Nigerians: Patriots Or Traitors

Nigerians: Patriots Or Traitors

5 months ago
4 mins read

By Chigozie Nwabunwanne

Nigeria has about 250 million citizens but sadly, many have no allegiance to her. They instead, choose to align themselves to their respective tribes.
Nigeria is a massive combination of people with diverse languages and cultures, having not less than 250 ethnic groups.

Prior to the colonial era, these ethnic groups existed as separate entities. Then, inhabitants of the lands lived as independent communities. They gathered to discuss policies for the benefit of the community because they saw one another as brothers and sisters. With the advent of the British colonial administration and subsequent amalgamation of what became north and south in 1914, the country called Nigeria came into existence. Nowadays, the age of brotherliness is gone. This is the age when an average Nigerian asks a question like “What tribe is he or she from?” Because he needs to know where the speaker or writer came from before declaring the speech or write up, logical or illogical.

Many Nigerians would proudly say they are not Nigerians and when asked where they are from they mention their tribe. This tribal mindset has been and is still a huge thorn that has struck deep in the flesh of true Nigerians. To some Nigerians, a true patriot is one who supports his tribesman in corruption, defends him even when he is vividly going astray, gives his tribesman a job even when he is below standard, and votes him into public office even though he is incompetent.

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Many see their fellow countrymen from a particular region as “enemies” even though their next-door neighbor and family doctor comes from the “enemy” tribe.

This is a very desperate time. This is the time when a citizen of a country is scared to buy properties in another region of that same country, even though the Constitution gives him the right to do so. This is a time when people are incited to kill and destroy the means of livelihood of their fellow citizens and ask questions later. This is a time when a good tribesman is a patriot. Speaking against the evil done by your tribesman is now deemed unpatriotic. But if all citizens of Nigeria owe allegiance to their tribes, what then is Nigeria?

These facts make Nigeria one of the most unpatriotic nations in the world for her citizens betray her by choosing their tribes over her and calling it patriotism.


Who is a patriot?

Speaking of patriotism, who is a patriot? Minding less about the academic definition. A patriot is not a person who blindly supports a politician for monetary gains. A patriot is not a political psychopath who urinates in his underwear when a politician shouts down at him. He is not a rabble rouser who seeks to divide the people so as to climb the ladders of power. He is not a ‘yesman’ who accepts whatever he is told as true and obeys them even though they are wrong. He is not a lout who always wants to bring trouble to people who are not from his region. He is not a person who walks to the polls like a “zombie” to vote based on who the Iman or Pastor tells him to vote for.

Now, who is a partiot? According to the literary sage Chinua Achebe in his 1983 book “ The Trouble with Nigeria,” “A patriot is a person who loves his country. He is not a person who says he loves his country. He is not even a person who shouts or swears or recites or sings his love for his country. He is one who cares deeply about the happiness and well-being of his country and all its people. Patriotism is an emotional love directed by critical intelligence. A true patriot is one who demands the highest standard for his country and accepts nothing but the best for and from his country. He will be outspoken in condemnation of their shortcomings without giving away to superiority, despair and cynicism.” Here Pa Chinua Achebe gave us the guidelines on how to be a true patriot.

It’s eccentric how Nigerian youths idolize and gaslight many rabble-rousers and inciters on social media as patriots or activists. Many of them are after their bottomless pockets, arid of ideas, and even if they have ideas can’t articulate and implement it.

It is disgraceful for a Nigerian to see these people as patriots or activists, considering how blessed we are with true patriots. It’s like going into a goldmine and coming out with clods of Earth or living on the bank of a river and washing our hands with spittle.

We are blessed with great men and women whose goal was and is still the rise of an advanced nation and a happy people. These are people like Wole Soyinka, a man who stood his ground against the intimidations of the military during the military rule in Nigeria for true democracy. He is quoted to have said: “The man dies in all who keeps silent in the face of tyranny.” Gani Fawehinmi, a renowned lawyer and human rights activist, was affectionately known as “the people’s lawyer”. Chinua Achebe, a champion of fairness in the Nigerian society. Ken Saro Wiwa, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Aisha Yesufu, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Aminu Kano and many more who have sacrificed their time, personal comfort, and resources and won’t mind joining the people in protest, to speak for the people and make the country right irrespective of tribe.

But some youths will never admire these great people, instead, they read articles and listen to social media influencers whose aims are to incite us against each other.

We will get it right the day we turn our compass in the right direction. I believe and pray it’s not too late. We, the people, under God, will walk through the tunnel of darkness and confusion and build a nation our children will be proud to call their home.

Chigozie Nwabunwanne writes from UNN


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