With so many issues to discuss this week, the China controversy would have been number one, for the simple reason that the Federal Government led by Muhammadu Buhari is beginning to play a new politics on the international stage. He is cultivating new friendships, away from our traditional friends; nothing wrong with that except that every such turn away carries with it, its own implications for the leader, his people and for the country. It is also important to ascertain if the leader has capacity to contend with what is popularly known in political science as the “pangs of imperialism.” This is very important because in the “war” of nations that take place every minute, everything happens in the manner of the devils gifts: bring head to get a head. There is virtually no free lunch, every gift has a string and many of them tie the recipient to deadly poisons. I say ‘Capital No’ to the invitation of Chinese doctors, more so as they came with experts on molecular engineering. Hmmm!
We have even been told that they did not come on the basis of bilateral agreement, that is to say government-to-government consensus but at the behest of individuals and companies who of course have the backing of their home government; that makes it curious and the timing very dangerous especially given that the virus originated from China. The issue is compelling and our government has not been open on this matter. The other would have been on making nonsense of efforts at making a nation out of a country, and I hope we know the difference. A country is the first stage and out of it comes a nation-state where entrenched structures and generally accepted principles exist. It takes real hard work and deliberate efforts to get to that stage; societies never attain this stage if they go by the way some of our officials do their things. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is brilliant and has been giving his best as a government official and head of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF COVID-19), but whatever good he has done was nearly destroyed when during a press conference on the pandemic, he took a question in Hausa language and found it auspicious to give answers in Hausa language, after having explained in English. Just imagine where every other news reporter had asked questions in their native languages?
By the time I checked our constitution, I saw that English was prescribed as the official language. The negative consequences that followed such action played out right in the proceedings when a Radio Nigeria correspondent, Fulfulde Service publicly indicated he too would have preferred to ask his question in Fulfulde though he changed his mind. Remember too that the president once gave a national broadcast in Hausa language. The other one but of similar nature has to do with our Minister for Humanitarian Affairs who was asked to share over N3 billion to poor people as palliative to the dislocation caused by Coronavirus pandemic, who ended up concentrating action on her own region. No sustainable nation is built this way.
Now to the focus for today: it is interesting and refreshing to talk about my state. I am not just an Abian, I am one of the biggest stakeholders having come from Ukwa West Local Government Area, one of the three habouring crude oil and the one that stands out by reason of being the only one with functional oil wells in the state. So our placing and politics in the state is different but don’t ask me whether it is rewarding, that will be an issue for another day and it would be soon. Besides that Abia holds a lot of potentials for people of the state, Nigeria and the Black World in the comity of nations.
Somebody wrote on my Facebook wall that a cardinal lesson of the Coronavirus pandemic is the call for the revival of the Biafran spirit and orientation. Talking about inventiveness and self-reliance, he made reference to Biafra blockade during the civil war and their survival for nearly three years, saying the pandemic and lockdown throw up similar challenges. Aba at half of its potential has capacity to end unemployment in the whole of South East and replace it with great wealth. It can be the inventive hub of the Black World; that is where the uniqueness of Abia comes into play and Governor Ikpeazu has in this season amply demonstrated that he not only understands what the mission for the time is, but that himself and the state are not ready to betray it.
I am taking about Ikpeazu’s walk into statesmanship at this point because legendary Martin Luther King taught, and I agree, that the true worth of a man cannot be known when everything in a society seems normal but can be fully ascertained in moments of great emergencies. Ikpeazu’s rise against the pandemic has been visionary, systematic, creative, and most importantly and heartwarming is that his approach and policy outline are all wrapped up in benevolent nationalism. This is good. He set up his committee comprising very intelligent and able men quietly and without the people knowing, marshaled them to work. So when others were running about, trying to create disease control centres, he was clear what was available and what extra to do. One good result of this is the absence of panic in government and among the people. Ikpeazu has been firm on enforcement but to a very high degree it has been firmness without dehumanization. I salute the police and other security agencies for being civil. This is a democracy, and I commend Ikpeazu’s forays in this regard. It is a grounded lesson that it takes sound practical examples to entrench productive democratic culture.
Those who know about international politics know what is called “disease and dependence.” Coronavirus is one of such; developed countries create the viruses and then sell to us the solutions which come in the form of buying different gadgets and this is where the Ikpeazu nationalistic fervour has come strong to sweeten our quest for true development. Face masks and hand gloves being distributed in Abia are made by local technicians, the doctors put on standby are all local hands, most of them trained in Nigeria and working within the state. This is the way things ought to go. Lockdowns go with dislocations and Ikpeazu has responded in the most creative manner with over 8000 bags of rice, beans, yams, oil etc including huge sums of cash that are being distributed to indigents but that for me is not the story. The good news is that this time the faith-based organizations are the leading distribution channels away from the political party route for the first time. This is good. In critical situations or even in classical development, the modus should be strictly non-partisan, after elections anyone elected is the leader of the people and not of his political part. This is the lesson Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has placed before the Nigerian political class and I can confirm it is a good lesson to learn.