The sense of fierce patriotism to my country, Nigeria, was first instilled in me at an early stage in life. I could remember how I sang the national anthem with high cadence, vigour and vivacity. I also grew up reading about Nigerian history, and how we came about our sovereignty as a nation was what most piqued my interest. I was an avid reader of current affairs and later moved on to the national dailies to keep myself abreast of national and sub-national happenings. I was curious about discovering new stories about my country. It was through all these that I developed a state of mind — a reflection of the true sense of our self-worth as a nation and upholding of our values and respect for our roots.
I ascertained that the route through which Nigeria traversed to the highway of independence was unity — not only people, but also in action and purpose. This can even be safely said to be our core founding principle. And this can be first traced as far back as 1914, during the colonial rule, when the then Governor-General, Frederick Lord Lugard, amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates. This, thereafter, made Nigeria rise to independence on the shoulders of her selfless heroes and dogged nationalists who rested on the grounds of unity. Though different in ethnicity, partisanship and ideological inclinations, they were all strongly committed to the noble cause and fought the patriotic struggle of our national autonomy to the core. De facto, they indeed forged a united front, braved all odds and triumphed. All these culminated to gain us our independence from about 100 years of the British colonial rule on October 1, 1960.
As Nigeria clocks 60 years in her journey of nationhood, the big question that still begs in the crying face of our present circumstances is whether or not the labour of our heroes has truly been in vain? Has the price they paid to gain the prize, Nigeria, really worth the while in the end? The answer is certainly not far-fetched.
Understandably, one may want to say that the prevailing social, economic and political woes pervading our national landscape lend a prima facie credence to the vanity of those labours and that Nigeria is a failed state. But while this sequitur seems to be reasonable, the point of fact is that it is a slightly different kettle of fish. It is as a result of the good governance and true leadership that have long deserted our corridors of power.
Now, let’s face it and see beyond the blurry view of the general present state of our dear country. The fact that we have still maintained togetherness in our cultural diversity over the years is a true testament that the laborious efforts of our founding fathers have not gone down the drain at all. We have so far remained as one indivisible, complete entity with a strong nationalistic sense. Even with several attempts like the Civil War, ethno-religious conflicts and agitations for secession that have threatened our unity as a country over the years, we have risen through all these teething challenges to remain strong and united together as ever.
Through it all, with our spirit of togetherness, resilience and nationalism across our divides, we have scaled through and stayed true to our long-cherished principle that our unity is indeed non-negotiable. And even though we still have a long way to go in our journey of socio-economic development, the fact that we have impressively integrated culturally and socially into a whole integer shines forth a beacon of hope for our beloved and promising nation. There is deep love and strong power in togetherness. And I believe when we eventually get things right and become prosperous, we will only look back and see how the labour of our nationalists set us on the right-of-way we treaded and built on. The Nigerian dream is still valid. Let’s reignite our collective hope in its emergence and be resilient enough to further strengthen our commitment to the Nigerian project.
Like our national anthem resounds with deep respect and silent drum beats, the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. Never! May it become a gain for us, and never a pain and in vain. And may we continue to strengthen the uniting cords and spirit of togetherness in our nation’s citizenry.
Agbaje Ayomide is the co-founder of Upskill Writing