Theory of Nations. REV Chris Oyakhilome Dsc, DD. I find that all around the world there are too many people who don’t understand the definition of nationhood. It is sad that all over Africa particularly, many have not understood their reason for being. Africa was always called the Dark Continent , not because of the colour of the skin, but because of the poverty of their minds. But the time has come for us to make the difference and we will. In developing the “Theory of Nations”, there are certain concepts that require mention and definition. All over the world, wherever the definitions of these concepts are nebulous, they are misused and usually leading to the sufferings of so many people. These concepts are: Nation, nationalism, State and Ethnicity. To understand the development of nations, we must observe that man is a gregarious animal. Thus human beings naturally relate socially. And as you know social relationships automatically define themselves in relation to strength and weakness; leadership and followership, because of the human tendency to protect or seek protection. And so, the weaker congregate around the stronger to be protected. And this feeling of security heightens the weaker’s ability to function socially. Ans so, naturally, the stronger demands further submission and allegiance, while defining the limits of freedom of the weaker of the species. Certain nations like Nigeria have completely flawed the popular or the popular definition of “nation” as a large body of people organised under independent government and sharing common customs, origins, history and language. Canada , also, among others, cannot fall into this narrow definition. As you know, Nigeria has a multiplicity of languages, diverse customs and culture, and a wide range of divergent history for its many peoples who definitely don’t have a common origin. Thus, by this definition, Nigeria will not qualify as a nation but State only. And there are many countries all around the world that can only be described as States. A state begins with the paraphernalia of government with a definite territorial jurisdiction. It is an institutional structure with territorial integrity. Thus without a defined land space, a State cannot function; whereas a nation need not to be territorial in nature. As a matter of fact, the United Nations (which we call the UN), by it’s name, cannot be defined as it is called. It is more of an association of States. States are bound together by law and force; nations are not created by law and force but by free consent of its members and the definition of their purpose. States are static while nations are dynamic. Thriving states therefore are those who, through education and culture, have helped their people develop nationhood. A State is ready for prosperity and development when it delivers to its people a robust Bill of Rights, a sense of liberty and freedom of expression. The purpose of a nation is the realization of human aspirations. It is in pursuance of man’s dreams or desire for happiness, prosperity, self expression, ecological development, self fulfilment and his insatiable and unending desire for self discovery and maximization of his intellectual physical and spiritual abilities. All these, man knows, he cannot attain or achieve in isolation but in his relationship with like- minded creatures. The purpose of States on the other hand is to form such associations, providing and establishing justice, domestic tranquillity, common defense, promote general welfare and secure their postulated ethnicity for themselves and their posterity. It is to enact laws and provide force in ensuring that defined limits are not exceeded. As a people, we have attained statehood but we are yet to achieve nationhood. Why, in spite of government efforts, should the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of African nations continue to drown? Why is their per-capita income so embarrassingly low compared to others? The answer lies in the fact that their Gross Mental Attitude is wrong. The answer lies in the fact that their Gross Mental Output is horrendously low. The answer is aggressive educational policy and programmes. The educational policies and programmes in African nations must be reviewed to foster intellectual and environmental productivity. We have our roles to play as individuals. There is individual social responsibility. In spite of the odds, we must learn to appreciate our gains in Africa . In Nigeria particularly, in spite of cheap propaganda against our country, Nigeria , I tell you, is still among the freest countries in the world. There are those who may argue with that but many of us have travelled around the world, and we can tell you it’s true. We must be grateful for our opportunities so far: many of us should be grateful for the scholarships we received, the education, the environment, and even the wonderful, peace-loving people of Nigeria with whom we have been associated. Many of us have benefited from the structure of our society, whether you love it or hate it. We must now give back to it. This thinking is the beginning of the birth of nationhood-the idea that we owe our society something; that we owe our nation something. We must not resign ourselves to always call out for help and hand outs; reaching out to be given something by government or government representatives. We must make a solemn decision to play on the field, to become involved and be spectators no more. We must gladly render service and seek to improve our society. We must dream bigger and higher to create for ourselves and posterity a more secure, prosperous, virile and egalitarian society. It is sad that at this time of our odyssey of self-realisation as a nation, major corporations and business establishments have not committed themselves to the