What you are reading is not exactly what I had intended to put out. For sometime now I have had this longing to discuss patriotism, the Nigerian version. I was almost at it when Buba Galadima, old time politician and onetime close confidant of our incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, appeared on Arise International television channel and began to deploy irritating antics famous with politicians of northern extraction.
Galadima who as a political correspondent I interacted very much with on several issues, on this outing couldn’t understand “restructuring” beyond efficiency, how every member of our failing society especially the young ones could have access to state opportunities and privileges without the burdens of red-tapism and godfatherism. A well read man of Buba Galadima’s standing couldn’t go beyond this superficial level when undertaking the very onerous task of finding means of turning our society from a very backward state to a 21st Century nation in which all citizens would have a sense of worth and belongingness. He pretended he didn’t know that administrative architecture of a plural society could hinder or promote accelerated development. Good process is no product of wishful thinking, they are outcomes of factors.
He added insult to injury when he began to lecture Igbo on the difference between Igbo President and President of Nigeria of Igbo extraction. He called out Orji Uzor Kalu, Rochas Okorocha, Ken Nnamani, Enweremadu as some Igbo moving round to make contributions in the north and elsewhere which qualify them to vie for the presidency of Nigeria. I found that outburst insulting, unduly patronising and very condescending. How many people did Shagari, Yar’Adua and now Buhari know and helped in the other parts of our society before they were presented and “elected” President of Nigeria. If you read history it wouldn’t be difficult to know when oppressors and usurpers begin their act of veiled denigration of the oppressed people. One of such antics is “talking down” tactics, depicting a group as unknowing, lacking organization and tact.
Before now, it has been Igbo love money, call a race and many would declare interest. It would seem as in 2015 and 2019, Buhari was the only candidate from the north who came out for the presidential race.
One of the reasons the Igbo have become the target of crude scoldings is the fact that as a collective they hardly know the value of engaging in acts that project their personalities and distinctiveness in a deeply plural setting such as ours. In a plural society the distinction between races and clans must be very clear in such a degree that the difference is noticed and acknowledged by all. The forms of expression could be by way of outfits. Here, the core north and the Yoruba excel. They know the benefits dressing in native attire brings to a group of people.
In large gatherings, Igbo personalities are always lost. One has to stretch, turn and twist to see if he could pick out one person of that extraction in the crowd, but it is not same with our people up north or West. In this thrilling game of recognition and reward, they are unmistakable anytime, anywhere. When next you see the Senate or House of Representatives in session, observe carefully and tell people what you see or observe. There is power in identity.
When a well placed personality in the north or west is celebrating, it becomes a national event or receives national or even international attention. It is no result of state policy, but knowledge that strength comes also by way of people celebrating themselves and their events. Every of their events naturally attract the presence of the their who is who, distance being no barrier. It is elementary lesson to teach here that when newsmakers gather, it is inevitable that attention of all would shift in that direction, in the process a statement is made which attracts recognition. These other races in our union celebrate their heroes. In the north one hears of Ahmadu Bello Lecture, Balewa Foundation, in fact Governor Fayemi of Ekiti State few days ago gave a great lecture on restructuring at the Ahmadu Bello Day in Kaduna, and on that very auspicious occasion most of the who is who from the region were in attendance. West has their version and the question is, where is the South East version in all of this?
Osita Osadebe died not long ago, am not sure one governor out of the five in the South South region attended the burial. He has no memorial event in which the governments in the zone are partners. Same for Oliver De Coque, Dick Tiger, Power Mike, Nazi Alvan Okoji, Sam Ikoku, Jaja Nwachukwu, Stanley Macebuh, Mbonu OjÍke, Eni Njoku, Akanu Ibiam, Ikedife, Emeka Ojukwu, Kenneth Dike, Afigbo, Humphrey Nwosu, Sam Mbakwe, Mokwugo Okoye, Basil Nnanna Ukegbu, Micheal Okpara and others I can›t remember now. Why are Ndigbo not celebrating them especially what they stood for?
King Morroco, distinguished musician just transited to glory and it is as if nothing of significance happened in South East. November is the birth month of icons like Nnamdi Azikiwe, real father of Nigeria’s Independence and initiator of African renaissance; then Chinua Achebe, greatest author to emerge from Africa, look at the atmosphere and it would seem no event of significance is in the air. Anambra State gave a holiday not well publicised and that was all. Is it all that Zik is worth? Zik even by his attainment in Nigeria deserves to be celebrated highly by the Nigeria state and his people. Given how things work here, charity should start from his people. What about Achebe?
Achebe even in death remains a world personality. White world appreciate what he stood for especially how he could use the power of the written word to do for the world and in particular the Black Race. A people without history would be disoriented and highly disorganized. Achebe used his novels particularly, “Things Fall Apart”, to shatter stereotypes, create a New World Order and restore balance again for the Black Man. Guns could not have achieved the feat. Strangers in very far flung places celebrate him till tomorrow. How about us for whom he rose to fight?
If I were a governor in any of the South East states I will celebrate these icons and more to be identified. I will extend across Igbo land to look for Ifeajuna, Osadebay the premier, Christopher Okigbo, Solomon Lar, Adesanya, Akinfosile, Effiong, Okon Okon Ndem, Unongo, men and women who embraced Ndigbo when it was a taboo to do so. If a people must worth anything and if they must take their rightful place in a comity of races, then they must learn to celebrate themselves, their achievements and their stars. There are examples to draw from, what is more important is that for Ndigbo today can be the morning. Happy posthumous birthday to Zik of Africa and Chinua Achebe of blessed memory.
This week is my birthday. I am one of November people. Leaders and great men are born in November. I am blessed and I know I have been a blessing, I thank God immensely. I bless you all my readers on this occasion.