Archive Opinion: "Civis Nigerianus Sum".

Opinion: “Civis Nigerianus Sum”.


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“Thinking is not an easy exercise” my lecturer once told me when I expressed my disappointment at how easily people give in to gullibility and superstition. That piece of expression would later help me understand why Philosophers are not taken too seriously in Nigeria because many persons think Philosophers are sick fellows who waste time thinking the unthinkable.

Philosophy is “Thinking, thinking, Thinking”. In other words, a thinking (subject) that is thinking (process) another thinking (object). It is at that level of reflection that ingenious ideas are birthed.

Most fresh graduates do not take GST 103 (Philosophy and Logic) seriously because at that level they cannot easily connect its relevance to their course of study; say Medicine, Engineering, Computer Science, e.t.c. But educatedness do not consist essentially on what the teacher said in the classroom or lecture room. It instead consist of the skills and competence that is acquired by virtue of what is said in classrooms. Critical thinking skills.

In my parlance it is common to hear that “Passing Six is not Passing Sense” This means that to have a certificate do not logically imply that one is capable of “critical thinking”. Critical thinking is a first son of RIGHT REASON, a cousin of intiative, and an elder brother of Common Sense. It comes through consistent practice.

Before I lose your attention. President Jonathan in London few days ago at Bloomberg lecture used this expression “Civis Nigerianus Sum”- I am a Citizen of Nigeria. Cicero, a quintessential Roman statesman first used the expression “Civis Romanus Sum”. In the context of the lecture, Jonathan made repeated reference to a Bill of Rights that will criminise all forms of discrimination against people on the basis of their ethnic group or religion in any part of the country they chose to dwell.

That reinforces a view I have expressed severally that Nigerian problem is more of “injustice than embezzlement of public fund”. It took critical thinking for the statesmen and women at the 2014 National Confab to articulate Nigerian problems and proffered solutions.  But am afraid that it has taken Passing Six and not Passing Sense to shelve the report. It takes critical thinking to solve critical problems. Unfortunately, lack of this ability among leaders is responsible for the perennial problems inhibiting sustainable development in Nigeria and Africa.

It is not yet Uhuru. Until we take care of our education system and policies by focusing on intrinsic value of education (to cultivate the mind) rather than extrinsic value (to have certificate and get a job), we might not be able to fix our national problems any soon.

Celestine Chidozie
Writes from Lagos


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