REFLECTIONS Nigera @55: Time for us to grow patriotism, revere unity symbols?
Text by Eseohe Ebhota @sleek_ diva88, Simon E. Sunday @ SimonEchewofun, Ibrahim K. Sule @ikabirsule & Latifat Opoola @LAtifatOpoola ifty five years ago, our dear country Nigeria gained her Independence from her colonial masters, Britain. We were told that that day was a remarkable time in the history of this country. The independence also gave way to the birth of our own national symbols: The flag, coat of arms, Anthem and National pledge.
After Independence, Nigeria had new national symbols: the flag, coat of arms, National Anthem and pledge. Hence this week, as part of our celebration of Nigeria’s 55th independence anniversary, we decided to bring some additional information about our national symbols. Facts about the National Symbols The Flag: Prior to its invention, what we used then was “The Union Jack”. The presentday Nigerian flag was designed in 1959 and officially hoisted on October 1, 1960. The flag is a vertical bicolour of green and white. The two green stripes represent Nigeria’s natural wealth, while the white band represents peace.
The flag, an adoption of the winning entry from Michael Taiwo Akinkumi in a competition held in 1959 had an original submission of a red radiating sun badge in the centre of one white vertical with a green vertical on each side. After the badge was removed by the judges, the flag has remained unchanged. Like other countries, Nigeria has special symbols for civil and naval vessels. Some of its states also have flags.
Akinkumi who was a 23 year-old student then, was studying at the Norwich Technical College, England when he saw an advert calling for the design entries.
Coat-of-Arms: The Nigerian coat-ofarms feature an eagle mounted on a black shield, which is trisected, by two wavy silver bands. Two white chargers support the shield, and at its base is a wreath (coctus spectabilis flowers, cast in the national colours of white and green).
The Anthem/Pledge: The National Anthem used at independence in 1960, titled “Nigeria, we hail thee” was written by a Briton, Miss Williams. It was replaced in 1 October 1978, by a new anthem. The Nigerian National Anthem was replaced on October 1, 1978 by a new anthem. Mr. Ben Odiase, Director of Music of the Nigerian Police Band, composed the music. Nigerians React YOUTHVILLE spoke to a cross section of Nigerians about the significance of our national symbols and if they kept to its meanings. One of them a journalist based in Abuja, Dyep Shibayan said Nigerians no longer respect the Independence Day, as the importance attached to them continues to erode by the year.
He said the kind of fanfare that used to greet the anniversary of Nigeria’s independence is no longer there, since the day would come and pass without one noticing
Fvisible manifestation of the celebration from Nigerians.
“There has not been much meaning attached to the Independence Day lately. If you put it on a scale of 1 - 10, I think I will give it 4, that is less than half.
“In the past, you see citizens expressing their happiness on the day, which is no longer there now. In the past, you see some people dress white or green attires, to symbolize the Nigeria’s independence. It not like that now,” he said.
Speaking on the respect for the national anthem by Nigerians, he said the retrogression has not isolated that respect. “What I will say about that is simple: patriotism is actually on the decline in Nigeria.”
On his part, Mohammed Mustapha Malumfashi gave a contrary view, saying that although he acknowledges that the importance of Independence Day is waning, yet Nigerians still celebrate the day.
He said during each anniversary, “You will see Nigerian flags along the roads or at traffic intersections being sold. And you see some people putting such flags either inside their cars or, like taxi drivers, on top of the car. I noticed that even during last week’s celebration.”
Some younger Nigerians believe that the patriotic hearts typical of citizens in the past is waxing cold. One Ibrahim Bako at Mararaba, Nasarawa state gave an instance “when you see Nigerians walking at public functions
disregarding a stand-still symbol when the national anthem is being recited.
“Patriots are expected to stand at attention when the anthem is sung but it is no more the case. They will tell you that it is not compulsory when you confront them,” the university student said.
Fatima Bello, a nursing intern around Nyanya, a suburb near Abuja lamented the eroding maintenance culture in the country. She described a typical situation where the Nigerian flag is left to tear away without a replacement at a federal hospital in Asokoro, Abuja.
There were more reactions as to the fate that lies ahead for younger generations. Okon Peters, an educationist at Abuja Central Area urged parents, teachers and educators to
the patriotism instilling strategies of primary and high schools.
“Pupils and students must be compelled to recite the pledge and anthem at school assembly grounds. They should also be thought what patriotism is despite the stories of corruption and wrong doings they must have been exposed to in the present Nigeria,” he said.
In his words, an elder Mallam Mohammed Soba in Kaduna state believes the new government will restore good governance as it is the panacea for patriotism.
“If the leaders do the right thing, they will be a great role model for Nigerian to emulate and be more patriotic. The leaders must go back to the principle of nationalism which our forefathers preached,” Mallam Soba said.