The symbols that signify the sovereignty of the Nigerian state have not been given the desired attention over the years but the National Orientation Agency has set out to reverse the trend.
Today marks the median observance of the national symbols day. This day which was engineered by the National Orientation Agency, (NOA), has been set aside for citizens and non citizens within Nigeria to celebrate the symbols representing the nation. In a press conference held at the NOA headquarters, Abuja on Wednesday, the director general of the NOA, Mr. Mike Omeri, told newsmen that the national symbols day is necessary to make Nigerians aware of not just the importance of the day but also educate them on the correct dimensions, size and versions of these symbols.
These symbols which are backed by law include the national flag, the national anthem, the Nigerian currency, the coat of arms, the national identity card and the Nigerian international passport. In his speech, the DG said that the essence of the national symbols day is also to engender love, acceptance and respect for these symbols.
He further stated that, “it was due to the fact that no day has been set aside for this cause since 1914 when Nigeria was created, that has resulted in the widespread misunderstanding of our various national symbols, gross disregard, disrespect, abuse and misuse of the symbols: focusing rather on ethnicity and other mundane issues”.
This is true in that most youths, adults and some children in Nigeria do not know both stanza of the national anthem, or know the meaning of each item that is engraved on the national coat of arms.
According to Omeri, the NOA was mandated by the President, Goodluck Jonathan, to take effective measures to popularize and standardize the correct shape and colours of the national flag and also, the correct rendition of the national anthem. One may wonder if this step is coming up due to the recent rise of certain ethnic groups within the country portraying their own flags and anthems.
Many would conclude that those within the country raising their own flags and anthems would be asking for their separation from Nigeria. In answer to this, Omeri stated that there is nothing in the constitution of Nigeria against other people having their own flags and anthems, “there is no constitutional law against having other flags in Nigeria but they must not take precedence over the national flag of Nigeria.
The national flag must be flown higher than the other flags within the country except those flags of other countries,” he said. Also on the same issue, he stated that letters have been sent to the various states in the federation to emphasize that the national flag is above all others and that any state found defaulting is contravening the law and also, that officials of the NOA will be vigilant to bring them to book.
Well, given that the security situation in the country is so bad that some factions are seeking independence, it is only wise that the president takes this step in an attempt to ensure that the country does not completely disintegrate under him. This venture may not exactly solve many problems currently buffeting the country but it will remind Nigerians and her enemies of the unity and the indivisibility of this country.
During the press conference, the absence of civic education which teaches about a country’s laws, history and the duties of the leaders and the led of the country was raised. In regard to the matter, the DG stated that, “NOA is working on improving the civic education content in schools and thus, hoping it includes the functions of organization’s such as INEC and that of the road safety.
“The NOA has a secoundary school program where awareness on civic education is made. We are also introducing the Flag Corner in all classrooms in the country”. Omeri said that this flag corner is like a place of honour in the classroom. He noted that in other countries, private corporate organisations support the promotion of their national flags but that this is hardly done in Nigeria.
Some organisations within the country design the flag or the coat of arms in the wrong way and place in their offices, “when you go to certain banks or offices, you see that the horses in the coat of arms are yellow in colour and then the flag stripes are placed in the horizontal form instead of the vertical.
This is very wrong but they are not to blame because they are ignorant of these issues and this is why the NOA is out to sensitise everyone in this regard. We would appreciate that corporate organisations join and support us”, he said.
On this national symbols day, Omeri has asked everyone to proudly display their flags from their windows and rooftops to proclaim the sovereignty of Nigeria.
No matter the travails and bad publicity of this country, Nigerian citizens are proud to be identified as Nigerians and being that the Nigerian spirit of very persevering, it would take a whole lot more to break that spirit or Nigeria.
The government and the people have a lot to do to bring Nigeria to that place of peace and prosperity that we all hope for.