Nigeria-Patriotism And Prebendalism.
July 30, 2010
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Super Eagles Fans
This is the season of patriotism.The out-pouring of support by Nigerians for the various national soccer teams during recent international competitions is proof that Nigerians love their country.Whether this love is absolute love of country or the relative love of supporting your country,when it is engaged in an adversarial contest with another nation,perhaps so as to emerge on the winning side and secure bragging rights is unimportant here.The fact is that Nigerians seem to love their country.This conflicts with the widely held view that Nigerians are not patriotic.
According to one definition,patriotism is not only love of country,but also the willingness to sacrifice one’s interest in the service of country.And selfless service to country is where Nigerians are falling down on the job.Nigerians love their country but are unwilling to sacrifice for Nigeria.The reason for this is that in a mere geographic expression like Nigeria,we are at heart,not citizens,but mere indigenes subscribing to a hierarchy of loyalty at the top which are our families and kin,with the country at the absolute bottom.Put simply,this means me,my family,my tribe first and Nigeria last.
This split loyalty has grievous consequences for Nigeria.Frequently,one needs the support and promotion of one’s ethnic group for advancement in society,further reinforcing one’s loyalty to the group rather than the country,and this loyalty is to be shown in material terms.This means using your office to accumulate wealth for the benefit of not only yourself ,but also members of your ethnic group. This fuels corruption.Especially in government,where every office is seen as a prebend,whose resources are to be captured,not only to reward members of one’s ethnic group with wealth and favours,but even worse,to promote narrow ethnic interests and agendas.
A country in the grip of prebendalism l like Nigeria will struggle to produce nationals who are willing to give their all for the country,simply because people have not begun to see themslves as citizens.And when these people get into political office,given their indigene mentality,they are going to behave like mere patriarchs at best.Nigeria’s challenge is to find a real national leader,in every sense of that expression,who can inspire the people to the ideal of citizenship,with all it’s responsibilities as well as rights.