Justifiably, the creation work of the british administration in this part of the sub Saharan Africa over a century ago has not only suffered instability but also disunity. Nigeria has (and is still witnessing) series of events, actions and reactions. And like a seasoned movie, the end is not in sight.
These continual troubles have further raised issues and opinions as to whether the Fredrick Luggard’s hosted marriage was even a right bid. So far, the country is been torn apart by internal crisis, war, and hates speeches thereby threatening the nationhood.
Sir Hugh Clifford, the British colonial administrator and Governor General of Nigeria ( 1920 – 1931 ) after Fredrick Luggard, described Nigeria as “a collection of independent Native States, separated from one another by great distances , by differences of history and traditions and by ethnological, racial, tribal, political, social and religious barriers.” –Culled from James Smoot Coleman’s book, Nigeria (p. 194).
It is in this plight that this article wills to dig out solutions from the present ditch using sociolinguistics terms and some historical antecedents as it relates to the theme. The title has already given insights to the approach. First, we would understand the concepts of ‘Nationism and ‘Nationalism’. Then we forge ahead with other relevant concepts.
Nationism is the practical effort and services geared towards running and maintaining a nation. This means that, unlike the belief of some, nations are artificial creations. Therefore,
they are never a ‘perfect formation’. As a matter of fact, nations consist of technically different groups and societies with different belief and orientations. What actually connects the groups to live as one is in the general sense of belonging to a working and effective bonding factor.
This factor constitutes the national identity which may be in form of language, culture, religion, boundary, or even a shared natural resources. Indonesia, for instance, is a multi cultural and multi- ethnic society but they are binded together by the doctrines and sense of belonging to a common religion–Islam. America is also an example of multi cultural setting binded by the concept of ‘freedom’. This is the distinguishing progression of a nation as against being a mere country. Any country without a common binding factor (rallying point) will continue to develop internal issues.
In essence, nationism is related to the sentiments that binds the people together. Very important are the National symbols (like the flag, anthems, national language, myths, etc) and other national identities in the process of building and structuring nationism. However, if the concept of the nationhood of a country doesn’t make sense to one, one will have no serious respect for the national symbols and identities.
The spirit of belonging and respecting an identity or philosophy is what is referred to as ‘nationalism’.
Nationalism is the range of political, social, and economic systems characterized by promoting the interests of a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of gaining and maintaining self governance or full sovereignty over the other groups within the nation. In other words, it is the sense of belonging and fighting for the interest of a particular group or society
From the above definitions, obvious thoughts will point the fact that nationalism can either be of positive or negative value to nationism.
- When it is positive: it is promoting the ‘interests’ of the nation.
- When it is negative: it is then promoting the notion or struggle of self-governance or full sovereignty of a particular group within the nation.
Nationalist struggles are bound to thrive and exist within a nation. It is only a question of whether they are positive or negative. When a nationalist struggle is weakening the the established system of a nation, the nationalist are tagged ethnicists, tribalist, nepotist, or even feminist (as the situation may be). On the other end, you are patriot if your struggle is supporting and strengthening the shared interest of the nation.
Also read TRIBALISM AND ITS EFFECTS ON NATIONHOOD to know the effect of Tribalism on Nigeria.
Nationalism is often considered as synonymous to “patriotism”.
However, on a broader view, Nationalism and Patriotism are not mutually exclusive; one can exist without the other , although they are often used interchangeably. — Culled from Mohammed A Mohammed’s article ‘An Analysis of Nationalism in Nigeria: Past and Present’ (2016).
As earlier stated, Patriotism is more of a personalized emotional feelings of love or loyalty to a Nation. While Nationalism goes beyond emotional feeling to a genuine sense of pride of belonging to a particular Nation.
Nationalism traverses through the moderate state of ideology where one feels just safe or happy being identified with a particular Nation to the extreme forms. It encompasses prejudicial or fanatical elements –where one feels superior to people of other ethics or tribe. This distinction is very paramount in the context of Nigeria as seen today.
Read also NIGERIA –YESTERDAY, TODAY AND THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (THE WAY FORWARD). to get more historical facts about Nigeria.
Apparently, the concept behind the Nigerian patriotism was a miss from the inception. What we ever had as a country was a congruently diverse groups of people bearing strong affiliation and allegiance to different identities such as tribe and religion.
Moreover, the kind of national spirit that we have maintained beyond independence until now is a special gift on its own which is not far from the struggle of the Pre- indepedence nationalists’ for the Nigerian Independence. It appeared that the united front we had was more like a case of a combined force fighting a common enemy (Britain) for Self-governance.
Alas! it only took months after the success to realise the failed course. All pioneering politicians resulted back to ethnic and regional agenda. Hereby dampening the spirit of unity.
Spirit of Unity:
Moreover, a nation’s wellness and uprightness is the motivating factor towards a positive nationalism. It is the only reason why an America will wake up in the morning and say first before anything – God Bless America—even if he/she hates the president or the ruling party. If the systems are not working to please all connecting tribes and regions, there are always going to be negative nationalism like the ones we have in Nigeria at present.
The State aided this ill feature by denying the people basic amenities, a situation that only serves to further exfoliate the sense of nationalism off the minds of Nigerians and reinforces transfer of aggression against one another. Nationalism simply cannot exist where mutual distrust is rife and lack of societal development is obvious . This partly explains the desperation of some Nigerians found wanting in other countries doing all sort of illegal dealings.
This is why there should always be avenues for revisitation and possible restructuring plans to make sure all nationalistic needs are constantly met for continuous co-existence.
In addition, a rallying point for the 3 major political regions have not even been discovered not to talk yet of meeting its needs. At this juncture, we should stress once again that issues of nationism can never be resolved if those of nationalism are still left burning. So no matter the amount of constitution reviews, confab and discussions, as long as those issues are still there, the issue of nationism will continue to be a joke for the century.
Each region must first agree to suppress its respective agitations to a considerable minimal before national consessors goals can be laid and achieved. If such feet is not achieveable, then there is no other remedy but dissolution. These issues were what I expected the National conference (CON-FAB) of 2015 to tackle instead of the unnecessary noise it made.
Another challenge threatening our nationhood are the concepts of selfishness and corruption. Nigerians don’t actually care about who suffers the consequencies of his/her actions. As long as he/she benefits, every other person can go to wherever.
Concomitantly, the ever – growing sense of despondency by the masses has transformed into a cankerworm where majority of the people now resort to the age-old maxim of ‘every man for himself’ which include theft and mismanagement of public funds and properties. Even if you do not want to partake, your neighbours will call you a fool.
This is already like the popular lyrics in town but in honesty, Corruption and selfishness is a sign of the deteriorating effect (or better put ‘non-existence’) of nationalism in the country.