Nation building and demands of citizenship

Nation building and demands of citizenship

To suggest that the advancement of any society chiefly hangs on the elements of homogeneity and lateral filial connections is a self-determining fallacy. Nature bubbles in divergence and eclecticism. The beauty and wonders of our world are by the fashioning of heterogeneous intelligence. Man was not made to be culturally, socially, morphologically, and linguistically unipolar.

So, in essence, Nigeria’s multiformity is not the dominating factor for its seeming ungovernability. Rather, it is the abuse and exploitation of differences; abnegation of civic duty, denuded understanding of citizenship, refusal to submit to the collective interest, native nationalism, and the absence of a rallying identity and cause, that are the denominators of Nigeria’s quandary.

Those who say Nigeria needs to splinter according to ethnic determination to achieve unity, peace and progress are ignorant of the complexities of natural design. “Presumed homogeneity” does not guarantee unity, peace, or progress among a people.

In fact, a good number of the world’s most successful countries are so endowed by the nourishment and talents of their diverse population. There is wealth in diversity.

More so, homogeneity does not exist in the true sense of the word among any ethnic classification. For instance, in the South-East, which is wrongly viewed as a homogenous society, there are subgroups and splinter groups within the entity. There are also many varying derivative dialects across communities and towns, some of which native Igbo speakers may not understand.

The variant of Igbo spoken in my native town is different from that spoken in other towns within the same state. There is also no homogeneity in religion. And there have been cases of clashes among communities over differences bordering on politics, land, and other contentions. In fact, my native town and a neighbouring town do not agree. There is still a dispute over land to date.

So, essentially, the argument that a Nigeria carved up along sectional contours will become united and prosperous is a slothful one. It shows a vacancy of thought and reason. Nigeria’s challenge is not its diversity, but the unwillingness of its leadership and followership to be deliberate citizens.

We are citizens of Nigeria by the fashioning of fate, marriage, or naturalisation. But are we deliberate about our citizenship? Being deliberate citizens implies a commitment to the ethos of the country and a discharge of our responsibility to fatherland.

The 1999 constitution (as amended) spells out these responsibilities as: “Section 24 (a)

It shall be the duty of every citizen to – (As Nigerians, we owe our country to do the following:) abide by this Constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the National Flag, the National Anthem, the National Pledge, and legitimate authorities; (Obey the constitution and respect our national authorities and icons;)

 “Section 24 (b)

help to enhance the power, prestige, and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria, and render such national service as may be required; (Promote Nigeria’s reputation and power and defend the country if the need arises;)

 “Section 24 (c)

respect the dignity of other citizens and the rights and legitimate interests of others and live in unity and harmony and in the spirit of common brotherhood; (Live in peace and unity with all others, respecting their own individual rights;)

 “Section 24 (d)

make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress, and well-being of the community where he resides; (Support the development of your local community;)

 “Section 24 (e)

render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order; and (Help government agencies maintain the law;)

 “Section 24 (f)

declare his income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and pay his tax promptly. (Declare and pay the truthful and complete tax on time.)”

 My interest here is in section 24 (b) and (c) which stipulates that as citizens we must promote Nigeria and defend its reputation as well as respect the dignity of other citizens and live in unity and harmony and in the spirit of common brotherhood.

 It takes deliberate citizenship to actuate these ideals. It takes an attuned citizenry to live by the laid downs of our constitution. Clearly, we have been remiss in this regard.

 Nation building is, by and large, citizens doing the building. There is the place of leadership, but the office of the citizen is a critical trigger for the change we seek. We cannot abandon the responsibility of building Nigeria to anyone.

 Nation-building will not be possible if a number of citizens are largely ignorant or insouciant about their part in solving the puzzle. The leadership can do its bit, but in our pottery wheel lies the greater task of moulding Nigeria the way we want it to be.

By Fredrick Nwabufo, Nwabufo aka Mr OneNigeria is a media executive.

Fredrick Nwabufo, Nwabufo a.k.a Mr OneNigeria, is a writer and journalist

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