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By Kemisola Kasali

I pledge to Nigeria my country

To be faithful, loyal and honest

To serve Nigeria with all my strength

To defend her unity

And uphold her honour and glory

So help me God

In a week’s time, post-independence Nigeria will be 50. And that has kept me thinking for some time now. I see everything going on around me and how our nation has struggled over the years to stand tall. Why do we remain backwards when many other countries have made tremendous progress over the years? How do we get out of this mess?

How wonderful it would be if we all could individually observe and do according to the National Pledge! We need to go back to the beginning. This powerful pledge has been from inception and holds the key to our progress as a nation. A pledge is a solemn promise or undertaking to do something. Every time you recite the National Pledge, you promise to be faithful, loyal and honest in your dealings with other people. You declare that you would serve Nigeria with every bit of strength you have in you.

To defend the nation’s unity, you mean that you would look beyond ethnic and personal gains and consider the nation as an entity – you place national unity above tribal inclinations. Do you have an idea what it means to uphold Nigeria’s honour and glory? It implies that whatever you are doing, wherever you find yourself, you seek to represent the nation as a good ambassador! You promise to be involved in only those things that would bring honour and glory to Nigeria, not shame and dishonour.

The National Pledge ends with the line, “so help me God.” In essence, those who coined this powerful statement of promise also acknowledge the relevance of God in this matter. This is not to shift responsibility to God so that we become lazy and renege on our promises. It is a pointer to the fact that we cannot truly carry out these promises without God.