A Look at Nigerian States’ Slogans

Laughter,

they say is the best medicine. Let’s take a comic look at our predicament in

Nigeria

The

good state of Bayelsa proclaimed to

the world on car number plates that it is the ‘The Glory of All Lands’ but has

now been renamed “Pride of the Nation.” Thank God, their self-description is

not as obvious as ‘The Wealth of the Nation.’ That would have been too obvious,

not so? But what exactly is the pride of that place? Oil spills, foul-smelling

creeks, gas-flaring, and irresponsible governors and local chiefs? All these

and the corruption have given Bayelsa’s slogan a hollow ring. It is an

indictment on Nigeria.

Plateau says it

is ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’. My wife was born, bred and buttered in Jos, the

capital. Its cool climate and cultural landmarks have always made it an

attraction for the rare tourists who make it to Nigeria. But, ironically,

Plateau, has been plagued by religious and ethnic violence promoted and

sustained by evil, calculating politicians that have killed hundreds. There is

little about the place that suggests peace let alone tourism.

As

for Kaduna, it used to be the

‘Liberal State’ for its cosmopolitan and lively atmosphere. However, it has

suffered from debilitating bouts of religious violence, including the 2002 Miss

World riots that killed an estimated 200 people. When President Jonathan picked

Kaduna State Governor, Namadi Sambo, a Moslem, as his Vice-president, thus

constitutionally paving the way for his Deputy Governor, Patrick Yakowa, a

Christian, to become the new governor, there was some grumbling amongst the

Moslems but which was quickly sorted out. The state, in recent times, has been peaceful

and now renamed “Center of Education.” Ahem!

Some

States have adopted somewhat desperate slogans for their number plates. Nassarawa is ‘Home of Solid Minerals’,

but so what? The minerals are mostly mined by individuals who never make any

returns to the Federal Government. Their resources are almost irrelevant to the

rest of the country.

Benue is ‘Food

Basket of the Nation’ but seems more like ‘Basket-mouth of the Nation’ to me.

It is a worthwhile boast, especially in a country like Nigeria where a majority

of the population could feed better. It will be interesting to know where all

the baskets of food disappear to.

A

state like Yobe took a more abstruse

approach when it initially declared, ‘The Young Shall Grow.’. Now, it is “Pride

of the Sahel.” What on earth does that mean, really? How long before they grow?

Kwara proclaims

itself a ‘State of Harmony.’ Considering the ethnic diversity that exists in

the place, their claim is understandable. But is it “harmony” when one group,

family dynasty or even ethnicity, dominates over the other?

Abia is ‘God’s

Own State.’ It is a poor imitation of the United States’ appellation of “God’s

own country.”

Akwa Ibom is ‘Land

of Promise’ but how is this reflected?

And

Cross River, ‘The People’s

Paradise’? Well, I certainly hope their conception of “paradise” is not limited

to Obudu cattle ranch.

Borno State is

the inappropriately named ‘Home of Peace.’ The activities of Boko Haram

fanatics have adequately rend the place into pieces.

I

love Delta and Edo States. They are both ‘hearty’. Delta is the ‘The Big Heart’

but for me, seems more like the Big Art with all the best akpavin and skillo

located there. This description is even more interesting considering what

ex-Governor James Ibori did in that place. He proved that treasury looting and

stealing is both an art and a hit. The UK court hearing his case must have been

amazed while watching the video of the opulent palace he built in Nigeria. Edo

is ‘Heart Beat of Nigeria’ but that heart nearly stopped when Lucky Igbinedion

was governor.

Adamawa is ‘Land

of Beauty’ and as a beholder, I would have agreed with this 100 per cent.

However, like many other states in Nigeria, they are plagued by bad and

clueless leadership.

And

‘Coal City State’, Enugu? Yes, the

last time I heard about coal coming from Enugu was when I was in primary school

in the 1960s. Since then, all the coal has disappeared into some people’s land

and pockets.

Jigawa is ‘The

New World’, a lovely State whose major contribution to the Nigerian economy is

in the production of dates, yes, the fruit called date. Yet, nobody, even the

inhabitants hardly exploit this versatile fruit.

Kano, ‘Centre

of Commerce’. Really? Where are the famous groundnut pyramids we used to see in

the 60s? Kano residents no longer plant groundnuts? They are perhaps more

interested in the commercial pastime of increasing the population that makes

Kano State about the most densely populated in the country.

‘Fountain

of Knowledge’ State, Ekiti, never

ceases to make me laugh. With all their professors and academics, they still

have a high rate of illiterates. You would think they would lead the way in

UTME and SSCE results.

And

talking of ‘Pacesetter State’, my very own Oyo,

living on and regressing into past glory. Pacesetter indeed! When was the last

time anything cutting-edge came from Oyo state? The place has been plagued by

political chicanery over the years, no thanks to godfathers like Lamidi

Adedibu. But thank God, something is happening there at last.

Anambra is the

‘Light of the Nation.’ Home for All’. Last time I spoke to an Anambran, he

confided in me that no non-indigene of Anambra has ever been sold land in Awka

before. They simply don’t welcome foreigners that well. The state has produced

many high-ranking politicians and a centre of major economic activities. This

would have been a fitting tribute except, well, Nigeria is yet to see the

light.

