By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
TORN, tattered and worn-out flags doting the nation’s landscape have become so commonplace that the sense of embarrassment, which it depicts, has sadly been lost.
Such ugly sights daily assault Nigerians on street corners, schools, corporate and government institutions. At present, there is a waving flag torn to shreds at Akowonjo Roundabout, Lagos State, which is sited very close to Alimosho Local Council Secretariat.
The national flag is the identity of a living country. The Nigerian flag is the symbol through which the country is identified as a member in the comity of nations. Nigeria is a member of the United Nations (UN), which explains why its flag is flying at the UN headquarters in New York.
Also, the national flag is the symbol of our national unity. It is the civic solemn that represents the collective soul of all Nigerians. Everything about Nigeria is embedded in the emblem of the national flag.
Flags essentially represent conquest. If Nigeria goes to war with another country, the first sign that one puts up to show ownership is the flag. When Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960, the British flag came down and Nigerian flag waved the skies.
What many Nigerians don’t know, however, is that there are penalties for the abuse or desecration of the national flag. The penalty is a paltry N100 fine for one day. Displaying a tattered flag for a year would amount to N36, 500. This is not enough punishment for any organization or individual flying a tattered, faded or defaced national flag.
Two weeks ago, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, unveiled the centenary flag in preparation for the 2014 celebration of 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation.
He described the centenary flag as the symbol of unity, while noting that the centenary celebrations is an indelible event in the history of the country and an opportunity for Nigerians to reaffirm their faith in the country.
The centenary flag project is being implemented and promoted by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in partnership with Karamba Consulting, representing the private sector in the initiative.
Karamba Consulting is charged with the responsibility of designing, producing and marketing the flags nationwide, alongside delivering the message of national unity and patriotism ahead of Nigeria’ centenary activities.
Driving this arduous task of reigniting the sense of patriotism through appreciation of the centenary flag is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Karamba Consulting, Dr. Daniel Young.
According to him: “The centenary flag will further unite us rather than separate us. The turbulence in the political landscape is such that unless we have a rallying point for everyone to appreciate that sense of our unity, integration may be impossible.
“For a very long time, Nigerians have not found reason to believe in themselves and in the country though there are pockets of people who are nationalists. This is the perception we want to change.
“For instance, in America, there is absolute loyalty to the flag and it is considered the highest level of treason to disrespect the flag. We look forward to such a time using this platform for Nigerians to begin to appreciate the emblem of our flag,” he said.
The centenary flag is a commemorative emblem for the celebration designed in green and white colours. According to the organisers, it would not replace the national flag, but will only serve as a reminder that we are 100 years old.
Plans have already been concluded to unveil the centenary flags simultaneously in schools, churches, mosques, hospitals and all government institutions across the country, while private organisations would also be encouraged to fly the commemorative flag.
“We are particular about the schools because we want our children to be told the story of how we began and who we are as a nation. We want to use this opportunity to re-orientate the younger generation and restore that sense of pride that is lacking in respect to our national emblem.
“Everyone and organization who is a true patriot and believes in this country should identify with Nigeria using the centenary flag. Anyone not identifying with this centenary flag is implying that Nigeria should break. We want the skyline of Nigeria to be dotted with this flag as a way of demonstrating to the world that we are willing to remain as one country.”
“Married couples are identified with their wedding ring. The flag will serve as our own wedding band tying us to this nation; such that anywhere you see it, you will know a patriot is here. Nigeria is beyond partisan politics and we are using this project to inculcate the culture of nationhood among Nigerians,” he said.