By Emma Okocha
”Like the latest rising star, Senator BarackObama, Navy Admiral Johnny Agwunobi is a son of mixed parents. His father is a doctor from Nigeria and his mother, like Obama’s, is a Caucasian.
As the pointman and Secretary of Health, Florida State, the Admiral ‘s diligence in handling the Florida hurricane crisis led to his appointment as the Assistant Secretary of Health under President Bush. As the ASH , John Agwunobi, served as the Secretary’s primary advisor on matters involving the nation’s public health. He also overseaed the US Public Health Service and its Commissioned Corps. He led the Florida Department of Health in its response to the nation’s first ever international anthrax attack.
He subsequently guided the state’s efforts to prepare, to prevent, respond to, and mitigate the effects of a bioterrorism attack. As a pediatrician, Dr. Agwunobi dedicated himself to working with the undeserved populations.
He was the Medical Director and Vice-President of Medical Affairs and Patient Services at the hospital for the Sick Children, and was rotating between the the Children hospital and the District of Columbia General Hospital- one of the busiest inner city hospitals. Apart from his medical degrees he holds a masters of Business Administration degree from Georgetown and masters of Public Health degree from John Hopkins.
– See President Bush Appoints Admiral Agwunobi, ASH, America Mi Dream Cover, Spring, 2006
”I have served my country Nigeria. I managed with the help of many visionary compatriots and built the most modern Nigerian Railways, comparable to most modern Railways anywhere in the world. That corporation also was bequeathed with the best hospital in Nigeria after independence . That Nigerian Railways and most of other national institutions sadly have all collapsed ….” . See Memoirs, Dr. Okechukwu Â Ikejiani, Â My Journey Across the Continents.
”It is difficult to help our people through the PDP” Â – late President of the Senate, Â Chuba Â Okadigbo.
”Everybody in Anambra, is talking money and on top of money, they can kill, sell their brothers and sisters and their father’s compound. The present crop of leadership is prepared to do anything because of money and the desire to uplift their political position and status.”
-Chief Ulasi, Interview with the Saturday Champion, October 18, 2003.page 35.
Few hours after his historic release from prison, Nelson Mandela picked up the phone and would like to speak to Fidel Castro of Cuba, Muammar Gadaffi of Libya and to Dr. NnamdiAzikiwe of Nigeria.
He was quick to say his appreciations to these gentlemen for their contributions to the eradication of Apartheid in South Africa and also for their crusades towards the decolonization of those dependent African entities, south of Â the Zambezi.
It was the Cuban intervention in Angola in 1975 that wiped out the myth of South Africa’s military invincibility. Â Libya supplied and paid for the ANC arms and logistics which enabled the guerrilla organization cross the borders to menace the apartheid regime.
Unknown to Nigerians and the world it was Zik of Africa who rushed his Foreign Minister to the United Nations and conceded that the white Europeans like the Blacks in South Africa had the rights to the land. Â According to JajaWachukwu,
”They have no other place in Europe to call their land”. Mandela was to be hanged, at the end of his treason trial. Â That smart and timely diplomatic concession saved his neck.
Also kept very confidential was the fact that Mandela was living and learning from the master at Zik’s residence at Commercial Avenue, Yaba, in Lagos.Commercial Avenue was Zik’s home on his return from Ghana.
We have gone this far to reclaim the forgotten contributions to Africa’s independence and resurgence by one of the greatest figures of our last century.
From that continental plain, we shall descend the stairs and as we walk down we shall briskly proclaim that his Pan Africanist inspiration and Zik’s inimitable patriotic zealour, Â did not in the course of his golden political odyssey, obscure his kind and noted affection to his Igbo heritage.
To all those our respected audience who have continuously blamed the Igbo /Anambra woes on Zik, please, come, let’s take a walk down the memory lanes.
Who looked at his Igbo trader brothers in the face and presented them with their primary need? Who built the Onitsha market, the most enduring market center in the West African Region?
Where Senegal, Togo Ghana , Cameroun, Ecowas, etc. must come to trade, no matter the situation of the roads. Before few Africans knew the functions of a bank, Â who established the first African bank which made it possible for these wandering traders to qualify for soft loans?
What is the name of that bank? African Continental Bank. Who founded the University of Nigeria? Â Even though he inspired Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and others especially, the Disus[ he took A.K. Disu to the US], who inspired the Akintola Williams….. who inspired the seven Argonauts to travel to the US? K.O Mbadiwe, Abyssinia Nwafor,Orizu, Prof J.B.C Okala, Mbonu, Ojike, Okechukwu, Ikejiani, NwankwoChukwuemeka, NnoduOkongwu were not Zik’s brothers? And who gave them jobs when they came home? What about the first generation Nigerian Journalists…. who employed them and who trained them ?
