Does Patriotism Affect Economic Development?: An Independence Day Experiment

I woke up to “Happy Independence Day!” texts and somewhere down my stream of thoughts, I began to wonder what role patriotism plays in economic development. Surprisingly, not much research exists on this. Maybe the link between patriotism and growth is a non-issue? Maybe measuring patriotism presents its own challenges? Given that Independence Day in countries usually stirs the feelings of patriotism, today (October 1) in Nigeria would be the best day to find out if a cause and effect of some sort exists between patriotism and economic development. What other day could the flames of patriotism burn brighter? (Only a Cup win by the Super Eagles, the Nigerian Football team garners such level of patriotism). So if one could gather necessary data through the day, what effect would we get from patriotism?


Will our patriotism reduce the level of corruption? Maybe patriotism ensures that one dissuades one from renegading on a contract, or embezzle money? Couldn’t we assume that patriotic people would serve the country rather than their private accounts? When stolen money never remains in the country, emphasis on Nigerian patriotism becomes questionable. Such funds probably becomes capital for new hotels in Dubai. Hence, if we attempted to measure capital flight, would we see capital move into the country instead of out on Independence Day?

Brain Drain

Would the nostalgia of Nigeria draw our foreign intellectuals, doctors, engineers, writers, back into the country? Or does patriotism only become a significant factor when professions/intellectuals decide to remain in Nigeria rather than live abroad.


Today, will Nigerians engage in economic nationalism and eschew foreign products for those made within Nigeria? Or will we celebrate the Independence with Golden iPhones imported from outside the country?

Ethnic Bigotry

Our religious and ethnic differences in Nigeria have constantly been a deterrent to our national unity and growth. Will today’s spike in patriotism be enough to conquer our deep-seated mistrust for one another? I wonder if the marginal rise in patriotism today could cause a fall in ethno-religious bigotry and initiate all the benefits that come with diversity?

Other Questions

Does patriotism lead to economic growth or does economic growth lead to patriotism? What if we’re seeing it the wrong way? What if it’s actually economic development that has an effect on patriotism? A citizen is likely to associate more with his country when he/she can see burgeoning socioeconomic development. Likewise, it’s easy to disconnect when things aren’t going well. After all, even Peter denied Jesus when times were tough. For example, I doubt the feeling of nation pride swells the heart of any Nigerian that received the news of 78 murdered students.

The Dark Side of Patriotism

Can patriotism stunt national development? Yes, it happens when people develop a warped sense of patriotism. I’ve seen a number of Nigerians derive joy from the fact that we’re able to break the law and frequently get away with it. Several bad attitudes displayed by Nigerians have been chucked up to us being Nigerians. You dare to complain about incompetency in Nigeria, you get slammed with the question, ‘Are you not Nigerian?’. Ask people to get in a queue and you’re likely to be told to “stop acting like you’re not from here.” Being a true Nigerian apparently involves embracing and vociferously defending the inefficiencies, flaws and weaknesses of the nation. Such blind patriotism…Pointing out what’s wrong about a nation isn’t what ruins the nation; doing nothing about it does. Nigeria does not need us making excuses for its flaws; Nigeria needs us to fix those flaws.

Components of Patriotism

Let’s be clear; every nation faces these questions on how patriotism ties into their economic development, and nuances exist in the formative stages and factors of patriotism. Citizens of The United States might see democracy as a reason for their patriotism, whilst a number of Chinese citizens might not share similar sentiments when their feeling of patriotism is stirred. Essentially, the people and the system  define the sources of patriotism. 

We must critically question what characteristics of our nation we decide to be patriotic about. As we celebrate our Independence Day, let’s all reflect on what makes us as a nation worth being proud of. Get rid of the negative correlations and build on the positives. Happy(?) Independence day, fellow Nigerians. 

  • economic development should not be a reason for not being patriotic.when one is patriotic he/she sees every problem and issue bedevilling the nation as his/her personal problem irrespective.there are some general social responsibilities incumbent upon us as patriotic citizens which we fail to uphold great piece

  • exactly, it is another day for those power drunk people to read long false speeches.

