By Chris O. Maduka
“Professor Chidi Osuagwu is one of the best brains of Igbo extraction and has quite a bit of record of Igbo-centrism in his kitty” Law Mefor.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Show me your friends or the company you keep and I will tell you who you are, an expression many may not have truly reflected upon as it is a very profound remark.
Till this day, the Americans are still searching for another John F. Kennedy who was elected President of the United States of America in 1960, fifteen years after the end of the Second World War, with America still recovering from the great depression. Americans were seriously challenged as the communist Soviet Union were emerging as major threat to the United States and even leading in space race and exploration of the galaxies.
John F. Kennedy challenged the Americans to rise up and take back their place in the leadership of the world they were ceding to the Soviets. He inspired them to believe in themselves again while battling the challenges of segregation in the deep south. At the same time, he stood up to the Soviets in Cuban missile crises in 1962 under Nikita Khrushchev.
Like Kennedy, came Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. who led the Civil Rights Movement to end the legal segregations of African Americans and in 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Americans of all races and beliefs still crave and desire to have another of these extraordinary leaders who came and did their bits leaving their foot prints on the sands of time. Anything remotely connected to these great leaders either by blood relationship, close association, mentorship or even at times physical resemblance can inspire people to gravitate towards that individual. This explains how much people appreciate and desire effective leaders with proven track records.
Fast forward, here in Nigeria. We all know that most Yorubas have sense of reverence for their leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Till date, anybody or anything remotely connected to the late leader is revered. Being Omo Baba or Baba Kekere (Little father) can win you election in the Western Nigeria all things being equal.
Today, we all can easily attest to the fact that our biggest challenge among all other challenges is the very lack of inspiring and responsible leadership. This is more profound in the South-Eastern part of the country. It has been our greatest undoing often prompting Ndi Igbo to reminiscence their greatest leaders of the past. From Michael I. Okpara, the premier of the old Eastern region, to the likes of Samuel Onunaku Mbakwe affectionately called Dee Sam. Considering the crop of leaders we have in place today in Igboland, there is no doubt that the Igbos like those Americans are in dire need of such leaders or even anyone remotely connected, mentored or related to them. There are reasons;
Come 10th of January 2021, Ndi Igbo in the seven Igbo speaking states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, parts of Delta and Rivers, will have the opportunity to elect once again a new President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo currently headed by Chief Nnia Nwodo from Enugu state.
There is no doubt Ndi Igbo are desperately seeking true leaders in the ranks of the late ICONS such as M.I. Okpara, Dr Francis Akanu Ibiam, Mazi Mbonu Ojike, Dee Sam Mbakwe, just to mention a few.
However, here is the good news; if you ever loved or ever heard of Late Dee Sam Mbakwe, the former Governor of Old Imo state (combination of today’s Imo, Abia and parts of Ebonyi states), his love and passion for Ndi Igbo, his master plan and holistic development strides that transformed the Old Imo and by extension the entire Igbo nation barely a decade after the devastating Nigeria ‘Evil’ genocidal war, if you ever desired such dedicated people’s leader, simply wish no more as we can all re-live that great Dee Sam Mbakwe era if we all rise up and do the right thing in this upcoming Ohanaeze Ndigbo President General election.
So, if you ever missed that Igbo Icon; the truly People’s Governor, you have the chance to once again relive that dream of Dee Sam Mbakwe’s great era in Professor Chidi Osuagwu.
Prof Osuagwu was one of Dee Sam Mbakwe’s closest allies, associates and kinsmen from Obowo. They shared the same undying love for Ndi Igbo, carrying same vision, philosophy and deep understanding of the Igbo world view.
Dee Sam was not apologetic for being Igbo. He did not speak about his people in ambiguity and unnecessary political correctness or trepidations. He celebrated who his people are and never wavered in proclaiming same to others about the uniqueness and resilience of Ndi Igbo.
