Patriotism, a Joker for Development in Okun Land

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One key rule of engagement in the game of Rummy or playing of cards is that, “If you still have jokers in your hand when another player wins, you will lose many points.” When you lose the game, a joker in your hand typically will cost you thirty points. So get rid of jokers as soon as possible! And the other players may be able to replace the joker and reuse it somewhere else, which may give you more options in your next turn.

In real life, patriotism could be compared to a joker- a very important one at that, because it helps to create a sense of unity and solidarity among citizens of a country or tribe. Patriotism not only helps individuals escape social vices by developing the right skills they need to improve their livelihoods but also generates productivity gains that could fuel economic growth and development.

The future or development of Okun land in Kogi State is in the hands of Okun people, and not limited as exclusive jurisdiction of any persons. The culture of patriotism and brotherhood need to be encouraged the more and backed up with informed actions at home and abroad, not minding political affiliations, religious background, geographical district and other divisive tendencies. It will be healthy to embrace and engage the common history, language and interest that’s an intersect across Okun land.

From the Traditional stools in exhibition of selflessness, sacrifices, wisdom and legendary gestures not polluted by politicking to political education not corrupted by betrayal of collective trust that doesn’t have interest of Okun at heart, to every villages/town, various Associations and those in diaspora with Okun origin actively joining hands together to initiate and sustain developmental strides.

Branding the culture, promoting one another, defending the course of justice for Okun land, not maltreating each other as if it is ideal to be a slave while another be the leader. Okun is as strong as the weakest link. Therefore, synergy of positive efforts can overcome the greatest of the enemy of progress in Okun land. Limiting beliefs such as blame-game or guilty trip be expunged. Indecent or unbrotherly behaviors be minimized while the people turn a new-leaf and not pretend as if the responsibility of the desired change lies on some specific leaders alone.

Okunland will actually get better as the people put in better efforts. America has fifty States and from history about thirty or less of the States have produced Presidents. Why is it that the other States are not clamouring for their person to be President? Probably because of their System of Government, Political ideologies standing above sectional sentiments, or perhaps any President do serve in view of even distribution of dividends of democracy.

This is a clarion call to look inwards, and should also look outwards to hold the leaders accountable.

Why voting for leaders that enslave or marginalize you as a people? Why is it difficult to recall the inactive leaders? Must leaders be recycled in same positions or in power for too long with no evidences of high performance? Do the people have credible personalities, at least a handful, to negotiate or lobby at the Federal or State level towards the development of Okun land? What lessons can be learnt from old or former leaders in same or similar public offices? While on Individual basis, what have you done or being doing to better the best in your sphere of influence?

Good things won’t drop on our laps if we don’t engage well. However, a lot can be enjoyed through cultural reorientation. This is not limited to regular marking of festivals like Yam festival day (not totally out of place though, but could evolve creatively), or celebration day for villages and towns…

Developing enterprising mindset, social contract in form of a healthy dream for all could go a long way to boost patriotism and pride of honour of any person instead of struggling with second fiddle, low self esteem, slavery or mediocrity. Cultural reorientation will help in fading of crab syndrome of pulling each other down, fighting each other instead of joining efforts to fight a common enemy- underdevelopment.

A binding collective dream for greatness could inspire an evolution of the choices and how Okun could further live and enjoy development. And over time, the seemingly underdog Okun will rise as a trailblazer and pacesetter in how to live, love and lead in Kogi State and by extension Nigeria.

– Isaac Kayode Obajemu writes from Lokoja.

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