The Moral Courage To See: On Nigeria’s 55th Independence Day

By Comrade Adebiyi Saint Skempo

(National Chairman of The Pathfinders Movement Nigeria) being a press release on the 55th Independence Day Anniversary of Nigeria.

From the era which dates the national existence of the Nigerian people,dates also a mighty step in the journey of human knowledge and it is consistent with that principle in our conformation which inspires us to rejoice in the good which befalls our existence as a nation,and to sorrow for the evil, that our hearts should expand on this day.Today which calls to memory the conquest achieved by willing cooperation over blind obedience,knowledge over ignorance,opinion over prejudice,peaceful coexistence over tribal wars and crisis,unity in diversity over political disunity and individual chicanery,new ways over old ways-when, 55 years ago,Nigeria declared her national independence,and associated it three years later with her republic federation.Reasonable is it to rejoice on this day,and useful to reflect thereon;so that we rejoice for the real and not any imaginary good; and reflect on the positive advantages obtained,and on those which it is ours farther to acquire.

Politically,the independence of a country can be viewed from two angles,the corporate and the individual from the words of the late sage Obafemi Awolowo; a country is said to be free only when it has unqualified control over its internal affairs.On the other hand, a citizen of an independent country enjoys individual freedom when he is free to say and do what he likes,subject only to laws enacted by the freely elected parliament or the popular legislative assembly of the land but how do you strike a balance between this two entities,looking back for instance from 1960 to date,Nigeria has so descended from the Olympian heights of the highly intellectual and ideological era of the Awos, the Ziks etc to the nadir era of petty political jobbers who lacks the basic philosophical insights of the peoples plights as they have display over time rank insensitivity to the unenviable situation of things in the country on one hand while on the other hand we are also witnessing a dissent in the lofty heights of patriotism.The anglo-american social reformer Frances Wright defined patriotism as expressing a love for the public good, a preference for the interests of the many to those of the few; a desire for the emancipation of the human race from the thrall of religious and civil despotism.Suffice to say then that a depreciation in patriotism is a malady that even law cannot cure.

At 55, poverty is still a common denominator either in the north or south,dilapidated infrastructure is still a rallying factor either in the east or west,escalated insecurity is a common hydra-headed monster plaquing the length and breadth of the country,poor educational facilities is prevalent in the six geo-political zones,outdated and obsolete health facilities can be seen all over the country;it is worthy to infer therefore as the US writer and orator Fredrick Douglas wrote that today is yours, not mine,you may rejoice, I must mourn because to drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty,and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems is inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony because as an adult at 55 we have learnt that the hope of our childhood and the promises of our mature years are nothing but unfinished symphonies.

Moreover,like a Phoenix out of her ashes,i strongly believe there is light at the end of the tunnel,i see a beam of hope radiantly inscribed in the skies,i foresee a time when the metastatic effect of bad governance will be a thing of the past and we shall take our rightful place in the comity of nations,but to achieve this however,there is need for moral rearmament and conscious re-awakening of the confidence we have lost in ourselves and in the system,we must rekindle our internal locus for self evaluation and know that salvation will not come from the political parties of today that are highly skilled in different pocket-enrichment mechanisms but in ourselves as political assertion emanates from inner convictions of ideological clear-headedness. Today in our polity we are witnessing a battle for the soul of our country among the devil and the deep blue sea;one swallows up and delivers to you a quick death while the other takes time to kill in bits with temporary relief coming at each terminal interval.

The people must truely see themselves as the the patriots upon which the very fabric of every advanced societies are built knowing fully well that a patriot is a useful member of the society,capable of enlarging all minds and bettering all hearts with which he comes in contact;a useful member of the human family,capable of establishing fundamental principles and of merging his own interests, those of his associates,and those of his nation,in the interest of the human race.The people must be the third force, the sort that acts as an eficacious, potent and political institutional armada in the form of a check and balance.

The people must be the arrowhead and pilot of the truly desired change by engaging the government at all times and in all government’s policy. The people must take the drivers seat and begin to amass manifestos that truly reflect on our basic needs.We must clearly become the genuine alternative to the present day crops of political class who sees nothing wrong in a governor building a multi-billion Naira self-acclaim world class hospital only to run to a medical facility abroad at the slightest scratch of a minor car accident,the sort that constructs two boreholes for 138m Naira, the type that defaults in payment of workers salaries for 8months predicating it on low allocation and economic crisis or the sort under whose very nose $20billion suddenly grew wings and disappeared into thin air.

I think today has given us another opportunity to ruminate on the much distance we still must cover before we can have a Nigeria where equality,justice and progress shall reign.To achieve this however,we must eschew any kind of dogmatic partisanship-be it political or ethnical,and we must allow our thinking and reasoning to be guided by complete objectivity and rationality. Our hearts too must be ruled by unconquerable goodwill and irrepressible earnestness for Nigeria’s continued oneness.And our aspirations must be unflinchingly directed towards normative social objectives which are scientifically oriented.We must rid ourselves of political hypocrisy and cultivate patient endurance, diligently to search for truth,the insight to discover it,the moral courage to proclaim it to a hostile audience,and the tolerance not only to be charitable to those who disagree with violently with you on ethnic,religious or political grounds but also to acknowledge the truth in whatever quarters it may be formed.

Finally,the gloom of this world is but a shadow and there is radiance in darkness if we could but see;to be able to see this radiance,all we need to do is cultivate the courage to look and the insight to apprehend the light which shines at all times and in all places,for those who make truth the object of their pursuit.We shall overcome and Nigeria shall be great again.

Long live The Pathfinders’ Movement Nigeria!
Long live Nigeria!
Viva Struggle!.