Ebonyi is ‘Salt

of the Nation’. I will be honest, I don’t know much about this obscure State.

They hardly make any noise worth noting. Is their salt still tasty or this is

mere platitude? Salt of the nation? Right here in Nigeria? You are kidding me!

Katsina is the

‘Home of Hospitality’ but again, like Ebonyi, I wonder how far that goes.

Rivers State is the

‘Treasure Base of the Nation’. I suppose it explains why their past governors

looted the state treasury as had never been seen before even in Nigeria.

Zamfara is

‘Farming is our Pride’. I hope so. I want to see the food aplenty. Let the

people farm. If not, get the hell outta there, Mr. Governor.

Taraba is

‘Nature’s Gift to the Nation’. Together with Adamawa, both make a very

beautiful tourist and natural paradise. It is a shame to see how very little of

nature is exploited to the fullest here, thanks to clueless political leaders.

‘Gateway

State’ is Ogun State’s contribution

to meaningless sloganeering. Geographically, maybe it is a gateway to the

country truly, especially as it contains the spill over of economic activities

that will not fit into Lagos state but in the whole scheme of things, they are

not much.

Ondo is

‘Sunshine State’ as if the sun only shines on them! Their allusion to the sun

is clear but how far they will run with the energy of the sun remains to be

seen.

Osun State is

now “Land of Virtue,” a slogan that makes you wonder what anyone was thinking

when they were naming the baby. It used to be ‘State of the Living Spring’ is a

reference to the major river in the State, River Osun. It is their cultural

icon but their faith in the spirituality and the essence of the river did

little to help them in the almost eight years when ‘Oyin ni o’ was busy playing

golf in Ada, rather than governing the State, while a Senator with a murder

accusation hanging on his head waited to take over the reins of leadership. Now

that they have a Muslim with the image of a fundamentalist as governor, and the

senator’s ambition (hopefully) thwarted, maybe their spring will sprout some

freshness.

Sokoto is ‘Seat

of the Caliphate’, aptly named considering that is where the Sultan is

domiciled but what does that translate into in terms of development and

religious harmony?

Niger State is

‘The Power State’. Why wouldn’t it be? What with two former military dictators

of questionable characters coming from there, and one of them continues to

imagine he holds the reins of power!

Imo State is

‘Land of Hope,’ (formerly or the ‘Eastern Heartland’). Why didn’t they just add

‘and Glory’ to complete the imitation of US’ slogan? Actually, in certain ways

Imo people exude hope. I can say that by looking at Kanu Nwankwo, Chioma Ajunwa

and Emmanuel Amunike.

Gombe is ‘Jewel

in the Savannah’. Hmm! I don’t know what makes it a jewel, but it sure is in

the savannah. Have they heard that savannahs sustain wheat, and other cereals?

Bauchi State is

‘Pearl of Tourism’. Yes, with the game reserves, I suppose they can lay claim

to that. And it was the home of our first Prime Minister, a very humble man

called Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. In Hausa, Bauchi means ‘the land of slaves’.

Bauchi and Adamawa were the two main sources of slaves for the Fulani Empire of

Sokoto.

Kebbi is the

‘Land of Equity’. For a State that used to be part of the Sokoto Caliphate and

introduced Sharia laws, I wonder where they got equity from.

Kogi, another

of my favourite State is aptly nicknamed ‘The Confluence State’, because the

Rivers Niger and Benue join there. I’d rather call it ‘The Confused State’

because of the shenanigans of its former Governors. The State has been cursed

with treasury looters since the first day of its creation.

But

by far the most famous and celebrated number plate in Nigeria is Lagos, ‘Centre of Excellence’. In my

opinion, Lagos is far from being a centre of excellence; let’s not be deluded.

Governor Fashola might be doing a good job but there remains at least 97 per

cent to be done to truly make Lagos a centre of excellence. That is a fact. It

is still a dilapidated, disorganised, lawless city of violent crime, slums,

traffic jams, expensive living and pollution.

And

lastly, but certainly not the least, is the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It is called ‘Centre of Unity,’ a

good one since that is what every patriotic Nigerian yearns for .I, however,

disagree with the subtext that assumes being encapsulated in one domain is

unity. Abuja is the seat of power and

political allocation. It represents a sort of unity that is enforced by those

who want to partake of common wealth. “Unity” at the upper echelons does not

quite represent our diversity. That is why I laugh when I think of Abuja as the

“Centre of Unity.” Ask me: How many southerners have been Ministers of the FCT

since the city was created?

The

entire states’ and FCT’s slogans are all very amusing, and seems a deliberate

effort by Nigerians to delude their own selves or just to feel good. I will not

be surprised if in the nearest future, we hijack the phrase ‘God’s Own Country’

from the Americans and start using it to describe our country. After all we

like everything American even if we don’t necessarily like Americans.

God

Bless Nigeria and Nigerians. I just love my people. They can’t go wrong, can

they? Except in matters of choosing their leaders, anyway.

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