The Igbo are a resilient lot, an egalitarian and industrious people. Defined as a meta-ethnicity native and one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, they are predominant in South Eastern and mid-western Nigeria.
I have known the Igbo since I opened my eyes, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for them.
As a student, I had some of them also in the same class in both my primary and secondary schools. Frank Nweke Jnr, a former minister, was my classmate in primary school. Brilliant chap, he was.
At Government College, Maiduguri, among others, Michael Onyia, Christopher Ononogbu, Boniface Edeh, Joseph Anumudu, Felix Udeh and Peter Achukwu were among my classmates. Michael Onyia, now a PhD and lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was always ahead of the set academically. Peter Achukwu is now a Professor in Medical Laboratory Sciences, specialising in Histopathology/Histochemistry with an LLB, BL to boot. He is also a lecturer at UNN.
People will understand, therefore, when I say I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. The Igbo, on average, can be generous and will do all it takes to build someone into becoming someone responsible. They have the best apprenticeship mentoring system in the world, where the mentor sets up the apprentice after a period of training.
I nearly married one, Uzoamaka, in 1990, but that should be a story for another day. However, I offered my junior sister—same parents—to an Igbo secondary school classmate when I realised he wanted to marry a northerner. He ended up marrying someone from abroad, though.
In the 70s, the civil war was fresh, understandably, but by 1979 and through the 1980s up to 2015, the Igbo had been fully integrated into Nigeria and were (still are) major players.
From 1979 to 1983, they occupied the slot of vice president. Ebitu Ukiwe was President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s deputy before Augustus Aikhomu displaced him. They have had chiefs of staff, especially that of the army, Senate presidents, Senate deputy presidents, deputy Speakers in the House of Representatives, and many more positions. There is no position in Nigeria that the Igbo has not held, including the presidency if Goodluck Ebele Jonathan can be regarded as an Igbo by default.
Therefore, when the Igbo man cries “marginalisation!” I wonder if I knew its meaning.
The North East has not tasted power at the apex since Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, yet they have not cried of being “marginalised” by their North Western brothers who will tell them “One North” but when all come “home”, they always take the larger portion of the cake.
In 1979, the North West knew the North East’s Malam Adamu Ciroma was head and shoulders above all the presidential aspirants of the party that won the presidency that year, but they connived to deny him the ticket. Same with 1992. When they realised he would defeat Umaru Shinkafi at the National Republican Convention’s staggered primary elections, they again conspired to scuttle his journey. After doing him in, they went on and truncated another North Easterner, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe’s presidential drive, denying him victory even as a vice-presidential candidate. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar too has suffered the same fate.
Yet the North East did not lament. They did not threaten to break away. The temptation to blame others for their “woes” did not cross their minds. Cries of marginalisation did not sweep over them. No. They will sit down and re-strategise, then make their brothers an offer they cannot refuse: They will present their best who will hopefully best their best. This is politics. It is what democracy is all about. The business of give-and-take. No hairsplitting or inviting the god of thunder or threatening Armageddon.
Again, if people are backward, unable to witness any development in their areas, as the Igbos cry, they should go to the source and address it. Would it be fair for an Anambra man, for instance, to accuse a Hausa man of under-development in his state? Methinks it will not look nice. Members of the state house of assembly are all Igbos, same for cabinet members and all local government officials. Those representing the state at the national level are all Igbos and the governor who got elected into office by his fellow Igbo is also one of them. Their full allocation comes to them, as well. So, where did someone from another area cause the problem? How did he do them in?
It is too late for Nigeria now to divide into only God knows how many components. Perhaps 1966 was the best time. Yes, maybe. Perchance by now, we would all have been independent nationalities, each with its peculiar problems and prospects. But now? No way, sir! We are all safer in a united Nigeria. None of the six geopolitical zones can survive outside Nigeria. Bandits, insurgents, militants, megalomaniacs, charlatans and all would overwhelm us. Even the Igbo nation cannot stand on its own if left to the whims, arrogance and demagoguery of its self-anointed secessionist leader who Yoweri Museveni will look like a saint when compared to.
