We boisterously chant the Nigerian national anthem, singing every line with so much vigor and conviction. Who wouldn’t? The words were so well put, every word expressing the aspirations of our fathers.
The combination of John Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B.A. Ogunaike, Sota Omoigui and P.O Aderibigbe had great faith and hope in Nigeria when they wrote her second ever National Anthem with music rendition from the Nigeria Police Band under the Directorship of B.E Odiase in 1978.
Our heroes’ past, extremely wrestled for “One Nigeria”. When our founding fathers introduced this movement to have a united Nigeria, the nation was in monotonous skirmish to break out of the imperial rule of the British. We know that Great Britain was a phenomenal nation, commanding and formidable at that time. Consequently, for Nigerians to overcome them, there was an imperative need to composedly arise as a people to bout the growing torture of the imperial British sovereigns.
Their hope was to attain lofty heights and build a nation where peace and justice would reign. Fifty-nine (59) years after, events show that Nigeria is gradually forgetting her heroes – dead and living—as integrity and nationalism are being sacrificed on the altar of deadly politics, dwindling economy, insecurity, impunity and corruption.
In 1908, before independence and subsequent amalgamation of Nigeria as a unified nation; we know that Olayinka Herbert Macaulay, father of nationalism and founder of Nigeria’s first political party, Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), uncovered and brawled the corrupt acts of the European operators handling railways moneys. He mandated and compelled the colonial government to pay reimbursement to the oppressed chiefs whose lands were being compellingly occupied by the British.
Nigeria as a nation has had great, valiant men and women who have made outstanding contributions towards the growth of our nation, men and women who planted their feet in the sands of time.
Rather than striving to perfect the work that these men and women gave their lives fighting for, we trample on their memories and spit on their graves. If they lived in these times, would they have been motivated to fight or would they have sat folding hands in despair like most Nigerians do, viewing our nation as un-redeemable? Would they weep if they could see our misguided heroes-turned-terrorists or the would-be heroes banished permanently to the back seat of our minds because someone had told them it was better to live a miserable life than fight? For how long would the likes of Yele Sowore and Agba Jalingo fight alone? For how long would we allow the blood of people who died fighting for our democracy, be just a couple of senseless killings?
Some chose the power of the pen, others the power of the sword, others the power of their voice and yet others the strength of their actions. There’s a hero in us all and a thin line separates hero from villain, it all depends on who you are cheering for and whether or not your cause falls in line with the greater good.
We cannot build our nation if everyone wants to be the villain. The nation is ripe for salvation.
“The Labor of our Heroes past shall never be in vain…”