They are you, your friends, your neighbors and all men and women of good will who still continue to habour hope, no matter how faint, that it would ultimately be well with our country.
Nobody wants to hear that this country can still be redeemed. It is not that the naysayers hate the country so much, but rather they got tired of hoping that the country would be better. They are now unbelievers. Love for country has turned to hate.
Or so they think! They are only fooling themselves -especially those that escaped the country for justifiable economic reasons. But in truth, nobody really worth his salt can truly hate the home he or she comes from. The day they hear that things at the home front are taking a turn for the better, is the day they begin to plan to come back home. There is no place like home. No place like Nigeria.
We are sick. We know that! We are unconscionable. We know that! Our people, especially our youths are fleeing the country in droves, even preferring the possibility of drowning in the Atlantic Ocean to remaining in the country. That too, is known to us! The constant killings of our people by terrorists and rogue elements all over the country have been humiliating and a bitter pill to swallow for all of us. That is another truth we cannot avoid.
They say that it is difficult to trust people in this country. That you cannot trust them with your kids. You cannot trust them with office responsibilities, your car, your business, your girlfriend, wife, husband or boyfriend.
There are great Nigerians out there doing wonderful things - honest, committed, sincere people whose conducts give us hope that our country is capable of being better. They are the Yorubas of the south-west, the Igbos, Hausas, Jukums, Ibibios, Tivs, Calabaris, Ijaws, Fulanis, and all the other many ethnic groups that make up our country.
But we also know that the thieves and gangsters, the political perverts and mercenaries, the treasury looters and lovers of impunity come from these same peoples and groups. And yet, we are aware that out of the same collection of undesirable peoples and groups, are people of good character, honour, and integrity - people who do not judge a man by the colour of his skin but by the content of his character.
Martin Luther King will be very proud of these sets of Nigerians.
One of them, Mr. Emmanuel Eluu, a driver with Bicourtney discovered, in September 2021, a bag containing $40,000 and other valuables and reported it to the authorities. In this same 2021, Francis Tolue, an Okada rider returned over #28 million he found in a bag on the highway to the owner, while Haruna Ahmad, an Okada rider, returned the sum of N500,000 forgotten in his Keke Marwa by a passenger in Jos. The story of Josephine Ugwu, the woman who returned the sum of - #12 million to the owner some years back cannot be forgotten. She was a cleaner at the Murtala Muhammad Airport.
All over the country are similar stories of honesty, inspiration and encouragement by ordinary Nigerians, stories that embolden us to dare believe that a Nigerian renaissance is still possible, stories that give us renewed belief that we are perhaps not all as bad as our dire circumstances make us believe.
The ordinary people behind these beautiful stories are the ones that are truly deserving of national honours.
They are not the usual names you would see on government roll calls or rosters for such honours. They are not products of the Nigerian National Honours Awards List. They are not big men and women. In most cases, nobody knows them, or they are considered as nobodies.
Instead, such awards are given to those not deserving of them.
To be truthful, many of those who have been given national awards in our country over the years should have ended up in jail, serving multiple terms of imprisonment for abusing and undermining their country in ways that are at best, unimaginable.
The government can identify their own heroes and reward them as much as they want. We know our own heroes. They are in our homes, on our streets, in the market places, sometimes in government and private offices.
They might not be too many. Their numbers might be drowned out by the sheer numbers of the bad people in our midst. But what is worth remembering is that they exist, and because they exist, they provide us with the basis to dare hope that Nigeria might still be redeemed.
They are the light in the darkness.
They are the true heroes of Nigeria.
Wishing Nigerians everywhere, an improved and better country that will once again make us dream big about who we are and where we are going.
But we must play our part to bring that Nigeria about.
Happy new year!