The country Nigeria, officially known today as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory. Nigeria is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea, part of the Atlantic Ocean, in the south. The capital city is Abuja. The people of Nigeria have an extensive history, and archaeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BC. The Benue-Cross River area is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BC and the 2nd millennium AD.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the eighth most populous country in the world with a population of over 150 million. The country is listed among the “Next Eleven” economies, and is one of the fastest growing in the world with the International Monetary Fund projecting growth of 9% in 2008.
The flag of Nigeria was designed in 1959 and first officially hosted on October 1, 1960. The green bands represent the forests and abundant natural wealth of Nigeria while the white band stands for peace. The designer was a student from Ibadan, by name Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi.
The National Anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots” was adopted in 1978. The lyrics are a combination of words and phrases taken from five of the best entries in a national contest. The words were put to music by the Nigerian Police Band under the directorship of Benedict Elise Odiase.
The Nigeria Coat of Arms constitutes and represents so many things about the country. The black shield represents the good earth of Nigeria. The silver wavy bands represent the rivers Niger and Benue. The white horses (the two supporters) represent dignity. The eagle represents strength. The wreath is in the colors of the Nigerian flag. The ground on which the bearings stand is Coctus Spectablis, which is a common wild flower found throughout Nigeria.
The Nigerian National Pledge is a patriotic statement or promise made to the nation, with an obligation to live in accordance with its laws, rules or regulations; it is an affirmation, promise or undertaking made to show one’s love, loyalty and respect for his fatherland. The Nigerian Pledge runs like this:
I pledge to Nigeria my country
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity
And uphold her honour and Glory
So help me God.
Nigeria’s official currency is the Naira. The Naira was introduced in 1973 to replace the pound sterling at a rate of 2 Naira per pound. This made Nigeria the last state to abandon the British currency system (£sd). The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on January 1st 1973 introduced notes for 50 kobo, 1,5,10 and 20 Naira and Coins of ½, 1, 5, 10 and 25 Kobo. A new bank note denomination of the value of 20 Naira was also issued on the 11th February, 1977. Then N20 note was made the highest denomination to be introduced. It is also the first currency note to bear the portrait of a Nigeria Citizen, that is, the late Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed. Three denominations of new currency notes of (N1), (N5), and (NI0) were equally introduced on the 2nd July, 1979. Subsequently in December 1999, November 2000, April 2001 and October 1st, 2005, the CBN introduced a new N100, N200, N500 and N1000 currency notes, respectively. And on February 28th 2007, polymer notes of N50, N20, N10, and N5 were introduced alongside coins of Nl.50k, and N2.
Divided into three major ethnic groups: Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, with six geographical zones namely South-East, South-South, South-West, North-East, North-East, North-West and North-Central, Nigeria boasted under the Late President Musa Yar’adua to be among the top 20 industrialized economy in the world by the year 2020; have zero tolerance for corruption; address tension in Niger Delta sub-region; arrest power failure in Nigeria; accommodate all its citizens irrespective of political, ethnic, or religious groups; make all political office holders servant leaders, making the government to be one that listens to the cries of the people, and; have a clear separation of power without interfering in the activities of other arms of government. All these are summarized under the 7-point Agenda which the present Nigerian government under the leadership of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan agreed to address and work with.
In fact, the agenda has become more pronounced today and it includes Power and Energy, Food Security, Wealth Creation, Transport Sector Reforms, Land Reforms, Security and Education. However, it beats our imagination that a government which is bent on fighting corruption will fold its arms and watch some forms of illegality thriving in the name of a certain constitutional “immunity” clause for public servants. The case of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Oladimeji Bankole, is still fresh in our memory. With all the reports and counter reports about the misbehaviours of the members of the National Assembly, they were allowed to carry on with the work of law-making even in error.
So many illegalities were allowed to progress for too long in our National Assemblies and Houses of Assembly. There cases where Speakers, or Presidents of the Senate together with other Members of the House, are either impeached or illegally suspended but nothing was done to those that masterminded the illegal actions, even when the courts reversed their actions. In some cases, it will take the Members of the House a century to reverse their acts of irresponsibility. The former Senate President, Evan Enwerem, was a clear example. The House impeached him as their Senate President, only to reverse their decision at his death with a claim that his impeachment was “political”.
A common man would have gone to jail for such act. Another case in mind is that of Patricia Etteh, an erstwhile Speaker of the House of Representatives, who was removed on allegations of misappropriation of funds. At the end of the 6th National Assembly, the House of Representatives unanimously handed her a clean bill of health, claiming that her removal was also “political”, after the damage has been done. Do we still trust these people, as Honourable Members of the House? Believe me, these attitudes are not speaking well of a nation that is bent in fighting corruption!
However, it sounds confusing when we talk about Nigeria as ONE NATION. By implication Nigeria is more than one. Take a look at the appointments into the public service. It is funny that ethnic and religious sentiments always dictate the way appointments are given. That the country’s security network is in jeopardy today is because a section of the country keeps dominating the Armed Forces and the Police. A one-sided security network is at height of ethnic and religious politics. Also, the incessant political unrest, bomb blasts and religious crisis that tend to rock the boat of Nigeria’s progress is not unconnected with the multiplicity of the Nigerian nation.
Is Nigeria truly one nation? Answering in the affirmative means that we should learn to see others the same way we see ourselves. When we take away selfishness, greed, religious extremism, ethnic barriers, and other corrupt practices and learn to appreciate one another, Nigeria will be better for it. We understand that it is high time we started building a UNITED, PEACEFUL NIGERIA, when we begin to understand that what is good for us, is equally good for the others. It is when we start realizing that the life we refused to waste today, may turn out to be a deliverer tomorrow. Let us drop greed, selfishness and other corrupt tendencies, which are today transforming into the unpatriotic acts carrying bombs, guns, machetes, clubs, fuels and fire, etc to embrace peace, unity, progress and prosperity. We are truly not enemies to one another – we are one people – we are ONE NIGERIA!
The whole world today is watching us, whether we will continue progressively in unity or break apart. Let us live in peace and tell them that indeed, we are ONE PEOPLE!!!