By Prince Charles Dickson
In the Nigerian political space, nothing dominates more than the run up to the 2015 General Elections–With much hatred and hate speech across divides, very little in substance, and the reason is not far fetched, as citizens are absent minded and simply tagging along.
The year ends and a colossal 22 states of the 36 have not met at least 50% of their financial obligation, not because of Jonathan or because PDP governed state chiefs chose to gather over a billion for Mr. President’s campaign fund, but increasingly even with the writing on the wall, we continue to practice our feeding bottle federalism.
So today, my take is on the Nigerian…you and me.
The millions of us that can no longer recite the nation’s National Anthem with the pledge inclusive, a supposedly patriotic musical composition, a national song, a sacred awakening, a well above average poetic piece and an everyday wake up call second only to the Christian morning devotion or the five times daily prayer of the Muslims.
I recall it was the Obasanjo’s government, that a number of ambassadorial nominees could not recite the national anthem of Nigeria and they were going to represent Nigerians and Nigeria… Some tried and did it in style, they skipped several lines and recomposed their versions and in turn they all were asked to take the ceremonial ‘senatorial bow’. The bitter truth is that the national anthem with the accompanying pledges, one of the remaining instruments of patriotism is going extinct. I dare say with a measure of certainty not even half the nation’s legislators can recite it without mumbling and soon maybe our kids would tell us that the national flag is red, green, blue or something like that.
When we were young, I still get high from the kicks one felt at having to stop whatever one was doing just to pay allegiance to the national anthem and standstill while the pledge was being said. Among our rural and urban kids the same anthem has become a caricature with versions were certain phrases tell the story of Nigeria. An example…”to serve our fatherland with love, strength, and faith” has become ‘to serve Nigeria is not by force’, ‘to thief Nigerian money is by politics’ and more such ridiculous jokes. Before I started this piece I had to recite the anthem and pledge and it was a mean feat.
These days unlike yesteryears radio and television stations do not even bother to sign in with the national anthem or sign off with it. Even the state owned and taxpayer funded National Television is a culprit.
“Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey”. We no longer have patriots…our compatriots are political jobbers and looters of the national treasury that milk the nation’s resource without recourse to their tribal marks. The real patriots that exist are the commoners be them Hausa, Ibo or Yoruba, that sit together and watch Nigeria unable to qualify for the African Nations Cup.
The real patriots mourn when we loose to the Sudan, they are taxi drivers, from Zaira to Abeokuta, Motorcyclists from Onitsha to Kafanchan, housewives, peasant farmers that in most cases only heard commentaries on the radio as they could not afford a television, those of them that could, had no electricity. These set of Nigerians have continued to heed the call to obedience but our leaders have on the contrary abused that call to service as a call to enrichment, and a call to dehumanize the ordinary Nigeria.
“To serve our fatherland, with love, strength and faith”. What beautiful line of poetry, but sadly that is all there is to it, for most Nigerians…a line of poetry because every Nigeria whether in leadership or not has learnt it pays better to serve ones pocket with passionate greed, and strength.
Talking of fatherland, we have none; we simply have Ijawland, Arewaland, Biafraland, Odualand…APCland, PDPland, Asorockland, INECland, corruptland etc. Certainly there is no land.
There is tension everywhere; the government is heating up the polity through its actions and inaction. The opposition is also following suit. For the populace love has become strange in their vocabulary, step on a person’s foot in the bus, you will be left with the impression that you just had an encounter with Shekau. Where is the strength when all the government does is to talk and talk…Several months of unpaid salaries and many more earning survival wages, we talk of strength.
A nation that has been continually raped economically by her leaders will loose faith and have only fate to look forward to. Service to humanity, to fatherland, with love, strength and faith has become ‘mouthology’ (rhetoric) because…
The labour of our heroes past is now in vain, this is not the Nigeria that they or any of us envisaged but indeed it is the Nigeria we deserve. Because we all got here somehow, it was not the job of spirits, we got to this point of decay where the National anthem is no longer sang in schools instead like slaves that our kids have become in the assembly grounds the sing the hymn “we shall overcome someday”.
The dreams of our heroes past are nightmares now…
Let me end by the last stanza of the national anthem “one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity”. The type of peace in the Northeast? What manner of freedom, that of association, speech…when journalists have become government lackeys and security personnel prowl the streets looking for treasonable ‘felonists’ like me when robbers and assassins operate in freedom, and peace from security operatives and unity from a fearful populace.
Is Nigeria really united…? When virtually the un-dividable the North is in bits and pieces, the South confused, Southwest kinsmen fighting each other, the Southsouth suffering an optical illusion, the Southeast with more River Niger bridges on paper than in reality, and less I forget gullible the Middle has been kept belted.
It is a sad day ahead for this nation, whether a buharist or Jonathanian, if we fail to wake when our mates are waking; else we may wake up to discover yesterday we were Nigerians, and tomorrow…what we will be–Only time will tell