Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Psychoanalyzing Psychoanalyst Of The Igbo

By Chiemeka Iwuoha, Daily Champion/All Africa

It could have been George Orwell who reputedly quipped in contempt that 'nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel'. Or, it may also have been George Bernard Shaw, who had said that. But, certainly, one of those Georges must have said something like the above quote.

To this Englishman's keen insight on 'nationalism', we might add the equally dangerous phobia of other nations and nationals that borders on the paranoiac and leads spokes-persons of this group to generalize, selectively using attributes that, sublimally, demonize target groups and peoples and cheerfully cast them in bad light.

What is distressing about these fear-crazed critics of others using racialist parameters to pass judgment on the essential character/characters of target groups like the Igbo, the Tutsi of Rwanda, the Jew, Arab or Hausa-Fulani, is not the fact that they, these critics generalize about ethnic groups they neither belong to as in shared national experience nor are ethically justified in judging. The tragedy here is that these closet psychoanalysts of the 'others' do not themselves have any discernable tribal world-views. In the overall picture of events, they are peoples whose cultures face Darwinist extinction.

In most cases, these knee-jerk and superficial 'experts' on targeted racial groups usually mimic the adopted view-points of 'other' hegemonic neighbors as 'embedded' parrots - a craven Freudian stratagem of sharing in the economic booties that these dominant cultures may have aggrandized. It is all very sly, this thing. We are talking about individuals or peoples appearing to be holier than the Pope. About which, once in a while, one might stumble on cases where an Irish, (for example, during the British occupation days) could surprisingly have turned out to be the staunchest supporter of the British cause, even when a majority of his/her (Irish) compatriots risked life and limbs, engaging Whitehall, and being engaged in turn, by the British!

This, one thinks, must be a puzzle that must baffle Prof. Dora Akunyili, the information and communications minister, who is trying to 're-brand' Nigeria, as though our country was just one pile of 's..t'. We empathize with her.

Disturbingly, in the Nigerian situation, where individuals who have been suborned psychologically and neutered from years of servitude to superior races and tribes, goad themselves into engaging in this apparently harmless blood libel of 'others' from amongst Nigeria's over 250 ethnic groups, this is done behind the invidious veil of 'objectivity', 'speaking the truth' or from some fictitious 'love' for the demonized groups! These Igbophobes hide behind the tattered, jaded or insincere masks of the arts - literature mostly and contemporary sociology of re-active survival mechanisms that the Igbo, like other migrant groups adopt while in the Diaspora, scores of millions of them!

Nothing raises the heckles of these intellectual pretenders and 'closet Igbo lover/haters' more than whenever the Igbo may wish to exercise their rights to existence as free men, within the confine of the laws of the land, as everyone does, or ought to do, in Nigeria.

But, as they say, even the paranoid has real, concrete, enemies. And, usually, the 'fact' that a multitude of unemployed, rationally unemployable characters who masquerade as politicians, pop up at each election time to vie for the highest office at stake, lends pseudo-credence to the purported view that the Igbo cannot manage themselves and therefore would be incapable of managing the whole nation. Frankly, one does not know which evidence contributed to this view of the Igbo as unreliable. Agreed, as our Janus-faced Igbo 'lovers' force us to believe, that excessive individualism could be dangerous for a group such as the Igbo (that have direct knowledge and experience of being hunted); are there other ethnic groups in Nigeria that have shown more reliability than the Igbo? Are these in any way all from the minority tribes?

Just for the case of argument: If the Igbo has been collectively subjugated by craftier blocs of Nigeria's post-colonial and pre-civil war tripodial power arrangement because of the much bruited allegations of over-weaning Igbo sense of self, a socio-political and economic disposition towards subversive individualism and other alleged pretensions and ambitions; what reasons do psychoanalysts from cultures, political traditions and back-grounds that are currently facing extinction in the land proffer to explain their suicidal acquiescence to being used as cultural, and therefore, ideological attack dogs for cultural pay-masters who would not lift a finger to save their (critics') tribes and cultures from extinction?.

It is when issues like the stampede to join the governorship in Anambra state begins that one sees these nwanne di nambas, the lovers-but-haters of the Igbo, roll out their de-marketing ideological guns and forked tongues to, subconsciously, libel all Igbo, to the point of annihilation. While ostentatiously ruing, along with Igbo commentators, the contemporary 'Igbo conditions and question', these die-hard detractors, in fact, sub-consciously gloat over the destructive, even suicidal, aspects of Igbo character, notably the metaphysical preference to the ideology of dying on one's feet for his beliefs, good or bad, rather than living on his knees, as most Igbo critics have done in the past, and still do today - just to eat.

Still, even believing that it is possible to tell something about Greeks and their culture and life-form, for example, - to tell about their tradition, arts, scholarship and martial prowess, from just a handful of sources like Homer, Plato and Aristotle only - one could still be wrong about one's overall conclusions. And, even though this illogical de-constructionist fallacy is more observable when quacks psychoanalyze dead cultures, traditions and epistemologies (such as those of ancient Egypt, Greece, Ashanti, and Hindu), it is hardly true that any one could say, least of all an outsider, what the SOUL of an existing culture harbors, what it feels, what it knows and the extent which this knowledge has taken him.

So, why has it been that human beings, especially weak-willed ones, leave their immediate, clear and present concerns only to pursue the ephemeral distant, unrelated and unachievable goals? This is precisely where this psychoanalysis business comes in. Why do debased, conquered racial types adopt the most heroic tactics of their subjugating masters in order to denigrate 'others' that may objectively be better than their originating ethnic groups?

Some have recently fingered the Stockholm syndrome that was first noticed in America when supposed Black Panther 'terrorists' abducted Ms Patricia Hearst, said to be an newspaper heiress, but was later caught and shown on video participating in a bank robbery organized by her supposed captors! It is a baffling thing, this thing we are talking about. So, why do domesticated, broken, slaves, derive vicarious pleasure in attacking the beleaguered but free men in their society whose march to freedom is accompanied by monstrous costs along the way, like the Igbo?

Some have said that this impulse to denigrate 'others' arises from the notorious green-eyed monster of cultural envy, a thwarted, secret, desire to be exactly, or more than the denigrated, maligned, ethnic groups. Maybe, but these things are not very clear, even to the most discerning. Still, a situation where moribund, cavemen, tribesmen, ethnic groups or other interests feel that they can not get cultural relevance and recognition within the nation's political equation unless they tangentially denounce the Igbo, no matter how unfair or justified, is very dangerous for the Igbo.

Alright, there are 'traitors' among the Igbo against their own causes, as there are among other national groups in Nigeria; but could this then justify the caption in an article published in a daily that claims to be national, by these chameleonic and diabolical columnists pretending to be helping the Igbo cause as: 'Igbo traitors'? Do the semantic connotations not portray all Igbo as 'traitors' to some cause or causes, preferably some self-serving and non-existent national cause? As those who, theoretically, would betray the Nigerian republic, are the Igbo any different from other ethno-tribal groups today who have brazenly raped the country and are proud of it because their acts further impoverishes the Igbo?

So why do they do it, these merchants of Igbo ancestral guilt and subject to eternal restitution? We are bound to put this down to tribalism. But it is more a result of the ignorance of generalists who would talk as specialists and other specialists who would generalize in issues they know nothing about. It is not important, nor relevant, that any Igbo critic has had some critical knowledge of the Igbo through friendship or other associations like marriage: The critic can never understand the Igbo as an intellectual dilettante.

That is why we appeal to the governorship position seekers in Igbo States like Anambra to exhibit some sense of decorum in their pursuit for power. Their scramble for temporal power simply empowers ignorant Igbophobes whose knowledge is restricted to visiting Igbo government houses on invitation, after which they clandestinely engineer and orchestrate pogroms against the Igbo.

A word, they say, is enough for the wise.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The reforms in the civil service

By Obi Nwankanma, Vanguard

The plans to retire an entire generation of civil servants from the position of directors, and cap the years of service of the permanent under secretaries of the Federal Civil Service announced recently by the current Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Steve Oronsaye is wrong headed policy.

I do not think the SGF has given adequate thoughts to the long term effects of this policy. But it brings to bear yet again the crisis of the Nigerian state. I will suggest here that every sovereign state designs the kind of civil service that complements its stature and accomplishes its national mission. One of the clearest manifestations of the dire situation of Nigeria is the absence of mission in the character, orientation or perhaps the lack of it, of the Nigerian public service. The Nigerian civil service is terribly ossified.

The civil service is normally the thinking arm of the sovereign nations, and often draws from a country’s most unique talent pool; from its established centres of knowledge production – the universities, the research centres and the entire schools system. It generates ideas to create and continuously renew the charter and mission of nationhood.

In the case of Nigeria, reflecting the collapse of almost all its strategic national institutions – the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the police, the schools system, etc.- what we now have is a paradoxical service: ignorant, unimaginative, overbloated and careerist.

I hope this statement will not be simply construed as another example of whingeing from another Nigerian skeptic. But it does seem to me that the secretary to the government of Nigeria has not benefited or fully comprehended the history, original mission, and intent of the Administrative Service in Nigeria. I think Oronsaye’s background from Industry rather than from the public bureaucracy gives a significant tinge to his conception of change in the civil service.

In some very important respects, there is strength in that background, and in many other fundamental respects, there is weakness of the sort that can lead to a potential misreading that might end up misdirecting the necessary changes required to transform the Nigerian service for greater efficacy.

I think Oronsaye missed an important opportunity to embark upon groundwork reforms of the federal service. Rather, he makes ineffective cosmetic changes that speak more to careerist privileges and notions of entitlements that have both politicized and ethnicized, and thus reduced the efficacy and even mission of the Nigerian service.

From 1957 when the first set of Nigerians were carefully recruited directly to the colonial Administrative Service then under the leadership of the English chief secretary, Sir Ralph Gray, preparatory to home rule, it was assumed that Nigeria would build upon the best tradition and values of its inherited service.

But midway into the postcolonial state, that service lost its direction, and was further destroyed and corrupted by the buffalo soldiers who ruled and co-opted the civil servants into their buccaneering ways. What emerged, especially by 1970, after the civil war, with the forced removal of many officers among some of the more experienced and efficient of that generation, and compounded by the Murtala/Obasanjo shenanigans of 1975 was a cynical and careerist service.

Babangida’s regime further attempted some reform, giving permanent secretaries new titles and new executive authority, revising the tenure principle of the permanent under secretary.The current reform plans by this administration, and announced by secretary to the federal government risks further politicization of the service. Destroying the tenure of the permanent secretary will create new avenues and incentives for even greater corruption. We duly note the excuse Oronsaye gives for his reform plans.

