Nationalism and Patriotism may connote something similar, yet they mean different things. These two terms are often wrongly used interchangeably. This erroneous approach has been described as a confused and confusing usage. This confusion is pronounced that there is no generally agreed origin of nationalism. This should surprise considering how popular the term is among fighters for democracy and identity seekers. What is apparent however is that majority of the authors agree that the existence of a nation or nationalism is not determinable by any test outside of the individuals concerned about it. It was for this reason stated that “a nationality exists when its members believe that it does”  and that “two men are of the same nation if and only if they recognise each other as belonging to the same nation.”  It was against the background of this confusion that Coady speculated that the concept of nationalism arose in the context of culturally and ethnically unified communities who either had or wanted to assert a political identity and sovereignty. It was Coady’s opinion that as such groups became dispersed or diluted by invasion or migration their political aspirations became inhibited or implausible, and a more pluralistic group with an overarching claim to political authority. An acknowledgement (acceptance) of this claim led to nationalism, which in essence is a national sentiment and attachment.
The problem with Professor Coady’s explanation of nationalism is that it does not address the African experience. At the turn of the twentieth century most African nations were under colonial rule. Educated Africans began to fight for the emancipation of their countries from colonial rule, propelled by a burning desire for self-determination and self-rule. That was nationalism. This nationalism did not evolve along the line of Coady’s model. There are at least three perspectives from which a nation may be understood. First, as a political entity, secondly as a religious group and finally as an ethnic group. Nigeria is a nation in the political sense, while the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups are nations in the ethnic nationality sense. Christianity and Islam on the other hand, are religious affiliations and belief system based on faith. They often have some common belief systems and marked differences.
Nationalism is related to patriotism, but both should not be used interchangeably. Patriotism is love of one’s country. This love for country should encompass majority of the things and features of that country – its people, culture, anthem, geography, constitution, laws, leaders and geography. Whilst patriotism is often viewed as a positive term and it is generally considered a compliment for a citizen to be referred to as a patriot, excessive pride may be regarded as arrogance and it is often difficult to argue that there are no selfish reasons underlying avowed patriotism. This arrogance would manifest in a belief that the “patriot’s” country is the best, or superior to others. Patriots are often regarded, rightly or otherwise, as beneficiaries of the State’s reward and therefore incapable of being objective in relation to their country or people. The objects, reasons and motives for citizens’ patriotism have now led to the classification of patriotism into – Pre-political, Comprehensive, Political, Egocentric, Value-based, Full-fledged, Extreme and Moderate. 
The moral, ethical element of patriotism should be noted. While extreme patriotism is not morally acceptable, the moderate is.