Sunday, 12 August 2007
Team Nigeria: A Perspective
Written by Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Events of the recent past, have demonstrated the immutable fact that Nigerians need national unity, and for that purpose, Nigerians urgently, must jettison petty family squabbles that arises from, what is at once, familial proximity and distance. And in this instance, familiarity clearly trumps insularity.
A simultaneous worldwide reaction by Nigerians on June 29th 2007 to the murder of Osamuyi Aikpitanhi, by the agents of the government of Spain, have removed every known and imagined obstacles or impediments to Nigeria’s national unity. Those who were ambivalent in the past, now have sufficient reasons to quit sitting on the fence in matters Nigerian. It is now clear, that a majority of Nigerians have no conundrum about our Nigerian-ness.
The cohesiveness by Nigerians, that was brought to bear on the Aikpitanyi murder by Spain, belie a great national issue. Leadership. When there is good leadership that marshals important national issues, with acute sense of purpose, and direction, with vision and foresight, a majority of Nigerians would rally to worthy Nigerians causes. This is what the responses to the call to arms, on June 29th 2007 exemplifies. It was catalytic!
The only confusion that I had, if at all, was whether, I should be happy or sad. I was happy, for the unity of action brought about, even though a very mournful and sorrowful event had caused our commonalities to shine from Abuja to Lagos, New York to London, Madrid and Dublin etc It was exciting to be part of an international efforts for a national cause. There was a sour-sweet feel, it was a painful sour-sweetness in the circumstances.
It was as if we had an itch, in an open wound, which needed to be scratched so badly, in order to assuage the itch, while at the same time, quite mindful and careful in the inexorable urge to scratch this itching irritation, without, at the same time, aggravating the wound. Nigerians mourned a compatriot, on June 29, 2007; the unity that arose from that, is worth every celebration, a celebration, without appearing to dance and clap at our compatriot’s funeral. A delicate celebration in the midst of a dirge.
And so it was, that on June 29th 2007, Nigerians worldwide and friends of Nigerians-Nigeria, together, rallied, demonstrated and participated, with incredible support for the protest that was staged to keep in public view, the tortured, brutal and horrific murder of a Nigerian citizen, Osamuyi Aikpitanyi by Spaniards, who were forcefully deporting him out of Spain to Nigeria.
Our collective outrage and grief, wrought upon us, an unfathomable cohesion across the usual and assumed negative common denominators of disagreements, mutual suspicions among regions, religions and ethnicities.
Many Nigerians and other Africans have been murdered in Europe in circumstances, similar to that of the brutal murder of Osamuyi Aikpitanyi by agents of the government of Spain. And such murders in the past have been without as much as a whimper of protests.
The difference between the past murders of Nigerians in the Diaspora, and the current one under discussion, is simply that a Nigerian in Padova, Italy, Mr. J.J Oguzie bothered at all to alert the rest of us. He alerted the world and Nigeria in particular, through his public comments there were published at www.nigeriavillagesquare.com
And a welter of support worldwide followed, with expression of deep outrage which flowed from subsequent comments. Suggestions from debates, which eventually culminated in what turned out to be a groundbreaking event; A first of its kind, epoch making, in the new global village, which is made possible for Nigerians by internet technology coordination, it was a virtual village square, it was certainly a surreal world, global communications and all.
All these occurred against the backdrop and near auto-response of apathy and distinctive nonchalance by some Nigerians to matters Nigerian or issues affecting Nigeria.
All these took place against the unique background of a near scientific belief, by some Nigerians, a belief in the absence or lack of a feeling of unity of purpose among Nigerians.
All these transpired, and by all accounts, with endearing proofs, in very successfully executed audio, video and still-pictures, testament to these momentous undertakings in the name of Nigeria.
Nigerians were united on June 29th 2007, for a common purpose. And, suddenly, we Nigerians, could mention each other, in the same sentence and in the hot-pursuit of a common national goal. We Nigerians were pursuing an interest together, and in unison. And with that, we inevitably drew a line in the sands, to the effect that an attack on one of our compatriots, as it was in Spain, is an attack on all of us!
