By Prisca Sam-Duru
LAGOS — ELDER statesman and President of Ndigbo Lagos, Professor Anya O. Anya, yesterday, declared that Nigeria is not yet a nation but that a nation will emerge out of her soon.

Anya made the statement at Sam Ohuabunwa’s Outreach, in Lagos, to mark the 65th birthday of Ohuabunwa, former chairman of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals.

BOOK LAUNCH: From left, Dr Christopher Kolade; Prof Anya.O. Anya, chairman of occasion; Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, author of the books; Mrs Stella Ohuabunwa, wife of author; Bishop of Lagos West, Anglican Communion, Rt Rev James Odedeji and Sir Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, during the book presentation and 65th birthday of Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, in Lagos, yesterday. Photo: Kehinde Gbadamosi
BOOK LAUNCH: From left, Dr Christopher Kolade; Prof Anya.O. Anya, chairman of occasion; Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, author of the books; Mrs Stella Ohuabunwa, wife of author; Bishop of Lagos West, Anglican Communion, Rt Rev James Odedeji and Sir Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, during the book presentation and 65th birthday of Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, in Lagos, yesterday. Photo: Kehinde Gbadamosi

The event was also to launch Ohuabunwa’s books, Sam Ohuabunwa’s Paradigm: Thoughts on Contemporary National Issues and The Port Harcourt Volunteer.

The professor, who chaired the occasion, said it was sad that Nigerians are not learning from history, averring that the much-criticized immediate past administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan was better than that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He said Ohuabunwa is one personality that embodies true stewardship and recognizes the values of a Christian, saying the country will be a better place if we learn the importance of true stewardship from people like the celebrant.

His words: “Sam has done an important thing by writing the books. I was privileged to write the foreword of Sam’s previous books. But the unique thing about today is that one of the books we are launching captures his experience during a particular time in our nation’s history.

“Unfortunately, we don’t write books enough and because of this, our nation does not have the opportunity to reflect on what has happened in the past and learn lessons from it. It is out of a people’s experience that you can write history. A nation that cannot learn from history cannot make the kind of progress that we expect.

“Once upon a time, history was a very important subject in the Nigerian education system, it got to a point when history is no longer there. If we don’t learn to stand on the shoulders of those who went before us, we cannot build as an individual, you cannot build as a community and as a nation.

“When you listen to our people, especially the politicians, it is as if we have learned nothing. God has been very kind to this country. It is not easy to see whether there is any common value that Nigerian leaders have which is why today you hear one thing and the next day, you hear the opposite.

We don’t have  a nation

“The problem now is that we are now trying to build a nation. We don’t have a nation but whether we like it or not, a nation is going to emerge out of Nigeria. And it is going to be from the contributions of Sam and all of us putting our individual experiences on the table and drawing lessons and teaching the lessons to others.

“When people put down their experiences, it keeps others informed and when you collect them, it gives you an idea of the society’s experience and from there, you can write the history of that nation. A nation without a history cannot learn lessons and build on those lessons, and the nation will be in trouble.

“This is what is happening to Nigeria today. A great nation is built by succession of generation of giants. Each generation of giants stand on the shoulders of past giants and the nation moves forward.

“Unfortunately in Nigeria, we are all in a haste to pronounce opinion and we take opinion as if it is the truth. The past government has been heavily criticized but this past government was not worse than the government before it. In fact, the immediate past government was better than the one before it. Sadly, those criticizing past government are those who were in Obasanjo’s government.”

The review

In his review of The Port Harcourt Volunteer, Prof Jemie Onwuchekwa said the “book encapsulates the two and half years story of horror, told by a teenage soldier on the Biafran side. When we see pictures of child soldiers with machine guns, in war-torn countries in the continent, we usually think of Sudan, Sierra Loene etc, we fail to remember that it also happened right here in Nigeria. The author was a teenage soldier that witnessed all the gun fires, starvation and explosions that consumed over two million people but survived and toiled through to living a very successful life.”

He described the book as a material that is hard to put down, adding that “the author believes that the war could have been avoided if Gowon had stood firm on the Aburi Accord, which could have dismantled Aguiyi Ironsi’s military command…”

Prof Ayo Olukotun while reviewing Sam Ohuabunwa’s Paradigm: Thoughts on Contemporary National Issues, said that the book collates 55 chapters of weekly interventions published in newspapers by the author, which brings us to the author’s dream of a reinvented Nigeria. He congratulated him for serving Nigerians and posterity.

Former Governor of Anambra State, Sir Peter Obi, described the author as “someone who has lived a life worthy of emulation and contributed in building a better society.

He said: “The problem with Nigeria is that those who have not created wealth manage the wealth of the people who created it. If you have to allow some people to manage public resources, then we ought to know whether they have been able to manage their own resources. It is a global thing. People who manage resources must have created or managed their own otherwise there will be problem.’’

I write to send a  message—Author

Responding, Ohuabunwa said: “I write because God gives me the inspiration to do so and I write to send a message. Every book I write has an audience.

“The Port Harcourt Volunteer is about my experience during the Biafran war and I thought that I should write on this because with the way the nation is going, it looks like we have forgotten about the war. And so much mistakes have been made.

“So, this is to remind ourselves that we have passed through this path, lost almost three million people, national wealth and we do not want to walk through that road again. We need to speak about what to do to strengthen Nigeria’s unity.

“Every four years it looks like we will break up. We must make our contributions now that we have a new government, to learn from what has happened, make our contributions so that Nigerians and the government can be guided.

“The major problem is that we are running a country in which everybody does not feel like they belong to, some people are marginalized deliberately or inadvertently, maltreated and there is injustice.”

Those at the event included Prof Adebayo Williams, Dr Christopher Kolade, Mrs Stella Okoli, Jimi Agbaje,  Prof. Ibidapo Obe, Jimoh Ibrahim, Bishop James Odedeji, Arch Bishop of Lagos West Anglican Church, members of Pharmaceutical Associations, captains of industry.

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