by Ibrahim Faruk
The first line of Nigeria’s national anthem is, ‘Arise, O compatriots. Nigeria’s call obey.’ It was adopted in 1978, and replaced ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee.’
In addition to various other events, the anthem is usually sung during events of national pride and importance, such as the President’s address, major sporting events and at schools. However, many times I ask myself, ‘Where is our national pride?’. It is with utmost caution that I also use the word ‘national pride’ since we still haven’t been able to draw the lines between nationalism and patriotism; the spirit of patriotism from the generations that fought for Nigeria’s independence has waned – but that is a story for another day.
Recent events have forced me to reflect on what the national anthem which we sang with gusto as primary school children really means to us today. Is it really a call to action or do the words mean nothing at all to us? What about, ‘To serve our fatherland, with love and strength and faith?’
The strength of our fathers and heroes past cannot serve Nigeria as well as the strength of 70% of over 140 million people – the youth demographic.
Sadly, this is the demographic that have been referred to as, ‘the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria.
If we do not learn from our history, we are definitely bound not to learn from the mistakes of history and build on the successes which remain the foundation on which this country was built.
In the struggle for independence, the media (especially newspapers) was an important weapon used by the nationalist to achieve independence for Nigeria. The years have passed and while traditional media still remains important, new media forms have also emerged as tools for change. Quick to embrace new media has been the youth population.
Even though the arguments for and against the importance of social media continue, it will be foolish to totally discredit it. Just because one young person has access to new media to speak on issues does not mean the speaker/writer is not in touch with the needs and demands of youths who do not enjoy such access. If the government cannot provide security or electricity or conducive environment for such, it affects all and sundry.
Not only that, you need to look no further than a few examples where the compatriots have risen and the call to action has been heeded; these include the #OccupyNigeria protests, the alleged gang rape case in Abia state University and the killing of the Aluu 4 among others.
The past week has given me cause to ponder again. Starting with the Oby Ezekwesili’s speech at the 42nd Convocation lecture at the University of Ibadan where she said late President Yar’adua and President Jonathan squandered $67 billion in 5 years, rejoinders and thinly veiled parables and most recently – death threats received by one youth for a tweet on the social micro-blogging site – Twitter.
Compatriots, the tools we need to rise to action are already in our hands. The actions of the government is clearly indicative that some permutations towards 2015 are underfoot. The ballot box also represents a call to action. We must organize and mobilize, using whatever tools are available to us.
‘Arise, O Compatriots. Nigerias call obey’