Let’s start by defining patriotism, not because you do not know it but just to put the concept in proper perspective. Patriotism simply put, is love of country. It is the love of one’s own country! A patriot therefore is one who loves his country and is therefore willing and capable of defending it and its institutions. A man who defends only his tribe is not a patriot, he is an ethnic chauvinist. A man who defends only his business and uses that business to wreck his country, he is not a patriot, he is a profiteer and a robber baron.
A man who uses his position in the civil service to subvert his nation and its ideals is not a patriot; he is nothing but a saboteur. A General who embezzles money set aside for arms and ammunitions, food and rations for soldiers, no matter his prostrations, such a man is not a patriot, he is a murderer, a saboteur and an aider and abettor of Boko Haram terrorists. Any minister who cannot deliver public services despite the huge sums allocated to his ministry is not a patriot, he is a fraud and a scammer.
No matter how he or she grandstands, so long as his/her tenure does not advance the cause of the citizenry and the cause of the nation, he is minus.
A governor who rather than pay wages engages in citizen dehumanisation through endless verification exercises, such a one is not a patriot but a robber and an anarchist. A politician who peddles hate speech and hate actions, a leader who practices corruption and nepotism, such a one is not a patriot, he is an ethnic champion and civilisation destroyer!
Conversely, a patriot is that individual who works for the good of his country. He is that person who works to advance the citizens and does everything possible to engineer and sustain the public good. He will abstain from everything capable of making his nation a mockery. He will use his office, his influence and his power to do and raise the living standards of his people. He will promote Made-in-Nigeria goods and ensure funding for innovative manufacturers. He will use his office to ensure good roads and affordable social services within his circle of influence.
A patriotic leader will not drive in a convoy of cars when his people are starving. He will not allow scarce state resources to be used for the importation of fancy luxury cars and jeeps, rather he will limit government purchases to Made-in-Nigeria cars thus using that gesture to both grow employment as well as promote patriotism.
A patriotic governor will ensure that education in his state is good enough for everyone including his own children. A patriotic governor will not travel by private jet while the citizenry are travelling by foot and bicycle!
A patriotic leader will work to build up his own nation. People say it was money that built Dubai, I disagree, it was not money, it was patriotism. People say it was money that built India, I disagree, it was not money. India was built by patriotism. That country developed under the steam of leaders who had a plan, a plan aimed at pulling India to a level where it could compete with the rest of the world. India had nothing but it had patriotic leaders.
South Korea once borrowed money from Nigeria for wages in that country, Malaysia once came here for palm seedlings, and this great nation has made contributions for the survival of Great Britain! Our nation is so blessed that it is practically impossible for it to fail but it is on the verge of collapse before our very eyes simply because the elite and the leaders are just unpatriotic! They eat foreign food and they drink foreign wine and imported water! They wear fancy foreign clothes and many are known to bring in their tailors from Bangladesh and Saville Row of London.
They undermine our education by using funds meant for public education to train their wards abroad. They undermine local manufacturing by hoisting ruinous taxes and charges while freely allowing the smuggling of goods into the country. We once had thriving motor assembly plants, where are these plants now? We once had truck and lorry assembly factories, we even had a thriving DICON that should today be a front runner in defence equipment manufacture. Alas, the elites who ran it ran it down to a point where we began to see DICON brand of salt in the market. Unpatriotic Nigerian elites used our money, our mandate to turn a Defence Company into a salt seller!
To get this country right, we need patriotic elites in power. The set of leaders who think it is okay to fly private jets cannot rescue Nigerians, those are but slave owners and bumbling wannabe elites who mistakenly think that consumerism is akin to civilisation and development. We need elites who can see and transform the huge potentials in this great country. We need elites who will look for the best hands in building this country. We need elites who recognise that Nigeria is on the brink, not just because the elites are corrupt but mainly because the elites are lazy, unpatriotic, brainless and clueless.
This great and blessed nation has been killed by unpatriotic acts of leaders over time. Why don’t we have motorable roads? Are the rulers so ignorant that they do not know that roads are the arteries and veins of a nation? Can you grow an economy that has no roads? Can you grow an economy in which the citizenry has no purchasing power? Can you grow a country in which only 17 per cent of the nation’s budget is spent on capital projects? Can we grow a nation where only 7 per cent is dedicated to education? No we cannot!
Only the patriotic elites can set Nigeria on a path of recovery and growth, not these money guzzling unpatriotic individuals that currently hold our nation to ransom while they feed fat. When the leaders are patriotic then the citizens will follow suit. But for the leaders to turn around and blame the citizens for lack of patriotism is deceit.