Saturday 20 January 2007

Probably time to ditch the Nigerian Pledge

Nigerians defined

There have been a number of blogs lately on the matter of Nigerians, the Nigerian identity, the Nigerians in Diaspora and our view or outlook about the country.

Nilla’s Spin on this involved trying to identify who is a Nigerian through appellation, ancestry, appearance, affinity or association to varying degrees.

Indeed, the comments that come out about Nigeria range from positive views and experiences offered by Jeremy on NaijaBlog with the title Positives, many others highlight problems, issues and complaints, all a mix of what makes a society tick.

Ayoke in Exodus took another view of those of us who have settled outside the country and wondered about the willingness of many to return to help build Nigeria instead of trying to barely get by in foreign lands.

These are all valid perspectives, indeed, it is unlikely that anyone who has any relationship with Nigeria would completely obliterate that association even if they have citizenship of one country that requires the one of another country be forfeited.

We hope for Nigeria

In many cases, we try to identify with the positive things in Nigeria and sometimes the complaints are more about the frustration that things should and could be better but for the deficit of leadership that has plagued the country for years.

In all, there are few that have left Nigeria genuinely as refugees or asylum seekers, there are few that have left in the fear of persecution or taken flight into exile for some political, religious or demographic affiliation.

In most cases, people have left Nigeria in search of greater opportunity first and then seek to settle in some location where personal security and safety do not vie for any prominence in everyday issues.

There are many who have not been able to avail themselves of opportunities outside the country for the lack of resources or the bad reputation that some of those who left before have created in besmirching the good name of Nigeria, but things are changing and improving.

I am not an exile

As an Englishman of Nigerian parentage, I have strong links with Nigeria; I hope to strengthen them even if I have no immediate desire to return. I do not live in Europe as an exile, refugee or fugitive, rather, I am net contributor to my community and society and many Nigerians abroad are.

Sometimes, I wonder, apart from the individual connections we have to the great country of Nigeria, what national symbol, purpose, activity, creed or organisation conveys our Nigerian-ship?

If we are not performing well in sport, most especially football, what is our rallying point and focus?

Is there a passion for Nigeria beyond recognising a business opportunity which might evolve into something humanitarian? Do not get me wrong, there are people in Nigeria genuinely spearheading worthy non-profit initiatives for the betterment of their communities.

However, the question that needs to be answered that might change the perspective of Nigerians to a greater goal of nation-building is what makes me proud to be a Nigerian beyond the personal associations?

Ditch that pledge

Then we have to move on from paying lip-service to that Communist pledge to finding a leadership that really does believe the pledge, live the pledge and have a vision for a great Nigeria or maybe we should stop deceiving ourselves and discard both the pledge and superfluity of words that make up the National Anthem.

To build Nigeria into the country we aspire for, the work could be rooted in this, but who believes it now? It is a personal battle for a national identity - the soul of Nigeria that makes us one.

I pledge to Nigeria, my country,
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity
And uphold her honour and glory
So help me God

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