Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Spirit of Naija...

Dear Professor, many regards to you. I must say that your transformation from an "anti-fake drug" advocate into a politician has done your hitherto 'awe inspiring' personality less favors. Without dwelling much on the previous events and happenings that had led to this, commencing from the superficial re-branding project, and spanning the continual goofs during the sad days of the penultimate Presidents health situation (RIP), a recent development which had been credited to you has brought to the fore your rather lack of comprehension of the issues which occupy the minds of young Nigerians in the 21st century.

Some few days ago, I came across an article where you continually lambasted and condemned in strong terms the use of the word "Naija" and from your summation, it would be best were this word to be completely deleted from the lips, mind and hearts of Nigerians. Although throughout the entire write up, you failed to show concrete reasons to back up this conviction, but I cannot claim to share this view, and neither I believe would millions of young Nigerians.However, Professor Adefuye, the Nigerian Ambassador to the US attempted to come to your defence, albeit noneffective as he neither condemned the "Naija" usage nor did he give concrete reasons to buttress your view (, thus I see no need for your position which is at least needless and at most ridiculous (absolutely no offence meant).

Thankfully, your position is not the official position of the Government of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.First of all, there is no confusion whatsoever between Naija and Nigeria. We must make that clear, and under no circumstances would any sane and rational Nigerian want to replace the name Nigeria with that of Naija. Like Professor Adefuye mentioned, if we want a change of name for the country, there is a laid down procedure for that. Naija is a contemporary concept in the annals of the history of Nigeria, it is a concept that captures the spirit of Nigeria, and one that young people are proud to associate themselves with. It is not a slang per se, as that would demean the real import of what the word connotes. Rather it encompasses the dreams, yearnings and aspirations of young Nigerians who have been denied the benefits and positive derivatives of a nation hijacked by successive generations of corrupt, inept and self serving (so called) leaders. It is a concept that renders the average Nigerian immune from the collosal wastage and corruption that has bedevilled the nation since independence and makes him/her ready to confront agents and forces of underdevelopment, poverty and bad governance.

We would not want to be drawn into sentimental discourse on the provenance or etymology of Nigeria, nor would we want to dwell on the fact that the name "Nigeria" is not of Nigerian origins (funny as that sounds); but even this does not make me any less Nigerian, even so my identification with the concept of Naija does not remove the Nigerianness in me. I am a Nigerian, and at the same time I am Naija. It is who I am at this point in time in the history of my nation, and my Naija identity is the brand that I choose under this season of anomie that we have been plunged into by the irresponsibility and callousness of the political and ruling elite since independence.

It is the Naijatitude in me that will make me stand against corruption at all levels and in all circumstances; it is my Naijatitude that will make me vote for credibility and integrity as leaders and defend my vote (even if it means sacrificing my life); it is my Naijatitude that will make me speak up in the face of oppression and wickedness; it is my Naijatitude that will define the Nigerian that I will become for me, for my society and for my world in the 21st century that is pregnant with possibilities and opportunities, and my patriotism to my nation should by no means be questioned on the way and manner in which I choose to show love for my nation.

I will not begrudge you for sharing your views, you have every right to, but we should see an element of consistency when such views are made. Dishing out encomiums for citizens participating in morally bankrupt reality television shows (alien to our culture) does far much worse to the image of the country than usage of a concept that does more in lifting up the spirits of the common Nigerian. And while the entire world is 'oohing and aahing' over the indigenous home video industry (called Nollywood), no one is saying that it does any sort of disservice to the image of the nation. Priorities should be set aright. We must avoid being seen to be deploying double standards in our assessment of issues? To whose end and for what purpose? Nigeria needs change, positive change; and the fundamental challenges of development, good governance, security etc. must and should be confronted instead of whipping up mundane and non-issues.

Those who oppose change would be swept away in it's wake, and the spirit of Naija is alive and rising irrespective of who or what.

Good bless Nigeria.

Response to the Honorable Minister For Information's remarks on the use of the term "Naija".

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