Wanted: New Nationalists For Nigeria
The names Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo , Tafawa Balewa, Samuel Ladoke Akintola and a host of others were impressed in our memories as school children as men who fought for the independence of the Nigerian nation. These were men who stoked the national consciousness in the average man and woman that their fellow men and women deified and apotheosized them as Demi gods who no longer wrestled with men but also with spirits and mammy water!
These men built a cult following that lasted into the seventies and eighties. The likes of Zik and Awo built followers who carried on with their legacies, Awo’s cult following lasted longer perhaps because he was more of a thinker than his peers, others may also ascribe this to the cultural pattern of the Yoruba who are more aligned to a central kind of leadership than their counterparts across the Niger.
Today, these nationalists are either in their graves or in their old age, gone are their days of glory, gone are the days when they held the nation spell bound by their bombast of words and “Isms”, gone are the the days when Nigerians wore caps just exactly as these nationalists did, they dressed like them and attempted to eulogize them, these nationalists could do no wrong.
Today, there is a generation or a set of generations that did not know the Joseph in Azikiwe or in Awolowo, children of this generation at most they may have such knowledge about these people , but the fervor and the passions that these men invoked in Nigerians then is no more, things have changed, these generations are on to new things, perhaps new thinking! This is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it is seen in every nation, the need for new nationalists!
The former wave of nationalism gave us independence, it gave us a nationhood, a place amongst the comity of nations but then it stopped there as it attempted to foster upon us a unity as a people, though they much failed in this aspect . Like the Chinese after the Ming dynasty, thinkers and writers kept prompting for a new China, one that had lost touch with its old glory and had enfeebled it that the once great nation was seen as a very sick nation. Likewise , Nigeria has lost its touch with its nationhood or its old nationalism, as we speak the nation seems to be dipping itself repeatedly in the doldrums, it seems to be forever at a crossroads, raking in underdevelopment, chaos and a befuddlement by patriots like us that a nation can be so blessed and yet so impoverished!
The nation is definitely in need of new nationalists, men and women with a passion for a new Nigeria, a Nigeria where our projections as a people will be in tandem with the hopes of building a virile nation, with strong institutions and a citizenry that will unlike this generation will be proud to hoist our flag and hold up our heads high anywhere in world.
These nationalists must be able to anchor into our youth and energies the fallen hopes of our leaders who contrary to our national anthem may have labored in vain. We must understand that the older generation has failed us: the divisions, the bitterness, the corruption and the failings of our nation lie with us and not with them, shall we then go on with this culture? Shall we then swim in this perishing tide? Shall we fold our hands while our hikes are set on fire? Shall we also ourselves slip further into the abyss?
If Azikiwe, Awo and Bello did pitch their tents against colonialism, the new nationalists must pitch their tents against tribalism, corruption, divisions and the old order of doing things, one may feel that this is eldorado like thinking but when one studies how nations like China moved from an underpower in the late 19th century to becoming a global power house by the mid 20th century then it behoves on us to argue that the new Nigeria is possible, a Nigeria where the rule of law is sacrosanct, where our leaders are servants and nothing more, a Nigeria where one comes from is not more important than what he can do. This is the Nigeria the new nationalists must come together to fashion. Are we ready?
May Nigeria Succeed