I was not born in 1978 when the Nigerian Police band under the directorship of Pa Benedict E. Odaise put together the lyrics of the Nigerian national anthem, but one thing I cannot doubt is the spirit of patriotism that spurred them on while the chant lasted. It is more satisfying even, since it came to replace the ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’ anthem composed by the foreign expatriates living in Nigeria before independence. Out of the entire lyrics of the anthem, one particular line stands out specifically as both an admonition and a challenge to the contemporary Nigerian youths… ‘The Labour of our heroes Past shall never be in vain! Most times when I recite the anthem, I experience an imaginary presence of either Herbart Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa or Alvan Ikoku pointing to my face while I take that line.
Since independence, the Nigerian nation has weathered through the storms of being a truly independent country; with the attendant needs of protecting her citizens from external and internal militating factors, providing necessary infrastructural and social amenities, ensuring that there are viable opportunities for her citizens in both foreign and local trading spaces, among other necessities.
Objectively speaking, several candid efforts were put in place in these regards by some of her leaders in the past, most especially her founding fathers. It is worthy of mention that during these past years, Nigeria competed favourably with other nations in virtually every aspect of development. There was the Nigerian Railway corporation, the Nigerian water board, the Nigerian Airways, there was also NITEL and the postal agencies, there were several agricultural schemes that made Nigeria producer and exporter of certain economic crops like rubber, cocoa, groundnut, cotton and a wide range of cereal crops which increased our GDP. There was also the flourishing timber industry and the mining sector, Nigeria gloried in the days of the groundnut pyramid of the northern region.
However, as time went on, the music changed, we allowed corruption and tribalism come in, we gave room for nepotism, ethnic consciousness, religious differences and selfishness to come in and destroy us. We started having leaders with a personal mind-set rather than national interest. We sat down with folded hands and watched everything our forefathers fought hard to acquire crumple. It became a tale of past glory!
These days it is rampant to see senators and house of assembly members commission petty water projects, mini and rural electrification, one room community clinic and other miniature projects all in the name of infrastructure. It is most painful especially to think that this caricature of democracy is happening in the same Nigeria where these structures used to be the order of the day. Rather than forward, we are ferociously moving backwards.
It has therefore become imperative that we the younger generation should change the narrative. We cannot continue to sit down and watch bad leadership destroy the country our forefathers bestowed on us. We need to rise up and challenge the status quo, especially the political system that gives rise to the leaders at the end of the day. We have to go back to the drawing board and effect the necessary changes for the good of the country. A nation is as good as her leaders. The vehicle called Nigeria cannot move with a bad driver behind the wheels. Our interest is for a Nigeria where citizens needs matter. We need leaders that will put the aspirations of the country before their own cultural, ethnic and religious differences.
Only then can we get the Nigeria we want; a Nigeria for all!
Courtesy: Marcellinus Chijioke Ubaka