Nigeria: Here We are at 54, By Enenim Ubon
I watched on TV recently the 27th anniversary dinner of Akwa Ibom State; after all the ‘funfare’ the MC asked everyone to stand for the national anthem,(to bring the event to a close). At this point I began to wonder if the words of our national anthem meant anything to all those standing, or if in any way the words of our national anthem had propelled any Nigerian to do the unimaginable at anytime in the past. How have we fared as a people with the words of our national anthem? Are they mere words? Do they inspire any hope? After over five decades, have citizens strived to abide by the words they sing? Here is what I think of our national anthem each time I listen to it since then:
ARISE, O COMPATRIOTS, NIGERIA’S CALL OBEY – Nigerians have always arisen for the everyday hustle and bustle, to make ends meet, live the good life successive governments have promised to give but have failed woefully to bring to reality. Yes we arise but very few are interested in obeying the nations call.
TO SERVE OUR FATHERLAND, WITH LOVE AND STRENGTH AND FAITH – Our youth Corp members are serving their fatherland (albeit unwillingly for some)but with LOVE,STRENGTH and FAITH I doubt. Like almost every other Nigerian (when offering any service to the nation) except the political office holders, these ones can’t wait for the service year to end. Many others have no choice than to serve their fatherland, after all that is how they survive and feed their loved ones but only a negligible few carry out their duties with love(as exemplified by some of our public and civil servants, while carrying out their duties); the STRENGTH we posse is to work to better our lives and not to be ‘wasted’ in service to our nation; our FAITH lies in our believe that tomorrow will be better(we will get promoted at work, build houses, marry the spouses of our dreams, make more money and generally live well) not that our nation will be better.
THE LABOUR OF OUR HEROES PAST SHALL NEVER BE IN VAIN – We have a lot of ‘heroes’ in Nigeria, depending on an individual’s beliefs and values. The true heroes, who fought for our freedom, would be ashamed that after 54 years, this is where we are. Moving in the wrong direction every new day. After 54 years, in reality their labour appears to be in vain, far off the mark with self inflicted problems. I earnestly hope we fall in line soonest and redirect our paths towards greatness.
TO SERVE WITH HEART AND MIGHT – Realistically students,workers,businessmen etc work with heart and might when carrying out duties for personal gains. Anything that would benefit others or the nation is being handled with a lackadaisical attitude – why should I care? The politicians on the other hand serve only their bank accounts with heart and might. All they care about is choice properties in various cities. Why should I serve anybody, when I am OGA BOSS? All that matters is taking advantage of hapless people for selfish reason!
ONE NATION BOUND IN FREEDOM, PEACE AND UNITY – Ours is a nation where freedom depends on certain variables – wealth, societal and ‘overlord’ status inclusive. Many a time we have seen people try to force their opinions and religious beliefs on others even when we are supposed to be a secular state. As for Peace and Unity – those have been elusive for as long as I can remember. No region is totally at peace, from family conflicts to communal crises and acts of terrorism. What we mostly see in the news are various acts of injustice and violence; it has become so regular that we perpetually live in fear of the unknown. Unity exists only in the dictionary here – we are a dangerously polarized nation. Each family/tribe/community/region always suspicious of the other. “An atomistic society perpetually at war with itself”, unity is something that has been ‘far from us’ for 5 decades plus, yet we hope to have a hold on it in the emerging society we earnestly seek.
I hope for a better nation, where we can sing our anthem with pride. A time when the words would go beyond mere recitation to making meaning to our hearts and inspiring our actions. As we celebrate ‘Freedom Day’ let us pause for a while and examine how far we have come as a people and where we heading to from here. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY.
Enenim Ubon is on twitter @enenimubon
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