This article was first published in December 2017 and repeated in August 2018. With change being the only constant in human life, a lot of water has passed under the bridge in our country since then that has made yesterday’s hailers today’s wailers and vice versa. I find this write-up very relevant and perhaps may make us view Nigeria first over many of the things that pull us apart.
Hailer and wailer are new terms in our political lexicon. Just as ‘men and women of timber and calibre’ and ‘extraordinary and plenipotentiary’, etc. were introduced in the Second Republic, the terms ‘hailer’ and ‘wailer’ have possibly also come to stay. Apparently we get such trending words in a democracy, even though General Ibrahim Babangida had his “a little to the left and a little to the right” and “new breed”.
While in the Second Republic ‘timber and calibre’ came from one of the ruling party’s big wigs, I think Chief Kingsley Ozuomba Mbadiwe and the second came from the government when it appointed the same Chief Mbadiwe an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, in this dispensation ‘hailers’ and ‘wailers’ have come from the followers.
Dictionary.com defines the word ‘hail’ as to cheer, salute, or greet; welcome. 2. To acclaim; approve enthusiastically as in the crowds hailed the conquerors. They hailed the recent advances in medicine. 3. To call out to in order to stop, attract attention, ask aid, etc. and ‘wail’ as to utter a prolonged, inarticulate, mournful cry, usually high-pitched or clear-sounding, as in grief or suffering: to wail with pain. 2. To make mournful sounds, as music or the wind. 3. To lament or mourn bitterly.
Domesticating the terms, Professor Farooq A. Kperogi, a Professor of English, in his column of 31st December 2016 in Daily Trust, titled Top 10 Words That Trended in Nigerian English in 2016, defined a wailer as a critic of President Buhari. “There are several informal groups that go by names such as Wailers Association of Nigeria, Association of Wailers for a Fair Nigeria and Good Governance, the Wailing Wailers Association of Nigeria, etc.” He also defined a hailer as “a Buhari partisan in whose sight Buhari can do no wrong. It was chosen both for its rhyming quality with and semantic contrast to wailer”.
But what really do the terms stand for and how do they translate into the categorisation of individuals concerning the patriotism bar?
Wailing done altruistically for the good of the country should be hailed just as hailing unreasonably should be wailed at, because no justice is done to any leader (ship), especially in a democratic setting, when he is seen as infallible. A people who love their leader must be ready to stand by him and tell him the truth at all times.
I do not claim knowledge of leadership principles in Christianity, but in Islam, I know that as a follower, one is duty-bound to correct and guide his leader whenever necessary. Khalif Umar al-Khattab (RA), upon becoming the leader of the Muslims, was quoted to have said, “If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.” See the full text of his speech below:
After the assumption of office as the Caliph, Umar addressed the Muslims who had assembled in the Prophet’s mosque. In the course of the address, Umar said: “O ye faithful! Abu Bakr is no more amongst us. After having led us for about two years, he has returned to His Maker. He has the satisfaction that he has successfully piloted the ship of the Muslim state to safety after negotiating the stormy sea. He successfully waged the apostasy wars, and thanks to him, Islam is now supreme in Arabia. Islam is now on the move and we are carrying Jihad in the name of Allah against the mighty empires of Byzantine and Persia. After Abu Bakr, the mantle of Khilafat has fallen on my shoulders. I swear it before God that I never coveted this office. I wished that it would have devolved on some other person more worthy than me. But now that in national interest, the responsibility for leading the Muslims has come to vest in me, I assure you that I will not run away from my post, and will make an earnest effort to discharge the onerous duties of the office to the best of my capacity in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Holy Book, and will follow the examples set by the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. In this task I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray. Now brothers I offer a few prayers and you say Amen to them. O Allah I am hard, make me soft to promote the Truth, to comply with your injunctions and to aspire to a better life in the world hereafter. O Allah make me hard for the enemies of Islam and for those who create mischief so that their designs against Allah come to nought. O Allah I am miser; make me generous in the promotion of the good. O Allah save me from hypocrisy. Strengthen my resolves so that whatever I do, I do for the sake of winning Your approbation. O Allah soften my heart for the faithful so that I attend to their needs with a sense of dedication. O Allah, I am careless, make me responsible enough so that I do not lose sight of You. O Allah I am weak in offering my obedience to You; make me active and fortify my faith. O Allah bestow on me faith, and the power to do good. O Allah give me the power of self-criticism and self-assessment. O Allah bestow on me the insight into the meaning of the Quran and the strength to act in accordance with what the Quran says. O Allah You are capable of doing anything: bless us with Your favour. Amen.” (Source: Alim.org-Umar bin al-Khattab History).
In Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (6/305, 306), Khalif Abu Bakr (RA) is quoted to have implored his followers thus: “If I do well, then help me; and if I act wrongly, then correct me.” By so doing, he affirmed the right of citizens to hold their leaders accountable for their actions.
A Muslim is, therefore, not expected to be a sheepish follower. It is even worse if such sheepishness is because of some primordial reasons, while the leader (ship) is not upright.
However, being a wailer just because who you support has lost or because you just love to hate the leader (ship) is the zenith of hypocrisy and affliction of an incurable and mortal disease.
On the other hand, to hail because ‘the hailed’ shares something mundane with you, irrespective of the leader’s failings, is a gross disservice to the fatherland, because you are helping neither him nor yourself. This is akin to a parent who spares the rod, or cringes at people corrections because his or her child must be protected from the attacks of ‘outsiders’. It is neither objective nor is it love.
To hail because the leader (ship) is doing well is a form of gratitude, while acknowledging the responsibilities incumbent upon the leader (ship).
Hailing a leader (ship) for doing what you wailed against when done by some other is no more patriotism than wailing against a leader (ship) who is doing what you would hail when done by a different leader (ship). Patriotism is when your hailing and wailing are for Nigeria and her interests. Nothing more, nothing less.
In other words, he who hails just because he and the leader are from the same area or share the same religion, and not because of performance, is just as patriotic as he who wails because he and the leader are not from the same area or do not belong to the same faith.
When all’s said and done, both hailers and wailers could be patriotic, as long as they do their assumed ‘duty’ for the good of the country and not out of unadulterated hatred or love, as the case may be, for the leader.