“He recorded the saying of two great men, which had acted as beacons to him during a fretful life of public service. Cecil Rhodes had once reminded him that he was an ‘Englishman’ and had therefore won the first prize in the lottery of life…”
Enugu-Ezike on the border to the Benue Confluence is the most populous Igbo community. Before the war, Mbaise was breeding so much that when the Igbos ran home as a result of the pogrom in the North, in Lagos, Ibadan, Benin City, Warri, Mbaise population like most other Igbo communities inside the Biafran heartland exploded. At that point, Enugu-Ezike, which is directly on the way when the Federal Troops trooped down to the Nsukka sector, was hideously decimated. Three years of gruelling blockade, starvation wiped out children and, towards the end, Mbaise and the heartland lost the vultures in the air as the rats the Agama lizards and their brides disappeared from the village walls and gardens.
The final end was marked by a tragic drama. The notorious Biafran suicide squad, the “Mbaise Strike Force” with little more than bolt-action riffles, machetes, clubs decided to confront Obasanjo’s advancing mechanised Third Marine Commandos. Before the Afor Ogbe intercession, the Mbaise Strike Force was blown to smithereens and their blood sacrifices in the last hours to the end of the war ignited a most savage unreported brutality that continued until the Federal troops took the Uli airport. The Biafran 14th Division under Brigadier Eze defending Owerri, Aba and Arochukwu had collapsed.
In the history of man, wars and civilization, the quantious and speedy recovery of the Igbo after the catastrophe of 1967-1970, has no recorded compares. While Europe recovered with time, it’s imaginable what could have been the state of modern Europe if America had not deployed immediately the Marshal Plan after the Second World war. Without any aid, still permanently on the receiving end of various man-made obstacles, the Igbo, half a century later, more than ever before, are in the arena to challenge the world.
Check it out, who is competing with the thrifty Chinese, building factories in Chinese industrial layouts in China, competing with the Malays in Malaysia, in Singapore with the Singaporeans? Have you not heard of what Sonny Odogwu did to the Swiss Economy? Who is the Black African senator in Italy? Say the name of the latest Mayor of Brent and who are the majority Black parliamentarians in the British Parliament?
Yes, Mbaise recovered and for the first time since Raymond Njoku, the tireless late Federal Minister of Transport, Owerri Zone is back in the political limelight. Handsome and always impeccably dressed, Njoku as the Nigerian Minister of Transport, was the man who built the Nigerian Railways from Lagos to Bornu extension. Engaging Nigerian engineers he established the Nigeria Airways and he built the Carter Bridge, Lagos. Njoku was so mindful of his assignments that he would leave his family to his road project sites, etc, and sometimes would be gone for more than three months!
In the same performance status was Prof. Sanya Onabimiro, former Western Nigerian Minister of Education, under Obafemi Awolowo. Between him and Chief Ajasin, they were the brains behind Chief Awolowo’s celebrated Free Education programme. For Zik, he was lucky to have in his cabinet Akpabio, the Eastern Minister of Education. The minister interpreted and executed the Jeffersonian Zik’s dream of building a university on the serene hills of the Nsukka Forest.
Ihedioha’s swearing in as the Governor of Imo, the heartland state propels a lot for the resurgence of Igbo energy. Surrounded by other states whose Governors do not read Kennedy, Bonaparte or have encountered the work diaries of Dr. Michael Okpara, Aja Nwachukwu and Chief Sam Mbakwe, Imo in the hands of this Writer Artist is the latest hope.
My Dear Governor, do begin the sailing by taking a break. See if you can build for once in this part of Africa a cabinet of scientists and artists. Take the politicians to Nekede and Ohaji farm centres. Concentrate on eight portfolios. On food and agriculture, appoint professor of engineering, Rev. Godfrey Nzamujo, commissioner of agriculture. His works in West Africa would turn Imo to the food basket of Africa. Dr. Eto, commissioner of health, and he will do for Nigeria and Imo what the Indian doctors trained in America have done for Indian medicine.
Establish the Imo Science Centre under Prof. Maurice Iwu and Dr. Chidi Osuagwu as secretary. That centre would take over the university the former Governor built in his village and other parts of the state. That centre would employ Igbo scientists, ranging from the ages of 20 to 40. That centre would be given a few years’ deadline to eradicate malaria, typhoid, tuberculoses, etc, dump the sachet water and its polluting bags.
Finally, Imo the heartland of the Igbo nation, must consider establishing a department for Biafra Affairs. It is only in Imo that the prominent Biafran groups are very highly represented.
Ijele Uwazuruike, the man Ikemba anointed head of MASSOB; IPOB-Nnamdi Kanu, the group with the most potent radio in the world, and the Billie group are all on the ground. These Biafran groups should be allowed to pursue their projects in peace without government interfering in their affairs. Department of Biafran Affairs is necessary as most of the fisticuffs can be addressed before they burst out in the street.