WHERE ARE THE NATIONALISTS?
The new website dictionary, international edition, described nationalism as “a devotion to one's nation. An online dictionary also described it as “a sense of pride in the history, culture achievements, etc, of one's nation. Over time, Nigeria has been blessed with devoted nationalists. Our first generation fathers Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, Michael Okpara, Okotie Eboh, to mention a few, are epitome of nationalism. By their conduct and carriage, they sharpened the course of Nigeria's history.
They may not have been perfect, indeed they made mistakes, but every one of them without exception had unshakable belief in the indivisibility of the sovereignty of Nigeria. Yes, they were political opponents, and that was what they were – political opponents, not political enemies. When they criticize each other they did so constructively with the sole purpose of building a better society. They may have adopted different approach to the same issue but nobody doubted their patriotism.
But what do we have now. Our pseudo nationalists, are not only confused but are penchantly rude. Lai Mohammed, Nasir El-Rufai, Femi Falana, Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Rauf Aregbesola and even our old friend, take delight in disparaging the person and office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, and even care less about the psyche of the masses they profess to defend. In the build-up to the end of the 2013 festive period one expects the critics to at least imbibe the spirit of the festive period and for once commend President Jonathan for creating the enabling environment for Nigerians to enjoy the yuletide period. From the military era, up till three years ago, festive periods are synonymous with fuel scarcity.
But in the last three years, 2013 Christmas and New Year inclusive, Nigerians witnessed unprecedented surplus of petroleum products, particularly petrol. Nigerians travelling to their various villages during the festive experienced smooth network of roads. I travelled by road from Abuja through Lokoja to Benin down to Oghara in Delta State. From there to Lagos to Ibadan through Akure and back to Abuja. It was smooth sailing throughout. My friends in every part of the country narrated similar stories from major cities of the country to their villages and back. Air travelers both local and international expressed similar sentiments, minimal flight delays where they occur with quick and prompt arrivals and departures formalities. Lai Mohammed and his cohort saw nothing to celebrate here. Instead it is the number of accidents and their victims that they highlighted. Even on this the statistics released by FRSC gave a downward trend compared to similar periods in the last five to ten years.
The Boko Haram insurgency is a tragic occurrence that should be condemned by all and sundry. All Americans, whether Republican or Democrat, whether Hispanic or Latino, Jews or African-American, stood behind President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9-11, because they know that terrorism does not know colour or creed. The almost three thousand people that died at that World Trade Centre cut across race and nationalities. All Americans vowed never again to allow such unfortunate incident to occur on their soil.
We are facing a similar serious challenge of Boko Haram here in Nigeria. Instead of all hands to be on deck, the critics will want the world to believe that it is Jonathan's cross and he should carry it alone. But thank Almighty God, the security agencies are winning the battle as evident by the peace experienced during the past festive period for the first time in three years.
In Sports, Nigeria recorded unprecedented achievements in 2013. The Super Eagles became African Champions after 19 years in the wilderness. The team also qualified for the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil. The Under-17 Golden Eaglets became World Champions again. Blessing Okagbare won silver medal at the Moscow World Athletics Championships and many other sporting feats. But not once had any of these accomplishments elicit any positive comments from our 'nationalists'. Other sectors like Power, Agriculture, Economy that made giant strides are at best ignored.
Railway is working. Even Aregbesola, one of the arrow heads of the 'progressives' cum 'nationalists' attests to this. Otherwise Ogbeni wouldn't have placed adverts in national newspapers promising to foot the bill of any Osun State indigene that travelled by train from Lagos to Oshogbo during the festive period. Yet Transformation is not working.
For our 'nationalists' what is good for the goose is definitely not good for the gander. Otherwise how could they call on INEC to sanction the First Lady the other day when she celebrated the achievement of women in President Jonathan's administration, alleging that the celebration amounted to campaign even though nothing about 2015 was mentioned at the event. But now APC's nation-wide whistle-stop campaign in which they are asking people to vote out PDP in 2015 is not illegal. What kind of people are these bunch? Simply because they control the media, they believe they can do anything with impunity.
But Nigerians are wiser than they give us credit for. Despite these fault finders hoodwinking us into believing they are the messiahs we are waiting for, 2015 will show them that 'shoe gets size'.
Akpovie is in the office of the Political Adviser to the President.