The top, he says, is too overcrowded, and too linear in its regional character. It goes right to the heart of the contradiction that has become the Nigerian public service. For long, officers were not recruited, promoted, and maintained per efficiency, but on selective quota – the so called “federal character” requirement. Many junior and inexperienced people, with varied and even occasionally ambiguous levels of skill, training, and preparations from so-called “disadvantaged” states were brought in and sometimes promoted and privileged over more tested and senior officers from other parts of the country.

Seniority was over turned and re-interpreted. Careers were stymied. Innovative thought was hardly rewarded. It led to bitterness and deadly languor. The service was also over-bloated and top heavy, creating problems of transition. Corruption became inevitable and widespread. The Nigerian civil service truly needs bold and far reaching reforms, not tepid, and arbitrary changes. We need to keep the permanent secretary, permanent.

We need to create a lean, dynamic, and imaginative service. We need to recruit the highest quality of individuals to the service, and above all, instrumentalize the service as the delivery arm of government. We need to remove quota as a condition for the recruitment of the Administrative cadre of the service, and base both recruitment and advancement on merit, and so it wouldn’t matter if only individuals from Taraba State, for example, end up through rigorous processes of selection supplying the entire directorate of the Nigerian service, for as long as conduct is regulated by the General Orders and placed on constant scrutiny and independent oversight for fairness and honesty.

Once again on my Igbo brothers

By Ikenna Emewu, Daily Sun

On January 17, I wrote in this column on a topic I called ‘Core and Peripheral Igbo’. My reason for writing on that topic was because the present Ohanaeze president, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue was appointed to head that pan-Igbo body and I heard that some Igbo in areas called the ‘core’ protested because they feel Uwechue is Delta Igbo and ‘peripheral’ as I tagged it. My argument was and remains that every Igbo is Igbo.

One is either Igbo or not. But I do not foreclose the right of the individual to deny Igbo for whatever reasons – reasonable or unreasonable. But whoever speaks Igbo as mother tongue, a language he/she was born to be taught by the parents as the language of his/her forebears is Igbo. I don’t know of any other point of strong affinity for a people than the language.

But last week a newspaper published an emotional article on the Igbo question and who the Igbo is. The piece was specific on the Delta Igbo on whether they are Igbo or not. The reporter spoke with so many Delta Igbo personalities and one other Igbo from the other side of the divide. It was all lamentations. But we should not forget that the solution to that problem is already around the corner. As we haggle on this topic, Uwechue remains the head of Ohanaeze, and before him, Achuzia was the immediate past Ohanaeze Secretary General. In addition, His Majesty Prof. Edozien, Asagba of Asaba was the last chairman of the Igbo parley, World Igbo Summit in Owerri early this year. I have not forgotten his proposition that day that the solution to the Igbo disunity problem lies in ensuring that all the Igbo in other states have their own states and in effect would be brought under the umbrella of the South East geo-political zone. This is a suggestion I will ever live to associate with. It was a wise word of an elder, and as an Igbo son, I respect Asagba as an Igbo father and leader and would not in my wild imagination dispute his wise position for Igbo unity.

I cite once again what I had done in that piece early in the year that many ethnic groups exist across international boundaries and have maintained their affinity, so why is Igbo different. “I know there are numerous ethnic groups in the world that fall within some number of nations who still hold to their identity and unity.
Yoruba exist in Nigeria, Benin and Togo. Hausa and Fulani exist in almost the north of every West African country. The Berbers are in all the nations of North Africa. Swahili live in Kenya and Tanzania. Mandingo are in Senegal, Gambia and Liberia. They all still know and recognize each other in unity because they still speak the same language with some minor variants. The Pujabi live in India and Pakistan, as the Bengali live in Bangladesh and India. Their affinity with each other surpasses national boundaries. The Basque are in Spain and France, the Eskimo live in Siberia, Russia, Alaska etc with their identity intact as the Laplander don’t mind the fact that there is national boundary between Sweden and Norway where they are found”.

If the Igbo at both sides of the bank of River Niger speak same language, so where is their demarcation outside the one created by political dividers who came as white men, strangers that show the natives where their land boundaries are.

In that piece I wrote: “Honestly, I don’t know when a race or a nation like the Igbo or any other for that matter started having core and peripheral members. I also should guess that a place is core or peripheral depending on the datum point of reference. Point A would be the epicentre of action only in relation to the point from which reference takes effect. And if every location would never be at the same spot, then it would take the core (centre) to know the periphery or vice versa”. That means every place is core and periphery depending on where you are coming from.

I think what is happening in Ohanaeze is a wise ploy to re-invent the oneness of the Igbo nation, a unique people. I also foresee the prophecy and wishes of our father and leader, the Asagba coming true maybe in my lifetime. When the Anioma Igbo is carved out of where she is not wanted and given a state and brought back to the South East, the false divide that made him have more affinity to Ibadan as in 1960 or Benin as in 1963 will be wiped out.

While I agree that the Anioma Igbo might not be wanted by some of the other Igbo, I also agree that some people of this area I have met don’t help matters. I most of all accept that the false divide created long ago before many of us alive were born have effect, and people now view Igbo from that prism of division. Both sides are guilty. Some of us who believe every Igbo is Igbo have at many times been rebuffed by our Igbo kinsmen across River Niger. When you call them your brother, they deny you in the public that you are not.

They send the signal that you are inferior and should not be associated with. They tell you they are Anioma and not Igbo. A lady once told me the Igbo have nothing good about them as to make her feel like part of it. On this particular issue, the Igbo are like lepers to her. Unfortunately, this lady, though a graduate displayed an embarrassing knowledge of Nigeria history and how these things came to what they are today. And worst of all, many of us while taking our positions and claims don’t make any effort to understand our past and how we came to our present pass. I have also met Anioma Igbo who proudly identity as Igbo. In the same vein, there are some other Igbo from the ‘core’ that tell off the Anioma Igbo as an outsider. But you can find out from the Ohanaeze setting where the elite, elders and enlightened meet that they know better on who the Igbo is. The people who remain rigid in that cast mould are the lesser beings, especially lesser in intellectual experience.

My Anioma Igbo brothers should not feel so bad on this matter, but should understand it is a passing phase. It is the problem that has to do with living at the transition belt of any culture group. It exists everywhere including among the Oku Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi States. The forces pull them from both ends in a most discomforting way as regards identity. It takes enlightenment over time to overcome. In the Igbo nation, the race for the correction has started and will mature with time.

Some months ago I listened to a more elderly Igbo tell the story of the real and full name of Okpanam, the town near Asaba where Nzeogwu was a native. I heard the full name is Okpala Anam (first son of Anam) Anam is a major clan in the Anambra Igbo. And the okpala is in Delta, a place some say is no longer Igbo. I also know of some number of towns called Onicha in the Igbo nation (Onicha Ugbo, Onicha Olona, Onicha Uku (all in Anioma) Onicha umu Ezechima (Ado) in Anambra. Onicha in Ebonyi, Onicha Ngwa (Abia), Onicha Mbaise (Imo) and many more. Are these not signs of relatedness? And I know they are more of such everywhere. Some people created the problem to undo the Igbo and the Igbo of this generation with awareness can reverse the trend. Let’s not lament further and rather align with Ohanaeze that has the blueprint and awareness of what to do to correct the past error that haunts us today. And such action is so much needed now.

Let the Destruction start from Nigeria

By Chukwuma Iwuanyanwu, Los Angeles, CA

You have to wear a dead heart and strides unconscionably for you to live in Nigeria, a friend, who just spent four months in Nigeria told me after returning from Nigeria to Los Angeles. He was on the verge of tears. He asked rhetorically, how could these so called leaders heap horror and anguish on their fellow citizens? If you are a governor, legislator, whether federal or state, local government boss, the president and other decision makers, you are devilish and you will never escape divine justice for most of your actions that have rendered Nigerians almost dead and useless in all fronts in their own land. You gather wealth for your family and you are daily busy pushing anti-people policies that will dehumanize Nigerian people. The wealth you gather for your selves and for your families will be eaten by moths. For 15 months now I have not travelled to Nigeria due to my academic engagement, so my trusted friend painted a graphical picture of the lives in Nigeria. The understanding was that peoples' lives degenerate with each passing day in Nigeria, yet there are 10% of the people, who control the wealth and enjoy stifling others to death. Why are these people wicked and deadly?

I am a Nigeria by birth, I spent most of my youthful years in Nigeria; I went through elementary school to first degree education in Nigeria and I did my NYSC service in Dukku Local Government Area of Bauchi State. There is too much Nigeria in me and all my family members are still in Nigeria except my wife and my children. I am not suffering in USA, I have a good job and attending graduate school in a good private university with USA government student loan; in all, I am having a good life in USA, but all these are nothing to me when my people in Nigeria from Bauchi to Bayelsa and around Nigeria are living in misery. How did Nigeria lose the main thrust of leadership, service to the people? On Sundays, Nigerians troop to the churches while the Muslims do their own thing on Friday in the mosques, but these religious zealots wear masks of wickedness and brutality. I am no more impressed to hear that this governor wakes up early in the morning to attend morning mass while his garment is strewn in wickedness and heartlessness. Umaru and his Muslim Lords always go to Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia for what? As far I am concerned, Nigerians worship demons and that has been the reasons why they are heartless.

Give a Nigerian a chance and he or she will prove that it is a mistake for such an opportunity, look at what is happening in the banking sector. Of what use is the continual existence of Nigeria? Can God destroy all Nigerians any where we are and leave those five years and below to chart a new route for the country? He is God and I believe He can do a miracle to shelter the toddlers until they are capable of running the new Nigeria. There is too much greed in us, there is too much wickedness in us and there is too much wealth worshipping in us. I don't see any living Nigerian who can be a good leader at the moment; I can only excuse Babatunde Foshola a bit and if human fallibilities can be extended, then I can give a little chance to Nuhu Ribadu. Gani has gone so Nigeria is racing down the hill without any check.

If my wish can be guaranteed, all the serving South-Eastern governors need to be bumped into jail for the numerous miseries they heap on their fellow Igbos. Nothing is happening in that part of the town; they are busy currying favors for their personal grandstanding and selfishness. Do these pin heads understand that the least employed people in Nigeria are the Igbos? Ndigbo have no opportunities, so instead of these governors being creative to attract investors, so that industries built can reduce the rate of unemployment , they resort to nonsense ventures that cannot help Ndigbo. There is no role model in Nigeria and the area that has suffered the consequences of this is ndigbo. Ndigbo have lost the culture of hard work, creativity and patience. The politicians, the traders and the so called local chiefs have not helped matters, though this is a nationwide problem, but very severe in Igboland. Every Igboman wants to talk in millions, billions, posh house, jeep, attractive woman and the romance with the wealthy. Again, the same story in every nook and cranny of Nigeria.

