By: Moses Jesutola

In Dire Need by Mustard Omachoko Idoko is a book which underlines the critical problem that the nation of Nigeria has been facing from a long time ago. The poems which open each chapter of the book capture in laconic terms the main theses of the author’s intention in writing the book.

In Dire Need is expository in that by arguing for a patriotic spirit in all Nigerians, its main arguments stem from its explication of the national anthems – both the old and new ones – and also work the readership through an exposition of the national pledge. The author advertises, with flying colors, the weight that each line of the national anthems and pledge bears. The author begins each chapter with a poetic flavor which captures the content of the chapter in condensed and epigrammatic form, as is typical of poetic writing. As an introductory discourse, the author drums the necessity and benefits of patriotism into the Nigerian people. He highlights the traits that would thrust Nigerians into that which would advance the economy, as well as strengthen the course of national development. The author, in explanatory terms, enlists mutual respect, the pride of one’s faith in one’s fatherland, unselfishness, and the necessity of ensuring that good policies are drawn out of good intentions, to mention but a few, as things that are needed for the facilitation of economic advancement, and flourishing.

There is a great deal of merit to In Dire Need. The book underscores the need for Nigerians to be patriotic. The spirit of patriotism is, as the author argues, is the dire need of Nigeria and the Nigerian people. The arguments of the author, stemming in the first few chapters from the exposition of the national anthems and the national pledge, are meritorious. The emphasis on respect as the foundation for humanitarian and ethical behavior, and how that mutual respect buttresses good relationships, is cogent. The historical flare that the book exudes makes it even more compelling in making its case. The exploration of the meaning of a text must be done in light of its historical and grammatical context. In this aspect, the author does a good job of exploring the historical situation which brought about the national anthem, especially the new one, and the national pledge. In chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4, the author incisively and insightfully explores the meaning of the Nigerian national anthems – old and new – and the national pledge. The incisiveness of his explication is underlined by the fact that it exposits the anthems and pledge line by line, teasing out the meaning and drawing out its implication for the Nigerian people. The author draws the readership into understanding that the national anthem(s) and pledge were not mere words to be chanted whenever occasions call for it. Instead, according to the author, they are meant to be sung with the kind of consciousness that reinvigorates and reinforces commitment to one’s nation, particularly in one’s conduct and speech and in how one relates to fellow citizens, the leaders and even the land.

In chapter 3, the author employs, what, in my view, is an exact metaphor, in stating the fact the land or nation mirrors, as it were, the parenthood of its entire indigenous people. The author infers this from the line in the national anthem which reads: “… to serve our fatherland …”

The argument for the fact that the nation is one’s parent in a metaphorical sense was drawn from the premises which consist of the use of “the Motherland” in the first anthem, and “the Fatherland” in the second anthem. As Idoko avers, to call a person the son of a particular soil is to indicate the parenthood of the land. In his words on page 71, “It presents the individual sons as the offspring of the land.” Idoko makes a cogent point in underlining the fact that the two phrases in the national anthems – the old and new ones – acknowledge the parenthood of Nigerian soil to the Nigerian people. Nevertheless, he fails to explicate the possible rationale behind the change from “Motherland” in the anthem before Nigeria gained independence, to “Fatherland” in the new anthem after the Independence. Was the change done arbitrarily? One may want to argue for the fact that since the entirety of the anthem was written, the foregoing change doesn’t deserve much attention. It is possibly just a mere change, one may want to say… But the writers of the new national anthem could also borrow from the words of the old, especially the word “Motherland” while still keeping their objective of a new anthem in mind. Thus, it is most likely the case that the change from “Motherland” to “Fatherland” underscores the recognition of the necessity for masculine strength in steering the wheel of the economy of the nation, right from the nation’s independence, by the writers of the anthem. This masculine grit, which is far from arguing against the involvement of women in the development of the country, is the needed muscular strength to aid the development of the nation, Nigeria. Nevertheless, this thought and the reason (should there be a conscious one) for such a transition may have escaped Idoko’s notice. This oversight, however, does not detract from the merit of the whole book.

That said, in Chapter 4, it is laudable that the author exudes some measure of historical alertness with respect to the national anthem. Idoko also does a good job of exploring the national pledge. Subsequently, in Chapter 5, Idoko argues for an inward reformation which results in attitudinal change, and not mere outward rebranding. This is commendable, as it is blindly obvious that even the religious atmosphere that should lead the way in ensuring by its teachings and conducts an inward change which positively impacts the outward person and his environment are endlessly engaged in mere formalism and outward adornment lacking in inward dynamism and vitality. Nigerians, as the author argues in his thesis, must positively respond to the call for attitudinal change that its national anthem and pledge require from them.

Furthermore, it is praiseworthy that the author itemizes the several kinds of greed that plague the nation, especially in Chapter 7. In addition to that, it is tellingly attractive how Idoko ably points out that the identification of patriotism is not only expressed in deep love and loyalty to one’s country but also in the acknowledgement of the lapses and crimes of one’s country. It bears stating that the author’s criticism of the poor level of patriotism in Nigeria is right on the money. Moreover, another fine point made by the author is in Chapter 9 on the subject matter of “Privatization and Denationalisation,” especially the fact that the citizens of a country can personalise public companies without privatizing them. A number of criticisms which revolve around the economic worldview adopted by individual governments may be launched against this point. But one must keep the author’s main point in mind, which underlines the recognition of the civic responsibility of every citizen to government-owned property. In short, nothing really belongs to the government, in a sense. Government-owned property is citizens-owned property.

Rev. Mustard Idoko – Author

The book, In Dire Need, is an echo of hope in the stormy gale of national disarray. The author does not only highlight the challenges which plague the nation Nigeria, but he also employs a benignly instructive approach in reorienting the readership’s perspective to his/her nation; igniting the needed alertness to the ethical responsibility to which the national anthem and pledge call every citizen; reemphasizing the fact that the will to work must match promises made by the government during the campaign; reordering the nation’s attention to vigorously fight corruption; reinstructing journalists on the necessity of patriotic journalism; thereby imbuing the entire nation with the spirit of patriotism. This book should not only be read in classrooms but also be put in the hands of every Nigerian, whether literate or not. The importance of patriotism needs to be drummed into every Nigerian, young or old, educated or uneducated, et al.

Moses Jesutola is a student at the Institute of Pastoral and Theological Training (IPTT), Egbe, Kogi State. He sent this piece from Egbe.

Mustard Omachoko Idoko is the founding pastor of Potter’s Gospel Mission. He is married to Ladi Mustard; they have four children. Pastor Mustard can be reached via email: [email protected].

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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