The relationship between Nigeria and her citizens is like that of the Pregnant Woman and Her Adopted Children.
This morning, as I listened to the news, a lot of issues began to cross my mind and I began to ask myself many questions, like; why is Nigeria so divided? How is it that there is no sense of Nationalism among Nigerians?
I began to think to myself, Maybe Nigeria is like a woman who was told that she couldn’t have a child of her own, and then went ahead to adopt 3 babies from 3 different mothers, only to realize much later that she was pregnant with her own baby. The result of this action was a scenerio where one of the kids felt more like the real deal while the remaining 3 struggled for their voices to be heard in the house. How so? Because each one of the kids felt like he or she was being cheated.
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They felt a sense of a bridge between them, one that reminded them of their different biological backgrounds. And in the quest to fill this gap in their hearts and find their paths, a struggle that never ended grew up amongst them. Rather than live together collectively and in harmony, they were more interested in what each of them stood to gain from their mother (home).
This brings us back to the issue of Nigerian Nationalism and her Nationalists. But first, let us get to understand that, the concept of Nationalism can be said to be “An attitude of mind, a pattern of attention and desires which can be further oriented towards developing and maintaining a national identity based on shared characteristics such as culture, language, race, religion, political goals or a belief in a common ancestry.”
in other words, the notion of Nigerian Nationalism outlines that Nigerians are a nation and therefore promotes the cultural unity of Nigerians.
Personally, this assertion is very questionable when you consider the fact that the struggle for Nigeria’s independence did not produce true nationalists. This is evident in the fact that virtually every events, projects and actions in the country have been interpreted in ethnic, religious or regional context.
Forgive me for what I’m about to say, but the fact remains that Nigeria has never really had true Nationalists. And don’t tell me about Azikiwe or Macauley, or is it Enahoro or Tafawa Balewa. Yes, these guys tried and laid a path for the rest of us to follow, but the point here is that these guys were politicians and not Nationalists.
In fact, Nigeria had her independence too easily. And this has greatly affected us and made us to be where we are today as a people and a nation.
While the Likes of South Africa and many African Nations fought and bled for their Fatherland, with notable figures like Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Mugabe, etc. On the other hand, Nigerian leaders, the so called ‘Giant of Africa,’ were busy drinking tea from conference to conference around the world. Unlike many world leaders and religious advocates who fought for their Nation’s independence from colonial rule, Nigeria doesn’t have even a single vibrant individual we can boast of that really fought tooth and nail for our independence from colonial rule.
We were too relaxed in our efforts to gain independence from the British. And this affected our separate ideologies for a nation that was picked up as different fragments and forcefully joined together as a single entity under a single rulership.
To compound issues, rather than join hands together as a people and chase out the British colonial masters, what we had instead was a sectionalisation of various political parties springing up from various regions, each clamouring for separate goals. The majority of these Political Parties, beginning from the NNDP, were never really a mass or people oriented parties, but were instead made up of urban based professionals in the South-West (Lagos). This can also be said of the NCNC, AG, and NPC. All of which were motivated along regional, ethic, tribal and cultural lines.
To me, these were never really a Nationalists quest for self determination but a means to attain power towards a selfish end. And it is this selfish exploitation of ethnic differences by our leaders (The Hausas, Igbos, and Yorubas) over the years that has resulted in deep -rooted distrust among Nigerians today.
Had we gotten it right from the very beginning; had we worked together and fought for our independence collectively as one voice rather than separate voices struggling to be heard, we would not be where we are today.
And until we correct this mistakes and begin to see ourselves FIRST as Nigerians, without resorting to tribes or ethnicity, we will continue to have so many Ojukwus and Nnamdi Kanus springing up from every generation that comes and goes.
Until we eliminate the “My People Syndrome” and begin to see every Nigerian as being part of fragments that makes up NIGERIA, We will continue to go round circles trying to solve a problem that was planted from the very beginning when Nigeria was created.
By Clemson Osadolor. Writer, free thinker and a motivational speaker.