By Emma Okacha
“The political world is stimulating. It’s the most interesting thing you can do. It beats following the dollars”
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States.
“Politics is the public affairs of public people, for private advantage” – Ambrose Bierce.
“For some time now, I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched the chaos in my own state where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places seemed determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom.
I’m appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance of the Presidency.”
Chinua Achebe, rejecting the Award of the Commander of the Federal Republic by Nigeria. [CFR}
“Anambra is like a bleeding wound in the body politics of Nigeria. The wound must be stanched if the organism is to be saved. The Anambra tragedy, being paradigmatic of the many ills that afflict the experiment, will paradoxically, provide both the insights and the challenges for saving democracy in Nigeria”
Emmanuel Obiechina, Visiting Professor, African Studies, Harvard, to America Mi Dream, Summer 2005.
“The calibre of people we have….if two or three of them can come together, and say, let us think beyond ourselves, let’s think of the land we will leave for our children, I tell you, things will be different. This is one state that is easy to develop.
The people are used to providing everything for themselves- education, healthcare, water, roads etc. After all this shame, I believe that through adversities shall come a bundle of blessings.”Â Barrister Oscar Onwudiwe, to Uzo Nwokwu, Saturday, Champion, October 18, 2003.
“Known for his generous and expansive personality, Arthur Eze is well -known in Nigeria’s byzantine business world and has been active behind the scenes on the political stage…he has built and provided schools in Sierra Leone for the Waterloo Partnership which is a pet project of the UK MP Claire Curtis – Thomas. He regularly made headlines for his perceived role as a political power -broker in his native state of Anambra.”
-Upstream….the International Oil & Gas Newspaper, January 19, 2007
“The Igbos are like the Phoenicians, the Jews, they are born traders. The trader nations detest Emperors and because they are politically inpatient, cannot build empires…..”
“Justice P. K. Nwokedi, retired Justice of the Supreme Court in Emma Okocha’s “The Jews of Africa”
Odumegwu L. P. Ojukwu was the first black man to enter the United Kingdom without a passport or a visa. Disembarking from his ship and walking up the Liverpool custom stands, the Immigration officials were about to pounce on him when the majestic voice of John Holt the owner of the John Holt West Africa Holdings stopped the officers.
“Gentlemen, if I were you, I will let go the visitor.” The officers retraced their steps. John Holt, the owner and the then CEO of the West African business conglomerate was out there to receive his trading partner Sir OdumegwuÂ Ojukwu traveling from Lagos, Nigeria, on that summer afternoon of 1956.
These are the big fishes whose overseas operations keep Liverpool, its ports, and law enforcement agencies alive. If they decide to walk in and had forgotten their travel papers, the officers could afford to look the other way.
Odumegwu Ojukwu at that time was probably the wealthiest black man of his generation, sitting on top of a vast business empire, which encompassed transportation, real estate, export and import transactions, formal and informal industrialization, international trade and investments.
In his erudite keynote address to the ASA USA convention in Washington recently, Anambra Governor Peter Obi, recited the glorious history and the exceptional contributions of his people to Nigeria’s independence and their undeniable imprints to the development of mankind.Â Anambra produced Zik of Africa, and gave the world the mathematical gifts of Chike Obi.
Professor Kenneth Dike was the first African Vice Chancellor, and Chinua Achebe is the celebrated bard whose novel, Things Fall Apart, has been published in so many languages of the world. There were others mentioned by the Governor, but if we were writing his speech, we would have borrowed from our latest work ….’The Jews of Africa’ and probably give some space to the greatest Anambrarian of all times.
The young man, who was bundled away as a slave, and like a true Igbo, beat all the odds thrown on his path, rebounded, and won international acclaim as a historian, best selling author, and a naval Commander. A self made millionaire, he was indeed, the first black international Literati.
He devoted his life to the causes of freedom. Olaudah Equiano worked in concert with others to abolish slavery, the inhuman trade that uprooted him from his family, and almost obliterated his heritage.
As you look at the Anambra political landscape, we miss the footprints of those pathfinders and ask the immediate questions. Who amongst the present political gladiators have read about Olaudah Equiano or his book, “The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano, The African” published by himself and distributed by himself in London, 1780.Â Ask the present big fishes and those tanker driver god fathers when last they glanced through the “Odyssey”, by the grand master, the Zik of Africa.
