By Agbaje Ayomide

The sense of fierce patriotism to my country, Nigeria, was instilled in me at an early stage in life. I could remember how I sang the national anthem with high cadence, vigour and vivacity. I also grew up reading about the Nigerian history, and how we came about our sovereignty as a nation was what most piqued my interest. I was an avid reader of current affairs and later moved on to the national dailies. I was curious about discovering new stories about my country. It was through all these that I developed a state of mind, a reflection of the true sense of our own self-worth as a nation, upholding of our values and respect for our roots.

I ascertained that the route through which Nigeria traversed to the highway of independence was unity — in action and purpose. This can even be safely said to be our core, founding principle. And it can be first traced as far back as 1914, during the colonial rule, when the then Governor-General, Lord Lugard, amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates. This thereafter made Nigeria rise to independence on the shoulders of her selfless heroes and dogged nationalists who rested on the grounds of unity. Though different in ethnicity, partisanship and ideological inclination, they were all fervidly committed to the noble cause and fought the patriotic struggle of our freedom to the core. De facto, they indeed forged a united front, braved all odds and triumphed, which gained us our independence from about 100 years of the British colonial rule.

Today, Nigeria is 59, over half a century has lapsed in our journey of nationhood. But the big question that still begs is whether or not the labour of our heroes has truly been in vain? Has the price they paid to gain the prize, Nigeria, really worth the while? The answer is certainly not far-fetched.

One may want to say that the prevailing social, economic and political woes pervading our national landscape lend a prima facie credence to the vanity of those labours. But while this sequitur seems to be reasonable, the point of fact is that it is a slightly different kettle of fish. It is as a result of the good governance and true leadership that have long deserted our corridors of power.

Now, let’s face it and see beyond the blurry view of our dear country. The fact that we have maintained our unity in cultural diversity over the years is a testament that the laborious efforts of our founding fathers have not gone down the drain. We have so far remained as one indivisible, complete entity with a strong nationalistic sense, regardless of the several attempts like the Civil War, ethnic conflicts and agitations for secession that have threatened our unity as a country.

Through it all with our spirit of collectivity, resilience and nationalism across our divides, we have scaled through and stayed true to our long-cherished principle that our unity is indeed non-negotiable. And even though we still have a long way to go in our journey of development, the fact that we have impressively integrated culturally and socially into a whole integer shines forth a beacon of hope for our beloved and promising nation. There is love and power in unity. And I believe when we eventually get things right and become prosperous, we will only look back and see how the labour of our nationalists set us on the right-of-way we treaded and built on. The Nigerian dream is still valid. Let’s reignite our collective hope.

Like our national anthem resounds with deep respect and silent drumbeats, the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. May it become a gain for us, and not a pain and in vain. And may we continue to strengthen the uniting cords of our nation citizenry.

Happy Independence Day, Nigeria.

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