My Dearest Nigeria,
As you celebrate your 54th Birthday today, I wish to tell you that my thoughts and prayers are with you, as they have always been.
Today, I remember the years I’ve spent with you with mixed feelings. My memories are both sad and joyful. Tears fill my eyes, even as a smile dances across my lips. One moment I feel a deep sadness, and the next moment my eyes light up with happiness. I’ll tell you why.
I’m sad because I know that you should have been greater than you are now. Your streets do not have to be paved with gold, but they should have been populated with people whose hearts throb with hope, confidence and trust in you; a people who believe in you and all that you stand for; a people who know you are able to protect them; a people who go to bed every night assured that their lives and the lives of their children are safe; a people who constantly look to the future with courage and determination; a people who would be eager to put their hands to the plough knowing that what they sow is what they will reap in equal measure; most of all, a people who would love you the way you ought to be loved, which is unconditionally.
Whenever I look at you, I see a grown man who’s plodding on slowly, heavily, as though carrying a weight too heavy for him. I know that every day you come up against challenges that threaten to break you into pieces; I know that you are often pulled this way and that by negative forces, situations and people battling for supremacy over you; I know that you are often unfairly bombarded by lies and falsehood being peddled against you from different quarters. I also know, deep inside my heart, that I have contributed in no small way to your being the way you are today.
I acknowledge that the problems that stare you in the face could be overwhelming. But I know that you are made of steel and therefore unbreakable. And all that weight you carry about shall be made lighter some day. Not by your efforts alone, but through mine also, because my life is entwined with yours. Like Siamese twins, our destinies are inseparable, and wherever you go, there will I follow, obediently. So, I should stop berating you for your mistakes because I have contributed to them. Your failings are a result of my own failings and I know I should strive to do better, rather than blame you each time I hit my toe against a stone. I really want to be numbered with those who have helped turn you around and I hereby promise to turn a new leaf starting from today.
That is why, this October 1, I wear a smile on my lips as I think of you and write this love note to you. My tears will not fall, my brows will not crease with worry any longer; my steps will not be hesitant as I walk towards your embrace because I know that I will be safe in your arms. I know you are growing, I know you are learning and doing, and in the process getting wiser. The journey is taking a bit too long but I know you’ll get there, some day. I am not clairvoyant but I know that soon the tide will turn and you will make me proud. Then I shall walk with my head held high; I shall not be looked upon with condescension any longer; I shall not be snubbed and ridiculed by people who ordinarily would not hold a candle to me; I shall hold my own among people of other great nations. One day I will be happy to be called yours.
My love, I just want to tell you that in spite of the way you are, with your ugly face, and your warts, and your knock knees, and your squint eyes, and you tobacco-stained teeth, and your big, bald head, I still love you. Unconditionally…
The Nigerian Citizen.