Does Nigeria ‘Belong To Us’?

“(1) To appreciate the profound danger of claiming that our country belongs to us rather than we belong to her, we need to understand the decisive difference between the two. The first is that the former carries enormous reward and profit but little or no responsibility, while the latter entails duties, service, sacrifice and a whole range of demanding responsibilities. It is the difference between owning and being owned; between the social contract that binds a nation and its citizen, and the master-servant protocol that comes with ownership and possession.

(2) Ownership brings reward and profit while being owned carries hard work, often at the behest of the owner. You only need to examine this bogus claim in the context of John F. Kennedy’s famous “ask not…” inaugural exhortation to realise the absurdity of “Nigeria belongs to all of us”. Against the backdrop of the Capitol Building on January 20, 1961, the youthful 35th president of the United States called on his fellow Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.

(3) For many outside the Western world, especially in the emerging post-colonial Third World, it was a redefinition of the concept of citizenship; for others in the more advanced democracies it was a reaffirmation. Thus Kennedy’s call transcended his own nation and impacted on a world where many citizens in welfare states like Britain had become accustomed to having something for nothing, while in post-colonial Africa where citizens were looking up to the state for nearly everything, Kennedy’s call dashed hopes.

(4) I have, for instance, come to judge the difference between power holders in Africa, and Nigeria in particular and the more advanced countries, by a simple parameter. Check out the wrist watches many African presidents wear, vis-a-vis their Western counterparts.  We wear customized, diamond-encrusted Rolex or Philippe Patek that can pay for a small secondary school. But take a look at Barack Obama’s or David Cameron’s wrist and you see a cheap ORIS with rubber straps.

(5) Similarly our wives, especially our gubernatorial first ladies, are walking jewellery shops from head to toe, in contrast to their foreign counterparts who are models of simplicity. I am often curious to imagine what foreign donors privately think of our ostentatious display of affluence amidst our endemic poverty, ignorance and disease.” 

Dr Eddie Iroh (#making the ink from his pen bleed!)

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Does Nigeria ‘Belong To Us’?, Articles | THISDAY LIVE


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