An extract from Professor Obi Nwakamma on Dee Sam Mbakwe and other Igbo woes;
“There is not a single federal industrial investment in Igbo land. In 1981, Governor Sam Mbakwe secured President Shagari’s guarantee to site the National Petrochemical plant in Ohaji, or he would build it himself. In 1984, Buhari revised the plan and the Petrochemical plant slated for Ohaji was later sited in Eleme by Babangida. It was much the same about the National Steel plant which was designated to be built in Onitsha, but which was moved to Ajaokuta. By 1967, the city of Aba was at par with Lagos: whatever industrial plant was built in Lagos was also built in Aba – Lever brothers, SCOA industries, Nigerian Breweries, Guinness, Proctor & Gamble, PZ, etc. In fact, the West African headquarters of Pfizer Pharmaceutical Laboratories was in Aba, before it was forcibly relocated to Lagos in 1970”
In 1980 Governor Sam Mbakwe visited Ndiegoro community in Aba submerged by flood which killed many and made countless families homeless, he openly wept to show his pain towards Federal Government neglect of the Igbo region. President Shehu Shagari who he brought to visit the erosion site awarded contract for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the area, but was scuttled by Buhari military regime. And till date, the ecological devastations of Ndiegoro community remain unresolved.
With this incredible love for his people, here lies the million-dollar question troubling the minds of Ndi Igbo today;
What would be the position of M.I. Okpara who in 1963, built the first Nigeria gas factory in Emene Enugu, if the gas deposits in his domain are exploited for Nigeria Gas master plan to industrialise all other parts of Nigeria including Niger Republic, extending into North Africa with the total exclusion of Igbo land?
Mbakwe built today’s Imo Airport through the combination of his government and communal effort, what would be the position of Dee Sam for the unjust exclusion of Igbo Land in the Federal Government Rail link masterplan traversing all major cities in Nigeria?
For openly crying over the ecological devastation of Ndiegoro community, what would be the position of Dee Sam over the brutal and gruesome killings of Igbo youths with many of them doused in acid and buried alive, many thrown into the flowing rivers, some hounded down in their hospital beds and killed, while thousands are carted away to the far north languishing at several prison detentions without hope of a trial or being released?
What would be the reaction of Francis Akanu Ibiam, seeing the killer Fulani Herdsmen occupy bushes and forests in Igbo Land, kidnapping our people, killing our men and women, raping our mothers and our daughters?
What would be the reaction and position of the past Igbo greats to the massacre of the Apo Six, over 100 Igbos killed in police custody with their bodies dumped in Ezu River, Nimbo massacre and the recent Obigbo genocide?
Dee Sam and others before him realized the need for balance and reaching out to cooperate with others without unnecessary compromises or making permanent decisions with far reaching implications under temporary convenience and inconvenience as applicable today.
The Igbo greats pursued their agenda based on mutual respect, cooperation and Igbo centric views. Little wonder their accomplishments, still speak volumes long after they transitioned to the greater beyond.
From the beacon of the past Igbo greats, Prof. Chidi Osuagwu has emerged to pull Ndi Igbo from years of abject neglect, crises of confidence, humiliation and to restore their belief in the greater Igbo Nation, who with proven records are a great civilisation and a formidable people. Yes, he will.
Prof. Osuagwu is one of the very few people who understands and has deepest knowledge of Igbo cosmology and their very unique place under the sun.
So, our Igbo greats in their wisdom did not disappear completely, as no man ever does if he chooses to do good outside personal gains and to help better human condition. The late Icons especially Dee Sam left us with Professor Chidi Osuagwu, his kinsman from the same town of Obowo in Imo state, and a man from the same school of thought.
In Prof. Chidi Osuagwu, Dee Sam Mbakwe and other Igbo great leaders once again come alive. We have a man with the boldness and quiet resolve of Mazi Mbonu Ojike, who has advocated and proven that the Igbo primordial ways, philosophy and everything about them are equally valid, superior and sophisticated.
Here we have a man like Akanu Ibiam who would not appease his oppressors but renounced his British knighthood and returned the Insignia to the Queen in total rejection of the British support for the Igbo genocide.
Prof Osuagwu will unite his kit and kin, like Chief Dennis Osadebe who bonded deeply with his people from the Eastern Igbo that provided him with strong financial and political leverage helping immensely in the creation of the Midwestern region and eventually played dominant roles in the rapid development of the Midwestern region.
As we eulogize and celebrate the great Igbo leaders, let us rejoice and be glad that we have a very good opportunity to re-enact once again those glorious years of M.I. Okpara and Dee Sam Mbakwe in our time under the banner of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, by supporting such person of impeccable character and commitment to lead Ndi Igbo at this very critical times and heavy challenges.
In Prof. Chidi Osuagwu all our past great Igbo leaders come alive once again.