When the statistics of the kidnapping is reeled out, check the Igbos out and they are on top and now it is becoming hard for any kidnapping to take place without the involvement of Igbo man or woman anywhere in the federation. Igbos are more in number when I read the lists of those in death row in Libya and China, why, because of the importance we attach to money and we can do anything to grab money. Limited opportunities are also the bane, so in search of survival, we are all over the globe. Coming to Igboland, the leaders of all these nefarious activities are Ndi Anambra, the black sheep of Ndigbo. Igbo is not good, it is Anambra State, the families of Ifeajuna. I hate our attitudes towards the acquisition of money. In Anambra, more than 35 candidates have lined up in PDP alone to take over from Peter Obi and no one is ready to step down for one another. Is anybody surprise? That is Ndigbo for your, a dysfunctional nation.

There is no federating part of Nigeria that is good and that has been the reason why nothing works in Nigeria. The Hausas, the Fulanis, the Yorubas, the Ijaws, the Ibibios, the Tivs, the Igalas, the Igbos and the Binis, all are liabilities to Nigeria. Nigeria has been talking about bad roads ever since I was born, dirty environment, hunger, poor infrastructure and corruption. The pipe born water installed by the colonial masters have all disappeared and we cannot power ourselves. Few people have decided to appropriate the wealth of the nation for their generation unborn, and those people they are preserving our wealth will never live to enjoy them. The sins of the fathers will be visited on them. God said that every hand should work and they are breeding morons to rule over us because of the opportunities created by the looters of our wealth, God will never permit that; their efforts will be frustrated one way or the other. God cannot elect to neglect the cries of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the prisoners, the olds and the deprived.

People like Nuhu Ribadu is run out of the country, El Rufai denied a Nigerian passport and when will this fascism end while Michael Aondokaa strides Nigeria like untiring colossus. Are we practicing democracy in Nigeria? Can a president have the right to deny any Nigerian the right to be a Nigerian? El Rufai has to go to court to assert his right. What is Nigeria becoming under the watch of Umaru? I am reiterating it here again that I prefer Olusegun Obasanjo to Umaru Yar'Adua. Obasanjo's worst sins among many were third term agenda and imposition of Umaru on all Nigerians, a punishment for rejecting his third term devil. We are moving from one demon to a higher one and the docile Nigerians will do nothing in 2011 when Umaru will be again imposed on all of us by Iwu, so I maintain my stand that Nigeria needs to be destroyed for good since we are up to no good. After all 90% of Nigeria are walking corpses. No jobs, no hospitals, no water, no security, Bayo Ohu was murdered on Sunday in his own house before his daughter and that has been the story of the country for sometimes now, no electricity, no houses, no roads, no schools, no more faith in banking, no food, kidnapping every time, no peace, no government at all levels, no good politicians, looters everywhere and they are protected. I am choked!!!!!

I am writing on behalf of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the hapless, and the olds who have no means of survival, and whose pensions are denied because they have no person to push their cases. I am speaking for the Nigerian students whose future has been truncated by this administration. I am writing for the academics who are patriotic to remain behind, but whose pays in a year are not up to what a corrupt local government boss takes in a month. I am writing on behalf of the jobless men and women who have no hope for tomorrow. I am writing on behalf of the young men who cannot get married due to deferred hope, and the young women who after education could find neither jobs nor a men to marry them, who resort to prostitution to live, and to buy panadol for their parents during bouts of fever.

My good friend told me how the young man he met in Lagos was paid N6, 000 a month as a guard man after a university education, and he was told that his mother was ill. On his way to give that N6, 000 to his mother through a fellow village man who was going home, the money was snatched by a pick pocket. My friend told me that a long and painful cry from the young man made him to part the only N10, 000 he had in his wallet. I don't know this man, but such a story squeezed tears out from me and that has been the stories of many Nigerians. On top of these, there are many who sing songs of praises for Umaru and his wild PDP. The folks that give constructive criticisms to this lousy government of Umaru are hunted down instead of being listened to, and evaluate their counsels for a change of actions and policies. The worst thing that happened to Nigeria is the arrival of Umaru in 2007, and no thanks to Olusegun, Baba Iyabo. Please, who can explain to me why Umaru chose to go to Saudi Arabia instead of New York to rebrand Nigeria? Nigeria has no government in place and it is better for this entity, called Nigeria to disappear from human space unless a Rawlings comes to judgment.

Chukwuma I wuanyanwu, a Non-profit Executive writes from Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Aro... Hunted by its Historical Past

By Emmanuel Ugwu, This Day

Arochukwu community in Abia State occupies a prominent place in the history of Africa. When you open the history books and read about the slave trade, the Long Juju of Arochukwu readily jumps out of the pages. Hence Arochukwu is a historical factor either for good or for bad, depending on your perception of the historical events. Nonetheless the people of Arochukwu strongly feel that they have not been treated fairly in history and this burden of wrong perception, even among their fellow Igbo, has contributed immensely to the slow pace of development in the area.
In fact, there is a feeling among the Aro people that there is an unwritten policy to deny the area developmental projects over the years by successive governments at Federal and State levels because of the wrong perception of the Aro and their role in the slave trade.
President General of Nzuko Aro Worldwide, Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi (Ugwuaro) said that the wrong perception of Aro people is rife even among the leadership of Ndigbo irrespective of the immense contributions notable Aros have made in national development and Igbo civilisation.
“It appears the leaders in Igbo land have a wrong perception of the role played by Aro in the past,” he said. “But we’re telling them that the contribution of the Aro to Igbo civilisation far outweighs their role in the slave trade.” Like a good student of history Mazi Ivi readily admitted that the people of Arochukwu were deeply involved in the buying and selling of slaves during the dark period of Black man’s history spanning from the 16th to 19th centuries.
According to him, their forefathers were buying slaves from those willing to sell and selling to those willing to buy, thereby playing a kind of middle man in the slave trade, which was “part of the legal commercial activities of the time.” And even at that, there was no slave market in the whole of Arochukwu throughout the duration of slave trade.
He pointed out that the Aro never got involved in the conquest of weaker communities to take slave as booties as was done by the warrior clans such as Abam, Ohafia, Abiriba, among others. And after the abolition of slavery the slave merchants from Aro quickly switched over to trading in commodities such as palm produce.
Even then the “misconception” of the role played by the forefathers of Aro people keeps resonating every now and then. For instance during the last Ahiajoku lecture in January, a University of Nigeria Nsukka lecturer, Dr Nwankwo Tony Nwaezeigwe, stirred the hornet’s nest when he called for a demand that Aro descendants should pay reparations to atone for the role played by their ancestors during the era of slavery and slave trade whereby they “undermined” their fellow Igbo.
Naturally Aro intellectuals were aghast at such a call emanating from a university don, who according to them, should have known better and appreciate the positive roles Aro people have played in Igbo civilisation and national development. One of Aro intellectuals, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, fired back, saying that “it is important for Nwaezeigwe (and those in his school of thought) to note that contemporary issues of development in Africa, Nigeria and Igbo land have gone beyond advancing obsolete and futile arguments about slave trade that creates more problems than solutions.”
Indeed, Aro have abundance of prominent personalities, past and present, as evidence of their positive contributions to national development, which far outweighs the part played by their fore bearers in slave trade. Take for instance the roles of late Dr. K.O Mbadiwe, (the man of timber and calibre), Mazi Mbonu Ojike (Boycott the boycottables), and S.G Ikoku, who were frontline nationalists during the struggle for Nigeria’s independence and were equally among the notable politicians in the nation’s post-independence politics.
In the education sector Alvan Ikoku towers like an iroko tree where he is well recognised as a torch bearer so much so that today his image adorns the ten naira denomination of Nigeria’s national currency. In the contemporary Nigeria the names of Aro people ring bells. The Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu, is a household name; so also is Professor Humphrey Nwosu, who as the chairman of the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC), conducted the best general election so far in the history of Nigeria. And of course the elegant stallion of Nigerian music, Onyeka Onwenu is Aro woman, just as the chairman of Nigerian Economic Summit, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, is an Aro man.
With this array of accomplished individuals, it was easy for the president-general of Nzuko Aro Worldwide to affirm that “in terms of human beings Aro is highly developed, but in physical development of our area, we’re still very low.” It is therefore not surprising that the Aro have persistently been crying out to the governments at all levels to provide the needed physical infrastructure to elevate Aro to the status befitting it.
On July 18, 2009, when the highest ruling council in the Aro Kingdom, the “Okpankpo Aro” was inaugurated, the issue of underdevelopment of Arochukwu was on the lips of everyone. And the Aro are not crying in vain. A first time visitor to Arochukwu is usually confronted with a paradox of a community that has not matched its historical stature with commensurate physical development. The first shocker is the near absence of social amenities.
The only federal road leading to Arochukwu has long been dilapidated and has in fact become a subject of failed promises as the years roll by. Year after year the Arochukwu – Ohafia federal road features in the budget, but at the end of the day the authorities end up doing nothing to rehabilitate the road. The state roads are no better. Nobody talks of potable water and other social amenities. The state of health care delivery is so bad that the people depend mainly on health missions occasionally organised by Aro indigenes living in the United States of America.
Things would not have turned out this way if the government had lived up to its responsibility to the Aro people. For over two decades, the Aro have been waiting for their town to be elevated to an urban area. Mazi Ivi said government had in 1976 designated Arochukwu as an urban area alongside Aba, Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe. However, while others have since been developed to attain the urban status, Arochukwu has continued to remain rural. The people blame governments at all level for abandoning the community to its sad fate.
Comrade Ogbonnaya Akuma, a member of Okpankpo Aro, said that the Aro on their part have been developing their area in terms of putting up modern buildings, but insisted that the main ingredients of urbanisation, namely social infrastructure was far beyond what the people could do on their own.
According to him, only government possess the financial capacity to put in place such infrastructure that would transform the area and elevate it to its rightful status of an urban town. There is also the nagging issue of the failure of government to accord the Eze Aro the privileges that traditional rulers in his class enjoy.
The present Eze Aro holds the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) but his subjects are clamouring that he should also be made a chancellor of a federal university in order to place him on the same pedestal with other first class monarchs such as the Obong of Calabar and Obi of Onitsha, who were all on the same status during the first republic.
No matter the sorry state of affairs in Arochukwu the area holds a special significance for every Aro man and woman whenever they are. The town is regarded as the headquarters of Arochukwu Kingdom, which goes beyond the physical area to include all Aro communities worldwide. Presently there are over 150 Aro communities within and outside Nigeria and all the communities owe their allegiance to the Aro Kingdom and regard themselves as part and parcel of it irrespective of place and distance of abode.
“This is a specia0l kingdom made up of three kindreds, but has welded together over the past 700 years,” said Mazi Ivi. Not even the crave for autonomous communities could split the Aro Kingdom. During the regime of former Abia State governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, communities in the state were split into several autonomous parts but the Aro people resisted the political temptation and remained intact. The constituent kindreds, namely Okennachi, Ibom Isii and Ezeagwu are still bonded together in one kingdom. Traditionally Okennachi kindred produces the King while Ibom Isii crowns the king with Ezeagwu playing equally important role to stabilise the kingdom. Though Ibom Isii and Ezeagwu have their respective traditional rulers for ease of administration they still owe allegiance to the Eze Aro, and this allegiance is symbolised at public functions of the kingdom during which Eze Aro sits on his throne and is flanked on the right by Eze Ibom Isii, while Eze Ezeagwu sits on the left hand side.
The administrative structure of the kingdom is organised in such a manner that the 19 villages in Aro kingdom have their administrative councils, followed by the kindred councils, the national council and the Okpankpo at the apex of the administrative structure. Historically the Okpankpo was reserved for the aged wise men of the kingdom, who were well grounded in the culture and traditions of Aro people and those wise men were usually so advanced in age that they walk with the aid of walking stick hence the name “Okpankpo” (he who holds the walking stick).
“They gather and discuss every issue concerning the Aro kingdom and their decision concerning this community, the Aro kingdom, including those in the Diaspora remains final,” said Mazi Ivi. But things have changed and the present paramount ruler of the kingdom, Eze Aro VIII, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, has seen the need to reform the Okpankpo to meet the needs of the changing times. Last January, he dissolved the Okpankpo, which he inherited from his predecessor, late Mazi Kanu. In explaining his action to his subjects His majesty, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, the Eze Aro said that on mounting the throne, he allowed the previous Okpankpo to continue to function for the sake of continuity “but passage of time, development and new ideas in this modern age necessitate that this organ be strengthened to achieve better results for our kingdom.” And so seven months after the dissolution, precisely on July 18, a reformed Okpankpo was inaugurated with 36 members comprising both the old and the young men of the kingdom.
In his inaugural address the Eze Aro, flanked by the Eze Ibom Isii, Mazi Kanu Nwa Kanu and the Eze Eze Agwu, Mazi Okoroafor Uro, described the new Okpankpo as “an assemblage of intelligent, civilised and enlightened leaders” adding that “the current membership has been deliberately chosen to consist of those individuals who will take us on the wings of dynamism, expertise, hard work, innovations and achievements”. Though the Okpankpo has been reformed to meet the dictates of modern times, the old practice of excluding women from the fold still remained. “We will get there but not yet,” Mazi Ivi said in acknowledging that Okpankpo reformation did not go as far as admitting women into the highest decision making body of Aro Kingdom.
Much is being expected from the re-branded Okpankpo, which has Dr Nkemka Jombo-Ofo as the Speaker. The Eze Aro indicated this much when he spelt out the direction the Okpankpo should move. He said: “We all know that a new kind of competition is now part of our world. There are new ways of resolving conflicts, new ways of expanding economic frontiers and interest, new ways of evolving communal relationship, new ways of attracting development and projects to one’s community.
“All these I intend to entrust to this new Okpankpo and to challenge this assemblage of brilliant individuals to do more for Aro.” As part of the innovations, the Aro monarch has created nine specialised sub-committees to facilitate the operations of the new Okpankpo. These include culture and tradition, political and intergovernmental relations, infrastructure, youths empowerment, finance, legal and security, inter-communal relations, humanities (health and education), and special duties.
Having evolved new ways of doing things and determined to shed the vestiges of the bad old days of slave trade, the Aro may be on the threshold of ending their sulking and complaining about neglect in development. Indeed the people are in upbeat mood to take their destiny in their own hands and translate into reality their claim of being a special breed of the Igbo race. “We are special in our customs, in our traditions and most especially in our values,” he emphasised.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chinua Achebe Joins Faculty At Brown University

