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I, formerly known as Nigeria…

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[FILES] Nigerian flag

At critical times in the life of a person, she’s called upon to do a name change. It can be the time of putting a marriage together. Or when scattering a marriage asunder! Nigeria is ripe for a change of name. There are many reasons people or places change their names. The basic reason is dissatisfaction with the existing name. It would be difficult to find a majority of Nigerians who are satisfied with being Nigerians.

Yesterday, a Nigerian posted a photograph of sacks and sacks of Nigerian currency notes, in bundles of 50,000 and 100,000 thousand exhumed from some hole where they were rotting! Nobody can say for how long they had been buried. Where were these currency notes found? The person who posted the photograph online lamented how a fellow Nigerian with blood in his veins could bury millions and millions of naira in a time when women, children, infants, old and infirm are dying of hunger. Why would somebody bury money to rot instead of being of use to feed, clothe and house the poor of our wretched earth? How does one bear the same name with such hoarders of our commonwealth? Only a change of name will do.

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A decade or two ago, the then government set up a committee to probe why Nigerians were leaving Nigeria. Qualified professionals left the country in their thousands to settle in the United States of America, Canada, even Australia and New Zealand not to speak of Poland and Ukraine. But it was not just the qualified professional. Those who dropped out of school, who did not like school, also set out mainly for Europe where they looked forward to caring for the aged and dying octogenarians of Europe. So, the Nigerian government set up this committee to find out why Nigerians were leaving Nigeria. They went to London. They went to Washington D.C. and Chicago. They stopped over briefly in Ottawa and Winnipeg before jetting over to Paris and Berlin. They sent for extra tickets to get them to, at that time, the Soviet Union and Beijing in China. At each city, one member at least of the committee stopped over to continue the work of the committee. By the time they hit Beijing, only the chairman of the committee was left. He decided to stay in China. The government waited and waited. The committee never returned. No report was ever submitted. Up until tomorrow, the Nigerian Government does not know why Nigerians leave Nigeria. What a burden to bear such a name as Nigeria. Only a change of name would do.

As a country of clever natives, education attracted them besides the religion, which colonialism brought. Education to university level was established. In no time at all, these brilliant natives were solving mathematical problems that had laid dormant for decades, for centuries. Since they are the closest to illiteracy, they were able to show that illiteracy is not a disease, that it had its own scholastic rigour and that not having learnt how to navigate both worlds make it difficult for them to accept illiteracy and its civilisation.

Even beggars got together and insisted that the government must aid them to export their expertise to foreign lands. So, whenever groups are going traveling to foreign lands there is always a contingent of beggars. And these beggars are hot! They can beg until the sky drops.

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A nation of beggars, no matter how brilliant beggars they are, one does not wish to be one of them. A change of name will help me to get over the nuisance of sharing the same name with them. Only a change of name will do. But what will a change of name do?

Many Nigerian academics are making names overseas, owning patents and holding copyrights but Nigerian universities do not hold anything. A Nigerian doctor performed an operation on a foetus successfully. How delicate can you be? But the university of his undergraduate training gains nothing from his work.

“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name
Would smell as sweet.”

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Yet words have meaning. Or else we cannot understand one another. If ‘go’ meant nothing, ‘come’ cannot exist. In Yoruba, naming is affirming particular characteristics. Once affirmed, the thing or person is supposed to be the epitome of the characteristics that pertain to that name. So, those who named Nigeria, what characteristics did they wish the new state to have? There was no particular aspiration for the new state. It was a collection of people who lived near a particular river.

The rivalry, the ethnic competition, the pull him down of tribalism, and the absence of any ideal beyond “my success and the failure of everybody else,” {like God bless America and nobody else}, made sure that Nigeria became a cover-all word for failure and lack of collective achievement.

As for migration, should Syria, Iraq from where tens and thousands of people have migrated to other countries change their names?

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We need to set aside the words that invoke rivalry. Ethnicity. Tribe. Area of origin. We need to pick up the words that call for our co-operation. World leadership. Global glory like the years of Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey. World attention as Wole Soyinka is crowned King of Words.

We need to appeal, first to the Black People of the world to come and, with us, build a nation on the banks of the rivers Benue and Niger that would avenge and make up for all the lynching that we suffered, all the Tulsa that was destroyed and the aspirations that we aspired to. Then, we need to appeal to the good people of the world who are in sympathy with the trajectory of our redefined history.

Clear objectives, open ambitions and possible possibilities will win us support anywhere in the world. If our former colonisers insist they should have held on to us as their dear colonies, they know what they lost when they let us go. Let us take everything we have and lash out with it and we shall have everything we want.

…wish to be known as Nile, Benue, Congo all our rivers together. All previous documents remain valid!

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