By Michael Chibuzo
Patriotism is a word that is presently a scarce commodity in Nigeria today. Many Nigerian citizens belong to a generation that do not understand the meaning of patriotism. They profess religions that espouse love for God and love for neighbours but find it difficult to understand the concept loving one’s country, which is what patriotism is all about.
Many Nigerians cannot grasp the sort of passion which inspires one to serve one’s country. Their expectation is mostly about what the country can offer them, without understanding that for a country to be able to offer its citizens the good life, they need to love and nurture it. A country is simply the sum total of its citizens.
If the citizens lack discipline at the micro level, the country would be devoid of order and direction. If the citizens of a nation do not believe in their nation, then that nation is a walking dead c. It is common to see Nigerians adorn their vehicles such as taxis, buses, tricycles, cars, trucks and even their business premises with flags from Israel, Ghana, Britain, US and Canada with the flag of Nigeria their own country missing!
It points to a death in patriotism by many Nigerians. You will hardly see US citizens adorning flags of other nations, not even their sworn allies in place of the American flag. They declare ‘God bless America’ regardless of whether they are Republicans or Democrats. In Nigeria, a simple prayer of ‘God bless Nigeria’ is seen by many people as a sacrilege.
Many Nigerians, especially those whose preferred leaders are not in power, are unable to distinguish between Nigeria as a country and the political leaders/political parties. They think that by spiting Nigeria, they are spiting the leaders or political parties they hate. They are all too eager to believe and share negative news about their own country while doubting anything resembling good news about the country of their birth.
The most worrying part is the eagerness to denigrate Nigeria before other countries, painting Nigeria in the worst possible picture. Some make mockery of our armed forces, a body that ordinarily should be the rallying point for patriotic citizens! One thing these unpatriotic class of Nigerians fail to realise is that they batter their own image in the process of mocking or denigrating Nigeria since they will always have Nigerian roots until they leave this world and the world would always see them as Nigerians.
As we step into the era of Renewed Hope, in addition to expecting drastic improvements in the economy, security, infrastructure etc, Nigerians must begin to re-awaken that critical spirit of patriotism. The type of rapid development in all spheres of our national life that can bring the level of prosperity this nation desperately needs can only be possible when all citizens activate their DNA of patriotism and love for this country.
Patriotism is therefore central to the attainment of meaningful growth. A patriotic civil servant cannot partake in looting of funds meant to build roads that would ensure easy movements of the populace, reduce accidents and the attendant loss of lives. A patriotic citizen will report any fraudulent activities going on around him or her that can hurt the country. A patriotic security or law enforcement agent will never be found circumventing the law.
A patriotic leader will never be preoccupied with thoughts of how to empty the treasury for his personal use. A patriotic follower will not prayer for the leaders of his country to fail just because he is not in power or his preferred candidate is not in power. A patriotic Nigerian would not be angry when people say, God bless Nigeria!
Unpatriotism is a cancer that if left to fester will one day consume this great nation because having a good number of a country’s natural born citizens praying for the downfall of their country is the biggest catastrophe that can befall that nation. We must therefore consciously begin to reverse this trend by making civic education a priority.
Civic education is taught in our primary and secondary schools most times to fulfill all righteousness. Now is the time to pay close attention to that subject and how it is taught. The love for country and duty to the fatherland must be instilled into the consciousness of the next generation of Nigerians if we are to prevent the total demise of patriotism in Nigeria.
We need to rekindle the flame of patriotism in Nigerians. This is the only catalyst that will propel us to the status of a great economic and geopolitical giant. We need a mass of citizens that will make ‘God bless Nigeria!’ their daily chorus.