By Nicole Friedman, Senior Staff Writer, Brown Daily Herald

Internationally renowned Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe has joined the University faculty as the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and a professor of Africana Studies. Though his appointment is already effective, he will take over his full responsibilities in the spring semester, said Professor of Africana Studies Tricia Rose PhD ’93, who chairs the department.

Achebe, who joins Brown after 19 years on the Bard College faculty, “won’t be offering independent new courses of his own,” Rose said.

The main “vehicle by which he’ll be making an intellectual contribution” will be through the Chinua Achebe Colloquium on Africa, a new initiative focused on Achebe’s “intellectual, pedagogical and artistic works,” Rose said. Achebe may also teach or co-teach courses already offered by the Africana department and give presentations in Africana classes, she said.

Achebe is the fourth “distinguished writer of world significance” to join the Africana Studies faculty and the only one of the four from Africa, Rose said. Because the department’s work is a “wonderful combination of thought and practice,” Achebe’s appointment will be a “profound consolidation of existing strengths,” she added.

“Things Fall Apart,” Achebe’s 1958 novel, is the most widely-read work of African fiction, according to a University press release. Since Africana studies is a relatively young department, adding such an important figure “covers — in one stroke — a lot of ground,” said Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P’07.

The colloquium will host one major event each spring and several smaller events each year, Rose said. This spring, the colloquium is set to host a series of events based around dramatic readings of Achebe’s major works. The following spring, the plan is to host a “seminar slash conference on governance in Africa,” Rose said.

Since Achebe is already a central figure in Africana studies, the colloquium will bring scholars to Brown “who work on a wide array of issues — not only in literature — but also politics in contemporary Africa,” Vohra said.

Achebe is also interested in beginning a project to translate “classic texts in European literature” into Igbo, Achebe’s native language, Rose said.

Though Achebe will not teach full-time, the Africana department is “very interested in making sure that people will have regular access to him,” Rose said. She suggested the possibility of regular office hours for students who have expressed knowledge of or interest in Achebe’s fields of study.

Achebe’s appointment, which “happened very quickly,” is an example of what the University’s Target of Opportunity hiring program was intended for, Vohra said. “The program was meant to do precisely this kind of thing — that is, allow us to make quick decisions when an opportunity arose of this kind,” Vohra said.

Discussions about hiring Achebe began in June, and the decision was finalized last week, Rose said.

It has not been discussed whether Achebe’s wife, Christie Achebe — a visiting professor at Bard — will also be hired at Brown, Rose said. “We are more than happy to discuss that with her,” she added.

The University will hold a welcoming event for Achebe on Nov. 10, Rose said, which will feature his newest book, “The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays.”

Achebe, who is paralyzed from the waist down, has not finalized arrangements for where he will live during his time at Brown, Rose said. “My expectation is that he’ll be around in some regularized way by the end of this semester, but surely by the beginning of next semester,” Rose said. “He’s dying to be physically located here.”

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why APGA constitution is supreme, by Chekwas Okorie

*Says no court declared Victor Umeh APGA chairman
*Explains ….how we formed APGA

By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor & Luka Biniyat

WHEN APGA was formed, people saw it as a joke. And with what is going on now in the party, it seems the joke is not about to end. What is APGA?
I found out by 1995, that there had never been a political party founded in Nigeria based on Igbo initiative. I found out that the National Council of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC, was founded in the West, by leaders like the late Herbert Macaulay and late

Dr. Azikwe joined and later became leader. And the Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, which was embraced by many Igbo people, was founded by the late Ibrahim Waziri and later Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe joined and dominated it and Waziri, the founder, had to leave but founded another one, the Great Nigeria Peoples Party, GNPP.

So, by 1995, I said, “we no longer had the personality with the clout of Dr. Azikiwe to come into a political party and dominate it.

And in addition to that, we no longer had a rallying point in Igboland. Dr. Alex Ekwume could be a rallying point to the Igbo intelligentsia and the elite. But he wasn’t a rallying point for the masses. Conversely, Odumegwu Ojukwu was a rallying point for the masses. And he was hated, mark my word, “hated” by Igbo elite and intelligentsia and the business class.

So, there was a strong disconnect between the masses and the other segment, which are in the minority, but who have what it takes to facilitate anything. So, I thought, therefore, that under that circumstance, what we needed was a platform, since we couldn’t have a rallying individual. I made the first attempt to establish a political party based on that initiative – a national party; and that was in 1995 when the late Gen. Abacha lifted partial ban on politics.

We called it Peoples’ Democratic Congress. In 1996, he lifted full ban on politics and I went ahead, purchased a form and rallied some Igbo people, but we were not registered, for reasons I later got to know.

In 1998, another opportunity presented itself, and I went a second time, called it again Peoples’ Democratic Congress. We tried, but in vain. In fact, our surprise was that those who did not meet the requirement like we did got registered, but our Peoples Democratic Congress was not.

I then found out that the presence of Odumegwu Ojukwu made our platform to become suspect. The authorities concerned made sure that that exercise never yielded any result. So in 2001, Ojukwu moved into All Peoples Party, APP, that later became All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. He was a member of the Board of Trustees. I joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in November, 1999. I contested for the National Secretary’s position in the PDP – it did not materialize. I was restless. I knew that we still needed a platform we could fall back on, if that would be our contribution to Nigerian democracy.

I went back to the drawing board. This time I had known the reasons for the previous failures. So I left Ojukwu out of it. I now decided to invoke the great memories that Igbo people always remembered with a certain amount of nostalgia. And that was Zik and Dr. Okpara. We then chose the cock, which was the symbol of the NCNC then.

I now chose the name United Nigeria Grand Alliance, UPGA, which was a coalition of political parties, which the late Chief Awolowo had endorsed – because at the time of that coalition, Chief Awolowo was in prison in Calabar. And so Okpara was the leader of UPGA. So, I thought that UPGA and the cock would not only appeal to Igbo people, but also to those who had anything to do with the alliance and the NCNC.

As we were approaching registration, INEC changed the guidelines and said any name answered before would not be answered again. And any logo or symbol used would not be used again. This was our situation before the late Gani Fawehinmi went to the Supreme Court to liberalise it. So I changed the name to APGA.

“You” or “We”?
Me! I! I had the vision. The people I recruited were to do the leg work. The conceptualisation, the vision was mine. There was no committee for name, no committee for logo. I chose all.

The only thing was that I made consultations widely in the process. For example, I met Chief Mrs Obiajulu, who was INEC Commissioner. Legal and asked her, “if this name is changed from UPGA to APGA would it meet your requirement?”, and she said “yes”. And I said, ‘this cock in NCNC was standing on its own, if it now stands on the acronym, APGA, would it be registered, she said yes’.

And that was how I registered APGA. And because it was my vision and effort, nobody argued anything. So that was the formation of APGA. Now, we met those stringent conditions of having at least 24 functional offices across states of the Federation. In fact we met the conditions in 36 states.

