# NigeriaFirst: The Challenge before Us

By Frank Meke

Does Nigeria have a soul, a cultural body, soul, and spirit?. In our complexities, our swag and brash, our community and national cohesion ecosystem, do we really love this nation, do we really care ?

Wednesday last week, I quietly sat through Otunba Segun Runsewe’s program with hastage putting Nigeria first. The deep but bitter mussing about our country, our people pained.

From Calabar to Jalingo, Sokoto to Aba, there’s no denying that our country is sick and at crossroads. It will amount to a simplistic tolerance to ask how we got here, how we buried our love for the neighbour, our prayers for peace, and the love for diversity exchanged for the devil’s porridge.

All those who spoke at the mid day revolutionary national patriotic call by the National Council for Arts and Culture ( NCAC) pondered at the solutions to this pandemic of hate and unbridled anger against ourselves.

It will amount to mere gainsaying that blood is easily split at our village squares these days than laughter, incantations, sorcery and derogatory effusiveness freely accepted as means of conflict resolution and brigand venerated more than equity and justice.

Segun Runsewe, Nigeria’s chief culture administrator, seems angry and incensed at this emerging scenario in our country. From the board rooms to village meetings and political gatherings, divisive tongues reign supreme.

Nigeria and Nigerians are no longer measured by attitudinal temperance and grace. We are quick to carry and employ cudgels to resolve our differences and brazenly submissive to extreme tribal hegemony to butcher our fellows.

Cultural ethos, respect to our elders, and those in authority have been redefined. To be an elder in our national political and religious space is to eagerly front emetic submissions, steal us blind and trample our

Accident victims are stripped bare of their possession and allowed to die, doctors chasing pecuniary persuasions other than offering care, examination bodies endposts to academic rascality, our children exposed to foreign entertainment influence and the list of endless absurdities.

President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, Mr Nkereweum Onung described Segun Runsewe as a crusader. Susan Akporiaye, President National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies ( Nanta), a biochemist lecturered on Runsewe as a catalyst to national rebirth.

To confront this monster of national malaise, the challenge of putting Nigeria first gained incisive traction at the NCAC town hall meeting.

Though Runsewe held back his submissions and, in rapt attention, listened first to Gbenga Arulegba, a sociopolitical commentator on the Africa Independent Television who cried out against what has become a typistry among the political class who largely think about themselves first before Nigeria. Arulegba was also unsparing on the Nigerian media, which also has been divided along ethnic and political lines, failing to arrest the naked dance destructive to our cultural diversity and identity.

When a leader emerged, the AIT commentator submitted that it is expected that all allegiance should be to the occupier of the seat of leadership until vacated through a constitutional instrument, noting politics in Nigeria has literally gone to the dogs.

Susan Akporiaye, President National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies ( Nanta ) who stirred the bees nest with her presentation on family values, warned that until women inbued with sensitive motherly gifts are allowed to contribute effectively to national development, thus engendering peaceful coexistence, putting Nigeria first may be hard to achieve.

Women she said are natural leaders, helpers, and not competitors to men and should be allowed to unite homes and our people.

She further described Otunba Segun Runsewe as a great catalyst, boldly through the vehicle of cultural reintegrating, free loading Nigerians who have romped on sadistic opium of political hatred and tribalism back to sanity .

Mrs Akporiaye noted that the likes otunba Segun Runsewe are the key national unifying agents, who we need now, at this very terrifying time in our country.

Taking a cue from a song popular on NTA years back, the nanta president led the chorus on ” me like my country, no where pass my country Nigeria, make we make Nigeria better.”

The song caught up with young persons in the hall, students from three secondary schools in Abuja, who turned it into a national anthem while the older generations wept at the truth behind the song, swept off their feet by the nostalgic memories of once peaceful and united Nigeria.

Rev Godwin Ogaga , who underpined religious overdrive in the Nigerian political space, noted that no man can play God and warned of the consequences of division among Nigerians, adding that without Nigeria, no politician or ordinary people can prosper outside the space.

Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, (Nihotour), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa drew attention to the many shared prosperity across cultural historical and hospitality timelines among Nigerians which is the best cultural export identity brand in Africa.

He described the initiative of Runsewe on the campaign to put “Nigeria first ” as timely, strategic, and spiritual pain relief to a nation already trotting down the valley of ignominy.

No doubt, putting Nigeria first is the way to go to arrest our descent to rotteness and love for self alone. Nkereweum Onung believes it takes a social crusader at heart like Runsewe to remind us that we have gone down the bend and need deliverance . The cerebral president of ftan advised the government of president to enthrone separate ministries for culture and tourism, saying Nigeria can only find its feet again and the people united through the diversity of our history as a nation.

” My days as student in federal government college odogbolu was the finest. Musa, Emeka, and Akpan were just Nigerian names, but we grew to love ourselves and bonded till today despite all the divisive lies of politicians. ” Nkereweum onung told us.

To me, putting Nigeria first is doable and doable . Runsewe has set the ball rolling, and it’s no sloganeering, so let the naysayers look for another country. Me, I love my country, so let us put hands together and rescue our nation.

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