infrastructural development of the country, the country from which they have so graciously benefited. No wonder the outcry in the Nigeria Niger Delta is getting louder, though unheeded. I call on major business organizations and corporations in Nigeria to help fund education as a testimony of their commitment to our evolution to nationhood and the realization of our dream of transition from third-world to first. It is their responsibility to give back to a nation from which they have received so much. We are grateful for the opportunity and the privilege that we have had as a nation to transit from military regimes to becoming a democracy. Democracy is beautiful, if and when, a State achieves nationhood. Until-and unless-a State has transited from statehood to nationhood, the gains of democracy, if at all present, will be minimal. And this is the dilemma of many African countries who have embraced democracy. Many in their bid to salvage their situation championed nationalism instead of pursuing nationhood. It is made clear that nationhood and nationalism are neither synonymous nor do they serve the same purpose. Though nationalism in its true and positive sense is laudable, it is important for us to realize that in our world today, savage nationalism is the same spirit of racism, resulting in such despicable acts of the American black history, South African Apartheid, and ethnic cleansing of Eastern Europe, and [Central] Africa’s Rwanda . These evil are the result of nationalism where it is defined by blood, language, culture and history. We have to realize that nationalism, where it is so defined by our relationship through language, or culture or blood, has only led men to their untimely graves and fractured societies. Our nation will not escape such fractures if we define ourselves according to our historical origins rather than our purpose, our vision. This perversion of Nationalism is the absence of national purpose; in many nations today, through Nationalism, we have a disguised resurgence of medieval tribal wars. Nationhood is different. In Nationhood, there’s mutual respect and respect for citizens’ rights. We must remember that democracy is borne of the idea that citizens have a right to choose by whom and how they should be governed. And at this particular time in our country, it has become so important that we realize what democracy has granted us: the right to decide who governs us and how we shall be governed. Of course, it has been a slow journey, a slow process, because most of us are children and grand-children of military officers, and we were brought up to be militant in nature. But the time has come for us to settle for the change that has come upon us, the change that we have all embraced. And by that change our language must change; our perceptions must change; our respect for law and order must change; and of course, the law must change to favour its citizens. Democracy comes with a citizens’ Bill of Rights, even though ours remains largely undeclared. But I call on every smart thinking person to study the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria , so at least you understand what your rights are; what you can do and what you may be forbidden to do. Democracy thrives in informed and educated and enlightened societies. Dictatorship thrives in ignorant societies. We must, therefore, embrace education. We cannot wait until we have the best of situations. We cannot wait to have the best of conditions to read a book. We must choose to be informed; we must choose to open our minds and get educated. There is the ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude that we must have. Each one of us must be willing to educate himself, only that way can we be involved in nation building. No one else will build Nigeria for us; Nigeria will be built by Nigerians. To build a nation, we must recognize the concomitant sub-nations; these are the micro-ethno systems that function within the sovereign nation. It is the development of these micro-ethno systems that increases a nation’s gross national product, its per-capita income, and therefore its citizens’ standard of life. Micro-ethno systems are usually frustrated in States that are yet to understand, much less metamorphose into, nationhood. True nations by their very definition must inter-relate. As this is true of nations, it is also true of their micro-ethno systems. And these systems are inter-related and inter- dependent. It is important to know that each of us functions with one or more of these sub-nations, without which our relevance in the larger society will be grossly impaired. Individuals and indeed nations attain financial and economic independence through these relationships that nurture demand and supply. Your ability to analyse, interpret and apply these simple principles is your opportunity in today’s world. Most African countries are built on ideas and ideals of yesterday’s philosophies. We Need today’s thinkers for tomorrow’s visions. When I look at the young people, I see extraordinary resources. I see wealth and greatness. I see the best doctors, the best sportsmen, the best engineers. In America , the black boys who were picked from the slums became some of the best basketballers; America has largely left that game for the tall black boys. The stout ones went into boxing and became the best. They have left sport for the black and Africans. Let me tell you a secret: your excellence and your abilities are not limited to sports. It is time to include the discipline to go beyond sports and produce the best books, the best schools, the best hospitals. We can set the pace and grow an extraordinary economy in Africa to translate and transit from third world to first world. We can do it. And we will.
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