Mni — Lest we forget: Our National Anthem starts with "Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria's call obey"
In recent weeks Nigeria has come under attack not by the predictable Boko Haram insurgenrs but by those who own their very existence to a peaceful and united Nigeria.
Centrifugal forces in the garbs of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Arewa Youths, Odua Progressive (OPC), and thier notable sponsors are for whatever reasons undermining national cohesion and subversively canvassing for disunity. Whence then the compatriots to obey Nigerian call?
A compatriot is defined as a fellow from the same country; a fellow country man or woman (to repeat the common expression!).
With as many as 180 million fellows, Nigeria is certainly not short of compatriots. Nigeria's over 17 million huge Diaspora population ranks one of the highest in the world in a peace time! With such number of compatriots all over the world, Nigerians are scattered enough all over the world to rise in support of their country anywhere with any means. Alas, contrary to the calling of our national anthem, 180 million compatriots, (home and abroad) seem indifferent while few hundreds of renegade patriots in frustrations are calling for disintegration. With as many as 36 governors, 109 senators and 365 members of the Federal House of Representatives, Nigeria is not short of political compatriots. Yet with these hundreds of political compatriots, we are yet to get a political solution to the intractable challenge of insurgency, almost six years after. I commend acting President Yemi Osinbajo being the only standing and activist patriot sermonizing to the few doubting thomases.
Where are the vibrant independent Pan Nigeria associations with registered objectives to promote Nigerian progress, unity and development when Nigeria is under verbal serial attacks? Where is Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Nigeria Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACIMA), Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), National Council of Women Society (NCWS) among several others?
Patriots are defined as those with notable love for their country. With as many as 400 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), Nigeria is not short of patriots. With as many as 8 million organized workforce in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and TUC (Trade Union Congress), Nigeria parades patriotic workforce. It's time these compatriots and patriots alike heed Nigeria's call for solidarity and support against the invasion of our territories and cherished values of peaceful coexistence and tolerance. Today the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir stands out as a compatriot for saying "I am ready to sacrifice my last drop of blood to ensure peace and protect all Nigerians residing in the state". He said that Nigeria will continue to remain one in spite of its multi-ethnic diversity.
The Acting President Osinbajo has commendably taken some bold measures to promote peace and national unity by meeting regional leaders. Its time Nigeria replaced unhelpfully regionalism and negative nationalism with positive nation building attitude and pronouncements. Sources of undoubtedly negative nationalism are insecurity, poverty and blind corrupt ambition of the few elite. Positive nationalism means working for prosperity of the critical mass as distinct from the obscene wealth of the few. We must turn the geography of regions and states to value addition development centres not centres for dysfunctional competition for sharing of the fast depleting sources. The ideology of tongue must give way to ideology of production and equitable wealth distribution. National energy should be in the direction of identifying and deepening our strengths, eliminate and minimise the national weaknesses, grab the opportunities for development and eliminate the threats of poverty, injustice and disunity.
It is a false consciousness to assume that Nigeria is too big. Yes we are big in relations to Ghana (25.3 million) or Togo (6.6 million) . But we are certainly small in relations to China's population (1.351 billion) India (1.237 billion), Bangladesh (154.7 million) and European Union (EU) 503.5 millions and United States of America, 313.9 millions. Certainly Togo is not being imagined to be part of the possible leading 20 economies in 2020. Our comparison should be with China, India and United States of America. In any case, smaller sizes do not guarantee security. Witness South Sudan and Central African Republic where old reactionary animosities have turned the countries asunder. So there is nothing to gain from disunity but many to loose with disintegration. With the rebasing of Nigeria's GDP, the estimated size of the Nigerian economy between $384 billion and $424 billion will be higher than South Africa's GDP of about $384 billion. Under these new figures, Nigeria still have lower per capita GDP of just 1000 dollars far less than South Africa at $6,800. Rebasing does not mean Nigerians are better off. Indeed we are worse than South Africa in prosperity. Two-thirds of Nigerians still live below poverty line. Electricity still a luxury while lives are daily unavoidably wasted to poor health and transport facilities. We need national unity to address all these inclusive national issues. Whence the compatriots?