Written By Oluwabukola Adimula
The more I hear the line “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”, the more I wonder what was going through Mr. Ben Odiase’s mind when he composed the Nigeria National anthem. It kept sounding like a warning we should have paid more attention to, a vision from a seer telling us that 62 years down the line, what we rejoiced for on Saturday, October 1, 1960, might later be seen as the biggest obstacle to our growth.
I couldn’t help but visualize how our past heroes like Nnamdi Azikiwe congratulated his fellow Igbos using the word “Ekele” on October 1, 1960, or how Obafemi Awolowo chanted the “Oriire wole towa” in Yoruba while Tafawa Balewa gave the independence speech at Lagos. None of us ever visualized the civil war that occurred 8 years after……. The lives that were lost!! Over 2 million of my Igbo relatives are gone just like that! The bloodshed! The hunger felt! This country right from the time of its conception was built on blood! Blood and sweat!
The road to Unity and a common identity have not been an easy one for the nation as a whole. I daresay the road has not been rosy for us! Death upon death! Crime upon crime! But in all of these, one keeps wondering how a country with over 100 languages stayed together up to this moment. Despite our differences in culture, language, and values____ the hunger for a better government, a better society for generations coming after us, and a safer environment kept us together. We all want a country where we wouldn’t have to look over our shoulders when we are walking, a country where we can sleep with our two eyes closed, a country where we can live by the status quo “I am my brother’s keeper”. To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign. In Aisha Yesufu’s voice, a country where a child of NOBODY can become SOMEBODY without knowing ANYBODY. An inclusive and safe country, our land!
Somehow, I feel the joy that the whole nation felt during October 1, 1960. I wasn’t born at the time but I am grateful for that October 1. I can call Aisha, who speaks only Hausa, my sister, because we came from the same placenta. I could call Chukwunenye, who has been my childhood friend, my brother because, while we might not speak the same language, we are a product of a common vision and identity, a vision we love to see.
But all these are really just dreams and words! It seems as though we have forgotten the call to service of our nation during our struggle for stability, peace, and a better future. We must have forgotten the motto “United we stand, divided we fall’’. We fall every day yet we keep asking why without knowing that the day we all decide to step away from the rope that binds us to each other, the root that binds Aisha to me and me to Chukunyere, that is the day we FALL. I cannot help but wonder how we got here. How did we go from singing “I pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal, and honest, to serve Nigeria with all my Strength” to “I want Japa out of this messed up country”? Looking at it critically, it boils down to how the leaders and the country have offered little to nothing for us the citizens to survive.
Where is the security the leaders promised?
They promised that we wouldn’t starve yet we do not know how, when and where we would get our next meal from regardless of the quality and quantity.
They promised that we need not worry about the safety of our children yet we have to raise an alarm within an hour of not hearing from them for fear of them being victims of the insecurities that are gradually becoming mainstream in every part of the country.
The government promised us unity as a country, you promised us growth but all we can see is the division you have set amongst us!
They promised quality education for the kids during their campaigns, but all we get is a wall with 4 polished corners and nice paints with the same old syllabus and less enthusiastic teachers. Nothing! Nothing!
What do we have to show for the 62 years of togetherness? 62 years of Independence? I can guess a few, bad roads, corrupt systems, gender inequality, increased poverty rate, poor educational system, and how can I forget the bloodshed, and the latest one, being kidnapping.
Despite all these and more, I still believe in Nigeria. I believe in the youths especially because of the EndSars protest that took place in the majority of the states last year, 2020. I saw anger! The good one! I saw people that understood that coming out or staying at home doesn’t guarantee their safety, they might as well come out! For the first time, I wept for my Country! For the lives lost! For the hope shattered! I wept for the state of unrest this country has been experiencing for years but most importantly, I also shed tears of joy. I saw the unity Ben Odiase talked about. I saw hope! I saw great leaders! I witnessed people, for the first time in my 22 years of existence, let go of the “tribal stigma” and saw Nigeria! They saw a brother and a sister and I believed it! I believe that Nigeria will be great only if we all COME together irrespective of our tribes and hold our leaders accountable. That is what has been missing, that is what we need now! Good leadership, a working system, and responsible citizens to build the country we want. This is the identity we need
This is the Nigeria I want.
This article is an Excerpt from the report ” A Nigeria For The Many And Not The Few”
About the Author
Oluwabukola Adimula is a development enthusiast with over 5 years experience as a content creator and a writer. She is currently the Communications Associate At Citizen Common Advocacy International.
Bukola is a 2022/2023 fellow and currently undergoing her one year writing fellowship at African Liberty where she writes on Politics, Free market, Policy and Gender equality.
Linkedin: Bukola Adimula, Instagram @Nakyashley, Twitter @AdimulaN