Friday, 29 September 2017

NIGERIA AT 57 – IS THERE ANY HOPE LEFT FOR A GREAT NIGERIA?

Prof (Mrs) Felicia Adebola Adedoyin wrote the National Pledge in 1976. It is one of the most meaningful and life transforming words that I have ever come across.

Not many people
remember the name of this amazing woman who out of her creative wealth and love for the nation wrote the National pledge. It is however, unthinkable that many people cannot successfully recite the National Pledge, let alone apply to those words to their lives.

I sometimes wonder if she would have written the National Pledge, had she known that, years later, the ordinary citizen would have no regard for the words.

When she wrote the national pledge, I believe she wrote it from a point of understanding and commitment towards seeing that, Nigeria and its people realises their full potential.

Decades after, the average, Nigerians have lost all sense of consciousness, understanding, and commitment to realizing the potentials of this great nation. Of a truth, many primary, secondary, and university graduates cannot successful recite the national anthem.

Be it as it may, most people recite the national pledge out of duty and without any consciousness of the words.
The national pledge is one of the most powerful lines I have ever read. We can closely relate it to the marriage vows.

It is a tool that every citizen should use, towards the development of their commitment to play their individual roles, for the enhancement of this great nation. However, just as couples easily forget their marital vows and the responsibilities and benefits it bestows on them, Nigerians do not value the National Pledge, and many might have a good reason for that.

Some have suffered for long and are still suffering from poverty, sicknesses, joblessness, and absence of necessary infrastructure. Some do not have the willingness or strength to be loyal, faithful, or honest to a nation, where it seems that only the people in political offices have a right to wealth and prosperity.

In other words, “do not ask what your nation can do for you, but what you can do for the nation”. The question is. what if you keep giving to a nation that gives you nothing and even takes the little you have in the form of inflated taxes and deprivation of infrastructures such as water, education, jobs, shelter, and electricity?

No matter how justifiable it is to ignore the national pledge because we seem to enjoy no benefit from it, we must find a solution to re-awakening the consciousness and commitments.

Nigeria is one of the countries with the greatest wealth of natural and human resources, yet many people still go to bed hungry, and many cannot afford health care or school fees. Unpatriotic and corrupt leaders - leaders who have lost all consciousness of the national pledge got us to this place as a nation.

I strongly believe that, Nigeria can be that great nation that we all envision, only if we pay attention to our children and young citizens. Doing everything possible to instil the right values in young children is the only thing that can ever make Nigeria great.

These values form the lines of the national pledge and are a powerful tool in transforming the mind of her young citizens, there by bringing about national transformation. These values should be taught daily at home and in schools.

The national pledge should be compulsory from primary one up to the university level. It should be included into the civic duty curriculum. Pupils should be encouraged to consciously commit to living by the values embedded in the national pledge.

Let us now explore the Nigeria National                   Pledge line by line:

1. I pledge to Nigeria, my country- the first thing I want you to realise is that, Nigeria is your country-the only country you got. You may sometimes wish that you were from another country. However, you are already a citizen of this great nation.

To pledge means to make a solemn promise or vow to make Nigeria a better nation than you met it, regardless of the circumstances you find yourself. Therefore, we all owe this country a debt of service. When you say you pledge, you are making a commitment to contribute consciously to the well being of the nation.

When you are married to a man or woman, he/she treats you so badly sometimes that you feel like not fulfilling that vow. However, love for your spouse and sometimes love for your children keeps you going.

Nigeria may not be the country that you wish she were. However, this nation can become great if we all fulfil our individual pledge. Do not look beyond you; only play your part towards ensuring a great nation and hope that other citizenry follow in your footstep-be a pacesetter.

This is about individual responsibilities bringing about a collective result.

2. To be faithful, loyal, and honest- Loyalty means keeping your vows, commitment, and promise to stand by somebody. It means that your allegiance to a cause or person is unshakeable, regardless of circumstances.

To be faithful means to be steadfast, reliable, devoted, and constant. It means to perform your duty well and to the best of your ability. It also means to believe in a person, organisation, or a nation.

To be honest means to live a life of integrity, truthfulness, trustworthiness, fairness, openness, incorruptibility, and sincerity. It means your life is devoid of lies, cheating, theft, partiality, deceit and fraud.

Honesty is very important because, it will aid the development of a positive mindset and enhances the chance that people will behave in morally acceptable ways.

3. To serve Nigeria with all my strength  To serve means to become useful or suitable for the accomplishment of a particular purpose. It also means to add value to a person or people. To serve a purpose, education, and skill is required.

To serve Nigeria with all your strength simply means to be determined to see that Nigeria becomes a successful nation, using all your skills and education.

In serving Nigeria, strength of heart, mental, and physical strength is required. So be determined to acquire skills and educate yourself at home or/and school, to be well equipped to serve Nigeria with all your strength.

When you serve Nigeria with all your strength, she will serve you with all her strength. When you contribute your quarter to make Nigeria better, your life will be better for it.

Do not be deterred because it seems that, good people receive no reward in Nigeria. For when it is your time, your reward will come. If you do not receive your reward, your children will.

4. To defend her unity – unity means oneness; the state of being one individual entity.

To defend means that you will not speak or act in ways that will bring discord or disunity amongst communities or tribes. You will not discriminate against a fellow Nigerian. You will always see another Nigeria as your brother or sister.

It means that you will support the course of making this country great. It means that any day or time, you will be ready to defend this nation from enemy attacks, technologically and physically, even when you are standing alone.

5. And uphold her honour and glory – Honour and glory means to lift on high or elevate and support your country with humility and splendour or great beauty for sustainability. To uphold Nigeria means that as a citizen, you will not speak or act in ways that will bring shame to this nation.

When you leave the shores of this nation, ensure that you do not engage in illegal businesses such as drug and human trafficking because, you know that this act will bring shame upon this nation.

It also means that you will be more interested in building this nation through your skills, than any other nation in the world. I cannot imagine being one of the best surgeons in the world working in another country, while my country is lacking in such expertise.

6. So help me God – Nigeria is a nation built on godly principles. We can all make individual pledges to this great nation. However, without the help of God, we cannot fulfil them.

Homes and schools must instil godly principles in children, so that they can grow up to become god-fearing citizens and leaders.

We risk having a violent, lawless, and failed state if we raise children that have no regard for the Lord. The hearts of the children must be pointed towards the Lord. For a child that fears the Lord, is one that will be afraid to do wrong in society.

On a Final Note
The Nigeria dream is you and I. It is not about some dreaming about a great nation, without personal inputs. A nation is only as great as the citizens of that nation are.

This goes to say that, the principles and values upon which individuals operate daily, is the foundation of every nation. Your life, actions, and decisions produce the nation that you want to see.

Make no mistake; Nigeria is suffering from the individual actions of her leaders. Judging from your actions and decisions, what Nigeria do you expect 5 years from now. Think on these things!

Happy Independence.

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