Who amongst them has ever picked up Dr. Pius Okigbo’s cerebral analysis of the after war crisis which according to him was not handled well by the institutions of the government. He was afraid that the healing process to the end was incomplete, especially when there was no debriefing program for the surrendering soldiers.Â He was concerned that there were very few specialist programs available to deal with the traumatic cases of the children of war.
In his Christ the King College(CKC) Foundation Day Speech of 1976, Okigbo declared, we are better able to understand the values in a people’s culture not through their dances or even through their painting, [however, much these may reflect the society’s system of aesthetics] but through their “primitive” or adopted religions. Each religion defines how man should relate to other men and to his maker or to the Universe. Our primitive religion has a sharp distinction between good and bad and different gradations of good and bad:
Odinma, odiomalicha, odiebube, odiiregwu, odinjo, obunso, obualu.
Okigbo argued that these are concepts defined in relation to behaviour and thought habits and are expected to govern our lives. They are transmitted from generation to generation by our parents, by teachers, and priests and deviants are brought into line by judges.
The late philosopher and Balewa’s Economic adviser continued, “No group retains and preserves its culture intact. The purely religious culture of the early fathers was influenced and contaminated by the business culture. Pecuniary and commercial influences debase the religious values.
The ”primitive” culture of Africa was substantially influenced, modified and, in certain respects, dominated by the technological culture of Western Europe.” The result “is that the basic values in the original African culture have been degraded through substitution.”
In wars, he explained that existential values replace eternal values; national survival takes precedence over moral values which, sometimes are perverted, and whose perversion is justified, by the higher need to save the nation.
The society institutions; the family, the churches and the schools and the courts are constantly entrusted to preserve the essential elements and qualities of the threatened society. Once this task is abandoned by one or more of the institutions, the moral decay that follows, constitutes a threat to the society at large.Â Okigbo prophesied.
We agree entirely with the late sage as we attempt to analyze the Anambra frequent political fisticuffs and the bazaar that is her politics since the State was created.Â Her people came out of the Nigerian Civil war after a scaring trauma, having fought a war in which unrestrained primitive passions were aroused to the limit.
The society they left behind before the war has been shattered. The family had been weakened, the boys and girls, soldiers of the war, have suddenly matured.Â Their experiences in the field and at the rear were experiences accorded to the old.
The Churches had been compromised both by the loss of many devoted priests and by the loss of prestige suffered through exposure of the members to the basic instincts of man in times of severe crises. The school where the teacher and the priest had some power had become secular and they have lost some control.
The courts have lost some of their aura and dignity as final repositories of Justice. Indeed, the existential conditions persist; life is lived intensely for the moment, without regard to the values that govern the immediate society.
But is it why the Nigerian Ambassador to Austria, our friend HE Jerry Ugokwe, PhD, would abandon the lush gardens of the Nigerian embassy in Vienna and opt for the red tanker collision that is the Anambra gubernatorial tussle?
Why have the cream of Anambra high society, including its brightest, business moguls, bankers, retired civil servants, top brass of the Armed forces, respected national Politicians, former diplomats relocated or prefer Lagos, Abuja, to spending the evening days of their lives in their hometowns among their relations and their people?Â Why is the former Vice President Alex Ekwueme spending more time in Lagos, Enugu, and Abuja than Oko his home?
What about the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth? He lives in Lagos and erosion is almost cutting Obosi his native land into two.Â Why do these Igbo leaders on retirement live in Lagos, but their compatriots of other states across the rivers, would on retirement move their family and themselves away from Lagos or Abuja to their country homes? Babangida is home, available to his people in Minna. Ditto, President Obasanjo in Ota.
Buhari may be living in Kaduna but nobody can say he is a Lagos or Abuja resident. Atiku, can be excused. That man has a heavily loaded harem, forcing him to seek bedroom spaces in Onitsha, Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and in two other villages in Adamawa.
For a people who saw war and landed their planes under ink black darkness, please do not tell me they are running away from mere kidnappers.
Without you around, the tanker drivers found an opening and as it is with them they have illegally parked across the Anambra political landscape, rewrote all the laws and would as they do in Apapa, Iddo, Dugbe market, they would not like to be told what to move. The tanker drivers own this place.
[Next Week…Anambra: Before the Darkness]