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De Moment of Truth

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Patriotism, defined as "Love for one's country" is expressly enshrined in Nigeria's national pledge. However, in sharp contrast to our national pledge, Nigerians generally viewed retrospectively as unpatriotic can therefore be said to hate Nigeria.

Patriotism, defined as "Love for one's country" is expressly enshrined in Nigeria's national pledge. However, in sharp contrast to our national pledge, Nigerians generally viewed retrospectively as unpatriotic can therefore be said to hate Nigeria.

The question which then arises at this juncture is this: Why do Nigerians hate Nigeria? Put differently, what are the factors responsible for this hatred for Nigeria?
In order to appreciate the causes of unpatriotism in Nigeria, it will be essential to examine some aspects of our social lives and identify how they influence the behaviour of individual citizens in terms of motivation of love for the country or demoralization, which results in apathy. And with the benefit of hindsight, lack of enthusiasm for the country or an outright hatred is traceable to ethnic nationalism which manifests in corrupt manners in the performance of duties. It is this corruption which in turn results in abuse of the federal character policy, ineffective justice administration, government's inability to prosecute corrupt public servants, marginalization through lopsided appointments.
The issue of ethnic nationalism is so predominant in Nigeria that it has denied the country the patriotism anticipated from citizens. An observation of the strength and enthusiasm with which we pursue ethnic agenda is a sad reminder now and always of how we tend to often put the cart before the horse. For example, the increasing proliferation of ethnic organisations, with standby militant wings and the manner they have often executed ethnic-related violence all over the country is a good attestation to this fact. If Nigerians could apply their love and enthusiasm for their fatherland positively and appropriately, then they would channel such love to Nigeria. In a heterogeneous society like Nigeria, the existence of ethnic militia and organizations increases the gaps between our diversities. In fact, the root cause of unpatriotism in Nigeria is ethnic nationalism and all its concomitant effects. We are only excited about being Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa Fulani, Niger Delta and all those ethnic identities. This is the reason Nigeria appears like a "no man's land". Unpatriotism in Nigeria is caused by ethnic nationalism which in turn compels us to embrace corruption in public service in order to favour our people.
Ethnic nationality, the mother of corruption, is the nemesis that has traumatized the Nigerian society to the extent that everyone who serves in the public service exhibits corruption in one way or the other in the discharge of duties and quite often engages in personal enrichment of self. When this happens, the signs are usually betrayed by sudden but inexplicable wealth. Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, also lent credence to this when he said that the only Nigerian who is not corrupt is the one who has not been given the opportunity to serve. The SGF,
Babachir David Lawal made the same allusions while explaining why members of the ruling APC are not on EFCC list of corrupt Nigerians: "It is obvious that even if we had corrupt men in APC, they did not have the opportunity to steal, and that is assuming we had. I cannot in all honesty say that all of us in APC are saints, but the truth is we did not have the opportunity also to reject the stealing. Our hands are clean by providence". Our penchant for corruption when given the opportunity to serve is what a discussant on a Channels TV program described as “squandering of leadership opportunities".
The damage done by corruption could be seen in the implementation of our federal character policy. Although the federal character policy is a desideratum for national cohesion, peace and unity, the manner the policy is abused is a coup de grace to its objectives. This people -oriented policy was originally designed to ensure that no ethnic group dominates or is marginalized in any federal ministry or parastatal. But when it comes to implementing it, Nigerians are denied employment simply because the quota for their state or ethnic group has been filled. This is how quota system has become Nigeria's achilles' heel in the cultivation of patriotism among the people. The quota system, based on the federal character policy, has now become a tool used in denying citizens employment into the public service.
Despite the clarion calls for “change begins with me", Nigerians are witnessing a greater magnitude of nepotism under this administration and this has being attracting condemnations from prominent Nigerians. For example, a prominent Middle Belt politician, Paul Unongo, in the course of dispelling insinuations that his region benefits from the current lopsided federal employment exercise made some startling revelations. In an interview published by DAILYSUN of 14th September 2016, Unongo said: "The perception people have about this administration is that it is parochial and employment into government agencies is limited to the north. But when you come to the north, northerners are saying no, it is not to the north, but to a particular section of the North. When you go to that section of the north, the people there say no, it is not us, it is within the family". This is what happens in a Nigeria that is soliciting for change of attitude that begins with me. It is therefore doubtful if patriotism can exist in this type of society.
The practice whereby employment into federal ministries is put in abeyance, despite the existence of vacancies, simply because certain states or ethnic groups have not filled their quota is a bad practice. Definitely, the federal character policy was not established with the intention that it would be executed with high precision. Neither has it been mandatory for states or ethnic groups to produce certain types of professions so as to be at par with others.
