Independence Day - October 1st 2022

I remembered a colleague at work asking me about Nigeria and all. Asking me about my allegiance to the country. I said I am a Nigerian first before anything else and I understand that many people would want to say bad things about the country. Yes, I take responsibility for the bad things because it is what it is. I also would take responsibility for the good things and there is no better analogy to explain that with two prayers! May Nigerian not to happen to you? This prayer is deeply rooted in some of the policy problems that needs to be fixed in the country and how the system may frustrate you from banditry, corruption, and kidnapping. However, nobody talks about may Nigeria happen to you. When I served in Edo State, my landlady would cook for me and we would all share. I would also get from their farm produce. I have seen people rally around to support a stranger who have lost their ways. One of the beautiful people you can find on earth are Nigerians but no one speaks about that.

I was back in Nigeria some few weeks ago and it is so good to reconnect with the Nigerian spirit again. To see people wake up at 4:30 am early in the morning to ensure they can put food on the table for their kids or they can afford to pay for school fees. I saw commercial bike riders, who have know choice but to work in the rain so that they can pay back the loan they owe. I was in Abuja too and I saw how people hustle in traffic to sell and the same in Lagos. People not wanting to steal and all they demand is at least Good Governance and the ability to live a decent life. I engaged Uber drivers on policy issues and I could recall engaging a female bolt driver, who is on the street to enable her cater for her family and there is just so much wisdom she possessed and her believe that someday, change would happen. I saw Nigerians hinging to hope and brimming with pride.
I know sometimes, when you are out of the country, the news that kept coming are the bad news but there are good news too. There are two sides to a coin and it's high time we start focusing on the other coin of the Nigerian story. The “May Nigeria Happen to You” prayer.
And for those leaving the country (myself inclusive), that no matter where we go, we would always be Nigerians, and even, if we have dual citizenship, you would always be asked, what is your other country? If anything happens on the outside, we will still fall back on the inside! It's our home and there is no place like one’s land. The heart always knows where the home is and we need to reckon with that.
Today, I am celebrating Nigerians! Who will wake up with smiles every morning and still go to work despite the hardship. I am celebrating Nigerians who will decide to look out for their neighbors and provide them with shelters. I am celebrating Nigerians who believe there is a dividend in labour and work hard because they believe in hard work.
No matter where I go, where I visit, or where I live, I am a Nigerian first before anything else.
Hammed Kayode Alabi (c) 2022

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