As a child, I can still remember myself battling with my pharynx in order to learn each lines in its stanzas. But today, these words in the anthem have planted seeds in my heart that have grown continually and built up patriotism in me which I believe binds Nigerians all over the world.
Jogging down the memory lane, it does not seem difficult for one to imagine Nigeria as a gallimaufry of sorts. After all, from nature to culture and then to religion, the country displays a wide range of variegations: its terrain stretches from savannah, vast, arid to lush forests teeming with wildlife, its people: Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and some hundreds more, exhibit a remarkable prodigiousness in language, festivals, food, belief systems, and values.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a sovereign and democratic nation located in West Africa. She shares land borders with the republic of Benin in the West, Chad and Cameroon in the East, and Niger in the North. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country, as well as the 8th most populated in the world with a population of approximately 200 million people. However, the history of Nigeria cannot be complete without inclusion of the colonial era, which was led by the British Empire. We can never forget how our fellow compatriots were sold for slavery far abroad the shores of the nation. The colonial period lasted from 1900 to 1960, after which Nigeria gained her independence. All thanks to our valiant heroes who fought for our cause and achieved sovereignty.
Judging from a cursory glance, I remembered how we celebrated our golden jubilee a decade ago. I was privileged to be nominated for an award on the independence day at the National Stadium. The skies above Abuja, the Nigerian capital, provided the stage for a dramatic air show and the world’s biggest cake was wheeled into the National Stadium. The President was set to present 50 golden jubilee independence anniversary awards to outstanding Nigerians who have distinguished themselves as notable patriots and have been found worthy of honor in the nation, and visitors will admire the new 18-metre Independence Tower, built on the very spot where the union flag was first lowered and the green and white of Nigeria’s first hoisted.
But as I stepped forward to receive my award at the National Stadium, I looked deep into the eyes of the average Nigerian, the shocking fact is that Nigerians have become more impoverished than they were at independence. Buffeted by a cocktail of afflictions ranging from failed infrastructure, to insecurity, unemployment, poverty, corruption, decaying educational system, ritual killings, sexual harassment, rape, tribalism, communal clashes and nepotism, just to mention a few. The truth is that the song of lamentation on the lips of many Nigerians has generated a chorus that is so easy to chant but which does not sound friendly to the ears. Yet, Nigeria is seen as a thriving economy. You will agree with me that for a country endowed with such rich and fertile soils and Africa’s largest oil reserves, it should be doing much better.
I strongly believe we need to ask ourselves: What went wrong? This is because the answer to this would elicit a plethora of charges ranging from politics to the absence of good leadership, military incursion, a populace lacking in patriotic ethos etc. In fact, the late American President John Kennedy had expected Nigeria to become a first world economy before or by 1975. Quite sad we did not.
However, in the face of these many despair that Nigeria faces today within the country, its immediate West African and the world at large, the questions that linger are whether Nigeria “can”. Can Nigeria still be relied upon to play a leading role in Africa? Can Nigeria be trusted to fulfil its purpose of safeguarding the lives, property and interests of Nigerians? Is there still hope for the country? Can Nigeria still work? Would Nigeria eventually be among the top countries of the world alongside countries like Germany, USA, China, Russia, and the UK, etc.? These are questions that I believe, defines the “hope” of Nigeria as a country.
I believe Nigeria is capable. There is still hope. Nigeria can still work.
What inspires my confidence in the capability of Nigeria? I believe the glory days of the past show that the purpose of Nigeria is to play a leading role in Africa beyond and the way it played the role in the past with aplomb inspires confidence in me that Nigeria is more than capable of such a leading role in the present and future.
I strongly believe Nigeria can get better and rise to more glory and if followed through can change the paradigm. For example, Billionaire Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija has explained that collectively we can build a thriving economy. Former President, Goodluck Jonathan insists that we should move away from luggage economy. Mr. Tony Elumelu believes Nigeria can still work and has inspired hope in the lives of Nigerian entrepreneurs by supporting them with seed capital in their businesses. While Africa’s greatest industrialist Dangote, inspires hope in Nigerians by opening our eyes to a new face of wealth through hard work and discipline.
Furthermore, the confidence in the capacity of Nigerians to fulfill its purpose does not only rest on previous exploits of the country in and out of Africa. You will agree with me that there are however indications that are motivating in the assumption of responsibility in leadership. The 2015 and 2019 general election held in Nigeria were relatively free and fair. Consequently, Nigeria has formed military alliance with other countries of the world such as Russia, France and the UK in combating the menace of terrorism and Boko Haram in the past few years and as at mid-2020, Nigeria continues to play a key role in ECOWAS and AU
I have confidence that with the commitment of Nigerians to come together to change the system for the better, the next coming years would be our biggest and best yet. I believe there is hope just like a writer put it, hope is better served as breakfast, not expected for dinner. Let us join hands together to inspire hope in every Nigerians and make our nation greater irrespective of our tribal, cultural and religious differences. God bless Nigeria!
How Great is Nigeria by Udemy Akpan culled from Positive Naija
The Purpose of Nigeria: The Winning Essay by Olalekan Christopher
Vanguard Nigeria: “Beyond the despair, there is hope”
Transcript Nigeria: Acting High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom
Oyinlola Abosede, a graduate of Chemical Engineering from Obafemi
Awolowo University is an intellectual fighter for emancipation.
and an advocate on social issues. He wrote in via email@example.com