Suddenly, we could say coalition and cohesiveness by all stripes and strata of Nigerians worldwide, and with unflinching support of our non-Nigerian friends, we acted as Nigerians seeking justice for Nigerians in the name of Nigeria!
Nigerians of all strata worldwide, were awakened as full blooded and red-hot blooded Nigerians. There were bells and whistles, and a no-holds-barred outpourings. Nigerians and our friends rallied, in response to one clarion call. Nigerians with bells and whistles, with supports and encouragements from far and near, from friends and well-wishers, trotted out under a global umbrella, interlaced in two bright and vibrant colors.
Our national flag of deep green bordering a white center, was hoisted and raised worldwide. Our deep forest-hunter green which is parsed proportionally, in the middle, with dazzling white of fresh snow, was raised in a majority of world capitals and wherever Nigerians lived. The Nigerian flag of green and white, as white as the open inside crevice of a mature coconut, was proudly raised for the dignity of Nigerians. We marched and marched under this huge virtual worldwide umbrella, replete with our glowingly beautiful national colors.
Nigerians made a point by rising to this occasion. By engaging in a hugely symbolically meaningful act, in the defense of one of our dead, and invariably, in the defense of ourselves, yes, our very selves! This amounted to the defense of one, and the defense of all
Our faith in our clout, our abilities and the wherewithal, to do more, thus, have been, established and without question!
We must now harness our "new" found voice, albeit, a voice was there, all the time, our new found coalition, cohesiveness and unity of purpose, for national good, for all Nigerians and for Nigeria.
Prior to these rallies, protests, and what now seems like a rediscovery of ourselves as Nigerians, irrevocably linked, entwined, and intertwined, even if in a surprisingly accidental find of self-confidence; It was, and it is, the case that, the absence of national unity of purpose, to coalesce into fruitful endeavors have, in the past prevented our country from achieving greater heights nationally and globally. This new unstated agreement amongst Nigerians, to act think globally and act locally for Nigeria, is profoundly, exciting!
This unstated agreements, that has turned in favor of Nigeria, will, hereafter, correct the absence of national purpose, which bedevils every issue and every Nigerians endeavors, which bedevils every efforts geared toward addressing them.
This lack of national purpose, and a sense of belonging or possessing stakes in the outcome of what becomes of our national interests, is perennial, it has become rather pervasive and all permeating and endemic; An affliction, which is suffered by political leaders, business leaders and even many of Nigeria’s average citizens, Adamu, Bola and Chime.
This aloofness and detachments, allows public officials to engage in selfishly egregious pillage and plunder of our public wealth or patrimony. This leads to disenchantment, in the citizenry, which in turn, have led some Nigerian soccer players, who are star strikers for foreign teams, to treat playing for Nigeria with levity. Haven’t we all?
Playing soccer on behalf of Nigeria, during important matches between Nigeria and other competing nations, is treated, for the most parts, as if unworthy of full efforts and full throttle stamina, by some Nigerian top soccer players. It is as if it is nothing worthy of full attention or priority. The result is that, such Nigerian athlete grudgingly, report to training camps and report often very late, and then, they are quick to resort to flouting reasonable rules intended for team unity, cohesion and achievement. Such athlete are frequently insubordinate, only observing rules in the breach.
Such athlete have been known to play games without focus, or play while willfully distracted. Some play, as if to exhibit or advertise the self, instead of the exhibition of a superior winning skill and spirit. A team spirit.
In real terms, and in metaphorical soccer terms, there are qualified and competent Nigerians in every field of human endeavors. There are Nigerian teams that are superbly equipped to make Nigeria a power-house! To make Nigeria win at every Olympics and World Cup soccer.
AND, oh! There are Nigerians, in "teams" in every field of non-sports human competition; be it in the field of medicine, science, business or legal fields etc; They are ready, willing and able. They need a clarion call and a corralling of energies for Nigeria’s national purpose. We should be advised, that a national call to arms, could be issued by you, a political leader or a business leader, or anyone for that matter, as did J. J. Oguzie in June 2007. A journey of a thousand miles, begins with the first steps!
Nigerians can from now on, play as a team in every field, and exhibit team spirit, harness our "new" found unity, coalition and cohesiveness for our national purpose. What may depend on all these, and on us? the development, advancement and greatness of Nigeria!