A CALL TO SERVE
As the ominously gloomy clouds of extremism continue to form in the North East region of our nation’s horizon, threatening to torpedo the balance of our territorial integrity, the clarion call from the opening lines of Nigeria’s National Anthem re-echoes through this reverberating storm of sectarian violence:
Arise, O’ compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey,
To serve our fatherland, with love and strength and faith!
This clarion call, no doubt, is one of the most familiar lines known to most Nigerians, both adults and children alike. It is the tune that first hit us when, under the tender age of four or five, we were enrolled in elementary school and queued up on those dusty terrains of assembly grounds in various nursery and primary schools across the length and breadth of Nigeria. It is the tune we sang gleefully even before we could fully comprehend the meaning of its lyrics (no wonder in our innocent ignorance, many of us, as kids, unwittingly sang this tune wrongly as, ‘Arise, O’ compassion’).
This tune marks the opening of many national events, occasions and rallies, and is been played by the police and military musical bands at the close of many events. We hear this tune before international football matches involving a Nigerian team. The tune has welcomed our Olympiads at the opening ceremonies of Olympic Games and blared through the gigantic speakers of the stadium where our charismatic Atlanta 1996 Olympics football winning team clinched the coveted gold, after putting up stellar performances to defeat world football heavyweights like Brazil and Argentina; the anthem was played when our own Chioma Ajunwa and Mary Onyali won the gold at the Olympics. In 2013 again, we heard this tune at the United Arab Emirates when our victorious under-17 Golden Eagles team rode on the wings of this anthem and patriotically played their way to victory, subsequently bringing home the 2013 Junior World Cup trophy to a most grateful nation.
It is time we heed the clarion call of this national creed and truly rise to defend our fatherland against the onslaught of marauding terrorists and unpatriotic elements who line our corridors of power disguised as leaders. Arise O’ compatriots and let us rise above the smallness of mind that is the bane of most mortals and let us achieve goals greater than ourselves by attaining seemingly unattainable feats. We have within us the seed of greatness that can move us from the realm of the ordinary level we are to that of that extraordinary realm which we crave to attain.
Do you know a search through the course of history could hardly reveal any worthwhile hero or heroine who emerged at a period of peace and quiet when all was going well? Heroes usually emerge at moments of great trials and tribulations. They arise from the ashes of adversities and ride on the waves of their courageous deeds in the face of adverse conditions to the majestic height of societal acclaim. Heroes ride on the wave of life’s stormy seas to find themselves on the safe shores of solid global acclaim. It is the painful path which they dare to tread in their little corner of the world that eventually leads them to global halls of fame. It is the extra touch they give to everyday ordinary deeds that differentiates them from ordinary men to make them extraordinary.
Nelson Mandela, the contemporary bastion of love and forgiveness, became a global icon after he managed to hold his head high during and after the unsavoury experience of being blown by the wave of apartheid. Martin Luther King Jr. rose to national and global limelight after being unbearably buffeted by the storm of adversity. India’s Mahatma Gandhi, a physically diminutive figure, was made larger than life by his non-violent struggle against British domination of his people. Odumegwu Ojukwu shot into limelight out of the Biafran conflict. The ministry of Christianity spread like wildfire across the globe after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead following a most humiliating torture and crucifixion on the cross of Calvary. The name Isaac Adaka Boro is today held in very high esteem by the South-South people of Ijaw extraction as a result of his yester year’s selfless struggle for the people of this region.
In Nigeria we often speak of the labour of our heroes past not to ever be in vain. These heroes emerged out of the fire of difficult moments in our nation’s history. Difficult moments such as Nigeria faces today.
As trying as the current crises may seem, it creates an ample chance for heroes to emerge; for soldiers and ordinary Nigerians to weather the storm, holding their heads high. It is how mere men become a force to reckon with; it is how diminutive figures assume larger than life images; it is how ordinary people become extraordinary in the eyes of the world. Question is, what are you doing in your little corner of the world today?
I call on the highly revered men and women at the top of our security apparatus. Do all in your power to plug the leakage in the apparatus and extinguish the flare of corruption wherever it exists in our security framework. It is often said that there is no smoke without fire and to every rumour, there is an iota of truth, no matter how little. Therefore, it behoves on the top brass of our military to promptly ferret out and arrest the source of the whiff of corruption occasionally wafting across the nostrils of the citizenry.
I believe that the recent elevation of the top brass of our security personnel up the ladder of their chosen career is a call to greater commitment and responsibility to the country. The country has raised the bar for them and they are expected to rise to this expectation. It is a rare chance for them to either grab the hand of destiny or fail in their task and be seen as one of those who came and saw but could not conquer. Now is the time to truly serve Nigeria with genuine love, unreserved strength and an abiding faith. Now is the time to stand up for Nigeria and be counted among heroes.
It is such strong show of patriotism that can weaken the structure of armed uprising against the Nigerian state; it is this strong wind of loyalty that can drive away the ominous cloud of extremism that has beclouded this country’s horizon and make a way for the breeze of peace to blow across our once peaceful but now beleaguered country. So help us God!
Emma’Enenche Umele is a writer and comments on national and global issues