But, unfortunately, on the day of inspecting our offices in Yobe and Kebbi States, the officers there – because we had to reflect Federal Character – had gone for the Muslim afternoon prayers, because it was a Friday. But the INEC officials that went, saw the offices, saw the party flags, but could not enter. So we had 34 states. That was how APGA became a registered political party.

Your constitution is a confusing document. It has your name in it and, that has caused a lot of confusion both within your party and the polity as a whole. Why? I spoke with your colleague and asked him how your name found its way into the constitution. He had his own answer, claiming you deceived members. How did your name get into that constitution?

I have read Umeh’s interview which he granted you in the last edition of Sunday Vanguard. But, before I answer, I would take you back the memory lane. When I presented APGA at the Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu, the hall was full to capacity. That was on July 28, 2001.

Umeh was in the hall as a PDP member that came to that event out of curiosity. And after the presentation, there was a standing ovation. And it was time for people to make their comments. Umeh got up, took the microphone and announced that based on what he had heard there and what he had seen that day, he was resigning from PDP and declaring for APGA. We were impressed. We said, this man – don’t forget he was the factional treasurer in the Emeka Offor faction of PDP in Anambra State. He has always been a factional man. Well, we said for somebody to leave a ruling party to go into an unregistered political party, was like going from the known to the unknown. So we agreed that we would compensate him by appointing him, protem National Treasurer. That was July, 2001. In October, 2001, Umeh resigned.

From PDP?
No! He resigned from APGA. He said he didn’t see the possibility of us meeting all the stringent conditions set out by INEC. So, in the presence of people, he resigned, took his file and walked away from us. I then went to the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and told him to show more interest in our effort. I told him, ‘though you are in PDP, we zoned the treasurer to Anambra State. I am from Abia State. Now that our treasurer has resigned, nominate somebody, so that you can have an eye on what we are doing.” He nominated Ralph Okey Nwosu. He became our protem national treasurer.

The formation of APGA and the opening of offices across the country happened when Umeh was not there. APGA constitution was signed, note that it was duly signed by INEC, it was duly adopted at the convention of APGA on January 10, 2003.

Was it made known to members that your name was in the constitution?
Maxi Ukwu was the lawyer who actually headed that committee. Umeh was not there! How could he know what was happening in a party which he had not joined or which he ran away from? He was not there. How could he say it was unknown to members of the party?

I have told you that Umeh’s journey into APGA is a chequered journey. When APGA was now a registered party on June 24, 2002, we took off. Barely one month after, not up to two weeks after, Barrister J.S. Nwokolo – he is there, an old man now, he brought Umeh back to me. He said, he had scolded Umeh for leaving, for not having the patience; for not doing this and that. He said we should take him back. That Umeh would be useful; that Umeh would be this, Umeh would be that.

And, because Barister Nwokolo contributed in terms of influence in lobbying for the registration of APGA, I pandered to his wish and brought Victor Umeh back. I instructed the APGA executive of the South East zone to accommodate him as the new vice chairman, S-East Zone. At that time we had our convention Victor returned as the vice chairman, South East Zone. He remained in that position and never complained about this constitution and all that. The constitution was already there. It was what we used in getting the party registered in the first place.

Until Peter Obi’s emergence – Peter Obi is a different story if you ask me. But I will come to that later. When Peter Obi emerged, Okey Nwosu revolted and announced my expulsion – because he blamed me for Obi’s emergence. His grudge was that I should have used my position to order that he, Nwosu, should have been the Anambra State governorship candidate.

That was his grouse?
That was his grouse! So when Peter Obi emerged, Okey Nwosu revolted. In a nutshell, he left the party. So the office of treasurer became vacant. And our convention was just about 10 days away.

So Victor Umeh came back to me, pleading that I reinstate him in that position he resigned as protem treasurer. I loved this guy so much. The kind of soft spot I had for Victor was such that people were asking why he had a hold on me. It was a mere soft spot. But it became my albatross. So, I proposed him to the convention, and he was ratified.

I recruited everybody including Odumegwu Ojukwu into APGA.
And those I did not recruit, were recruited by those I recruited. That was the way APGA started. And because it was my baby, most of my suggestions at least at that time, were never rejected. And I tried my best to carry everybody along. So Victor Umeh became substantive treasurer after that convention. Between 2002 when he joined this party and the interview he granted Sunday Vanguard – we are looking at a period of about seven years – it is now he knows that the APGA constitution was doctored by me.

That issue is in court and in fact Chief Umeh insists that…
(Cuts in) No! There is no single issue in any court challenging the APGA constitution. He quoted it so copiously, section 19(3). That was APGA constitution he was quoting not a different one.

And I can also tell you that I was ridiculed and made a laughing stock by people – some of them very high up and I don’t have to mention names here – when I was going for the formation of APGA. I was called names. I was called a mental case.

They said we would never succeed. My own leader, Dim Ojukwu, said, “Chekwas, this is one of your dreams that will never work.” That was his statement in the presence of people. But I was determined, I was convinced and my faith in God is super. And I continued and we got it.

I know my fellow Igbo People. There is a saying in Igbo land, that you would not be assisted to push a broken down vehicle, but the moment that vehicle begins to rev and move, people would move in and say, “you are a bad driver, we will find a better driver that can drive this vehicle.” I, therefore, knew that that would happen.

And all I did was to secure my position for two terms, not life chairman so that the character of APGA can be firmly rooted. That what APGA represents, can easily be identified before I take my bow. So I put my name as the founder, which no one can dispute; it is my idea, it is my baby. I put my name as chairman for the first four years and for another four years, if I so demand. It is right there in APGA constitution.

And INEC accepted it just like that?
This was debated at INEC. At the time we were registering APGA, our party constitution and manifesto were subjected to debates. And I was able to convince the INEC of the time. It was approved.

INEC then was chaired by Dr. Guobadia
Yes, chaired by Guobadia.

But he didn’t raise the issue of personalization of a political party by the presence of your name in that constitution?
No, no! no! there is a committee for such things. There is a political party monitoring committee at INEC. But then, this issue that is arising now does not make sense to me. Because we have been in court for five good years, and there has not been a single issue challenging the APGA constitution.

Umeh has subscribed to that constitution up till today. If he will challenge the constitution, maybe that will be tomorrow. And I tell you one thing, if I tell you that this is not authentic, that we had a better constitution I will be willing to present it. But he has not been able to present another constitution, because he wasn’t there! And I want to remind Nigerians of this fact: that a political party is a voluntary organisation. And that is by the creation of law. You come in, you go out. And if you want to change any aspect of the constitution, there is a process for amendment.Has Umeh moved for an amendment? Peter Obi, Odumegwu Ojukwu, has any of them moved for amendment?

But Umeh says there is a court judgment confirming your expulsion?
You mean that judgment? We were the plaintiffs in that case which he is always referring to.

How were you the plaintiff?
We went to court to confirm the expulsion of Umeh and 13 others in this particular case that he is referring to now. I don’t want to pre-empt what this appeal will say, but let me just say that we went on appeal, filed motion of-stay-of-execution. It was a declaratory judgment. It has nothing to execute. A declaratory judgment, ask lawyers, is an observation of court.

It is not executed. But be that as it may, we were not even required to file notice of stay of execution because there is nothing to execute. A day has been given for continuation of hearing, October 7, this year, next month. We decided, as a democrat, that if there is doubt in the leadership of any organisation, talk less of a democratic party for that matter, the best you do is to subject yourself to fresh mandate. And so I decided that even without accepting the judgment, otherwise we won’t be in appeal, or that even without conceding to the judgment, let us obey it until the appeal reverses it.

But, Umeh is saying that INEC has been dealing with him and that INEC even released money to him as APGA chairman?
Let me tell you this: His case has already been forwarded to the former inspector general of police – Okiro. He ordered for a thorough investigation of the case. Umeh and Shinkafi were …

Who is Shinkafi?
The secretary then; the one that was expelled along with him – they have been interrogated by the Force CID at Area 10, here in Abuja. Their case file is there. You see, our constitution, like most constitutions, the treasurer of the party receives any money for the party and pays into the bank within 48 hours. And before then there was an order of status quo. So he relied on that to receive our money and pay it into an illegal account. And the constitution says, within 48 hours of receiving money on behalf of the party, put it in the party account.
That was what happened.

Have you ever heard Ume Ezeoke go to INEC to collect money? Has Vincent Ogbulafor ever gone to INEC to collect money? Before this crisis, Chekwas Okerie never went to INEC to collect money. No chairman goes to INEC to collect money. There are people who have that responsibility.

He said INEC wrote him and for me, that is confirmation that INEC has been dealing with him?
Look, INEC wrote to him not to come and collect money.

How much was the money?
N6 million! That is the money he was brandishing the letter for. And he went to the media to tell people that INEC is dealing with him, that INEC even wrote him a letter. INEC actually wrote him a letter, saying that, “this money you have collected is not a clearance, as you are claiming, to be the chairman of APGA” Let him give you a copy of that letter. If what I am saying is not what is contained in it, don’t believe in anything I have said here. He even went on television and flashed it before the people, that “look at it, INEC wrote me a letter”. But he did not give the letter to the anchor man to read. But, be that as it may, INEC took an administrative action on its staff and the concerned staff was removed from that seat.

Before 2002, go to the entire archive of the news media and find out if there is anything that could be credited to him. But I have been fighting certain causes since 1976. That is 33 years now. I have been a member of the inner circle of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo since 1992. I founded Igbo Eze cultural association and so on and so forth. I have run my own personal company, since 1982 to the present time.

Let’s go back in time, Peter’s Obi emergence in the party caused some stir – at least you know of Okey Nwosu, who thought he was the anointed. How did Peter Obi suddenly emerge? There were stories of money changing hands.
It is a very good question. People would want to tell stories that would favour them and that would demonise the other. As far as I am concerned, no money changed hands. If I wanted money I would have asked Okey Nwosu to give me money. Money is the same colour.

It does not smell differently too. And I did not demand money, for him to say, “oh, he demanded money and I did not meet up his demand and went and took from another person.” He has never accused me directly. Now, Okey Nwosu was a devoted, committed ally of mine in the consolidation of the APGA dream. And he worked both at the national and at the state levels so well. In fact, he made more efforts than anybody else in building APGA in Anambra State.

I can never deny him that. We had Dr. Chuba Okadigbo in mind, to be our presidential flag bearer of the party. Now, he was still in PDP when we had him in mind to be our flag bearer. He contributed financially to the formation of APGA. He was not the only PDP person who did so. We have our list of friends who helped. So, when we got the certificate of APGA, the first port of call from INEC office, was Chuba’s House, with a group of people. And there was jubilation.

We celebrated. Dr. Chuba Okadigbo nominated Okey Nwosu, as I said earlier. But, Chuba Okadigbo looked at APGA and said, that he alone could not be able to carry the burden. It was not him alone that I approached.

