To be a patriot of one's country is to serve your nation and uphold her integrity.
Arise O’ Compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey.
These are the first two lines of the Nigerian national anthem. I must have said these lines over a thousand times from when I started nursery school till my last days in secondary school.
It is etched in my memory and it would never fade away. There are millions of young Nigerians like myself who know these words by heart. I guess the main focus should be do we mean what we say?
The third line of the anthem starts with “to serve our fatherland” which is a call to patriotism.
How patriotic are you?
To be a Nigerian is more than just being born in this country. It is more than supporting the Super Eagles when a football match is on. Proudly Naija is more than a tagline. It is a way of life.
To be patriotic means to me intensely loyal to one’s country. The first two lines of the National pledge goes thus “I pledge to Nigeria my country. To be faithful, loyal and honest.”
Apart from being loyal to Nigeria, you need to have faith to be patriotic. Faith here does not represent one of the Christian attributes. It means faith in Nigeria. It means having faith that Nigeria will one day rise in the league of nations to become a world power and indeed the giant of Africa.
When we hear the words patriotism, we think about laying down your life for the country. Patriotism is about doing your absolute best and contributing your quota to make sure Nigeria is the country of our dreams. This means in participating in nation building activities.
Many of us murmur and grumble that we have been shortchanged by the Nigerian system. This is not how to move things forward and make progress.
It is unpatriotic to complain about the system and not do anything about it. It is unpatriotic to have a general apathy towards politics and governance.
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Real patriots belong to a political party. Real patriots are involved in local politics. Real patriots care about what is going on in their local government and Aso Rock. Real patriots criticize the country when the need arises but never bad mouth it in public. Real patriots pay taxes.
The third line of the pledge summarizes this well. “To serve Nigeria with all my strength” highlights one of the principles of patriotism, service. If you do not serve your country, you are not patriotic. You have to do it with all the God given talent and resources at your disposal.
“To defend her unity, and uphold her honor and glory.” We hold these words from the pledge, composed by Prof (Mrs.) Felicia Adebola Adedoyin in 1976, to be self evident that you cannot be patriotic if you do not defend the integrity of your nation.
You don’t have to carry a rifle and go the war front to be a patriot. All you have to do is play your part in making the dreams of Nigeria’s founding fathers come true.
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