When will Nigeria take its pride in the comity of Nations? Many countries are making giant strides in the world trying to show that they exist and are capable of following the world to make a mark. Our country; Nigeria is not excluded. If a nation has nothing to offer to its people and the world as a whole, that nation cannot make its citizens proud and the citizens cannot be patriotic. It is our achievements in history that can show our place in the comity of nations, it is our scientific achievements, our contributions to world economy and even our contributions to eradicate the coronavirus pandemic but not a consumption spirit. Aside that, whatever big name we give ourselves e.g. the giant of Africa, NTA being the largest African television network, the African big brother all may end as a fairytale.
Nigeria is not the only country that was colonized by a colonial master. Many countries have removed that stigma. It has become story of the past. Nigeria has an everlasting leaning towards the colonial masters. They have emotional attachments that at the slightest problem, they look for consultation from their god father even when it involves the problem of the country and when the problem is within. It is a conspiracy theory!
During the colonial era, many conspiracy theories were circulated that the colonial masters favored only one section of Nigeria and that the division of Nigeria was not proportionate. The Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, said that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression. When Nigeria seems to tumble down, we begin to hear all these conspiracy theories that show we are not united, that weare forced to live together, and lack patriotism. Even when we struggle not to believe in the theories, it keeps manifesting itself in the manner of political appointments, sectional benefits and sidelining of certain sections of the country.
Who is a patriot? A Nigerian; Allen Onyema; the CEO of Air Peace airlines saved Nigerians from the insults of South Africa by using this aircraft to bring the stranded and dislocated Nigerians back home from south Africa Free of charge. His patriotic gesture was celebrated by many Nigerians. Instead of receiving a National honor and encouragement, a smear campaign was launched against him with an alleged fraudulent purchase in the United States of America which he was cleared. That did not deter him, he volunteered to fly non- stop to China to bring the Chinese Medical team and their equipment to Nigeria to help in the fight of the coronavirus pandemic. The flight with his Air Peace aircraft became the first in history. All were done free of charge in the spirit of patriotism. Another discouraging blow that became demoralizing came after Nigerian government when planning to evacuate Nigerians from Dubai, China, USA and UK struck deals with other airlines and collected double fares from Nigerians. Even when procuring vehicles for Senators, Nigerian vehicle manufacturer was schemed out of the contract. One would ask “is the Nigerian government a part of the problem in Nigeria or part of the solutions?” Is Nigerian government doing business at the detriment of the citizens? In these instances, the government should encourage patriotism, reward excellence and to show the youths which they say are the leaders of tomorrow to follow the examples of noble Nigerians who perform and promote Nigeria.
Patriotism should start from our leaders and they should lead by examples. The problems we inherited from the colonial masters are endless. Even though we have attained independence and are now democratic, our cozy attachment to our colonial masters is still there. The covid19 has exposed our weaknesses in the health sector caused by the unpatriotic nature of our leaders who prefer medical tourism abroad to building classy hospitals at home. Our eyes are towards the colonial masters and industrialized nations who sympathize with us by giving us handouts which we receive without dignity but cringing civility.
I was shocked and laughed when I read in the Newspaper that Donald Trump; the President of America called and promised our President Ventilators. He felt happy on hearing the news. I laughed because Nigeria has what it takes to overcome this coronavirus pandemic. Nigeria has experts, resources and people that can stand to fight against this pandemic rather than wait and peep through the windows to see whether help would come from overseas. Really we saw help which started with Nigerians pouring in money through donations before China brought items. How can Trump donate ventilators to Nigeria when some States in the US have shortages in ventilator and facial mask supplies? Can a squatting toad promise one a seat? Due to non- patriotism of our leaders they tend to belittle or overlook great efforts of Nigerians while worshiping foreigners and foreign made goods. A novel idea can crop up from a Nigerian or a group but would be neglected to die prematurely by Government while patronizing same thing if it comes from outside. How can our economy ever grow?
A revelation from Zainab Sheriff Ujudud (The Director/HOD of traditional complementary and alternative medicine Federal Ministry of Health) on Nigerian Television made me remember our Nigerian syndrome of not agreeing on time for what will better Nigeria. She revealed that the leaves used by Madagascar in the fight against covid19 are found in Nigeria and its efficacy documentations have been in the files for a long time without consideration.I felt proud seeing Madagascar displaying their alternative medicine for covid19 on CGTN television and people rejoicing. Now Madagascar’s formula has been ordered by some countries including Nigeria to fight the covid19 pandemic. The citizens would be very proud of President Buhari and his team if they adopt alternative approaches to save lives and end the coronavirus pandemic rather than waiting endlessly for controversial vaccines that are still on trial. This is the time for sabotage of alternative efforts of curing the pandemic by world powers which Nigeria and other African nations should ignore because what works for Africa may work for all! We have been faced with malaria and other indigenous ailments which have been handled alternatively, why not this? There are several unfinished businesses in medicine where they keep manufacturing drugs for recurrent ailments to make money. If a disease aims at a particular race and brings discrimination, then it becomes political!
Nigerian Ministry of health should give thorough attention to claimed herbal cures to the coronavirus pandemic and evaluate each claim critically, support them where necessary instead of ignoring any at this period we should look inwards. Nigeria has what it takes to be among the league of great nations but the politics of “where you come from”, the inability to decide where we are going to and not knowing who we really are as a nation has drawn us back. We pretend at elections to be one Nigeria after several palatable campaign promises that seduce us into believing them. The political polarization in Nigeria is so unbearable and will make one believe that we need to restructure Nigeria, restructure our hospitals, take care of the have-nots and build places of interests and above all our tertiary institutions.
Right from time, the Catholic Church has been working as partners in development with the government. The Catholic Church has demonstrated this by giving out some of their hospitals to support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic because government cannot start building hospitals now when it lacks fund and failed to appreciate the need for adequate hospitals. Government in turn should show sincere commitment in fighting this pandemic and channel all donations to proper use.
Very Rev. Msgr. Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a Social Justice and Peace Advocate