But as a result of the prominence of corruption, public servants entrusted with our federal service employment continue to abuse the rules with the aim of denying employment to fellow citizens. It is painful to be denied employment when vacancies abound, simply because you are not from the States reserved for those vacancies. It is even more painful to realise that those States have no trained manpower to fill the vacant positions, particularly when such States even go outside the shores of this country to recruit workers. And to compound the whole problems, despite being a trained manpower, sister states with inadequate manpower are not ready to recruit fellow Nigerians. They prefer foreigners, some of who may be less qualified and less intelligent. Is this not discouraging to a person coming from his or her native land? How does it feel to be told at the end of a university education that a vacancy does not exist for you in federal establishments because of your state of origin? In other words, you are being told that your constituency lies more in your State or ethnic group than in Nigeria. Such a policy draws the ire of hatred from a citizen towards his country. Quota system and its vulnerability to corruption are factors of unpatriotism. Their influence is quite overwhelming because of their overbearing discrimination towards others.
Another dimension of corruption introduced into the procedure of recruitment of public servants is the tendency for secrecy to avoid public awareness. For example, SERAP which exposed the new tricks had accused the Presidency of "nepotism of the highest order" and issued it a 14 day ultimatum to withdraw the employments it gave to wards of prominent members of the ruling APC or face legal action. Piqued by secret recruitments into CBN, NNPC, FIRS, etc; SERAP charged: "It is a manifestation of the old order whereby people of privileged class are given undue advantage over others. The Buhari administration must be seen to live up to it's mantra of change and equal opportunity must be given to everybody". Faced by that scandal, CBN on it's part explained that it obtained a waiver to recruit without advertising the vacancies.
Another factor of unpatriotism is this large-scale corruption often perpetrated by public servants. When public servants embezzle public funds, when they award contracts to themselves and sometimes not executing them, citizens see such actions to mean that the nation belongs to the few that milk her. To complicate matters, Nigerian governments often become lame ducks when it comes to prosecuting corrupt public officers. The result is that citizens feel alienated when they see corrupt officers go scot-free.
This is precisely the kernel of Attahiru  Bafarawa's complaint against the ruling APC which was conveyed in his open letter to president Muhammadu Okechukwu Buhari which was published by SUNDAY SUN of 25th September 2016. According to him: "There are hundreds, if not thousands of petitions before the EFCC against some members of your party, the APC, but sadly enough, they can neither be investigated nor arrested probably because they are sacred cows. It is not fair at all that you allow an organization under your watch to continue to be selective by perceiving people mainly from the opposition as criminals while others are ignored as if they are free from petitions written against them for years". It is baffling that this ugly state of affairs still obtains under Buhari who openly wept for Nigeria over the magnitude of frauds perpetrated by public servants. It is not enough to say that "We will be merciless and relentless in pursuing all those who abused public trust" when he addressed Nigerians in Equatorial Guinea.
The impression is that it does not worth it to be patriotic, since patriotism entails denying self one convenience or the other in consideration for fellow citizens. This is what the US Secretary of State, John Kerry described to Northern political and religious leaders as system rigging and embezzlement of the future. According to him, "When people and particularly young people have no hope for the future and no faith in legitimate authority, when there are no outlets for people to express their concerns, then aggravation festers and those people become vulnerable to outside influence". He added that corruption has made it possible for  "people in positions of power to embezzle the future of their own people" which gives citizens the impression that the  "system is rigged against them, the belief that the system is designed to fail them" noting that  "there is nothing more demoralizing, more destructive, more disempowering to a citizen" than those situations.
One other factor, which aids unpatriotism is our system of justice administration. The manner justice is administered in a society plays a very important role in the cultivation of patriotism in the citizens. In Nigeria however, our judiciary does not seem to agree with the notion that '"Justice delayed is justice denied". The judiciary has not played the crucial role it is expected to play in encouraging citizens to develop love for the country. This is because when a citizen seeks for justice in the law court, he or she gets frustrated by the mindless and uncountable adjournments of adjudication.
This attitude makes it possible for lawbreakers to acquire the false impression of being above the law. In such circumstances, the law abiding person feels aggrieved while the lawbreaker feels happy. This system of dispensing justice gives the impression that the judiciary is subversive to the rule of law.
The connection of corruption in the judiciary and unpatriotism can be seen from the fact that it is easy to commit crimes with the hope of being freed by a corrupt judicial officer. A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) did some elaborate examination of the rule of law and its corruption in Nigeria. In a position paper entitled: "Nigerian Law And Corruption: Any Meeting Point?" the lawyer observed that “Any nation that has no respect for the rule of law cannot succeed in stamping out corruption and abuse of power". After a clinical dissection of the judiciary and the Anti - Corruption Act, Mr. Falana painfully noted that "the war against corruption cannot be won in view of the ongoing subversion of the rule of law and the manipulation of the democratic process by the Nigerian ruling class". His conclusion was that "There is no meeting point between law and corruption. To make the anti-corruption law effective, the discipline of judges, lawyers and all enforcement agents must be taken seriously".

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