they say is the best medicine. Let’s take a comic look at our predicament in
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.
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!
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.
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?
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
Akwa Ibom is ‘Land
of Promise’ but how is this reflected?
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.
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
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
‘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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
‘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.
‘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.
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
‘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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Bless Nigeria and Nigerians. I just love my people. They can’t go wrong, can
they? Except in matters of choosing their leaders, anyway.