â€œArise, O Compatriots, Nigeriaâ€™s Call Obeyâ€
The above extract is the first line of the Nigerian National Anthem. The word compatriot in the simplest breakdown means a countryman or woman. But, it does not end with this fundamental definition. It also contains strong positive connotations. It has to do with optimistic attitude (spirit) of patriotism and nationalism to ones state or nation as the case many be.
This positive attitude extends to a sense of pride, dignity and integrity regarding ones cultural heritage. It is a comprehensive ideological commitment towards the upkeep and defense of its geographical integrity. Therefore, compatriotism is closely associated with patriotism. That sense of ethical responsibility and belief in laws and constitution of the land.
I first leant recite the national anthem in elementary school. It created a solemn euphoria even thought many of us in those days did not understand the intrinsic meaning of the wordings. As I grew up and my sense of meaning expanded, I came to appreciate the beauty of the Nigerian National anthem.
Each time there is a national ceremony going on and Nigerians stand to sing the anthem, I often wonder what lots of people might be reflecting about. Do the wordings still make sense to the Nigerian populace or perhaps it has come to be one of those nuisance national clichÃ©s that must be adhered to ritualistically?
With the traumatic years of military dictatorships, religious riots, tribalism, nepotism, corruption, embezzlement, unaccountability, lies, egotism, political victimization and economic instability that had characterized the political yesteryear in Nigeria, does the Nigerian populace still see the need to be good compatriots to their God-given fatherland or motherland as the case many be? In the struggle for political independence from the colonial Britain, many Nigerians were full of fiery zeal and patriotic interests for the emancipation of the geographical entity called Nigeria. Our past heroes and heroines worked towards this goal with selfless and unrelenting strength. Then the civil war came up that ruptured the ideology of nationhood into schizophrenic tribal interests.
Today, one may ask, where are the Nigerian compatriots? Has compatriotism faded out of the minds of the Nigerian citizens? Letâ€™s take the United States and China as hand-picked samples. The US citizens have a strong attitude toward patriotism andÂ compatriotism. They talk about their nation with a sense of dignity and pride. They defend it with integrity from any form of external invasion as much as necessary. They use nationalistic ideologies, the military, economic strengths, educational strategies, and cultural techniques, techno-scientific and political prowess. On the other hand, the rising Chinese nation also had inculcated a very strong sense of compatriotic nationalism on the People’s Republic of China. There is a sense of dedication and service in the people. And this is very obvious in the gradual military rise of China in the world. The youths were willing to pay the highest sacrifice for their nations to grow. However, this is not to compare Nigeria with other nations. It is rather to see the spirit of compatriotism in action.
In the line of this, I would like to recount the pathetic story of Chizoba C. Chukwura published in www.codewit.info under the title ofÂ â€œWhy I served In the Nigerian Army And Why I Leftâ€ (Friday, August, 01, 2008) I was particularly touched by his narrative account of tribal bigotry existing in the Nigerian military recruitment. This form of bigotry in every strata of the Nigerian national life no doubt destroys the peopleâ€™s commitment toward working for a progressive Nigerian nation. It kills the good spirit of good people. If tribal schism exists in the Nigerian army, (who in the right sense of the word ought to defend the sovereignty of the nationâ€™s geographical enclave) then the flames of compatriotism is being extinguished. How then can we build the nation?
Attitudinal change is seriously needed in Nigeria. Instead of tribalism, why not talk of nationalism? In the first line of the anthem reads â€˜Arise, O Compatriots, Nigerian Call Obeyâ€, one sees theÂ mansion of Nigeria hereÂ as significant. There is no mansion of individualism or tribalism or nepotism. These only serve as divisive catalysts and thus ruin everyone in the end. Where tribalism is maintained, it is practically impossible to uphold any form of collective compatriot spirit and mobility.
Today, just as in the past, the Nigerian nation still reminds her citizens of the clarion call for an urgent compatriotism. When we carefully reflect on the words: â€œArise, O compatriotâ€¦â€it posses an immediate challenge for every patriotic Nigerian fellow and men and women of conscience to rise up against the structures and establishments of corrupt practices in both the low and the higher places. We all should be soldiers of ethical standards. For without an ethical culture, no nation can ever achieve anything.
Every compatriot Nigeria should be ready to confront lies, deceits, injustice, oppression and indiscipline. They should work hard and not give in to short-cuts. By so doing, we all should be creating a society of honest peopleÂ with national and international integritiesÂ and where politico-economic ills are eschewed.
Already, Nigerians are people of pride and integrity. So when next we sing the national anthem, we should bear in mind that we are being called upon for a drastic action of changing our beloved country to be the leader of theÂ black race and the world.
TO BE CONTINUED