But he was in PDP?
Yes, but he moved to ANPP later. We reached out to Jim Nwobodo with Gen. Ike Nwachukwu, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, Dr. Chukwuemeka Eziefe. These were the people we approached to come and take the presidential ticket. Having worked hard for the formation of the party, I should not be the one to fly it. That was not the purpose of founding it. We were looking for people to be our presidential flag-bearer.

We had zoned the presidential ticket to the South East zone just to give an Igbo man the opportunity to try. But all of them, for some reasons, declined. I went to the then president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Justice Eze Ozobu and I said to him, ‘look at the problem. We are approaching our convention, but we don’t have a presidential candidate’.

He said, ‘why not bring out Ojukwu’?
I told him that ‘Ojukwu is a father to me, if I bring him out, people would say that that has been my original plan.’ I said, ‘okay, come and nominate him. Let me know that it was the leader of the Ohanaeze that nominated him, even though he is not part of the original plan, but let me have Ohanaeze incorporating him into the party’.

On December 24, 2002, Christmas Eve, we assembled at Ojukwu’s house. Justice Ozobu raised Ojukwu’s hand, put it in my hand, and said, ‘Chekwas, go and make him presidential candidate. There are many witnesses. Having done that, I used the whole of Christmas day to write my speech.

And on December 26, I convened a world news conference in Enugu, where I proposed Ikemba. Having proposed Ikemba, he called me back to his place and said to me that as the presidential candidate to be, he said that I should grant him the prerogative of choosing the gubernatorial candidate in his state of origin. Before then, it was a question of whether I could ever disobey Ikemba.

Everyone knew my damn stupid loyalty to him. But, it was loyalty all the same. So I said to him, ‘as my lord pleases’. At first he did not mention any name. I immediately went home and called Okey Nwosu. I said, ‘come, come, there is a problem.’ He flew in from Lagos and came to me.

I told him what Ikemba had in mind. I told him to please go to Ikemba, tell him all you have done. Tell him you wish to be his candidate. And that if he was going, he should not go alone, that he should go with Chuba. ‘Don’t mind that Chuba is in ANPP now. But go with him because Ikemba owes him one’ I told him. You know Chuba Okadigbo played a major role in his return from exile.

As presidential adviser to Shagari then?
Just take it the way I put it. He played a major role, not just because of the position he held then. He played a major role in his return from exile. ‘It would be the right time’, the way I put it, ‘to draw down on his credit card’.

I do not know what transpired between the late Okadigbo and Okey Nwosu. But all I knew was that Nwosu went to Ikemba with a cow and a bottle of Remmy Martin alone, the normal traditional respect. He went alone. And I don’t know what the Ikemba told him.

One day we were in a rally, and the Ikemba raised Peter Obi’s hand without any consultation with me, because he took it that he already had my consent, since he had told me that he wanted a nominee. So, I still tried to see if we could do something about it by raising a screening committee. But Okey Nwosu felt that money had exchanged hands. And that he was disadvantaged. He did not go to that screening committee; because if he had gone, practically every APGA member was for Okey Nwosu.

Peter was a stranger to us. And if the recommendations had come that it was Okey Nwosu, I would have told Ikemba that my hands were tied. I would have told him to court the loyalty of Nwosu, because he could not win without him. But Okey Nwosu lost confidence in that arrangement and went to Abuja to announce my expulsion. That was the first thing he did. That was the first crisis I had.

At that time, what was Okey Nwosu?

Can a treasurer, announce the expulsion of a chairman?
It is the same with Victor Umeh. He was treasurer. So when he did this, throughout the period he was angry, I never joined issues with him, because I felt for him. But he said several unprintable things about me. But today, we are the best of friends. One day I sat him down, when my daughter wedded, he attended. Even before my daughter wedded, his father died and I attended. So we are now friends again. And I said to him, ‘Okey, you know the reason why we are still friends? It was because I did not join issues with you. If I had replied you the way you attacked me, maybe we won’t be able to sit together again’. That is why when you see somebody angry don’t reply him, even when you are quarrelling. My father said, ‘leave the door ajar, to enable for some reconciliation’.

Your body language during those days at the gubernatorial tribunal in Anambra State suggested that you were bent on subverting the party.
You see if you don’t follow the sequence, you can jump at the middle and reach your conclusion. I told you here that the APGA crisis started on December 15, 2004, where some people said they expelled me. On December 23, 2004, eight days after the crisis started, and as God would have it, we were flying first class to Enugu on December 23.

When we got to Enugu, he said that he tried to visit me but that now that we have met that he might as well join my convoy to the house. And so we went to my house together in Enugu. I have always had visitors over the years. He said he wanted us to have some privacy.

I took him to my private sitting room. He brought N50,000 and said he had wanted to go and buy a cow for my Christmas gift, but that since we have met, that this is my Christmas cow. I took it. If I was against Peter Obi, why would he give me Christmas gift?

He said to me that he warned Victor not to do what he did. That Victor had committed political suicide. I asked him, ‘is that your view?’ because they are from the same place.

They are from Agulu. I asked him again, ‘is that your view?’ he said yes. I said, ‘tell the public’ because this is the time to stand and be counted. He said that it would be difficult for him because they are from the same place. I told him that he was not convincing me, because even my own biological child, if I tell him not to do a particular thing and I know he is wrong and he continues, I will tell the public that I am not the one that sent him. And Victor is not your biological child. So he left. And I want you to know that a month before the crisis Obi cried to me that the panel that was trying his case was going to be disbanded.

And another contact point, whom I would not mention now, told me that he had been informed reliably that presiding judge had been told to wind up. We had this old incident in Enugu, where the tribunal was changed, and the new one came and rejected all exhibits and within two weeks ruled against us. I wrote on November 9, 2004 a strongly worded letter to this same president of the Court of Appeal protesting what I heard was going to happen by reminding him of our own experience.

Two days after, Justice Abdullahi replied me and said why did I go to the Press, because I gave media houses copies of the letter. Then I met the president Court of Appeal at a public function, he said he was still protesting why I had to go public on an issue we could have discussed privately. I said, my lord, forgive me. If I had waited to have an appointment to meet you something could go wrong. And you judges would say, you cannot resurrect the death. That was why I took the step to protect that case.

A month after I did that, they moved against me. Peter Obi closed the case at the Tribunal in March 2004. We go further again, by March, 2005, one year after Peter Obi had closed his case, these people conspired – don’t forget that in the heat of this crisis, they got Obasanjo on their side; got INEC on their side.

The police withdrew my security. They got so many people on their side. In fact it was like me hitting my head on a wall – a brick wall. My family was scared of my own safety. So, talking about who is using the other, these people had the entire establishment on their side.

If INEC could give recognition to a treasurer who became acting chairman and later went back to our own constitution that means that our constitution was never consulted. So now, they threw me into detention. For the first time in my life, I was detained by the EFCC.

Which constitution? The same party constitution?
The same constitution. We have never had any other one; so we left to allow him to decide. So, that weekend of March 12, 2005, now became the new reason for attacking me in December the previous year.

Does it make sense? Could they have been God to know that I would go to Ngige in March and then decided to attack me four months earlier? So that is why when people are saying these things, they don’t follow the sequence to know what really transpired.

Taking Grandad home to Nigeria

By Sarah Allen

I was listening to Nirvana in my bedroom one Saturday night. About halfway through the album, an almighty shout came from the living room. It was my mum. I ran in to investigate. "What?" my mum said into the phone, "Daddy's dead?" My hand flew up to my chest; it felt like someone had splashed ice-cold water over my heart. For a second I thought she might be talking about my dad, until I saw him lounging on the couch. She was talking about her father, my grandfather – Christopher Chukhuma Orakwue. He was on holiday in Jamaica with my aunt and cousins and due back in a few days.

That evening, I went to Grandad's house with my parents and brothers. Grandad's wife was sitting in his big leather chair. It suddenly hit me: I'd never see him sitting in the chair again. People were making phone calls around me to Jamaica, getting details. Grandad and my aunt had gone to a restaurant for dinner the night before. Grandad ordered the fish. After the meal, they went back to the hotel, where he said he felt sick. After going to the hospital and being advised to stay there under observation, he told my aunt he wanted to go home. "Home, as in London?" she asked. "No, back to the hotel," he replied. The doctors and his daughter tried to convince him otherwise, but Grandad would be the first to tell you how stubborn he was, and he got his way. The next night at the hotel he died. He was 82.

Where would we lay Grandad to rest? He had lived most of his life here in England but always said he wanted to be buried in Nigeria, in his home village of Onitsha. More specifically, he wanted to be buried in a room in his house. My grandad was a chief; it would be done. His chief title was Onenyi, meaning "the great elephant". His sons and daughters and his wife, some of my cousins and I prepared to travel to Nigeria – me for the first time. The day approached; we were filled with trepidation.

As a young man, my grandfather had very been handsome. I've been told that at college in Nigeria as a law student, he was regarded as highly eligible. As a student, he was often to be seen riding his motorbike around Lagos and was active in the Pan-African movement during the early 60s. His parents, following tradition, tried to arrange a marriage between their son and a choice of local girls. Grandad refused all offers and told his parents he had found the girl he wanted to marry. My grandmother's name was Christine; she was a primary-school teacher and Grandad told his parents she was beautiful, humble, well-mannered and educated. They were married in 1956.

Grandad was in his 30s when he came to London, followed soon after by my grandmother, and they settled in Tooting Broadway. He had hoped to continue his law studies, but in order to send money home to his elderly parents, he was forced to abandon his education and work instead. He transferred his passion for study to his children and, subsequently, his grandchildren.

Thanks to Grandad, therefore, I was born and brought up in Wandsworth, south London. Neither I, nor my brothers – David Junior (DJ), Eugene and Gregory – had ever been to Nigeria; our upbringing was as English as a Carry On film, as a bacon sarnie.

The week before we were meant to fly out to Nigeria, there was a big story in all the papers about a child being kidnapped there. Nigeria rarely features in the British press – suddenly it was the focus of international interest. Then there was Grandad's village. I had heard all sorts of horror stories from my own aunts and uncles who had left the country as children; about dumps masquerading as homes and poisonous water and warnings not to buy any fruit from the stalls at the roadside. When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised. Bumping along the roads of Owerri, not far from Onitsha, the streets were full of people selling disparate goods on market stalls and women carrying packages on their heads. And the Grand Hotel Asaba was an unexpected treat.

The day of Grandad's burial, all his family had to wear white African attire, decorated with diamante studs. It was a far cry from the black we wore at his London memorial, which was depressing, dark and gloomy. More than 100 friends and family who couldn't travel to Nigeria attended a south London church one wet and miserable day. At one point, the Igbo priest called on everyone to walk up the aisle to see Grandad, some for the last time. A piano played a solemn accompaniment, making me even more miserable.

