Is Nigeria worth dying for? On the surface, the question appears very simple, meriting only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. With deeper reflection and soul-searching, however, any response elicited by that question is likely to reflect how profound it is.
Nearly 50 years ago when Nigeria gained independence from Britain, there was much hope and expectation in the land as the indigenous people took their fate into their own hands, as it were. Three years later the gains of independence were consolidated when Nigeria became a republic. The general feeling then was that Nigeria was on an irreversible march to greatness. Some people probably even nursed the feeling that Nigeria was on her way to becoming greater than Great Britain, her erstwhile colonial master.
And they were not wrong, given Nigeria’s huge potential as a nation and the commitment of her founding fathers to the vision of building a model nation other African countries can look up to. They may then have considered the United States of America as a ready example of a former colony that had overtaken its erstwhile coloniser. Of course, today we have countries like Brazil and India that will sooner rather than later, considering the giant developmental strides they are currently making, be joining the growing list of erstwhile colonies that have bettered the achievements of their former colonial masters.
Nigeria’s attainment of republican status in 1963 was sadly followed by a military insurrection that led to military incursion into politics. This was to further lead to a very bloody civil war, then prolonged military rule and a brief attempt at democracy. Another military incursion led to more military rule and, at last, a faltering attempt at another democratic rule. Today, decades after Nigeria’s independence in 1960, optimism has given way to disillusionment and despondency. There is widespread indifference and apathy to issues of national interest. The masses are fast losing hope about Nigeria’s survival and future.
However, the fact remains that Nigeria has not lost any of her huge potential as a nation; all that has been lost is that commitment to build a great nation and capacity to add value which succeeding generations of political leaders who took over from our founding fathers, have lacked. Our current political elite have consistently demonstrated an unrepentant unwillingness to harness our huge potential for the good of the nation.
Therefore, we find ourselves in pain today not because we lack the human and material resources that make for greatness, which we have always had – before and after Independence. In fact, if anything our potential to be a great nation has continued to increase. I make bold to say that no nation in Africa today can rival the number, quality and diversity of our human capital both at home and dispersed abroad. Actually, very few developed economies in the world can match us in terms of the skills and expertise of our professional people. Nigerian professionals actually predominate in certain territories in some of those economies. And in terms of material resources, our ever-growing discoveries of more natural resources continue to be the envy of other countries. So we are in agony not because we have lost our huge potential as a nation but because we have an unfortunate leadership.
This point needs to be made to distinguish and separate Nigeria (with her huge potential as a nation) from her leadership that continues to frustrate efforts to harness Nigeria’s huge potential. There is need to stress it to distinguish between patriotism to one’s Fatherland and loyalty to unscrupulous politicians in government (even if misconstrued as patriotism). We must endeavour to detach our beloved country from the unfortunate leadership that has imposed itself on us. We must not confuse our unscrupulous political elite who oppress us in the name of leadership with our dear country Nigeria – the land of our birth, the only country we can call our own, the only country in Africa with the potential to be greater than the United States of America, the country where Asians (Pakistanis, Lebanese, Indians, Chinese, etc. who are struggling in their own countries) come to and flourish.
With that distinction made, it shouldn’t be difficult finding many people who will answer in the affirmative when asked if Nigeria is worth the sacrifice of their precious life. Most Nigerians, even when they appear unconcerned about important national issues, are patriots at heart. They are temporarily distracted by grinding poverty and their daily struggle to survive. But strip away all the distractions and you will find in Nigerians patriots who see no reason why they should shy away from considering paying the ultimate sacrifice if that is what is needed to save the nation. After all “what is not worth dying for is not worth living for.” If we don’t consider Nigeria worth dying for, then we may conclude that it is not worth living for and consider taking up citizenship of other countries and emigrating, so that other nationals who consider Nigeria worth dying for could come to live here.
But most Nigerians are unwilling to leave but determined to live here. Because we believe in Nigeria, not the way it is nor in the ‘monkey-dey-work-baboon-dey-chop’ concept of Nigeria espoused by self-centred politicians, but in a New Nigeria that reflects the vision of our founding fathers. It would be foolhardy of anyone among the masses to want to lay down his life under the guise of patriotism to protect the status quo. That is misguided patriotism. Patriotism is love for one’s country, not love for unpatriotic political leaders. Indeed, our patriotism ought to turn us against those people in government that make the New Nigeria of our dream remain just that – a dream – decades after our founding fathers shared the dream with us.
Considering that the vast majority of Nigerians are patriotic, loving their country to the extent that they wouldn’t consider giving up their lives as too much a price to pay for it, the need to understand the right context for this supreme demonstration of patriotism cannot be overemphasised. You should see Nigeria as worth dying for provided your death is not to maintain the status quo nor to safeguard and protect the life and/career of some unpatriotic politicians. Consider Nigeria as worth dying for in so much as it is absolutely necessary for you to lay your life down to establish the New Nigeria envisaged by our founding fathers. Deem Nigeria as worth dying for provided your death will not terminate the noble cause of your life to enthrone a better Nigeria but rather advance it because you have groomed able successors to take on the mantle and your death will only serve as the tonic they need to move the struggle into top gear.
Reckon our Fatherland as worth dying for as long as your death is not in vain or a foolish waste of your life that neither advances the cause of the New Nigeria envisaged by our founding fathers nor helps carry forward some other noble causes. See Nigeria as worth dying for as long as you are fully persuaded that in Nigeria’s best interest you are better off dead than alive (This is what many of our politicians need to consider). Otherwise, Nigeria needs you more alive than dead. Do not foolishly endanger yourself or put your life at risk. Do your utmost to stay alive to continue the fight for the New Nigeria.