“If I do not understand the enacted narrative of my own individual life as embedded in the history of my country – I will not understand what I owe to others or what others owe to me, for what crimes of my nation I am bound to make reparation, for what benefits to my nation I am bound to feel gratitude. Understanding what is owed to and by me and understanding the history of the communities of which I am a part of is – one and the same thing.” – Alasdair Macintyre, Is Patriotism a Virtue.
The New Nigerian Leader must be profoundly proud to be Nigerian. Not only this, he must also be seen and known to be a patriotic, and his love for Nigeria must be authentic to the point of being contagious. However, though the most intense cases of love are often founded upon inexplicabilities, the New Nigerian Leader’s love for Nigeria must be based on the “rational approach.”
This rational approach as discussed by various philosophers, has often been used as a method of ascertaining the role of certain deeply held convictions to individuals. This usually involves individuals voluntarily undergoing a thoughtful diminution of their values for analytical purposes. This process, known as ‘reductionism,’ helps self-evaluate complex notions, by stripping them down to their most basic forms in order to understand the foundation of such notions and beliefs, by so doing; re-establish a stronger basis for said notions.
What this means is that the New Nigerian Leader must not love Nigeria simply because he is Nigerian, but because he understands ‘why’ he loves Nigeria. He must be able to take a step back from his initial patriotism (if it exists) and thoroughly question himself. He must arrive at an answer to the question: “Why do I love Nigeria?” He must be able to see Nigeria in its most rudimentary terms, with a neutral mindset. He must also critique and test what he perceives and thinks about Nigeria with the strictest of internal standards. Specifically, he must take into account Nigeria’s flaws, things like its widespread corruption; many of its people’s disregard for the rule of law; and the perverse tribalism that seems to regularly blur the national discourse. He must grapple and come to terms with the blatant nepotism that rewards connections over merit; the ‘eye-service’ that sycophants pay to those with money and power simply to someday become “those with money and power” and; the apathy exhibited by those without.
By undergoing the aforementioned, the New Nigerian Leader will be able to not only gauge the extent to which he loves his country, he will also be able to make sense of the reasons behind this love, or patriotism.
Once this is done, once he has become a ‘conscious patriot,’ he will also become better equipped to lead his people - because to understand Nigeria, is to understand Nigerians. And a commonsense understanding of Nigerians and Nigeria as its leader, must eventually lead to the bestowment of an ethical obligation that cannot be neglected or ignored. This is because the problems that Nigeria faces are so intertwined to the cumulative mindset and values of its people, that to neglect the call to (at least attempt to) solve these problems once one has achieved an understanding of Nigerians – and by virtue of such, its problems – would be equivalent to being a part of the problem as an ‘apathetic contributor.’
In this regard, we can see that the New Nigerian Leader as a conscious patriot must have a sense of duty that is twofold: one that is based on his own love for the country, and another that is founded upon his primary responsibility and obligation to “better the lot” of his fellow citizens. The latter of the two is usually demonstrated by trying to bring his fellow countrymen into enlightenment and working to change and eradicate the negative status quo.
In a similar light, taking Alasdair MacIntyre’s notion of the dual nature of patriotism – from his lecture entitled “Is Patriotism a Virtue – into account, the New Nigerian Leader with his understanding of Nigeria, will be able to comprehend the narrative of his own life in the context of the greater Nigerian story. By doing this, he will understand what exactly his role must be to his society. In other words, he will understand what he “owes to others” as a citizen, and he will also understand and demand what “others owe” to him.
One of the major problems we have in Nigeria today is that many of our leaders do not understand Nigeria.
Many think they do, but have shown from their priorities that they do not. Many know that they do not understand it, and do not make any effort to even try. These kinds of leaders are not patriots. A true patriot would examine his role in the greater Nigerian problem, and learn that he must work to fix himself first before he even tries to work to fix the country. Everyone talks about “a solution to Nigeria’s problems,” but many people do not want to believe that this solution begins and with a thorough reexamination of the self.
Even though the New Nigerian Leader must love Nigeria and understand why he loves his country, a country is nothing without its countrymen. The New Nigerian Leader’s laws to bring about positive change in the country will be rendered ineffectual without the cooperation of the Nigerian people. Because of this, even though the New Nigerian Leader must love his country, understand his country, and by so doing know exactly the kind of positive change that he wishes to bring about, he must effectively communicate his values to the Nigerian people. The Nigerian people in turn must see that the solutions to many of our problems actually begin with an individual love for Nigeria, which ultimately leads to an obligation to want to see it succeed. And, by wanting to see it succeed, the New Nigerian Leader as his people will work together to make Nigeria succeed. With an emphasis on ‘work’ and ‘together.’