We, the People recognise that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. — Barack Obama
A vital virtue that is far lost among all Nigerians is patriotism. There is no sense of responsibilities to the nation any longer, everyone works for the sake of themselves alone and nothing else. In fact, the only moment the thought of the nation comes to our mind in our daily activities is when we think of the broad way of siphoning the meagre resources left to the poor nation.
The naked truth we must settle with is that no nation develops without the selfless commitment of its inhabitants. To me, patriotism is when a man says, let the nation develop through my commitment first, then the nation will in turn develop me. If it is reversed, then the condition of such a nation will portray the current picture of Nigeria.
Nigeria has become a nation whereby you need to reward its citizens to get her protected. The case of Niger Delta oil pipe vandalism comes to mind. If they are not paid huge amount of money individually, then the nation suffers for it. Just this week, it was reported that the President sacked a permanent secretary for awarding contracts worth billions of naira to himself through the Niger Delta project. That is just a summary of the mess we’ve found ourselves in as a nation. Many have to suffer just for few to over feed.
Come to think of it critically, why would citizens of the nation be promised certain percentage from recovered loot due to offering relevant information that leads to recovery of such funds? A patriotic mind will shed tears for the nation at this point. Not just any poor Nigerian can offer such piece of information that can lead to recovery of millions and billions of naira. It is just a case of a servant thief being rewarded after being unsatisfied with what the chief thief has offered him.
For every N5 billion recovered through whistle-blowing, the whistle-blower automatically gets N210 million naira, what a good replacement of MMM for the middle class privy to some information- bankers, clerks, office assistants, SSAs/SAs and other aids to corruption. Certainly, new millionaires would be made through this promise by the Federal Government.
The calculation is clear and simple. Since the Federal Government has said the whistle-blower or referee to corruption goes with N210 million for every 5 billion recovered through him, then I call you and promise you N500 million, automatically, the match is fixed and the individual wins the match! Going by this calculation, I can categorically say that the government is unconsciously trying to breed corruption in another way- creating more accomplices to corrupt individuals.
It all boils down to not having committed and patriotic minds in the land. Nobody wants to fight for the growth of the nation. Rather, some have committed themselves to sponsoring secessionist groups across the land. We have to be bold in facing the truth just for the sake of unborn generations. We must not die trying to pursue our individualistic goals at the expense of the nation. In a bid to do that, the nation may die first and everyone’s dreams are carved within the existence of the nation.
To me, whistle-blowers should be punished and not rewarded. Why should you reward me for aiding and abetting crime at the first instance, only forced to speak out after being enticed with money? Our anti-graft agencies must be prepared to work at all times, bearing in mind that the harvest of corruption is numerous that even yet to be constructed barns have been loaded with illicit assets. Many people may argue that the method seems to be working, but the question that seems lingering is that how does wrong correct wrong? At the long run, there would be multiple effects of negativity in our nation. No serious nation of the world pays and rewards its citizens for help in fighting corruption. This can only be done if corruption has taken the structure of terrorism in the land.
If the patriotic spirit is not revived in the land, this country may actually go into extinction before the envisaged and predicted times.
OKE, Babawale Simon is a graduate of the Department of English, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.