But many intelligent Igbo know this. The problem is there is a herd movement towards something that the gullible, used cannon fodder do not even know what it is. To them, it is “freedom”. Sure? Freedom from what? From where? From who? If it happens, which is doubtful, it is then they will recall Nigeria with nostalgia and rue over a Nigerian slang “one chance”. They would realise its real meaning, albeit late in the day. This is assuming various warlords have not emerged to deny everyone peace. And freedom. And therefore I sympathise with my good friends, my brothers across the Niger.
A herd movement like the IPOB has its driving spirit and being populated mainly by society’s dregs with nothing to lose, a certain force with a promise of violence pushes it. The level-headed can easily get intimidated and blackmailed into sheepish silence.
There is nothing the good and visionary can do when demagogues opiate the minds and souls of the gullible herd. Or so it seems. But we should also keep in mind Edmund Burke’s letter to Thomas Mercer, a 19th century Judge. A summary of the letter is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
But sometimes one gets disappointed in how the situation was left to deteriorate to this level. Of course, we know that once there is no fairness or justice in a land, agitations take over. In 1966 when life was snuffed out of some leading northern military and political leaders, the chant in the North was for “Araba” (separation) because the North felt the military regime then was not fair and just to it.
The only way we can slow down and perhaps reverse the impending doom is for all to feel included and carried along in affairs despite scarce resources. We have a lot to learn from how Quebec and Ireland are being handled by the Canadian and British governments, respectively.
Nnamdi Kanu, who Aisha Yesufu described as a ‘made-in-China Shekau’ and his IPOB and ESM always deny what everyone knows were perpetrated by them. This is unlike the Boko Haram insurgents who are eager to own what they did and didn’t do as long as it was sinister. This means there is still hope that they could be persuaded to return from their fatal journey, a journey that will only cause untold pains to all on both sides. We need not go through what we had gone through before. Even animals learn from experience, sometimes referred to as history.
We that are in Nigeria should not heed the calls of those safely ensconced in the safety and comfort of the lands of the Whiteman to put our house ablaze. Let anyone who loves us and wants to fight for us remain within us, as Gandhi and Mandela did for their people. We shouldn’t put our lives and those of our loved ones, our relationships, properties and years of labour and sweat on the line for one brigand in disguise, a charlatan living off our sweat in comfort abroad.
HOUSE OF REPS:Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala Who is next? (Olamaboro)
In an ideal democracy, the rotational formula is very sacrosanct in other to protect the involvement of the minority in a country, State, Senatorial district, and federal constituency respectively.
Ankpa federal constituency in kogi state has been maintaining this rotational formula since the country returned to a Democratic system of government.
In 1999, honorable Abimaje Muazu from Ankpa local government was elected and happened to be the first rep member after the country returned to democracy.
In 2003, senator Attai Ali Aidoko from Olamaboro local government was elected and was still reelected in 2007 consecutively, after the completion of his second term in 2011, Hon Idris Muhammad Ibro from Omala local government was voted massively based on the principle of rotational method which the good and loving people of Ankpa federal constituency has been maintaining.
In 2015 Hon. Hassan Omale from Ankpa local government was elected, during this period, all the major political parties zoned their party tickets to Ankpa local government to enable them to produce the next house of rep member, it was then that distinguished Hon Hassan Omale of all progressive Congress (APC) emerged victoriously in the general election.
Hon Hassan Omale lost reelection but despite that APC, PDP and other major political parties still zone their party tickets to Ankpa to enable them to complete their second card, it was in that contest that honorable Halims won on the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC) who is currently the member representing Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala federal constituency at the green Chamber. based on the historical background given thus far, Ankpa local government has ruled for 12 years leading above olamaboro and omala local government respectively since the returned to democracy.
Standing on the history given below it is now unmistakable that it is the turn of olamaboro local government to produce the next House of Representatives member in 2023 because olamaboro local government has never against the zoning formula and this has created love, conformity, and purposeful leadership among the three local governments that made up the federal constituency.
As the 2023 election draws nearer,we appeal to all the major parties in Ankpa federal constituency to zone their party tickets to Olamaboro local government to enable them to produce the House of Representative member to continue with the zoning strategy that has been in places to keep going if this zoning method is maintained there will be compassionate and again there won’t be any means of politics of one-sided or dominance but uniformity
Let us all termed with this reality for the refinement of our federal constituency.
