One great thing about birthday is that everyone sends you well wishes.
Your friends and enemies alike pray for you on your birthday, whether genuinely or deceptively. Some even go further to send birthday presents.
That’s why celebrants eagerly look forward to their birthdays.
Today marks the 52nd birthday anniversary of the giant of Africa – Nigeria. I therefore, on behalf of the entire Mega team, wish the country a “Very Happy Birthday, Long Life, and Prosperity.”
We would have sent our moderate birthday gift but we’re not sure of whom to direct it to. In any case, this birthday is for all of us; not just one or two person(s).
Not for president and his ministers alone.
And definitely not restricted to the governors and the legislators.
It is our birthday!
No doubt, loyal Nigerians will fly the country’s flag everywhere today. Many will go to the stadium to march for the country. Some will also “toast to the health of the nation.”
From the country’s independence in 1960 up to 1978, Nigeria was hailed with the Anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” But that changed to “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978.
The question that bothers the mind of every good citizen of the country these days is: “Are compatriots still heeding the call to arise…to serve our fatherland…?”
Only a few appears to do so.
Having decided not to obey the call to serve with love, the so-called compatriots now sing the anthem the way they like.
It depends on where you will be celebrating the country’s birthday today. If you’re with the President or any of the Governors, you will likely hear the original version.
If you’re in a bar or club, you will likely hear the Swagger version rendered by hippie pi yoo boys and ladies.
If you’re in the church or mosque, you will probably hear the Anthem in a melancholy tone as if Nigeria is being buried.
If you’re at a parade ground, school children may sing it out with doubts and hopelessness; knowing little or nothing about what the wordings actually mean to them.
No longer are the beauty, the co-ordination, and the uniformity of our National Anthem. It’s a sign that something is wrong somewhere; an expression of carelessness on the part of those charged with the duty of preserving the country’s pride and image.
Though the National Anthem is being debased everywhere, the National Pledge still remains the same and we still recite it the same way – that’s whenever, if ever, we remember to do so.
These days, the Pledge is being relegated to the background. Once you finish the National Anthem, you just sit down and forget about the Pledge. The next item would probably be the opening prayer for the occasion. And the program will end with another prayer; not the National Pledge.
Could this be deliberate?
Yes, I think so.
Why pledging to what you don’t believe in? How many of our compatriots, most especially the government officials, still abide by the dictates of our National Pledge?
I can bet that some of them can’t even recite it off head. If you doubt this, try to ask for the record of what transpired at the National Assembly sometime ago. Nominees for some governmental positions couldn’t recite the Pledge!
Why would anyone pledge anything again? It would be totally unwise to do so.
It’s enough to simply swear with the Holy Bible or Holy Quran. The Almighty is a God of patience and mercy.
Try our government officials with ogun the god of iron or sango the god of thunder; you will see a different posture.
Our National Pledge is quite short. It contains only 33 words. But these 33 words are weighty. They place heavy responsibilities on the citizens, most especially the government servants.
Let’s go through the Pledge and ask some questions.
“I pledge to Nigeria my country”
As mentioned above, the Pledge is fast disappearing into oblivion. Many of those who still manage to recite it do so halfheartedly. And you can’t blame some of them too much because they hardly see Nigeria as being “my country.” Or else, their children would not be schooling abroad, and they would not be running to Europe or US at the slight whisper of a problem – medical or otherwise?
“To be faithful, loyal and honest”
Faithful Nigerians would not lie. They would not steal. They would not bribe. And they would do everything to serve the country.
You and I know what now obtains in the country. A poor man wants to rip-off his fellow poor man. Ordinary man wants to 419 his compatriots or foreigners.
Government officials are deceiving the citizens. They steal and loot the treasury. Honesty is thrown into the dustbin.
With “faithfulness,” “loyalty,” and “honesty;” we wouldn’t have had to “Occupy Nigeria” earlier this year; there wouldn’t have been petroleum subsidy probes; CBN wouldn’t have fired some bank CEOs; and Ibori wouldn’t have been jailed in the UK.
“To serve Nigeria with all my strength”
As lawyers say, res ipsa loquitur – the fact speaks for itself.
Go to the government Ministries. Check NEPA/PHCN pension scheme. Examine NNPC. Visit the state and local government offices. You will be able to confirm whether the compatriots are truly serving their country with all their strengths.
Is the private sector left out?
No way. The story may be fairer, but the attitude is not too different. Nobody wants to serve again.
It’s a shame…big shame!
“To defend her unity”
How many times have you heard the trumpets of separation sounded this year alone?
There are calls for separation everywhere you turn. Many feel that the idea of unity is no longer relevant. Let the North go its way and South finds its way, they say. That’s why I was constrained to shout, “Nigeria Must Not Break Sir” in an earlier blog.
The word “unity” is gradually becoming an aberration in our society.
Not with Boko Haram boys killing at will.
Not with religious crisis every now and then.
And definitely not with ethnicity determining who gets to certain positions.
“And uphold her honour and glory”
At one point, Nigeria began to regain her honour and glory gradually. The international community started to recognize us as human beings again, and the harassment of our citizens in foreign lands began to wane.
Sadly, our leaders returned to their usual bad manners as if to confirm that a leopard can never change its skin.
To everyone’s amazement and embarrassment, it suddenly became a situation where our leaders would be arrested and jailed abroad; our citizens would be killed or repatriated from foreign countries; our youth would be arrested with a bomb in hand in America; and our touted sportsmen and women would return from international tournaments without a single medal!
As the Yorubas say, “Bi iya nla ba gbe ni sanle, kekere a maa gun ori eni – when you are in a deep trouble, small problems will also start to climb over your head.”
What a wise saying!
Otherwise, why would a country like South Africa have the gut to send our citizens back home from their airport on a flimsy excuse of not having valid yellow cards?
Why would our brother, Ghana, suddenly decide to slam our citizens with GHc300,000 bill for doing business in Ghana?
And why would Saudi Arabia detain our women for not travelling to Mecca with their male partners; as if those women are children?
Honestly, it is so dishonorable, humiliating, and inglorious!
“So help me God”
Our National Pledge ends with a prayer. And thank God we still do this very well. In fact, we do it more than any record of prayers contained in the Bible.
And we have the audacity to proclaim, despite jettisoning the other parts of the Pledge, that “Nigeria is a praying nation.”
Listen to a typical Nigerian as he speaks. He will add one word of prayer or the other. But his heart could be so dark.
If he happens to be a government official, he would enjoin you to pray for him and also continue to pray for the country. Can you just imagine? He’s stealing but you’re praying.
Anyway, some of us know that one day, hopefully soon, “Nigeria go better.”