By Ikechukwu Odu
NSUKKA—The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, yesterday, said that the many legacy infrastructural projects ongoing across the states of South East geopolitical zone is an indication that the Federal Government is concerned about the development and the infrastructure upgrade of the region.
He spoke at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN during the Chinua Achebe’s 4th International Conference organised by the Institute of African Studies, IAS-UNN, in collaboration with the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, CBAAC, in honour of the iconic achievements of late Prof. Achebe in the field of literature.
The SGF who was represented in the event by the Enugu State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr. Ben Nwoye, said: “The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is the only government that has taken essential steps to address the issue of farmers/herders crises. We must commend government for taking those actions.
“This government has also taken actions to ensure that South East is developed in such a pace that we have never had before. We have the 2nd Niger Bridge going on, we have the Port Harcourt Express Way going on and the Enugu-Onitsha Express Way under construction as well.
“This government is doing those legacy projects for the people of this geopolitical zone and we should use this conference to celebrate the commitment of the Presidency in developing South East zone.”
While reacting to some remarks during the conference, he said Nigeria was not the only country which disagrees with the outcome of electoral processes, citing the Donald Trump and Joe Biden struggles in the last American presidential election as an instance.
While making a case for the reorientation of African value system, the National Coordinator, Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum, Chief John Nnia Nwodo and the former Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, have called for the re-evaluation of African cultural cultures and norms to rid our societies of vices.
The duo who spoke during the conference, regretted that the youths have abandoned our cultural values, paving way for criminality, Internet fraud and other vices in our society.
While discussing the theme of the conference “Re-evaluation of African Values and Culture in the Face of the Crises of the 21st Century,” Chief Nwodo, who was the keynote speaker said Prof. Chinua Achebe, was the most reliable literary source of our original cultural and social values.
Nwodo who commended the Director of IAS-UNN, Prof. Florence Orabueze, for honouring the literary icon, also said “Achebe in his works characterised our traditional systems of worship, our chivalry, our agricultural way of life, our marriage traditions, our family values and our inter-community relations. Many of these traditions have been adulterated over time due to the growth of conflicting civilizations amongst us and global interaction.
“Speaking of Igboland, by far, the most severe damage we have had overtime on our cultural way of life is the loss of our local dialects. Many of us here and lots of our children can hardly speak in our local dialects. Local dialects convey in a very direct and compelling way our local usages, cultural views and behavioural expectations.
“Our native language abhorred theft, irresponsibility and licentiousness. Nobility was an honoured heritage and virture. Hard work was extolled, chivalry was respected. Leadership was recruited from people with these attributes. Wealth per se was not an attribute unless it was derived from verifiable sources and hard work. Ownership of large bans of yam was extolled, women who produced large quantities of palm oil and weeded large acres of land of their husband’s farm were given titles.
“As we grew up, education took over the place of chivalry and ability to have large barns of yam as a basis for status recognition by the society,” he said.
While condemning open grazing of cattle by herdsmen in Nigeria, he said, “There is no justification whatsoever to allow cattle grazing that entails herdsmen trekking with numerous cows by foot from Northern Nigeria to very distant parts of the South in search of grasses to feed their cows. Netherlands have taught us that we can grow grasses anywhere digitally.
The present system is archaic, dangerous to cows and the herdsmen and inimical to the maintenance of public security. No reasonable government will allow it to continue.”
Nwodo equally said that our politics will continue to be unproductive unless we allow youths to bring their innovative ideas and energy to bear in the politics, urging the nation to recognize merit in place of quota system in Nigeria.
On his part, the Senator representing Kano Central in the National Assembly and the former Governor of Kano State, Shekarau, also regretted that our cultural values are on the declines across African societies.
While saying that the African Values which late Prof. Achebe portrayed in his works are relevant for the re-evaluation of African cultures, he condemned parents who reprimand their children for speaking their mother tongues, adding that such attitude has contributed significantly in eroding our value system as Africans.
The Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Arizechukwu Igwe, who earlier declared the conference open, said it has become necessary to re-evaluate African values at this time when our society is bedeviled by all forms of social vices, which hitherto, were alien to our culture.
The VC who said that our young ones have lost touch with African values and cultures, regretted that there seems to be a deviation from the norms which were laid down by our forebearers to ensure peaceful co-existence, sense of decency, hard work and high moral standards.
He appreciated the Director, IAS-UNN, Prof. Florence Orabueze, for collaboratiing with CBAAC, to celebrate the literary genius, adding that his contributions in literary world should be emulated and celebrated to encourage more prowess in art and culture.