31 August 2012

Nigeria: One Nation, Many Flags


The recent creation of flags and anthems by some state governments in Nigeria has elicited comments from many who feel that such action is a signal for secession. Bayelsa, President Goodluck Jonathan's home state, is the latest in this novel act. It has reportedly created its own flag and made its own anthem.

Observers of the Nigeria Project are uncomfortable with this development and feel that states should be barred from creating special identities that may signal disintegration. Adopting individual states' identities is not altogether new in Nigeria, however, and is not a problem on its own. In Nigeria's pre-military era, each of the regions had its own symbols and this was not a problem then. Even in the United States where we copied out presidential system of government, each state has its own motto and flag. Yet, the US citizens are highly patriotic when it comes to national issues.

We must look at issues that unite us as a nation, as Nigerians, as victims of colonialism, as a developing nation that lacks many things, as a nation hungry for development. The stability of our country will depend on our sense of history. Our forefathers fought against colonialism and desired to remain one indivisible nation. Our young men sacrificed their lives on the battlefield in their desire to maintain one united entity to serve the interest and good of all of us.

Every Nigerian must reflect to see if the efforts of our past heroes have been positively rewarded. This can only be viewed by how much we treat one another and our valuation of the purpose of the civil war fought for almost three years. The protagonists of a united Nigeria then affirmed that "there is no victor, no vanquished". Steps were taken afterward to build a united nation where no one would be marginalised. However, more than 40 years later, the love for one nation has continued to decline.

The threat to Nigeria's survival has manifested in the handiwork of religious bigots, regional champions, tribal warlords, anarchists, militants and home-grown terrorists who are busy provoking the citizens to take arms against one another.

Nigerians would be better off if they searched for the things that bind them together. Our various cultures and customs should be laid on a scale and the best blended for the good of all of us. Nigerians have more to gain from a united nation than from a balkanisation that will result in inconsequential fragmented entities.

Our elders should refrain from making careless statements that could be misunderstood and amplify the tension engulfing the political climate. They should avoid parochialism. That is when they will be truly regarded as elder statesmen.

For all of us, what unites us should be celebrated - not ethnic, regional or religious sentiments. As a nation we must work hard in one accord to eliminate corruption, nepotism, mediocrity and other vices that have led us to the present situation.

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