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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Patriotism in Nigeria - It's not about a country's accomplishments

I am volunteer for a non-profit group known as the generation for societal change, made up of young vibrant people with a passion for this country. Every once in a while, we hold workshops in schools where we discuss benefits of values with the students. It is usually a different one each time, ranging from courtesy, punctuality, integrity, respect and so on. Earlier on in the week though, I got a call from Seyi to say we had a workshop in unilag, no sweat until I asked for the topic and he said "patriotism " haaaa, lobatan. Lol. How was I supposed to treat this topic without choking on myself?

While preparing for the event, I looked up a few quotes on Patriotism and found  these two as my hit quotes, don't ask me why;

Loyalty to country always, loyalty to government when it deserves it .... Mark Twain

The duty of a Patriot is to protect its country from its government...Thomas Paine

These gave me a good place to start without getting stoned by the students. But then I started a search for reasons to be patriotic about Nigeria, some hard facts to present to them (and myself apparently). Perhaps if the re-basing had already been done before then, that could have been a point (NOT!! hahaha). You wouldn't imagine all the horrors on the internet about Nigeria, until you try to search yourself. Even worse is that majority of the tongue lashing and washing is by Nigerians, yes US! I even saw an article on Nairaland sharing 50 or so statistics that would make you ashamed to be Nigerian! Then I saw something and it hit me;
Patriotism has nothing to do with a country's accomplishments, It's about a heritage, it's about who you are. We are Nigerian, that's who we are, forget how this came to be, that is after the fact, we have to make this family work.

So back to the matter, from my research I found a mini list of the benefits of patriotism and adapted it to our context;

  • Social Support
    There is a sense of community, motivation and inspiration among citizens. It's not "them" but "us". Citizens who are patriotic don't turn the other way when they see something that is not right.
  • National ImprovementThe more people we have interested in governance the better. The general apathy towards how our money is being spent and how decisions are being made fades away. Patriotism fosters a more positive national discourse as opposed to "beer parlor" arguments that don't lead to progress.

    Kudos to Budgit's efforts to analyze all that data on government budgets and spending and make it accessible and easy to understand by the ordinary citizen.
  • National Defense
    People would rise up to support the preservation of their country. More people would not only be concerned about the carnage going on in some parts of the country but will also think of ways to end it.
A country needs its citizens as much as the citizens need their country.

So I shared this much and wrapped it up. Some day I will share my own list of Nigerians who are making a difference in their own space. No matter what anybody says, we are largely good people! We need more people to rise up so we can have this change we so desperately need.

Here are a few pictures from the event. By the way, I was told this is the research and design laboratory for metallurgical and materials engineering. I entered and was like woooo! Some good progress, working personal computers and air-conditioners. That's like a big deal to me because in my days in unilag, we had no such luxuries.


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