In a bid to have a better Nigeria that would be free of corruption, every citizen, most especially the youth, should practice converse patriotism where loyalty is first towards the nation before state, local or tribal loyalty, as practiced in most developed nations of the world. This was the submission of Professor Adewale Dipeolu, a Chief War Marshal of the Man O’ War Nigeria, during his lecture titled, The Role of the Youth in Building a New Nigeria.
Speaking at the Pre-National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) campaign, held for final year students of the University to prepare them ahead of their NYSC programme, he said, “although the world has changed a great deal from the times of our national fathers to a global village of today, but the issues and facts that gave rise to their patriotic movement towards the demand for independence from our Colonial Masters are still the same issues and facts that we are still confronted with today, 55 years after independence
Professor Dipeolu, who identified corruption as the major challenge facing the country, defined the malaise as the abuse of bestowed power or position to acquire personal benefits. He said corrupt practices include stealing, bribery, embezzlement and nepotism, among others. The Chief War Marshal stated that corruption could occur at different levels involving a few persons, to grand and systemic corruption, involving many sectors such as the police, judiciary, educational institutions and the organisedlabour.
Stressing that the youths had a vital role to play in bringing about change that the country needed, Professor Dipeolu pointed out that, “young people are social actors of change. They are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also partners of today. The youths are a powerful force to be reckoned with in any nation where the government is mindful of its future. The power of the youth can be utilized as a constructive or destructive force. I like to characterize the Nigerian youth as an enormous mass of potentials, not only for economic growth and development, but for national reconstruction, which is why you have talked about a new Nigeria”.
Speaking on what it takes to have a New Nigeria, the Guest Lecturer said "re-branding Nigeria simply means to redefine our nationhood and engage wholly in the process of national renewal to attain a lofty height, where national interest is exalted far and above personal, ethno-religious and regional interests. In other words, it connotes the renewing of our dreams, hopes and aspirations. It is a wholesome rededication and recommitment to the dictates of the National Anthem and Pledge and recognizing the lines as sacred oaths of allegiance to a country. It is also to rekindle the fire of patriotism, not as a conditional loyalty and love to a nation, but as an unflinching and unconditional love and loyalty to same. It is a scenario where, the domestic and international image of the nation matters to all and sundry.
The Chief War Marshall explained further that nation building is the constructive process of engaging all citizens in bringing about social cohesion, economic prosperity and political stability in an inclusive and democratic way. According to him, a New Nigeria should be one where everyone, irrespective of their status or social standings are equal in the eyes of the law. That is, where the constitution is not seen only as a document for legal and legislative arguments, but as a sacred guide to national greatness; where privileges are not used for massive intimidation, but as opportunities for service; and where access to public information, freedom of the press and of speech are respected and guaranteed as well as a nation where corruption and looting of public treasury is an aberration.
Electioneering seasons are not perceived as opportunities to misuse innocent youths as instruments for political banditry or the settlement of political scores. We should have mutual respect for one another in spite of our religious and ethnic differences. We would solemnize our campaign promises and democratic dividends and bring promises and practice into closer alignment. A New Nigeria, where we would have genuine industrialization, where national wealth is for no one in particular”, he stated.
A Nigeria where the gap between our professed ideals of change and transformation as a nation and the day-to-day realities we witness are bridged; where federal, state and local government appointments, honorary degrees, chieftaincy titles and national honours are dished-out purely on merit, rather than as political compensations; and where the National Anthem or Pledge are not recited as mere signatory tunes to announce arrivals and departures; and where the flag/map pins are not used by a selected few for decorations, but by all citizens as symbols of National pride”, he added.
Professor Dipeolu charged the youths to see nation building as a lifetime opportunity given to them to discharge their obligations to their beloved country adding that, "despite our enormous challenges as a nation, we still have the faith that we shall get to the Promise Land someday". Highlights of the activities for the Pre-NYSC camping programme included: an Endurance Trek from the Man O’ War base to the Camp area in Abeokuta, back to the University; physical exercises; parade training; and the award of certificates to participants.
In a similar vein, the Man O’ War Club has also held its 21st Investiture, Passing-out Parade and the 27th Anniversary of the Club. The outgone Co-ordinator of the Club, Patriot Alli Joshua, advised the incoming executive to ensure that they keep the flag flying, expressing gratitude to the University Management for all support given to the club. Patriot Joshua later handed-over the mantle of leadership to Patriot Alao Tomilola. Highlights of events at the occasion were the decoration of some members of staff of the University as new War Marshals. They are: Mr. Charles Geteloma, Mr. Roland Iyeh and Mr. Adeoye Adeniyi.