By Lawrence U. Ekeh
Patriotism is defined by the Standard dictionary as “love of one’s country.” But in his philosophical study, Stephen Nathanson defined patriotism as involving:
Special affection for one’s own country
A sense of personal identification with the country
Special concern for the well-being of the country
Willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
Both definitions are almost the same because love and special affection are not different from each other. The one that is different is the more detailed description of Patriotism by John H. Schaar. Mr Schaar’s term is “Covenanted Patriotism.” He advocated that covenanted patriotism is appropriate for countries like Nigeria whose population is much too ethnically and culturally heterogeneous. Mr Schaar’s paradigmatic example is the United State also whose citizens “were bonded together not by blood or religion, not by tradition or territory, not by the walls and traditions of a city, but by a political ideology—”
His theory is that all those who have taken an oath of allegiance to an office are bonded by covenant patriotism. In order words, the paramount interest of Nigeria overrides their tribal or personal interests. This patriotism must be expressed one way or the other in the course of performing their duties. A person whose love for her country is not expressed in any special concern for it would scarcely be considered as being patriotic. The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar has been expressing her love for Nigeria within the few months she has been appointed. The late Margaret Thatcher loved her country that she requested a patriotic song to be sung at her funeral on 17th April 2013. The extract of the song’s lyrics is:
“I Vow to Thee My Country, all earthly things above,
Entire and Whole and Perfect, the Service of my Love,
The Love that asks no question, the Love that Stands the Test —”
For most people in England, this song has always been their favourite since school age. At that school age, the children do not only learn the patriotic song but also are thought lessons that make them love their nation. When they grow up and become nationalist, they will not steal monies meant for their people nor will they take the stolen money to another country where such ill-gotten money will be used by the host country for their own development.
When recently a business group from Canada led by their Managing Director, Mr Patrick MCGuinness, visited Hajia Aisha, to show her their new product called SOL Sola laptop with a view to introducing the solar laptop into the Nigeria market, the Minister welcomed them. Aisha accepted that the solar laptop could be used to generate light and charge batteries which would help ease the learning challenges in the educational institutions in the rural area. But she urged the businessmen to consider setting up a factory in Nigeria to manufacture the product as this will create employment opportunities for the Nigerian youths. She concluded by telling Mr Guinness to invite his friends and business associates to invest in Nigeria as they would reap huge benefits due to Nigeria’s large market. That is patriotic spirit displayed by the Honourable Minister of State. She did not arrange for the company to showcase their product to the Nigerian business community for the purpose of importing the solar laptop. As such she did not ask what was there for her!
This approach is different from what was the norm during the last PDP federal government. A typical example was in 2012 while I was running a training and consulting business at the heart of Abuja. One day a friend of mine who was a member of Abuja Chamber of Commerce gave me a copy of an email sent to him via the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council. The email was an invitation for an exhibition of goods by a Turkish businessman. Probably that invitation went to the whole members of the Chamber. After going through the mail I told my friend that it was a mere promotion of a product by a foreign manufacturer. I wondered why the Nigeria Investment Promotion Council should be engaged or sponsoring such promotion of other countries consumer goods in the country instead of attracting investment into the country. I wonder if ever there has been evaluation of the Council’s activities to know whether the institution should continue to exist. You may wonder my response. I wrote to the Director of Nigerian Investment Promotion asking him why they were promoting consumer products from other countries. Of course, I did not receive any reply from him. Of course, that is not why the Council was set up. This and other criticisms I made against the government economic policies made me to become a target. They did not want to arrest me because I was merely being patriotic to my country but they succeeded in obstructing the success of my business hence I had to run back to England.
Coming back to Hajia Aisha’s patriotism, recently she came up with the idea of forming a group to promote made-in-Nigeria goods. This is a laudable move and only those who are patriotic could see the need to encourage made-in-Nigeria goods. When you have government that is only trying to please the external powers in order to be “protected”, patriotism suffers. Just in 2014, the India launched “make in India”. This is an initiative to encourage multi-national, as well as domestic companies to manufacture their products in India. In his “make in India” campaign movement, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi listed 10 “Things to Know” about the make in India campaign. In summary, the motive is to make India a global labour-intensive manufacturing hub instead of their present service-driven growth. But in response to “make in India”, the Chinese Government launched a “Made in China” campaign with a host of tax concessions. Under the new campaign, the government said that China would use tax breaks to encourage enterprises to upgrade their equipment and increase R&D efforts to improve manufacturing industry.
Although it is necessary to improve our power supply before this launch, from the above two examples alone one can see that the world is a market place. As I said in my book,“Industrialization is all about business and employment creation leading to national prosperity.” It is only when we have patriotic leaders like Aisha that there will be hope for us to attain an industrialised status.
*Lawrence Ekeh can be reached at [email protected]