-Patriotism – Practical Ways You can be Patriotic (Part 2)
To begin with, education is one major way of cultivating patriotism in the citizens of a country. However, in a situation whereby unpatriotic practices are learnt, propagated and promoted by leaders in the educational field, it will go a long way in jeopardizing every effort of the country to for instance, move from a developing country to a developed country.
One strategy which Singapore used to achieve that transition (and indeed transformation) was by taking the time, and through dedication and focus on goals, unselfishly investing in the country’s human capacity development. The persons at the helms of affair consistently kept before their eyes, the development of the country and the good of the common woman and man on the street – not just in words.
One does not need much effort to prove that education in Nigeria today is perhaps at its lowest ebb than at any other time (within the context of globalization and modern day educational systems). Anyone in Nigeria who disagrees with this statement may indeed be living in dreamland and certainly burying their head in the sand.
Patriotism in education requires that State governors make education a priority in their states. Some governors keep educational matters aside as they wade through their tenure going about things they think are more important to them. When State governors begin to give the needed priority to educational development in their states, the difference will be very obvious. Unfortunately, many state and federal universities in the country have been taken over by high and low level corruption. This begins from admission processes, to staff recruitment, to awarding of contracts, to grading of students, and the list goes on. Ask those who are in these institutions. They know better! They will tell you.
Quality education is not an impossible task. All the policies and necessary steps required are documented and need implementation Just that people still prefer to behave selfishly with so much impunity. It is such a sad thing that malpractices such as “Sorting” has become a norm in most universities in the country. Lecturers are paid in cash to obtain exam grades. I have also never understood how one pays for tuition (payment for instruction given by a tutor – Courses) and still have to go register the course with the lecturer by giving cash to the lecturer in order to have the student’s name put down to attend the class. Honestly? When such behaviors start changing, then we would be moving towards becoming more patriotic citizens.
Election periods are moments when leaders who want to get elected have an ample opportunity to exhibit a patriotic spirit towards their country. This could be in the form of having the right intent to get elected and indeed deliver to the people, not engaging in election malpractices, obeying the rule of law, and being able to concede to defeat after elections. Rather, what we see is that the fear of losing an election is such a scary one. Many politicians go to any length in order to win an election. Some go as far as blackmailing, assassinations, destruction of lives and property, calumny, creating false notions and fabricating false stories, engaging in rigging plots, and putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk, just to prove a point.
Politicians and their accomplices engage in all sorts of corrupt deals so as to get money to fund election campaigns or their candidates. For such politicians, democracy is not really “Power to the people”, but power by force and by every means possible. How on earth are such election candidates patriotic to their nation, when the issues motivating them towards being elected are far from the noble objective of bringing relief and succor to the community they intend to serve?
Someone said, the fear of relapsing into impoverishment is an unconscious one, which plays out in a person’s words and actions. This person has known real poverty while growing up and would today want nothing that has any shade of such life. One can see such attitudes in the way some politicians speak, clamour and canvass for votes with an insatiable hunger, as a damn hungry lion would. Sorry, it should not be a do or die affair.
Patriotism is exhibited when INEC officials or ad hoc staff inconvenience themselves in order to be present at their port of call to carry out their election duties promptly and efficiently. Nigerians too have given a lot. They stay in long queues, stay hungry, thirsty and endure discomfort just to cast their votes. Some voters, including NYSC members, have even lost their lives in the process.
After elections have taken place, the challenge lies with the elected leaders to demonstrate patriotism in the course of holding office. Of course, holding these leaders accountable is a patriotic duty we as citizens owe our country.
Infrastructural Development –
The move towards developing infrastructure is a huge necessity for any society that seriously want to be part of modern civilization. As citizens, we have often experienced successive governments come and go without really investing in infrastructure. Hence, whatever is on ground is overstretched and gets dilapidated.
Elected officials and government appointees carry a huge responsibility when it comes to exemplifying patriotism as regards infrastructural development. When you are in a position to either give contracts for or have any sort of influence over infrastructural development, what choices do you make?