Apart from the Enahoros, [he appointed teenager, Anthony Enahoro, Editor of his newspaper], who else taught the Igbos who couldn’t get to colleges how to speak and write English?
Hundreds started life and ended life with the Spokesman, The Guardian, The Southern Defender, the Comet, and the flagship of the Nigerian Independence struggle; The West African Pilot. He had a chain of newspapers like today’s internet hurricane!!
How did Okechukwu, Ikejiani secure his appointment as the Chairman of the Nigerian Railways? [ the NNPC of that era] Who invited Professor Eni-Njoku, Dean at Cambridge, to Lagos University? Â Who Â influenced Aguiyi-Ironsi’s Commander In Chief appointment?
And how come the officer corps of the Nigerian army were dominated by Igbos. Indeed that is why we believe that the January 15 uprising was no Igbo conspiracy.
Forget Danjuma’s continuous paranoia and his indefensible bloody role in Ibadan, July 29th 1966.
Indeed, the Nigerian enterprise in the vision of the Zik of Africa had a lot for every Nigerian but never at any time in his cosmopolitan world view did he put the Igbo under any conceivable disadvantage.
He invisioned and looked forward to a time a larger African market with Nigeria in the lead, would like India and China, challenge the west. Â He was patient and like Jefferson made the necessary compromises. He almost succeeded.
As the Premier of the Eastern Nigeria, he appointed an unwilling missionary, Ibiam the Governor.
Ibiam who resented politics was forced to accept as his appointment was blared over the radio. He went out of his way to Umuahia and persuaded a young returnee medical doctor to follow him. Â Later, Okpara was appointed Minister of Health.
He appointed another very educated Annang, H. U. Akpabio, Eastern Nigerian Minister of Education. Hon. Akpabio signed the final papers for the taking off of the great University of Nigeria. There was Imoke also the father of the present Governor, Cross Rivers State.
He was in charge of works and every thing was working. The people drank from the public pumps, the schools were clean and graduated students that were not inferior to any in the planet.
Zik’s Finance Minister Ojike as far as 1956, prepared the Eastern Nigeria Fiscal Plan. Â That pioneer fiscal Nigerian plan attracted so much foreign and internal investment and by early 60’s, placed the Eastern Nigerian development graphs ahead of the Asian Tigers.
Those were the days when Malaysia arrived the East and borrowed and picked its palm seedings, went home and created the world’s greatest vegetable oil industry.
Finally, at a very uncertain period of the war, it was the coward Zik that landed in the enemy territories and negotiated the end of the war.
The phrase, ”No Victor Nor Vanguished” cannot be the likely expressions of the unpoetic General Gowon. We know the original author of that memorable line. He was the only Igbo who could have been accepted by others to run as President after the war.
He did not win but he opened the doors. Zik was the ultimate leader. For us, leadership is measured by what is or who are behind you.
Where others are standing with nobody behind them, Zik can always come in followed behind, by many his students; Ibiam, Okpara, Ugochukwu, Onoh C.C., Mbadiwe, LP OJukwu, Dennis Osadebay, Reverend Martins, Ogegbunam, Dafe, JIG Onyia, Okigbo, Abangwu, Sam Mbakwe, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, all Igbo icons in their own right.
As we approach the impending Febuary elections many questions remain unanswered. Who amongst the gladiators understand the core interests of the Anambra people?
Why is there so much emphasis on elections campaigns, money, rice, and the mundane, as oppossed to the establishment of good government? If Zik were alive what would have been his response to the fuddling INEC, and the bazaar that have overtaken politics in his home state of Anambra?
Why in its first major outing in Anambra state, the PDP campaign train was not escorted to the erosion sites of Agulu, Ekwueme’s, Oko, Ekwuluobia, Nkpor, Obosi, Â Ezinifite, Nnewi, Amichi/Ekwulumili collapsing gullies? Who amongst them can appoint Anambra’s best, like Â Admiral Agwunobi, Health, Phillip Emeagwali, Science and Education, Â Ikeazor, SAN, Attorney General, Saudi Arabia based Sports Impresario, Tony Mmoh as members of the state cabinet?.
Next Week.. Conclusion; Zik ,Ekwueme, Anyaoku, Soludo, The Ubas , Ojukwu and the Anambra Bazaar