State titles: A ruder of principle or avalanche of misnomer

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At the return to democracy in 1999, the federal government under former President Obasanjo was bent on redefining our global image, reorientating our psychosocial spirality, and re-engineering our national order. Having been under junta regime for 33 out of our then 39 years of nationhood, the government felt we should begin our democratic experiment by walking our consciousness back into what is the norm and ethos of living in a free world where people rule themselves by those they choose through electoral process.

And so the National Orientation Agency (NOA), which was established by Decree 100 of 1993, was reformed and laddened with this task. Their primary role was to communicate government policies, stay abreast of public opinion, promote patriotism, national unity and integral development of Nigeria. It was positioned to provide the feedback channel on the mood/pulse of the Nigerian society to government.

Part of the reorientation was to give us new identity, a guiding principle as a people. And this encouraged each of the 36 federating states and the FCT to take new slogans/nicknames that they believe represents their relevance and fame better in our national concourse. This was to remind us that our sociopolitical makeup and philosophy should outlive the complaints from prolonged military disconcertion.

States like Anambra which had the byname “Home for all” would change it later, after reflecting on some of their innovative contributions to our national development. They took a new moniker “Light of the nation.” In this manner, each state made claims to pride and statement of their respective founding philosophy.

How some states betrayed this noble ideology will form the centerpiece of our outing in this space today.

Kaduna state, for instance, though, the fulcrum of the North, chose the slogan “centre of learning” setting aside her first soubriquet “Liberal state.”

Irrespective of the fact that she and her citizens ranked among the educationally less-advantaged states, this title justifiably fits her as she plays host to numerous citadels of learning than any other state in the country. Kaduna hosts many educational institutions and still doubles as regional headquaters of some examinational bodies e.g. National Teachers Institute (NTI), WAEC, NABTEB. etc. She also houses the NDA, Nigeria Airforce School, Naval School, etc. She has one each, of federal university and polytechnic, one each, of state university and polytechnic, colleges of education, with about two privately owned please, etc.

But considering the spate of insecurity in schools within her borders, one will begin to ask: Is it tenable that Kaduna should continue to pride itself as “centre of learning,” since her environments are no longer safe for the realization of the underpinning tenet.

Over the past eighteen months the unabated insecurity cataclysm in the state filtered into those learning centres. First, in January 2020, heavily armed men invaded Good Shepherd Seminary Kakau, in Chikun LGA of the state and made away with four seasons, one of whom was killed. That horrowful incident preceded ceaseless other invasions of several schools in the state, including the latest at the Bethel Baptist High School by 2am on July 05, where 140 students were kidnapped. Nuhu Bamali Pyrotechnic also had similar incident to report.

Germane voices had risen against this discomforting situation. Even from the opposition and human rights quarters, Sen. Shehu Sani lamented: “The children of the poor can’t go to private schools because it’s expensive; and they can’t go to the public schools because it’s not safe.”

It leaves much to be desired; but restoring the state back to its ancient landmark of serene learning environments should be of utmost concern to Gov. El-Rufai right now.

But Kaduna is not alone among states whom the prevailing insurgency and civil dishevelment across the country have made a mess of their claims to state titles and slogans. For instance, Borno is the “Home of peace” yet, for over a decade now, its citizens knew no peace. When will Bauchi reinvigorate Yankari game reserve to re-assert its influence as the “Pearl of tourism”? How does the level of state irresponsibility, backlog of unpaid pensions and salaries in Abia translate to them being “God’s own state.” Is there any hope that the excess coal deposits beneath the soils of Enugu will be explored again for all to gain from their fame as “Coal city.”

When will Nasarawa be well equipped to explore the rich deposits of Tin, Iron ore, limestones, granites etc that justifies its nickname as “Home of solid minerals.”
Benue state as “Food basket of the nation” has no single food preservation facility. Thousands of tons of perishable farm produces like fresh vegetables (such as tomatoes, ugu, cabbage), yam and cassava tubers, etc, perish annually due to lack of appropriate technology for preservation that will ensure all-year-round supply to the nation. But here we are, having a people reputed as food producers of the Nigerian state, yet we starve due to inadequacy of several food materials off-season.

The list of this sort of situational irony is endless.

It points to the fact that those who believe that there is something transcendental in a name are not entirely correct. It doesn’t matter whichever name, title or cognomen one choose to bear, if one does not strive through tenacious industry to actualise its practical bearing, one will continue to live in illusion, so much so, when it is a federating state. I have seen someone called Bush rise to the zenith of his political career, becoming the president of the United States. I have also seen someone named Success fail out of school and other endeavours due to poor performances.
I have seen someone named Gates become the richest man in the world and another called Lucky fail lotteries back-to-back.

Believe me when I say it, life is not all about names. It is about what we do and how we do it to present and sustain a good name realized by impacting the society positively. It is about making integrity and profound innovations our guiding principles. And this is a clarion call to our political leaders, governors, president and other government functionaries and the citizenry as well, to help their respective states live to full potential, the practical dimension of their cognomens.

Jude O. writes via +2348062494912.
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