My Nigeria and my social responsibility

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Nigeria people! Can you redefine what patriotism means? See reason!! Nigeria has endlessly been going through an image-related battering in the outside world .It appeared that leaders of government affirm that they are patriotic by fighting against corruption and the national anthem abuse as I view the law-makers argued inside the national Assembly recently. But that is a tip of the iceberg. Patriotism is about positive values, like working for all citizens and alleviating the sufferings of the victims of past conflicts. Most times it is difficult to understand the arithmetic used by the politicians in arriving at decisions. .To add insult to injury, the critical election spell for 2011 becomes a hurdle, comprising pro-war chants, non-governmental organizations and writers of prominence of various nationalities has harshly condemned the politics of violence, continuing the lawlessness and committing various other crimes against humanity; just to win an election.

Patriotism is also about justice that goes beyond one s own side, as Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated when challenging British rule. He dissented from his colleagues when they sought to cover up the wrongs done by their own side. Today, when the government claims a monopoly of patriotism and the people and polity is divided within, there is a role for those who dissent without trying to destabilize. Love of heritage is part of patriotism and like patriotism it needs to be inculcated at times. Nigeria possesses a few finest examples of natural heritage. The so-called honest political pundits of Nigeria did never really understand the root causes of this political bankruptcy. An honest political mindset is impossible without a true sense of patriotism. Such patriotism was evident during the military rule because at that time we knew that we are a distinct nation.

The struggle for liberation was based on that platform which naturally united the whole “Naija” nation. That enthusiasm was corrupted by late Sani Abacha. He was singularly responsible for introducing and infusing religious poison into Nigeria politics and her cronies watered that poisonous tree. This lethal brew of religion and politics has ruined the chances of national revival.
The nation has lost its moorings and the future has become uncertain.

In the current situation where nationalist propaganda is rampant, and politically unchallengeable, an important task of being a countervailing force devolves upon civil society and non-governmental organizations. Those opinion-forming sections of society that are politically non-partisan, and do not seek to be direct beneficiaries of the political process are best positioned to be agents of healing and reconciliation at this time. There are at least two important attributes of civil society groups and NGOs that need to be appreciated. One is that they are not necessarily dependent on government or political patronage, and so can be politically non-partisan. Their main sources of support are the spirit of voluntarism amongst the local population and the financial support they receive from international donors.

Patriotism may indeed be the last refuge of Nigerian people. But despite that, it is never a wise thing to question person’s integrity only because he or she does not agree with the accuser. Now, the charisma for our politicians is that they have always confused the public with the moneybag. When you criticize the government, some people quickly hurl the charge of an absence of patriotism in you. Don’t they know the difference between the politics and the moneybag? Of course they do, but they also know that confusing the two is a good way of doing politics. Someone should tell them it is all dirty politics. It is meaningless and it does not impress the jargon. If the thing of daily necessities is going up and we protest, is that indulging in conspiracies? Many of us are appalled at the way the underprivileged in our country are being treated. We keep protesting. People abroad notice such taboo. Our own politicians go to the pulpit and tell people there of the nation that they are dealing with the criminals who have been going after the underpriviledged.
But, seriously speaking, if there are really any grounds to believe that the moneybag-politicians have been hatching conspiracies against the country, put them up for trial. Let the law deal with them. We will know who is telling us the faulty-pledges. It is as simple as that. But there is hardly any point getting a cheap thrill out of projecting anyone who does not approve of the doings of the same .

The way in which some of our policemen have been engaging in the roadside business and other forms of cab-tortion is serious cause for concern. But should we really be surprised or worried? After all, it is an everyday affair. If you keep your cab-torting on the road, you cannot but see our traffic constables and sergeants on the road regularly on the prowl for some cab-torting. The way they earn that money is known to all. They simply extort it from truck, bus and car drivers. If that is not that, what is?
The bigger problem for us is that these culprits who misuse their uniforms are generally given light treatment when they are caught. They are given bribe or permanent dismissal. That is about all. But that is not good enough. In a nation, you cannot expect such bad people to be treated in such gingerly fashion. People who default should be sent up for trial, in public, before a court of law.

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