Currently trending on social media is a video depicting a young girl who appeared on stage during a beauty pageant show in far-away Russia, while draped in a seemingly blood-soaked Nigerian national flag. Named Udeh Chiamaka, the youngster was representing Nigeria at the Miss Africa Russia pageant in Moscow. Ever since the appearance of this video several comments representing the major swings of public opinion on the state of affairs in the country today, have surfaced with some tending to criminalise and sound judgmental in respect of the development as constituting an affront of desecrating a valued national symbol.
Meanwhile, of note is that this situation is not unprecedented, as there have been several reported instances before it, where the Nigerian flag has been paraded in public with blood stains and in some cases even burnt by Nigerians. At least there are reports of such instances like during the EndSARS# protests last year, when irate demonstrators took out their grievances against the system by desecrating the Nigerian national flag, to assuage themselves. Talking about the desecration of a symbol in order to express grievances against a subject, revives the memory of when former President Olusegun Obasanjo advised his traducers as well as all who hate him and could not get the opportunity to meet him face to face in order to vent their spleen on him, should simply paste his picture on the wall and flog same to their satisfaction.
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The foregoing notwithstanding, the Russian drama of parading a blood-soaked Nigerian national flag, on a public stage and in a foreign land, still serves as a different kettle of fish, based on a complement of implications it offers the country, both domestically and internationally. Domestically, it betrays a measure of the self-hate which a growing cross-section of Nigerians are developing for the country, which is now routinely being exported to the wider world, courtesy of the incidence of globalisation which has made the world one great flat land. It needs to be recalled that the flag of any nation remains perhaps, its most visible and sacred symbol that people especially military and paramilitary officers serve with their last blood and even die for, out of patriotism. Its importance is accentuated by lowering it to announce the occurrence of any significant calamities in any country, and draping the caskets of military officers who die on duty, defending the fatherland with it.
On the international scene, the flag stands to represent the country at any forum of reckoning with designated countries, such as the United Nations Headquarters in New York and any other similar forum. Hence its desecration puts the government and people of Nigerian on the spot. This is why when nations offend each other, there are incidents of public burning of the flags of offending countries by the offended. In the case of Nigeria’s flag appearing in the pageant show in Moscow, it has put the country on the spot as one dreadful killing field, and offers implications for diplomacy. If it is considered that diplomacy defines a country’s rating in the comity of nations, the wider implications of the Russian drama becomes more apparent. Indeed, while it may be one small step by an actress on the international stage, it still constitutes a big slap on the great Nigerian nation.
However, while the desecration of the Nigerian national flag in Russia may appear reprehensible and may attract undue dramatization by the development may simply be an extension of the unrelenting domestic deconstruction of the Nigerian nation by some zealots – including elements in the status quo comprising those who the country has endowed with more perquisites of citizenship than the young, embittered Nigerian actress in Russia, or the EndSARS# protestors who could only express their grudge by attacking a piece of cloth in green and white colours, referred to as the Nigerian national flag.
There are at least eight authoritative symbols of the Nigerian state, as per the Constitution, with each parading a long litany of woes over its serial desecration in high and low places. These are the Coat of Arms, Official Seal of the President, the Mace used in the various legislative assemblies, the National Flag, the National Anthem, the National Pledge, the Nigerian National Flower and the Nigerian Naira. Whoever is familiar with the shenanigans of the country’s public space will easily attest to the fact that none of these national symbols has escaped serial desecration beyond the scale of the Nigerian actress on the Russian stage, and in several instance by the very custodians of such emblems.
For instance, it is not a matter of conjecture that presently the country’s Constitution is breached daily by pubic officers ranging from the President of the country, to leviathan state governors who in patent violation of constitutional provisions, have converted the states under their respective briefs to personal fiefdoms, where they exercise the power over life and death of citizens. Others in this dubious enterprise include the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, speakers of the various state assemblies, local government chairmen and virtually all Nigerians in public office. This is not to mention other atrocious tendencies which space will fail this column in citing.
Against the backdrop of the fore going state of affairs in the country, and which is currently trending on the global stage, the gripping Russian drama by the Nigerian youngster simply pales into relative insignificance as a mere make-believe stage act, and hardly qualifies for any significant excoriation, in the face of the deluge of unpunished outrages in her home country featuring real life killing of fellow citizens by potentates either directly or indirectly through imposing suffocating privations on them.
In fact if the truth is to be said, her action of parading a blood-stained Nigerian flag in Russia constitutes an indictment of the status quo, and should serve as a wake-up call to the country that the world is daily becoming familiar with the dirty and deadly style of governance in Nigeria, just as a pregnancy cannot be hidden for too long.