Its Nigeria’s armed Forces Remembrance day and together with all Nigerians, Stanley Bentu Online remembers the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price to keep our country together.
While we honour their contributions to our great nation, let us ask ourselves if we have shown enough appreciation for what they fought and died for without thinking twice. Do we show enough appreciation for the symbols of our nation? Do we truly value what Nigeria stands for and why we are here? When we sing “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain” do we fully understand the oath we swear?
Recently, US based South African Talk Show host of the daily show, Trevor Noah, lampooned President Donald Trump for not knowing the words of the American national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”
In a three minute rant, Noah poked fun at Trump for mouthing the anthem the same way youngsters sing a Rihanna song, that is excitedly yelling the known lyrics while humming the unknown.
In Nigeria, bumping into citizens who do not know the words of the national pledge or anthem is fairly common. However, over the years, there has been an ever increasing number of top government officials who attend screenings for plum appointments that are unable to recite either of the two.
Our disconnect with national symbols does not stop there. The government has attempted numerous times to end the culture of spraying and stepping on the Naira at ceremonies without much success
Add to that, the filthy torn flags that are flown throughout the day and night at offices and government buildings prove that there is much to be done if Nigerians are to appreciate and value national symbols.
But why are these symbols important anyway? National symbols are very important to a country for following way
They represent country as a unit. They are synonymous with the country & people of Nigeria as one indivisible unit.
They show to the world what we value & what our vision is. For example, the green colour in Nigerian flag shows its agrarian economy & the white symbolyses the peace of its people.
Symbols are used to project country as a nation against colonial empire and the struggle of those who laid down their lives to establish or grow the state.
They are also used to motivate and inspire.
In this two part discussion, I discuss national symbols with a director of the National Orientation Agency, Ngozi Ekeoba and later discuss with John E Mutu, a governance reforms specialist about the Nigerian constitution as a living document to be perfected over time.