Thursday, 20 June 2024 04:47

Editorial: National anthem and Akpabio’s theory of banditry

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio's statement that Nigeria would not have experienced banditry if the old national anthem had been retained is a perplexing and disheartening reflection of the disconnect between Nigeria's political leadership and the harsh realities faced by its citizens. Akpabio's assertion that a national anthem can influence such profound societal issues as insecurity and banditry raises serious questions about the intellectual rigour and priorities of those in power.

The notion that an anthem could prevent banditry is fundamentally flawed. Banditry, terrorism, and other forms of insecurity in Nigeria are deeply rooted in governance failures, economic disparity, and systemic corruption. Changing the national anthem does nothing to address these underlying issues. It neither puts food on the table of the impoverished nor provides the means for a better life. It does not stop the terrorists who exploit the nation's weaknesses or the bandits who prey on vulnerable communities.

The primary drivers of insecurity in Nigeria are multifaceted and complex. They include poverty, unemployment, inadequate education, and the government's failure to provide basic services. Moreover, the rampant corruption within political and administrative structures exacerbates these issues. Public funds meant for development and security often end up in the pockets of a few, leaving the majority to fend for themselves in increasingly dire conditions.

The Senate President's comments highlight a troubling trend among Nigeria’s political elite: a propensity to offer symbolic gestures instead of substantive solutions. The reinstatement of the old national anthem is a prime example of this, a symbolic act that does little to tackle the real issues at hand. Patriotism cannot be mandated through an anthem; it is cultivated through good governance, accountability, and genuine efforts to improve citizens' lives.

Furthermore, suggesting that an anthem could prevent violence by promoting brotherhood ignores the reality of Nigeria’s socio-political landscape. Patriotism and unity are fostered through equitable policies, justice, and inclusive governance. When citizens feel respected, valued, and fairly treated, they are more likely to develop a sense of national pride and unity. Conversely, when they are denied basic rights and opportunities, no anthem—no matter how nostalgic or well-intentioned—can inspire genuine patriotism.

The government's unwillingness and inability to tackle corruption is perhaps the most significant barrier to Nigeria's progress. Until there is a concerted effort to root out corruption at all levels, initiatives like changing the national anthem will remain superficial and ineffective. Real change requires transparency, accountability, and a commitment to upholding the rule of law.

In conclusion, the statement by Akpabio reflects a worrying lack of understanding of the true causes of Nigeria's challenges. It underscores the need for political leaders to engage with the reality of their citizens' lives and to focus on tangible solutions. Instead of relying on symbolic changes, the government must address the fundamental issues of corruption, poverty, and poor governance. Only then can Nigeria hope to achieve the security and prosperity its people deserve.

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