God bless Ankpa federal constituency.
God bless Kogi State.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Abutu Silas Ojochenemi
What Have We Done For the Next Generation?, by Hassan Gimba
Our next-generation may not know what our generation knew, may not have what we had. We have failed to give them what the previous generation gave us.
The problems of Nigeria are such that you get lost when talking about them. Where do you start from? The betrayal of confidence by leadership that much hope was placed on? Or is it the systemic and systematic decay in its affairs? The “me first” attitude of its people that see the country as milking cow? Our lack of seriousness over what we should be serious about?
In Chinua Achebe’s book The Trouble With Nigeria, published in 1983, he professed that the only trouble with Nigeria is the failure of leadership.
However, Joseph F. Mali, in his A Quiet Revolution: Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis, thinks differently. He thinks corruption and failed leadership are not at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. He opined that though corruption and misrule have done terrible harm to the country; they are by-products of something in the same way smoke is the by-product of fire.
The real trouble with Nigeria, says Mali, “is the lifestyle of profound selfishness the people and their leaders have in common”. And the nation still bleeds because of this evil, he said. Unless Nigerians cure this (disease), he maintains, no system of government is likely to succeed. “In vain do Nigerians seek political solutions as long as selfishness remains their credo!” Since Nigeria’s problem is moral, Mali insists, the remedy must also be ethical. He proposes A Quiet Revolution as a cure for Nigeria’s ailment. This revolution is not a silent coup to overthrow the Nigerian government. It is not a French-style rebellion with masses on the streets and peasants in the country put an end to centuries of absolute monarchy. Rather, the Quiet Revolution is an interior change, an individual transformation. As long as this change has not happened, Mali declares, it will be difficult to repair and restore Nigeria.
This is quite in tandem with the Qur’anic verse that says Allah (SWT) changes not the condition of people until they change what is in their hearts. Here, the verse is widely quoted out of context by people wanting to give their idols in power excuses. People don’t just wake up and at same time say: “We must change.” He always gives them someone who sensitises and organises them by leading them as their guide. Such a person is the leader; even the greatest revolutions and mass uprisings in history have guides, so it still comes back to the question of leadership.
God sends prophets to lead people to cleanse their hearts and become new. One by one, people change internally and get transformed individually, as Mali said, and collectively a changed society is born. There is always one who is the society’s mirror..
In July last year, I wrote on this page “God raises the living out of the dead and brings forth light out of the dark, He raises from among a people their type who leads them from deprivation to well being. Out of the palace of the Pharaoh, He raised Moses (AS); out of the family and society of idolaters, He brought forth Abraham (AS), and out of the heathendom of Arabia He revealed Muhammad (SAW).
“Chaka the Zulu founded the Zulu Empire and led them for twelve years before he was assassinated on September 22, 1828, He moulded his people into a dominating fighting force never seen before in southern Africa. Mao Zedong, known as Chairman Mao, was the founding father of The People’s Republic of China and laid the foundation of what China now is. You can go on and count leaders who changed their people and their countries’ fortunes by leading by example. Cuba’s Fidel Castro was one; we also had Muammar Gaddafi from Libya, Dr Martin Luther King who raised the consciousness of Blacks, Dr Muhammad Mahathir of Malaysia and Mahatma Gandhi of India.
“These leaders raised the consciousness level of the people and changed them to better human beings, by being what they wanted their people to be. They did not look their people in the face condescendingly and patronisingly, point a finger at them singing “change” while they indulged in the vices of yore. Mao viewed such leaders as “swollen in head, weak in legs, sharp in tongue but empty in belly.”
Perchance this is one reason in 1999, years after he published his work, and despite Mali’s treatise, Achebe still maintained that Nigeria’s problem is that of leadership. He had returned to the country after a decade overseas receiving treatment for a back injury sustained in an automobile accident. At his home in the South East, he met with Cunliffe-Jones to discuss the Nigerian crisis. Achebe’s view had not changed at all. He reiterated his old message: “If poor leadership caused the problem then, it is still the case today.”