In Onitsha, along with the rest of the women, I wore a long-sleeved top with a wrap, like a sarong but heavier. I found it impossible to tie up at first but with some help I managed to leave the hotel looking decent. Grandad never saw me in African clothes. When we got to the village, as I stepped out of the car, we heard a loud bang, a gunshot. Everybody from the car ducked. We quickly discovered that shots from soldiers were being fired in honour of Grandad, a much respected chief in the village. I was kept on my toes that day. The mourning family had no time to sit around crying. We had work to do.

I found it almost impossible to keep it together; my nerves or my beautiful wrap. Having female villagers shaking their heads at me in displeasure while I dragged it through the clay didn't help either. "Look at this gel," I imagined them saying in Igbo. "She is so English she can't even dress herself like an Igbo woman!"

The entire village attended; the street was sealed off, there were chairs where cars should have been. We had to greet guests while Igbo musicians played traditional, upbeat music. At one point, I was walking with my mum when she stopped a teenage boy who was holding a bag of tissues under his arm and spoke to him in Igbo. He stood there, looking up at her defiantly, before skulking off, his head down. "What was that about?" I asked. "He was selling tissues to mourners, so I told him, 'Have some respect; this is my father's funeral.'"

Later, we all had to dance around the village in groups, each with a band of banging drums and singers. As we danced, people would stick money to our foreheads. The money wasn't meant for us but as a contribution towards the day's costs – the food, bands, gravediggers. I couldn't help feeling that this was all absurd. I just couldn't marry the two notions of death and dance. That is until my cousin, heavily pregnant and dancing in the sweltering heat, noticed me slacking. "Come on, Sarah," she said through tears. "Let's dance for Grandad." I suddenly got it. This was a celebration of my grandad and all the good things he had done in his life: for us as his children and grandchildren; for his village, sending money regularly even after he had left.

During the funeral, I noticed aunts, uncles and my mum disappearing in the same direction. They were going to the house Grandad had bought 10 years earlier, where he was about to be buried. I put it off as long as possible, but finally went to see him one last time before he was to be buried in Nigeria for ever. I steeled myself. We walked into the house. At the doorstep was a goat, tied up and lying in its own excrement. A sacrifice of some sort. It took me a while to realise it wasn't actually dead. Once inside, I saw my grandad lying in an open casket, propped up in the middle of what used to be the living room. There were women all around; some crying, some talking. I stood at the door trying to muster up the courage to walk up to the casket. It was so strange. He looked like Grandad, but not. He was dressed in African clothes, royal blue with gold designs on them, and wore a hat with a feather in it. He just looked asleep and not as plump as he was when I last saw him. I kissed my hand and rested it on his chest.

Later, we all congregated outside the bedroom window where he was about to be buried. A grave had been dug inside the room. I tried to get as close as possible, but the window was so high and I'm so tiny I that couldn't see in. Suddenly I heard You'll Never Walk Alone coming from a cousin's laptop. Grandad was an avid Liverpool supporter.

Nigeria: it is the place I am from, but also an alien country to me. It is the place my grandad lies this very minute, and will always be; the man who used to babysit me and my brothers; the man who used to take us to the supermarket for jam doughnuts and chocolate biscuits; the man who would call the house just to say hello to me.

As the plane took off, I looked out of the window and watched Nigeria getting smaller and further away, taking Grandad with it. As much as I had been moved by Nigeria, even felt a sense of belonging, I couldn't help but miss London. I couldn't wait for the grey sky and rain-soaked concrete. And as the plane descended towards the place I call home, it didn't disappoint.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Centenary: Coal City up in frenzy as logo is unveiled, torch lit

By Chidi Nnadi, Daily Sun

At few minutes past 2:00 p.m. the veil for the Enugu Centenary celebration fell, giving way for a smouldering smoke that enveloped the conference hall of the prestigious Nike Resort Hotels venue for the unveiling of the centenary logo and lighting of the centenary torch.

The event scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. had the spacious hall filled to the brim at noon with people from across the nine states that made up the former South eastern Nigeria.
Before unveiling the logo, Governor Sullivan Chime went into history to reveal the Enugu of today.
“In the year 1909, Enugu came into existence following the discovery of coal by a team of British geologists led by Messrs Albert Kitson and Hayes. Since then Enugu has metamorphosed into the big city it is today.

“Within those 100 years, the city better known as the Coal City has not only served as political capital to several governments – Southern Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria, East Central State, old Anambra State, old Enugu State and the present Enugu State,” Chime said.
He, therefore, said they are celebrating a city with great significance, an enduring and rugged nature, which has stood tall in good and bad times.
He also said they are celebrating a city that means different things to different people, but which means also one thing to most of them, a home.
“So, today, we celebrate the city that held us all together, a city where I, like many others here today was born,” he said.

Chime recalled that when he came into office in May 2007, they met a lot of challenges ranging from infrastructural collapse, poor city sanitation, insecurity, incapacitated transportation system, among others, which they battled headlong.
“We discovered though sadly that if drastic actions were not taken we were at the brink of losing our dear city hence our aggressive approach to urban renewal and our effort to make Enugu a modern city.

“I am glad that today our efforts to renew, reclaim, recreate and restore Enugu are yielding fruits and that millions of people who turned their back to our beloved city are now returning home,” the governor said.
Indeed, the celebration of 100 years of Enugu, the Coal City, revealed how much Governor Chime has endeared himself to the hearts of many in the region in the two years of his administration as representatives of other states in the region present at the occasion praised him to the high heavens.
The praises started pouring soon after former Information Minister and Chairman of the Enugu Centenary Committee, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, reeled out the wonderful package his committee has put together for the celebration.

First to appreciate the Centenary celebration was the Special Assistant to Imo State Governor on Political Affairs, Dr Jasper Ndubuaku, who disclosed that Governor Ikedi Ohakim had sent him to ask where his government and the good people of Imo could come in, in the centenary celebration.
Besides, he said the Imo people had asked him to find out from Chime his success secret, saying that even when Enugu does not benefit from oil allocations, Chime has been able to turn the state around in a very short period.

Ndubuaku praised the ambitious programmes put together for the centenary celebration, particularly those that would aid in the preservation of archival materials that would be of immense benefit to posterity.
Equally excited was the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Chigozie Ogbu, who proclaimed Chime as a miracle governor.
Ogbu who represented Governor Martin Elechi said that what Chime had done in the last two years have elevated Enugu as the capital of Igbo land and the entire Southern Nigerian.
He saw the centenary celebration as one event that would not only be beneficial to Enugu and Igbo nation, but also to the entire people of the region who at one time or the other had their root traced to the Coal City.

He gave this as the major reason why all hands must be on deck to make sure the goals of the centenary are realized.
Ogbu advised Governor Chime to consider a situation where past Igbo leaders are encouraged to have residences in Enugu as a way of promoting the oneness the city enjoyed in the past.
Also the Ohaneze Ndigbo President, Chief Ralph Uwuche, who addressed the gathering in the Igbo Language, said the Enugu Centenary celebration is the dream of Ndigbo come true.
According to him, the centenary would afford the Igbo who, he said, are over 50 million to henceforth see Enugu as their gathering point.

The Ohaneze Ndigbo leader said what the Enugu Centenary has set to achieve would encourage posterity after the centenary to have access to information about their past leaders and how they lived.
Speaking, Chairman of the occasion and Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, said after he had listened to Nwodo reeled out what the centenary would achieve he had no doubt in his mind that a revolution would occur after the celebration.

The deputy senate president pointed out that Enugu had attained 25, 50 and 75 years, all landmark years, without anyone remembering to celebrate the city that has great past, saying that the 100 years would as well have passed unnoticed if not for Chime.

He noted that Enugu had served as a rallying point for the Southern Nigeria even at a point as the capital of the defunct Republic of Biafra, saying that the city is ancestral home to many in the region.
In his address, the Centenary Committee chairman, Nwodo disclosed that the centenary celebration encompasses the nine states of the old Southeastern region and would indeed at the end of the day unveil new opportunities in the city.

He gave out the activities lined up for the celebration to include school competitions, football competitions, as well as beauty pageant that is to give out N2 million as prize money to the winner. Already, Suzuki has donated a car for the Enugu Centenary queen who will not only pass as a beautiful lady, but most have other natural ingredients that make a young woman pass as one.
Another highlight of the celebration would be a cultural fiesta that would last for five days where two states of the nine states of the region would take a day to showcase their rich cultural heritage with the last day set aside for Enugu State to do the same.

During the period, he said, they have built in a musical carnival where Nigerian music and musicians would be on parade to entertain and motivate young ones, as well as arts exhibition.
On the Christmas Day, he said that a discourse on Enugu to be chaired by renowned Catholic priest, Monsignor Obiora Ike, would be flagged off.

Nwodo also disclosed that in the weeks ahead Governor Chime would be hosting corporate Nigeria to a breakfast where he is expected to enjoin them to come and partner with the state in the celebration which would very much expose their businesses to the world.
Besides, Nwodo said that his committee would leave things that would linger in the memories of the people as it has plans to renovate and set new monuments.
Already, he said they would turn the Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly building into a legislative archive. This project is expected to gulp N61.9 million.
Also the old Premier’s Lodge where the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe lived as premier would be turned into Zik’s Museum at N37.5 million.

According to him, this would become a tourist centre like the Arewa House in the North and would have in it all things that Zik used when he was alive.
Nwodo said that they are already in touch with Zik’s widow, Prof Uche, who has promised to give them the shoes of Zik and the bed he slept in as premier.
He thanked Governor Chime for re-purchasing the hitherto monetized lodge and relocating the motor park that was there.

Also they have plans to turn the New Haven road median into car parking lots at the cost of N19 million to help decongest the traffic caused by lack of parking space in the area. This would also help in generating revenue for the state as people would be asked to pay parking fees.
Also the state Ministry of Land has begun the survey of a place between Awkunanaw and Ozalla for the building of Nollywood village, a move Nwodo said would confirm Enugu as the Nollywood city of Nigeria.

He also said that the old Ministry of Works building in the secretariat would be renovated and made an architectural piece of history.
He said they would also keep alive the Onyema and Okpara mines just as they would build a tower to commemorate the centenary celebration with a sculpture of a coal miner onto of the tower, among other projects.
The state thanked immensely constructing outfit, Master Holdings Nigeria Limited for sponsoring the logo unveiling which gulped about N5 million.

