Because no man is an island, there are therefore things that the inevitable human relationships require, in general and in context, for the continuous development of mankind. Things like; kindness, truthfulness, sacrifice, generosity, loyalty and many others.
For this piece we will be looking at loyalty. You hear people talking about loyalty as if it can never go wrong and how they want it from others, especially friends and family.
But the truth is that loyalty can be bad, deceitful, cowardly and wicked. Because we must ask questions like, to what or whom is the loyalty given? Why or how is the loyalty given? We should not look at only the profit, but also the cost. For example, if Mr A supports or helps Mr B who has a dispute with Mr C simply because Mr B is a close friend of Mr A, if Mr B wins the case even though he is wrong, loyalty has paid off, but justice, a universal human tenet, has suffered defeat.
It should be noted that those who have excessive demand for loyalty, usually have sinister motives behind their actions. Let’s take a look at Hitler, the German dictator and mass murderer. He needed close allies and soldiers who could contribute to his aim of terminating the Jewish race and other atrocities, including the world war2. These allies and lieutenants of Hitler were loyal to him, but today looking back at the crime committed, it was an evil, questionable loyalty which makes them complicit to the crime. They were loyal to a person but not to humanity.
Let’s bring it home. Nigeria like every other nation in the world will continue to face the issue of divided or problematic loyalty. No nation in the world, no matter how mono-ethnic, religious, ideological and even single-party, will be completely free of divisions in any form. China with its dominating communist party and Iran with its Islamic supreme leader are not void of dissenting voices.
In Nigeria we have people who do not care what a government or political party does, they have sworn to defend it to any extent. Allegiance to a region blinds them completely, they can’t see any wrong. The average Yoruba supported Obasanjo, the South-south supported Jonathan, and the Northerner Buhari. It’s a circle, a very bad one, it will continue until the mass of the people are ready to open their minds objectively.
This is not a call to sheer antagonism but a call to stand for rightness, justice, and in situations where they are not clear distinction between right and wrong, all parties must be willing to look into them sincerely. Honor and honesty must be brought back to followership at any level; government or non-government, formal or informal, between friends or even strangers. Loyalty should not be total in the sense that there is no option for considerations.
When we are objective, we don’t have to spend energy, resources and time defending the government excessively, especially if the accusations against it are unfounded. But no, because the accusations are credible at times, much resource is dedicated albeit unnecessary in defending policies and actions. Aides and ministries should be proactive rather than reactive.
In the actual sense, when it comes to the issue of citizens and the state, the question of loyalty is swallowed by a more honorable term called PATRIOTISM. Must patriotism and loyalty be at opposing sides? No! Should one trump the other? Yes, when the need arises.
To avoid a semantic war, patriotism is given towards the state, the nation, while loyalty is given to people, government and principles.
So when people practice loyalty irrationally and think they are supporting a government or mocking opposition, they do not realize that at the long run they are hurting the state and not being patriotic. Patriotism can almost never go wrong, it is to humanity.
The deepening trend of globalization is even bridging the idea or patriotism and loyalty into one term. Because we are more connected than ever, having access to almost equal products and services, information, communication and technology, we cannot help but endeavor to work for the good of others, both at home and abroad. Bad policies and products which you support here may go ahead and hurt your friend or brother over there.