By Femi Adeyomo
A nation is nothing without her people. They form the backbone that carries the nation; without her people, nothing can hold and thus everything falls rendering the nation powerless. This turn of phrase brilliantly captures the existing norm taking centre stage in our beloved country, Nigeria.
For many decades, hatred, tribalism, segregation, amongst other unhealthy hostilities have been the bedrock of recurring issues bedeviling the Nigerian polity. These decades have suffered negligence from all quarters, subjecting the country to ridicule and denigration.
Our reckless and thoughtless actions have largely decorated our image in negative light, therefore building unholy perceptions about us and what we represent. Little wonder, we rank atop in the scheme of social vices and other international indexes. We ought to be a celebrated nation amongst others with our rich cultural heritage, natural resources, beautiful landscape and our proven intelligence; but we have constantly failed to fight for Nigeria on multiple fronts – projecting splintered images of a failed nation and a people at war with themselves.
The axiom here is, a nation is perceived through its people. And without mincing words, we as a people have not fared well in projecting the positive image of Nigeria. Tribalism, hatred and segregation have prodigiously divided us. These divisions have blighted our potentials; limiting our prospects as a nation blessed with the right amount of resources needed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other first world countries.
For me, Naija means unity. Our being a nation was no mistake; it was the emergence of colossal greatness, but our divided lines have scuttled the birthing of this supposed history. However, opportunities abound to rewrite these wrongs, reshape our mindsets and reposition Nigeria for greatness.
Changing existing perceptions about our country only requires selflessness and oneness. Championing campaigns to reflect the positive image of Nigeria would effectively alter unholy perceptions pervading the country and beyond the shores of Africa.
Erstwhile American congregational clergyman, Charles Edward Jefferson, couldn’t have captured the essence of patriotism any better when he said, “Patriotism is a thing of the heart. A man is a patriot if his heart beats true to his country.”
Jefferson had a laudable discerning spirit of what true patriotism should be; unfortunately that word is alien to us in every standard. Our attitude betrays the very essence of patriotism. Our defiant characters contradict the ethos and definition of the people a country demands to foster economic growth and flourish amongst other successful nations.
From the north, south, east and west we have successfully divided our interests, forgetting that Nigeria is a polity that concerns us all and if one part should fall, then we have lost the spirit of our heritage.
I strongly believe that we are in no position to make demands from a country that we have failed to build, harness her innate potentials and put her on a global stage for nations to celebrate. Nigeria needs you to make remarkable differences. She needs us to help her achieve her full potentials and function at her best.
America, Europe, United Arab Emirates amongst other nations have become getaway destinations for many looking to savour and enjoy the breathtaking views of nature and its lush beauties. This feat wasn’t achieved on discord; it was built on unity. There’s a spirit of unity that wells deep in the hearts of Emiratis, which inspires them to do more to better the image of Dubai and other emirates in the UAE.
It’s high time we brought this trend of indifference to a halt. It is high time we preached the message of unity, the message of peace, the message of harmony and rewarding collaborations. The onus is on us to protect the image of our country and shield her from every possible embarrassment.
Together, we can build a nation of our dreams through unity and peaceful coexistence. Nigeria means unity to me, what does it mean to you? I stand with #NigeriaMeansUnity
*Femi Adeyomo, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos