On 1st October 2021, social media was awash with several congratulatory posts and celebratory commentaries on the ocassion of Nigeria’s independence. In this “democratic” virtual space, one can sympathise with the message of optimism- including reflective messages from citizens who have summoned us to hope in the midst of one of the darkest phases in Nigeria’s contemporary history. There is always room for hope.
What is troubling is the dubious, nay malevolent idea propounded by some, to the effect that “love of country” precludes citizens from criticism and protest, from taking a stand against mercenary undertakers masquerading as political leaders, soulless vultures feasting fat on the carcasses of the Nigerian nation. This disturbing narrative discountenances sober, critical reflection, summons us to intellectual suicide, and compels us, by the sheer force of groupthink, to take position as ostriches- heads under the sand.
It is a curious irony, in fact. For it is the love of country that compels citizens to raise their voices and take a stand against self-seeking individuals would core idea of the country is a personal fiefdom to serve the whims of their cronies and acolytes. Men and women of dubious character who have unleashed and nurtured the worst forms of vices across the country. They are the patron of terrorists masquerading as herdsmen. They are the protectors of “bandits”, the godfathers of thugs and hoodlums.
Under their watch, the highways have become outposts for kidnappers. Farmers across the villages are fleeing their farms, and for their lives, in the wake of unmitigated death and destruction left in the wake of terrorist herdsmen. Millions of unemployed youth roam the street, with little hopes and little prospects for the future. The commonwealth has become a personal treasury of a select few. The nation has become a graveyard of dreams and opportunities.
And yet they come, poking our eyes with impertinent sermons. Devoid of any moral authority, they mount the rostrums with preachments of patriotism and service to the nation. Self-obsessed, and with thoughts of nothing and no one but themselves, these megalomaniacs sermonise on loyalty and love of country. As foremost agents of division and sectarian sentiments, they preach unity from the soapboxes.
It will be a joke, if it is not so tragic.