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By Bernice Alhassan. Arise O compatriots, Nigerias call obey. To serve our Father land,with love and strength and faith. The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain…”   Now let’s pause there for a sec. Nigeria in recent times has got me thinking again about that last statement – “the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain…” Easily coming to mind are men like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who spear headed the fight for Nigeria’s independence, Obafemi Awolowo who also joined in the battle for independence and introduced free education in the then western region of the country, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first prime minister of the country who also led us to the attainment of a republican status, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, Herbert Macaulay, General Yakubu Gowon, Tony Enahoro and a host of others. All these men fought to bring Nigeria to a level starting point; yet, a look at us today, tells a different story. We sing the national anthem day in day out (that’s for those who even know there’s one) but our very actions speak against it. And don’t point fingers at the big guys at the top because I find that it’s even the “ordinary” Nigerian that put things out of place the most. When you hear comments like “na my father work”, “I dey try politics to see if me and my family too fit partake of the national cake” or “abeg do am anyhow, no be our money dem tif?”, you wonder where we are headed. Little unseen acts of corruption from the small shops to the big ministries and selfish behaviours even at the traffic lights tell a lot as to whether the labours of our heroes past are in vain or not. We handle issues of national concern with laxity and people just do what they feel is best for them and them only. Public offices are no longer a thing of merit or free and fair elections but a thing of connection. We have moved from being Nigerians with a common bond to being Hausas or Yorubas or ibos or Ijaws or Kanuri’s. Tribalism has replaced nationalism. We do have our good sides (a lot for that matter) but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and these weak links are really pulling us down and apart. The decision as to whether our heroes laboured in vain or not is really not mine to take but these are men who practically gave up their lives to see that this great nation progresses and stays together; yet it seems that some people are hell bent on ruining and pulling it down. The progress or otherwise of Nigeria affects every Nigerian, including you and thus, it is our civic as well as collective responsibility to see to it that as much as possible or everything goes right.  

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This article was first published on 7th September 2012 and updated on September 25th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

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