Someone once explained our social and political reality: “those in power enjoyed the oil money while most other Nigerians languished in poverty. The masses, he said, could be described as innocent sufferers, like the biblical Job, or the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. (Nigerian masses) watch their leaders ruin the nation but could do nothing to stop them”, he concluded.
Unfortunately, the quality of leadership seems to dwindle, deteriorating by the day despite Nigeria being more populated than forty years ago when Achebe wrote his political polemic. We have more professors, more PhDs, more professionals, more intellectuals, more exposure, more enlightenment – more everything. Yet we have regressed so much concerning providing quality leaders and leadership in the country.
Because of this dysfunction in providing formal leadership responsive to yearnings of people, tribal quasi-irredentists and jingoists have appeared on the landscape, setting the agenda.
The South-East produced Zik of Africa, Eton College-trained Ojukwu, Kingsley Mbadiwe of the Timber and Calibre rhetoric and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary fame. It also produced Alex Ekwueme, intellectual giants like Chuba Okadigbo, etc. Now it has a Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
The South West sired Obafemi Awolowo, Adelabu Adegoke, Lamidi Adedibu, MKO Abiola, Lateef Jakande, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, etc. But now it is Sunday Igboho after Ganiyu Adams.
The North? The North that produced Aminu Kano, Hassan Usman Katsina, Shehu Shagari, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Waziri Ibrahim has no one now, sadly. It has been searching since the demise of the Sardauna of Sokoto 56 years ago.
The lack of leaders who love this country has been our problem. While current crop of leaders had the best of everything, they have not improved on what they got for those coming after them. The great public school system that groomed them is no more. They prefer to send their children abroad for tertiary education and private schools for their primary and secondary education. The American government recently said about 14,000 Nigerians pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees across communities in their country spent $501 million (about N190 billion) last year. And this is just America!
The public health system that took care of them while growing up is a shadow of itself as private hospitals and clinics have taken over. The leaders now indulge in medical tourism, spending billions of naira in hospitals abroad. In 2016, Price Waterhouse Coopers in its report stated that Nigerians spend $1 billion annually on medical tourism. It also said that 60 per cent of it is from oncology, orthopaedic, nephrology and cardiology patients.
When the world was virtually locked down this time last year because of Covid-19, the average Nigerian patiently waited for conditions to ease. He believed that having realised our incapacity, Nigeria will witness massive developments in its health and education sector and an aggressive drive on food production. Good leaders would also think that way.
It is unfortunate our generation has not replicated for the next generation what last generation did for us. Instead of even giving them peace to do for themselves what we failed to do for them, we are bristling and threatening to push them into turmoil. Turmoil and uncertainty. We better retreat because the path we are treading will not stand us well in the books of posterity.
If we have failed in taking care of their welfare, we should not fail in securing their lives in a united Nigeria and giving them peace to thrive.
Nigeria’s perennial recession; a result of policy somersault.
Nigeria will predictably be in recession for a long time. When you keep doing the same thing and expect different results, you will need to check yourself.st century with others.
I sometimes wonder why we like to put the cart before the horse as a country. There has never been a time when we did anything that was not opposite of what everyone else was doing. Fundamental economics teaches that before you stop importation, you need to have put in place import substitution strategy, and get them working properly before attempting any grandstanding.
Then again, timing is very important in making policy decisions. You cannot wake up from the wrong side of the bed and declare things banned.
What is more heart breaking is where some ‘supporters’ get the kind of shameless illiteracy with which they defend retrogressive policies. Let us start with the Covid-19 decisions of the government. As the pandemic was biting hard, incomes were shrinking. That was when we suddenly woke up to ban in a commando style, a whopping 41 imported items, among which were foodstuff and other consumer goods critical to every day survival.
That is not all o. The people were losing jobs in droves. That means that purchasing power was falling rapidly and the country trapped itself in stagflation. Prices were skyrocketing and there was no purchasing power in the hands of the people. To my surprise, some people who I thought ‘know book’ were just falling my hands in the halleluya praise singing in honour of the courage with which the government was ‘tackling’ the economy. We would argue it until I had a headache. At some point I couldn’t tell if it was the argument that caused the headaches or the useless virus that trapped all of us in our homes.