BOOK REVIEW: Acholonu - Harvest of Awards for Enigmatic Scholar

By Emmanuel Nzomiwu, All Africa/Daily Independent

Could it have been that the Igbo lived in the Stone Age before the emergence of the modern man (homo sapien)? Could it have been that the Igbo have been in existence since 1.6 million B.C.? Could the origin of the Igbo be traced to the earliest days of the Homo erectu s Africans, who lived in Okigwe, Abia State, Nigeria between 500,000 and 1,600,000 B.C, at least one million years before the emergence of modern man?

Serious efforts were made to answer all these questions in the book, They Lived Before Adam, Prehistoric Origin of Ndigbo, The Never -Been-Ruled, authored by distinguished Igbo daughter and former Presidential Adviser on Arts and Culture, Prof. Catherine Acholonu.

Eddy Olumba and an Indian, Ajay Prabhakar contributed to the masterpiece, which brought the number of books written by Acholonu, an epitome of beauty, to 16.

Recently, the professor who is currently Country Ambassador to the United Nations Forum for Arts and Culture, bagged two international awards for this groundbreaking book. They are the Phillis Wheatley Award for literary work that transcends culture, boundary and perception, and the Flora Nwapa Award for literary excellence.

Philip Wheatley was an African American slave of the 18th century, who was the first black female author in America, and the Phillis Wheatley Award is the highest book award at the Harlem Book Fair. The Flora Nwapa Award is dedicated to Africa's first female novelist and publisher, Nigerian-born Flora Nwapa Nwakuche, an author of scores of fiction books for adults and children.

Acholonu bagged these two prestigious awards at the just concluded Harlem Book Fair at the two-century-old Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Malcolm X Boulevard, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.

The Director of the Harlem Book Fair, Max Rodriguez, could not find better words to commend authors of They Lived Before Adam than to say: "as groundbreaking as Ivan Sertima's They Came Before Columbus, Prof. Catherine Acholonu's They Lived Before Adam is pushing the limits of accepted human history and has the potential to re-define the parameters of knowledge."

The 536-page book has handbooks in English and Igbo languages. It was stated, that with discoveries at Ugwuele in Okigwe, scientists have proved that all human beings descended from people, who came from sub-Saharan Africa.

Acholonu and his co-authors explained, "The discoveries at Ugwuele show that the 'out of Africa' migrations were more or less an 'out of Igboland' migration and that Igboland was original home of Homo Erectus and that all of those who migrated out of Africa were Igbo ambassadors.

They stated that in the olden days, the ancestors carved stones as means of communication and also a way to give honour to great men and women who made great achievements in the society, and these stones were named after people, whom they were dedicated to.

Some of these carved stones known as monoliths were discovered in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, about 300 kilometers from Calabar, the state capital and the villagers called them Akwa Nshi, meaning that they were made by Nshi, Stone Age people. 'Nshi' in Igbo means dwarf.

Based on archeological discoveries, the researchers also claimed that they have found out that one language was spoken at the beginning of mankind, the same language spoken by Adam and Eve and that the language was indeed none other than Igbo.
Could it have been that the Igbo lived in the Stone Age before the emergence of the modern man (homo sapien)? Could it have been that the Igbo have been in existence since 1.6 million B.C.? Could the origin of the Igbo be traced to the earliest days of the Homo erectu s Africans, who lived in Okigwe, Abia State, Nigeria between 500,000 and 1,600,000 B.C, at least one million years before the emergence of modern man?

Serious efforts were made to answer all these questions in the book, They Lived Before Adam, Prehistoric Origin of Ndigbo, The Never -Been-Ruled, authored by distinguished Igbo daughter and former Presidential Adviser on Arts and Culture, Prof. Catherine Acholonu.

Eddy Olumba and an Indian, Ajay Prabhakar contributed to the masterpiece, which brought the number of books written by Acholonu, an epitome of beauty, to 16.

Recently, the professor who is currently Country Ambassador to the United Nations Forum for Arts and Culture, bagged two international awards for this groundbreaking book. They are the Phillis Wheatley Award for literary work that transcends culture, boundary and perception, and the Flora Nwapa Award for literary excellence.

Philip Wheatley was an African American slave of the 18th century, who was the first black female author in America, and the Phillis Wheatley Award is the highest book award at the Harlem Book Fair. The Flora Nwapa Award is dedicated to Africa's first female novelist and publisher, Nigerian-born Flora Nwapa Nwakuche, an author of scores of fiction books for adults and children.

Acholonu bagged these two prestigious awards at the just concluded Harlem Book Fair at the two-century-old Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Malcolm X Boulevard, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.

The Director of the Harlem Book Fair, Max Rodriguez, could not find better words to commend authors of They Lived Before Adam than to say: "as groundbreaking as Ivan Sertima's They Came Before Columbus, Prof. Catherine Acholonu's They Lived Before Adam is pushing the limits of accepted human history and has the potential to re-define the parameters of knowledge."

The 536-page book has handbooks in English and Igbo languages. It was stated, that with discoveries at Ugwuele in Okigwe, scientists have proved that all human beings descended from people, who came from sub-Saharan Africa.

Acholonu and his co-authors explained, "The discoveries at Ugwuele show that the 'out of Africa' migrations were more or less an 'out of Igboland' migration and that Igboland was original home of Homo Erectus and that all of those who migrated out of Africa were Igbo ambassadors.

They stated that in the olden days, the ancestors carved stones as means of communication and also a way to give honour to great men and women who made great achievements in the society, and these stones were named after people, whom they were dedicated to.

Some of these carved stones known as monoliths were discovered in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria, about 300 kilometers from Calabar, the state capital and the villagers called them Akwa Nshi, meaning that they were made by Nshi, Stone Age people. 'Nshi' in Igbo means dwarf.

Based on archeological discoveries, the researchers also claimed that they have found out that one language was spoken at the beginning of mankind, the same language spoken by Adam and Eve and that the language was indeed none other than Igbo.

"Likewise, the story of Adam and Eve has links with Igbo tradition through remnants of Igbo language found in all words connected to Adam and Eve story. For instance, Hebrew name for Adam as first man was 'Esh,' which is also spelt Eesh/Eshi/Ishi. The Bible says that Eve's name 'Ish-she or Esh-she' because she was taken out of the man. This means that 'Esh' and 'Esh-she' means in Igbo 'Taken from the dwarf (as in she-puta-to pull out). She also means in Igbo 'to become less, 'to reduce,' implying that by creation of woman from man, man became weaker or less than he was originally. Adam's popular name by which he is known throughout the world has a straight meaning-Adaa m 'I have fallen, I have become less than my original self' but not so in Ikom language," they stated.

"Also the name of Adam's second son, Abel, who was murdered by his elder brother, and who became known as the 'lamb that was slain' seems to have been derived from Igbo word, Ebula meaning lamb. (We heard of the blood of Abel being compared with the blood of Jesus 'the Lamb of God').
Cain, who killed his brother, was banished and he began to roam the earth and took the name Amakandu (condemned to life of roaming), but as time went on, some of his children got tired of roaming and decided to build settlements for themselves. And accordingly they changed their names to Dunu, meaning 'settle' or 'sit' in Igbo, revealing that the first generation of humans on earth spoke Igbo. In fact, there is a clan in Anambra State that goes by the name Dunukofia, meaning that to settle is better than to roam."

It was noted in the book that if "the Bible tells us that God's first instruction to humankind was written on stone, the Igbos have an oral tradition published under the title "Ndi Ichie Akwa mythology or folklore tradition of Ndigbo by I.N.C. Nwosu, which narrates that God gave a set of 10 laws on stone to his people called Ndiichie Akwa, which were symbolised by 10 fingers etched on stone. This has a similarity to Hebrew story of the laws given to Moses by God.

The story says that after the world was destroyed by the great flood, the children of the great ancestor of Igbo people were instructed by God to return to the center of the earth where he and his lineage will dwell with God in peace and tranquility.

They continued: "We believe that Ikom (and its monoliths) was the destination of the journey of the children of Noah as indicated in the Biblical Genesis and that the people who journeyed to West Africa, were a branch of Ham's children, possibly Canaan and that the monoliths served as a landmark for the new immigrants. In the Bible, it is actually reported that Noah instructed his second son, Ham to return to Africa with his children. South Eastern Nigeria (which includes South South) is actually the cartographical (from the map of the world) location of the center of the earth, because all the ancient territory of Biafra was the 'Median" and 'Median' means centre in any map."

Acholonu and his co-authors noted however that the monoliths were not the only stone writings associated with the Igbo, since in the British Isles, stones have been found bearing Igbo language inscriptions written in form of writing known as Ogam, said to have been written on a stick as well as a stone, giving it the name Ogama, which in Igbo language, might have been Ogu-ama, meaning 'Stick for External use' or 'Writing on sticks for masses'. Ogu is also linked to the Igbo concept of Iji ofo na ogu-a stick that stands for justice and innocence.

They stated that apart from the Igbo based ancient Ogam inscriptions found in British Isles, another proof that Igbo people lived in and colonised the British Isles in pre-historic times is the presence of numerous Igbo words in English language such as doro (draw), Mmanwu (Man); Saa (Say), Ukwe (Choir), Ekpere (prayer), Mfe (fair), Okuko (Cock), Mmiri (Marine), ga (go) among others.

"We found evidence that in pre-historic times, Igbo people were known as people of light and Sons of God (Opara/Okwara). They were worshipped by other clans of humans. They were the first kings and god-men known to human beings in general. Appollo, whose name was pronounced as Okpara, was the first example. The Pharaoh of Egypt actually took their title from Okpara Ihe (Son of Light). There are available records from 2000 BC showing that Pharoahs sent expeditions to West Africa to import Eshi (dwarfs), whom they valued as divine beings who bestowed blessings on Egypt."

Reviewing the book, They Lived Before Adam, at its public presentation at Michael Okpara Square in Enugu on June 27, 2009, a senior lecturer at the Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Nwankwo Nwaezeigwe said that from the title of the book, it is all about tracing the origin of the Igbo people tNwaezeigwe said that he has come to the conclusion given the characteristic embellishing masculinity of the work, that Prof. Catherine Acholonu is an enigmatic mistake of divine creation, one of those rare women who are imbued with every ingredient of manhood except the manhood itself.

"This, one can evidently notice by an internalised driving force in her, a force for adventure, a force to conquer and an ever propelling carriage ready to accept challenges, all embellished with a passion for upholding her, do I say, his Igbo identity, pride of the past and culture. She is not just a pan Igboist, but also a universal proponent of the primacy of Black human kind in the cradle of human existence.

"The book is not merely an emphasis within the broad spectrum of historical studies. Built on a panoply or oral ethno linguistic and archeological studies, and to some appreciable extent, on array of written sources, the work fundamentally represents a paradigm shift from traditional school of thought which often seeks to define Igbo origin in particular and black race in general, in context of non-African root," Nwaezeigwe said.