And the news broke. Prof. Patrick Utomi and former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, got entangled. They had intractable issues between themselves. The origin of the altercation is not clear but it broke almost like a burst dam. From details one can garner, it appeared Utomi was on one of his speech-making swings. As a famous professor and activist intellectual this is pretty normal. Utomi earns his fare talking, basically. But all he said did not go down well with Uduaghan. If events as recalled by Utomi are anything to go by, he never mentioned Uduaghan by name. Utomi claimed he merely criticized past administrations.
Well, Uduaghan is a politician. And for politicians image is more important than facts. And the basis of Uduaghan’s present image, as an out-of-office politician, is the assessment of that past. And of the administrations of Delta State, Uduaghan’s was the proximate past.
Anyway, language is a slippery slope. Immediately a man speaks or writes, the meanings – the denotations and connotations – of what he says glides immediately out of his command and wishes. And Uduaghan interpreted things. And the meaning for him is that Utomi was making a direct charge at him! And that, for him, deserved a riposte. And he delivered one.
It was with a mock heroic tone. He advised Utomi to start from his local government, if he wanted to test his viability as a politician. And he reminded the world of other “nice” things about Utomi. To spice things, Uduaghan spoke on the background that Utomi was hustling to be governor of Delta State.
Well, Utomi, it may be recalled, was once a presidential contender. It thus would have been beneath dignity to have an Utomi beg for votes to run his state. But this is Nigeria. And one remembers Rochas Okorocha, who is now the governor of Imo State. Okorocha was also a (mock) presidential contender. Later he ate the humble pie, dipped down to pick up the low-hanging fruit. And he became a governor.
That is, it runs against the grain for an Utomi to hassle in a new trade of begging for governorship votes. But when The Punch put the question to him, he did not affirm or deny it. He had one anecdote or another to explain and not explain things. Will Utomi run for the governorship election? Only the gods can tell.
However, while the Utomi-Uduaghan beef makes for hilarity in these solemn times, one thing Utomi said interests us to no end. We quote: “… and I can tell you that, as an individual with no resources and as poor as I am, in many ways, I have done more than many governments have done in this country for the people.” (The Punch July 29, 2017.)
And we were happy. As much as we can recall, this is the first time a Nigerian public intellectual or such persons would state things this way, that he, as a private citizen, has contributed more than governments. Boy, that is a victory to celebrate. There was a qualification though. It was that of his contributions being essentially those of a social activist. But let us not quibble on that.
Before now, the popular assumption was that public office was the platform to contribute the most. And this has been the bestselling opinion of some of our “best and brightest.” And like we have quoted in our books, names like Abati, Odimegwu, Osinbajo and Sagay have made such public misstatements. With all due respect, we consider such opinions as poorly briefed. An American physicist, Richard Feynman, and a British wit, Jonathan Swift, have the finest and final words on the subject.
“From a long view of the history of mankind — seen from, say, ten thousand years from now — there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics.” – Feynman
“Whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.” – Swift.
The summary of this is that our emphasis on leadership/politics is ahistorical and illogical. How dare a man who carries the burden of a real brain, of genius, lower himself to pick up a begging bowl? How can a man, who sitting alone in his study can re-fix history like Maxwell, now hit the streets begging strangers for votes? It is pure insanity. It never made sense. How Nigerians get fooled on this is a mystery.
The point is, conceptually, the man, the politician, who begs to do good, if at all, has nothing meaningful to contribute. This is at least if compared to a Maxwell. A Maxwell, remember, only needed blank paper, pencil and his brain. And he never begged anybody for votes or approbation, yet he changed the world. And for the best.
Now, a politician, for all he can be, starts life as a beggar. And this includes the greatest of politicians. They beg for votes and compete against other fellow beggars, begging. Invariably, the lowest quality guy gets elected. It is the same old Gresham’s law. The rogue elements run the sterling ones out of market, out of town. Logically, all politics is a race to the bottom. So how can a man with deep brains soil his soul or even his soles with such a rat race? Okay, check, from George Washington to Donald Trump, from Ahmadu Bello to Muhammadu Buhari … is it a race to the top or mire? The only difference is that America’s is a marathon, takes more time. For Nigeria, it’s a dash, to the mud, to perdition.
Perhaps, the issue is that Nigerians confound the saga of a “paterfamilias,” a founding father, with the incidence of common men, sometimes called politicians. A paterfamilias is a guy in this guise: “It … was … since the founder of their town engaged a spirit of the wild for seven days and seven nights.” That was Prof. Chinualuogu Achebe. Ironically, Achebe thinks supremely well in his fiction but not with his analytic essays. Achebe also got his thesis on leaders wrongly briefed.
The point is that a paterfamilias is not a leader. The nearest Igbo word for it is Obuekunie. He is a one-off being, an elemental force. He is a cross between Buddha and Caesar. But if you don’t have him you do what the Germans did with their football. Now, Germany is easily the second most successful footballing nation. Yet, the Germans are easily a blockheaded nation, in football terms. So what happened? The brace thesis explains it. But space would not let us go into that here.
Now, it so happened that all nations that produced axial philosophers/paterfamilias are doing well and have capacity to rebound. Examples are Israel, China, etc. Other nations who only copied, like Japan, are also doing well. To harshly summarise on this. The point of the Bible is unassailable. In all thy getting get wisdom. And we add. In all thy wisdom get “axiality.” And that reminds us of this:
Eureka! We have found it!
If the Jews have Abraham for a father, who then is the father of the Igbo? Who is the father, the paterfamilias, the Obuekunie of the Igbo? Dear reader, would you know? A key insight: a paterfamilias may be a biological father, but need not be. An Obuekunie – the Igbo get the loose concept precisely correct – need not be a father, but could be. In this event it happens to have been.
We are happy to announce that, following our researches, we can now say that the father of the Igbo has now been founded, okay, named. And this by us. The Brace Institute and Ofo Heritage Institute, joint collaborators, are happy to state as follows: A new book will be released before October. It is a book that will help perfect the history of the Igbo as never done before.
The blurb of the book, authored by yours truly, reads in part: “In throw-away apercus, the book takes up an issue … If the Jews have Abraham for a father, who then is the father of the Igbo? Probing through several disciplines, Ego-Alowes, one of the world’s innovative historians, may have finally cracked the enigma. Now, the patriarch of the Igbo can be named, and he did.
“For the Igbo and students of Igbo history, the achievement must be monumental, almost of Biblical proportions. This alone affirms this dissertation as one of Nigeria’s finest historical documents.’”
Of course the book is not just about the Igbo. It is about Nigeria, it’s about discovery. We will keep you posted and you will join us to shout Eureka! We have found it. Ahiazuwa.