Lagos — GUEST COLUMNIST BYOkey Anueyiagu

Recent political upheavals and wranglings have reinvigorated my lengthy working interest concerning the degree of our nation’s nationalism which within the ultimate 5 a long time, or so, has suffered its worst decline for the reason that combat for independence from Britain started within the early 1900s.

Recently, this factor of Nationalism took centerstage when a Public Lecture organised by means of Ohaneze Ndigbo, a pan-Igbo socio-cultural crew happened at The Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos. The name of this lecture delivered by means of the erudite professor of historical past, Jide Osuntokun, used to be; “Nationalism and Nation Building in Nigerian History”. The turnout to this lecture showcased an inventory of who-is-who within the affairs of our nation.

The leader host of this lecture Professor George Obiozor, in his capability because the President – General of Ohaneze set the degree for an explosive afternoon when he solicitously wondered the basis of the Nigeria State as one indivisible united country, probing the illogical and untenable argument of the non-negotiability of Nigeria’s team spirit. Forcefully, Obiozor wondered the imposed 1999 Constitution and the doubtful indissolubility idea entrenched therein. This illogical nonsense as equipped on this charter, drafted and imposed on us by means of the army, has erroneously rendered our nation stagnant as an immutable entity in an unprogressive shamble. As Professor Obiozor argued, the team spirit of our nation is negotiable, constitutions, or now not. After all, our democracy which is a type drawn from that of America, must replica from that of that nation whose charter since its adoption in 1787, has been amended 27 instances. The reluctance of our leaders to comply with the modification of our charter, which is not anything, however a dwelling record, is partially why we now have now not developed to being a country in the actual sense of the phrase.

The crux of this robust and impactful lecture used to be the superiority of a basic consensus that Nigeria shall be eluded by means of peace and prosperity if the crucibles of the query of true nationalism imbedded in fairness, equity and justice don’t seem to be addressed. It is obvious that all of the disaster that experience befallen the rustic from time; political violence, coups, killings, kidnappings, and different baleful vices are in large part because of the evilness characterised in our historical past and the realities of our refusal to adapt into nationhood from our stagnated ranges of sovereign statehood.

In this Lecture, Professor Osuntokun uncovered the predicament of the way the shaky basis of our formation as an entity proper from 1914 made it tough for us to construct a real country and there from, increase nationalistic behavior. The failure of the pre-independence charter to supply for ethnic or regional team spirit or hegemony, made it tough for us to be expecting nationalism to thrive after independence.

The lecture targeted at the starting place of nationalism in Nigeria assessing the important thing roles that the numerous element components of the social and political techniques performed in its formation. Political stakeholders, and specifically the clicking introduced sturdy views in defining what nationalism supposed at the moment. Recognizing the trouble to find a definitive definition of nationalism throughout the African framework, Osuntokun used definitions equipped by means of different western writers to wit; “that nationalism is the consciousness on the path of individuals or groups, or membership of a nation, or a desire to forward the strength, liberty or prosperity of a nation”. The query one will have to ask is; what came about to our nationalism that used to be obtrusive after we clashed with European imperialism? Did it die once we won independence?

As a pupil of Political Science, I came upon from this lecture, wherein I served as a Moderator, that the function of our historians and our political scientists can by no means be not noted, as a result of in the event that they fail to supply us with a legitimate and universally outlined historical past, others, much less important, much less famend and much less knowledgeable will take over the task of defining our political evolution for us. At this lecture, I reconfirmed a perception that I’ve at all times held strongly; that once historians and political scientists deserted the learn about of the country, and when students forestall making an attempt or making an attempt to put in writing a commonplace historical past for a folks, the essence of the folk’s lives will vanish and disappear. This lecture, was a veritable supply for the invention of the place the river started to soil and bitter in our country’s adventure and historical past.

Nigeria was a fictional country when the founders conceived an absurd proposition by means of bringing in combination individuals who didn’t proportion any commonplace ancestry, and compelled them to consider and see themselves as a country. This was an obstacle to the advance of nationalism in a confederation of ethnic states and enclaves. It was relatively tough to create the atypical hybrid that one can very easily name a geographical region.

As I sat in that ancient enviornment on the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs being attentive to audio system upon audio system, I started to contemplate if telling and discussing our nationwide historical past will create a large number of issues. Then it came about to me, that now not doing so will create extra issues which can be even worse. The inevitable crucial, then is that our historical past, regardless of how obscured, when informed with the boldest intentions will supply us with inexorable enlargement in our tendencies.

