RE­FLEC­TIONS Nig­era @55: Time for us to grow pa­tri­o­tism, re­vere unity sym­bols?

Daily Trust - - REFLECTIONS -

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.

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