A lot of these leaders at such juncture do not have the moral fortitude to differentiate between their personal interests and patriotic values associated with serving one’s community, jurisdiction and nation. Contracts are awarded to non-existing companies, and even when such exist, the necessary follow up is not done to ensure that quality infrastructure is provided, yet some persons have pocketed lots of money along the way.
In the meantime, citizens are left in the dark age of no electricity, bad roads, lack of public toilets, no water supply, no good drainages, dilapidated public buildings and offices, lack of affordable housing, lack of public sporting facilities, lack of efficient social welfare, and poor educational infrastructure. Are you really a patriotic citizen when you are in a position to influence these issues for the better, yet you don’t?
A common experience of Nigerians who travel to developed countries is the heartache one gets looking at infrastructures in those countries in comparison with what obtains in Nigeria. Yes, heartache because it is common knowledge that millions of US Dollars and billions of Naira have remained in individual pockets, and not necessarily through their very own sweat. In other words, we are somehow aware that we have the money to get these things working like we see elsewhere. We are not cursed, neither is our country cursed. We are just not patriotic enough to keep focus and get the right things done for the betterment of citizens and the larger society.
On the part of citizens, they are expected to pay tax to help the government develop and maintain needed infrastructure. Here, the question is, how can one keep paying tax and still not see its effect in terms of new infrastructure coming up? Nonetheless, we must keep paying our tax because that is how the system is meant to work. We see this in countries where taxes are properly utilized for public good. We must keep paying out tax and demand that it is used properly for the good of all citizens. This is patriotism.
Patriotic citizens do not contribute to the decay of the environment, rather they seek ways to keep it clean and protected. When I see a smartly dressed person drop refuse on the ground, be it paper, plastic bottle or a tin container, I always wonder, “Who does this person expect to pick up that refuse and dispose it properly such that the place remains clean.” I am tempted to immediately lose respect for such a person, when I see such act. However, the reality is that, we are all guilty of this environmental degradation in one way or the other.
Disposal of by-products (no longer called “wastes”) is a big challenge: Road-side traders pour refuse and fruit by-products into the drainage, passers-by throw whatever is in their hand into the gutters, recyclable materials from our offices and homes are not passed on to companies doing recycling, indiscriminate urination by mostly male folks, open air defecation, we do not reduce or reuse lots of materials, poor drainages constructed by contractors, and in some places roads have no drainage systems at all.
These practices make us a “live for today, die tomorrow” society. We are certainly not building an environment that will be conducive for our own children and grandchildren to live in. We actually shoot ourselves in the foot when we do not take these things to heart and indeed engage in practices that preserve the environment for future generations. Instead, caring for our environment is a great way of showing a patriotic attitude.
Religion is meant to be a way of worshiping a supreme being; a way of life that helps a person make positive choices that shape a good life for self and for all around. Religions generally have noble ideas and ideals. Patriotism, which is commitment to one’s community and nation invariably have a place in most religions. Though this is arguable, with what we see today.
Religion could indeed help people become better citizens of their country. Rather what we see is that, in the name of religion, atrocities are committed; political assassinations, people are defrauded, exploited and still others live a double life of pretense – all covered by religion.
In conclusion, every Nigerian must be patriotic enough to contribute positively to the growth, development, advancement of Nigeria, as well as work towards a better economic condition for the masses. It is not always about “what do I gain?” The paramount question should be, “Is it good for all concerned?”
In Nigerian, money is often stolen, not earned. Over the decades of several administration, looting of public funds have become the order of the day and many have done this with such impunity. Else, what explains the lack of proper infrastructure and stalled development projects in many communities?
Most of us long for a Nigeria where leaders in position can give exemplify patriotism in their various duties and responsibilities. We also long for a country where people are generally patriotic, honest, orderly, disciplined, good mannered, care for the environment, have great consideration for public good, and courteously watch our words in public spaces. But this begins with you and I.
The change we so passionately seek for our country actually begins with you and I.
We can indeed be patriotic citizens!
Long Live Nigeria! Long Live Mother Africa!
- Linda Ellah
Please See Similar Post: Patriotism: Practical Ways You can be Patriotic (Part 1)