Some years ago, we could watch Bolton, Portsmouth, Middleborough, etc., all play football because we had the likes of Kanu, Jay Jay, Yakubu, etc., in those teams, not because we were fans of the clubs. These clubs were not top-flight, but because we had Nigerians in them, we really wanted to see our countrymen dazzle in Europe. I know a lot of persons who became fans of Chelsea just because Mikel rose to become a regular feature for the club. But today, this is no longer so.
Gentlemen and ladies of the human race, it seems to me that as we grow older there is something “Nigeria” that dies in us. It becomes so dead such that “the older you get the easier it is to forget the lyrics of the national anthem and the exact word-composite of the national pledge”. Little kids in nursery and primary schools are very quick to identify as Nigerians. They memorize everything Nigeria and scream the loudest, proclaiming how Nigerian they are. Sadly, as they grow, their brains become so clean that they find it difficult recalling Nigeria for anything good.
I ask, what is it that goes wrong? Should it be that the more we grow into adults, the more the reality of the coldness of our country towards its citizens? Or does growing old mean hatred for what was loved at infancy?
However we choose to answer these questions and several others, we must agree that with the passing of time for each Nigerian, the passion to be Nigerian drops. The faces of our leaders don’t excite. The identities of our symbols fade in our memories.
The truth is, every great country is first great in the minds and hearts of its citizens. Edwin Markham puts it simply, “to build a nation, first build the men in it”. If the concept of Nigeria is dead in the hearts of the many Nigerians expected to fly its flags, then it is just a matter of time for the chickens to come to roost.