Tuesday, July 11, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: IF YOU LOVE NIGERIA, SAY SO


Americans inculcate, in their children early in life, the spirit of patriotism and love for country. As early as their kindergarten years, they are made to recite the pledge of allegiance each morning. Most Americans seem to think that there is something to defend in their country, in spite of its unpalatable history.

Truly, some Americans may call for  the dissolution of America and make a lot of noise about it. If however, the American government feel that a group is undermining the existence of the nation, they will not tolerate such a group. Yes you can make a lot of noise. You can even create newspapers and make some noise. That is alright – to some extent.

'The American Sedition Act of 1918 forbade the use of 'disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt. Those convicted under the law generally received sentences of imprrisonment for five to twenty years.' This statement is taken from the internet and anyone can check it out.

America, therefore does not play with its sovereignty.

Incessant disregard for the sovereignty of any nation seriously undermines its ability to develop. It is one thing to oppose the government in power and make your feelings known. But this must be done within the confines of the legal apparatus.

In recent days, the leader of IPOB has threatened a former president with violence for daring to call for the government to ensure the continued existence of the nation. Many people on the internet take a license to insult our country and whoever challenges them is treated with abusive language. This group and a few others have succeeded in making rational debate impossible. IPOB is not looking for dilogue. They have made that abundantly clear. Their behavour does not call for dialogue. They want to break up the country if they can.

Regardless of what elegant theories we may have concerning the nation-state, the reality of it is that they do exist for some purposes, and you have rightly defined it in your essay 'as valuable as the INVESTMENTS people make in it and the benefits they derive from it.' '

You had this to say about me:

You're already set in your fanatical and strategically "patriotic" ways. You do not seek engagement. You merely seek affirmations of your cringe-worthy displays of "I love Nigeria" patriotic fervor.'

You also went on to say that  ''It is also possible that the subtleties and nuances of my arguments flew by you. Either way, I do not know where or how to begin without taking this discussion in a circular trajectory or coming across as condescending.'

 To your former assertion, I have stated in more times than one why I love Nigeria. It is neither a result of what I need to benefit or gain. It is as a result of mingling with everyday Nigerians, sharing their hopes and aspirations and willing to contribute my own quota. That is my definition of love. If such a definition makes you cringe, then so be it.

I am not a fanatic. However, I do fear that if we continue to throw around words and terms that are uncivil, debates become even more dificult. I am old enough to know that civilility goes a long way in bulding bridges. We who are on the internet must therefore learn to be civil.

Now concerning the fact that the subtleties and nuances of the arguments flew by me, I have never laughed as much as I laughed when I read that. It just reminded me of another writer who wanted me to respect the fact that he had high academic degrees.


Where did I get the idea that you do not believe in the nation-state or that you do not believe that it should be defended against external aggression? You said as much yourself. I hope you read what you wrote yourself,

You said  'There is absolutely nothing sacrosanct or intrinsically praise-worthy about the Nigerian nation-state or any other nation-state for that matter.'

You also said  If people no longer find it useful as a vessel for achieving their aspirations or no longer find the human associations that it engenders useful, what good is that nation-state and why is it worth defending,'' I guess it is only appropriate to ask if you are talking about internal or external aggression.

My conclusion: We do bear a large measure of responsibility for what we say on the internet. Most of us either live in Europe or America. Our utterances must be measured. Whatever we write may unwittingly encourage violence at this precarious moment of our nation's history.

One person killed is one person too many.

On Thursday, July 6, 2017 at 2:43:38 PM UTC+1, Kayode J. Fakinlede wrote:

In recent months, I have witnessed the most organised and coordinated effort to tear down our country that any person or a group of people can muster. Nigeria, our country, has suddenly transmogrified into a country of confused people who cannot put two and two together, its impending doom and imminent collapse being broadcast every minute on the internet and the print media.

Some months before, I was at a gathering in the United States and, as a lone person out, I had tried to defend our country among some of these naysayers only to find out that I was dangerously outmunbered. "What has Nigeria done for you?; why should I speak well about Nigeria, etc, etc?' These kinds of questions were coming from even new arrivals and from young people who had just received their freshly minted certificates in one university or another in Nigeria and were lucky enough to have been able to secure a visa to America. Of course, I had previously, and several times found myself among groups of Nigerians who would spend the night castigating our country and throwing darts at it. Some even swore never to set eyes on Nigeria for ever.

Ah, Ah!!, I discovered why it is easy for these to put Nigeria down. The light and glare of the country America have blinded them to the reality of where they come from and the sacrifices made by their forebears to get them there. Evidently, much that they see and experience in America magically appeared across the landscape. A little learning, they say is a dangerous thing.

Of course, there is a majority of us, the silent majority, who by reason of our experience know that things do not always go harmonioulsy in God's own country.  In America, in spite of the daily jostling of each individual to get to the top regardless of whose ass is gored, we see the combined efforts of its citizens, irrespective of and in spite of their differences, to continuously improve - emphasis on improve -  the school system, the legal system, the water system, the health provision system, the electricity supply system, roads and bridges, etc.

'Towards a more perfect Union,' Americans often proclaim this as their intention. But when I see the level of acrimony some issues generate within the polity, I often wonder if a perfect union can ever be achieved on earth. But at the end of it all, I realise that the glitter and fluorencence that we foreigners now come to enjoy are the results of years of the acrimonious debates and sacrifices –  emphasis on sacrifices - made by their forebears.

One fact seems to run through the vein of all Americans though, they love their country, warts and all. Every American proclaims this at the roof top every time and before they start the aforementioned acrimonious debates.

Majority of Nigerians are like Americans too. We wake up in the morning, try to take care of our families the best way we can,  get to our individual workplaces to earn a living, send our children to the best schools we can afford, and in general try to earn a living. We also love Nigeria, warts and all. And try our best to work towards a better Nigeria.

But we have let the naysayers hijack the debate. We have allowed them to control the tempo of our discussion. We have given them the megaphone, they are now browbeating us with negative propaganda, and we are cowered by the intensity of their intention.

Let us therefore begin to take to the bulhorn to declare our love for our country Nigeria. Let our positive proclamation drown the organized, cacophony and grandiloquence of the naysayers. They do have a plan and their plan is to tear Nigeria apart. We have a better plan and that better plan is to keep Nigeria one. And we do not have to debate or apologize to anyone for this.

God bless Nigeria

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