Puerile arguments were advanced in support of the government. I took a look at my then none months old baby and asked her if at that age she could disgrace her father by saying such a meaningless thing. One of the headless statements was that China closed their borders and started agriculture. And boom! They became greater, the China you know today. I was torn between laughter and sorrow.
The story that they did not verify is that China’s maximum ruler, chairman Mao Zedong, threaded the communist path. He closed the boarders and decided on a pilot execution of certain apocryphal economic policies. He closed the Chinese borders to neighbouring countries. And then starvation set in.
Chairman Mao’s decision led to one of the most catastrophic man made starvation in human history which left between 15 to 55 million people dead, and hundreds of people malnourished. That happened between 1959 and 1961. Zedong had no choice but to immediately take steps to reverse the policy.
But ridiculously, that policy was what Zedong called the Great Leap. By 1962, China having seen nwe, reversed themselves and opened their borders. They started an industrialization policy that embraced the domestication of technology. They started to produce for export.
It is the same as Nigeria’s great leap that happened in the midst of a world wide devastation. But wait, who exactly did Nigerians offend that is so unforgiving? Nigeria wanted to leap. Two things happened. She leaped in the darkness of a pandemic with its eyes wide shut! Where did we land? In a circle of inflationary pressures.
First, we ought to have had a solid import substitution plan before talking of shutting down importation. We do not have mechanised agriculture. We want to produce rice for a population of 200 million people with hoes and cutlasses on an unyielding soil. We have no reservoirs where we store excess grains for time of scarcity. What am I even saying, we do not even have enough. Where are we getting the excess from? We might as well be wasting money building silos.
Even the ones planted are being eaten by the holy cows. Private investors in agriculture have had their farms vandalised by cattle which roam across the country. The famine loving government has encouraged the increased devastation of the farms by failing to call the vandals and bandits to order.
People have abandoned the farms and run away to join the army of the hungry parading the streets in the cities to hustle for the little that’s available. That’s a double whammy. No money and the prices of food are high.
The north east and north west of Nigeria used to be the producer of grains and spices. But not anymore. Boko Haram has killed and maim many a farmer, destroyed promising Micro, Small and Medium Scale businesses like sales of rice, onions, fish etc that accompany farming. They have turned large swaths of thriving villages and towns into desolate, uninhabited lands. The best you get in such places in Borno, Yobe and environs are Internally Displaced People’s camps. Even when those at the camps Internally Displaced People’s camps. Even when those at the camps attempt to do little fishing here and farming there, they are traced to the camps and killed. The survivors have become dependent on the lean resources instead of the contributors that they used to be.
On all fronts, Nigeria is scoring abysmally low. In the midst of the confusion called policy, the youths decided to make themselves happy by trading in cryptocurrencies. The government, like the proverbial village people, followed them there and blocked the channel.
Foreign exchange from that sector has been blocked. This is while the entire world is running towards digital currencies o. Big companies have started accepting Bitcoin as payment for their products, the risks not withstanding. Tesla is a major example. Nigeria nko? They banned it. This is digital currency. Then we have a Digital Economy ministry which knows next to nothing about how to rein in the volatility of digital currency. And some bishops, youths etc had the effrontery to carry placards under the hot Abuja sun to assault our collective intelligence that Pantami is doing well as the head of that ministry.
Nigeria will continue in this damnable trajectory unless things change from the anachronism it has adopted as a state policy to what the world has embraced. The worldview of the government is annoyingly too narrow.
May Nigeria quickly realise that like the ostrich, it is burying its head in the sand while the entire body is outside. Very soon we will be forced to look inwards. The increase in prices are eroding profits and people are getting thrown out of jobs. The current unemployment rate in Nigeria is 33%. Nigeria is among the first three most terrorised country in the world. Nigeria took over from India as the poverty capital of the world in 2019, according to the Austria based World Poverty Clock and The World Bank in separate reports, with 1 person sliding into abject poverty every six minutes.
To be continued.
Alex Agbo is a writer and an economic researcher based in Lagos.
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