In a right kind learn about of our nation’s political evolution, one will have to undertake the truth that we have been based inside struggles towards chaos, contraptions, confusion, contradictions and with the forces of particularism. These variables was Instrumental in making us without end battle over the that means of our historical past. Will telling the Nigerian historical past be an albatross, will it be offering us the nationalism as desired by means of those who fought for our independence? The extra nagging query that assists in keeping agitating my thoughts is that if the telling of our historical past as used to be the case at this lecture, presentations us the right way to have a central authority based upon justice, fairness and equity; with no person parts of the rustic claiming upper authority over the others? Will it lend a hand us to repudiate a central authority that places its folks and handbag within the provider of a selected tribe, spiritual creed, or circle of relatives and pals? The solutions to those questions, are perspicaciously, sure.

The now commonplace announcing that “those denied justice, equity, fairness and equality will have no interest in peace”, has these days transform a well-liked and sensible announcing in our land. I will have to additionally now not hesitate so as to add that the ones denied those elementary tenets of lifestyles, is not going to have any hobby in Nationalism. When they really feel the heavy burden and weight of injustice and different kinds of persecution, they’ll, a technique or every other, negotiate their approach in another country.

Nationalism and Nation construction within the historical past of our nation provide us with each constitutional and structural issues. In order for one to be a excellent citizen, that individual will have to really feel a way of belonging to the country. Most affordable Nigerians consider that our provide Federal constitutional construction negates the rules of power in range; that it diminishes the gadget of presidency that promotes and acknowledges the ethos of justice, fairness and equity.

Whilst scripting this essay, a chum of mine whom I thought to be a excellent citizen, walked in and requested me what once more I used to be writing about. I informed him that I used to be writing about nationalism and its have an effect on within the construction of our nation. With anger and a touch of sarcasm in my buddy’s voice, he requested me why any person that is living on this nation must really feel and act nationalistic against a rustic that has handled us all with such disdain and opprobrium.

Hear him: “why should I feel nationalistic towards a country that offers me and its citizens nothing but pain and agony… , no drinking water, no roads, no food, no security, no standard healthcare, no peace of mind… no nothing”. My buddy endured: “is this not a country that superintended over the killing of millions of its own people in a silly war? A country that didn’t care to rehabilitate and ameliorate the suffering of the survivors?” I attempted to calm my buddy down by means of reciting the JFK’s “think not what your country can do for you… ” My buddy, fuming, were given up and stormed off from my presence with a staccato of expletives following his departure. My mouth opened with my jaw flapping and no phrases got here out. I endured to put in writing.

If love of the country is what drives our leaders and maximum fans to inflict this degree of ache on our folks, what then is nationalism? For me, and for lots of different well-meaning Nigerians, it will have to be evident to us now that nationalism has transform a contrivance, an artifice and a disappearing act in our frame politic. That in essence it’s simple to expect that our country and its folks have transform anachronistic with each having no real interest in selling and protecting the opposite. For those that declare love for this nation as a result of they would possibly not have suffered the trials and indignation of others, and who name those that really feel in a different way unpatriotic, I invite them to revisit and learn about the that means of our historical past and see it within the context of the way it will have instinctively made a few of us who’ve suffered probably the most heinous destiny to succumb to the purpose of absolute paralysis and faithlessness.

Nationalism has these days attracted a foul recognition in our land. To characteristic the benign affection for one’s native land as a natural distinctive feature for patriotism and translate it to imply nationalism, is also narrow-minded. This will also transform immoral in case you imagine that to be unswerving to a rustic that witnessed the pogrom, the bloodbath and the wanton and mindless killings in Biafra, and the present upheavals that experience adversely affected all within the land, one’s loyalty is also known as blind loyalty. No surprise, some Social Scientists have referred to nationalism as “an ideological poison”.

It would possibly, at this level be viable to consult with the occasions of the civil warfare, a topic of my fresh e-book; Biafra, The Horrors of War, and bemoan the compunction and the lugubrious truth that we’ve got failed in a grand scale, to be informed our classes from that sour warfare. Before that mindless warfare, the constructions of our executive allowed us to function in a multinational state as regional self sufficient entities. The warfare introduced with it the irresponsible introduction of unviable miniaturized entities that took powers clear of the constituent entities and positioned it within the palms of hungry vultures within the centre. This invariably created the monster of a “Fake Federalism” which took away the wishes of electorate to really feel the sense of belonging and the wish to transform nationalists and even patriotics. As the incredible violence of the terrible warfare that took the lives (most commonly kids) of three million Igbo and Easterners recedes right into a blurry historical past, it turns into tougher and tougher to invoke the threat of nationalism within the lives of the survivors. How do we propose to a individuals who suffered this aghast adversity within the palms in their fellow electorate in such pharaonic and tyrannical method to overlook those terrible reminiscences of the oppressive previous, and turnaround and all at once transform patriotic and nationalistic? The lingering comminatory nature of our lifestyles on this nation, makes a precatory incision right here, totally tough.