  • Fola ‘manboy’ Ige

    Give me one reason why I should be patriotic?

  • mercury
  • Ahmed B. Ibrahim

    Patriotism is a factor for economic development but it is not all. Every Nigerian is patriotic but fails to understand the meaning. To him or her patriotism is for himself or herself and beyond that is selflessness. We’re rich as individual but poor as a nation.

  • Jomo Ekpebu

    Your question mark after the ‘Happy’ in the last line of the article is very well-placed! I believe economic development leads to patriotism. It is unrealistic to expect people to express patriotic sentiments on Oct 1st in a country so richly blessed, yet so devoid of meaningful and significant development in all spheres of life – especially economic – due to an entrenched culture of corruption, selfishness and impunity at all levels of governance! I chose to be happy on Oct 1st for two reasons – first, I was (and still am, btw:-) alive and well, and second, it was the 53rd wedding anniversary of my favourite uncle and aunty. I welcomed Nigeria’s ‘independence’ with indifference and cynism – having no electricity at home in our ‘world-class’ capital city on that day probably factored in my response. There needs to be a drastic and lasting positive change in this country before Id expend my precious energy on expressing patriotic sentiments for this nation.

  • Nuesity

    Good one. As always, most of one’s ‘brilliant’ ideas have not been thoroughly researched…but then again it only passes the ‘brilliance test’ for that reason :). Patriotism?….hmmm, always asked myself if I am and if Nigerians really are. For those with good economic resources who merry-go-round, is there a nack to come back home?, if yes?, why?…is it for family ties, or the apparent impunity displaced at home (you can get away with anything/crime, so long as you know the right person/people or have the ‘right’ sum/monies. or both, usually both.). Are we truly patriotic?, or we are obsessed with the idea. Do people not love Super Eagles just as much(if not less) than Arsenal, Chelsea or Utd…is it actually patriotism or a conscious attachment?. If patriotism, we do we then hurt the country in every possible way…pee on its roads, cut down its trees, pollute its air, disturb its citizens (church, loud music, CO2 emissions…etc), why bribe/corrupt the officials, why allow simpletons rule?, why not vote, why vote and let it be rigged?, why oil-bunkering?, why ethnic bigotry?…why this, why that?….I opine that we are not really patriotic, we like, no love the idea that we are. Nigerians I admit can argue passionately (criticize actually) about the bad and evil in the country all day long (and I do that too), but I have realized that is not patriotism, it is a part of it but not the full package. The full package would involve those same criticisms, yet it will go a step further to proffer solutions (which is the harder option, any lazy Dick or Tom, Seun or Ahmed or Emeka can complain/criticize!), patriotism will translate into deep, informed, non-violent (violent if necessary CC: Nobel Peace Prize winner Madiba)….Patriotism would always be willin to give, not expect even when one should, like JFK ‘encouraged’…..It will be about ‘what can I do?’…not always ‘this is how it is and will be’. My submission remains that only a few, very few Nigerians are really, truly patriotic. Less than a million probably…maybe even substantially less. I am not sure I am one of those, as I have questioned why I think I love my country and only realized that beyond the fact that I was born, bred and raised there, have just her passports…there is not so much more that makes me love her, even though I truly do. Yes I love Lagos parties, Hausa language, Calabar foods, Igbo business acumen, our ‘never-say-die’ attitude, the topography and scenery change travelling north-southwards and so many others. Is that enough though?….

    • You’ve made a lot of great points. Indeed, how can we say we’re patriotic when our actions say otherwise? I guess within that point you made comes your answer. These things we enjoy about Nigeria do not truly make us patriotic, it simply means we enjoy certain utilities from Nigeria. What would truly define us as patriotic is when we actively stop engaging in actions like “pee on its roads, cut down its trees, pollute its air, disturb its citizens (church, loud music, CO2 emissions…etc), why bribe/corrupt the officials, why allow simpletons rule?, why not vote, why vote and let it be rigged?, why oil-bunkering?, why ethnic bigotry?” because we truly care about the state of our nation and the people in it. Cheers.

      • Nuesity

        Great….Thanks for calling me unpatriotic! :p

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