By Prince Uzor Nwachukwu
“Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge, which is only returning evil for evil; while ingratitude returns evil for good” – William George Jordan.
For the purposes of clarity and proper understanding of this piece of intervention, permit me to underscore the fact that this effort and communication is primarily addressed to nde-Ngwa, my kith and kin, within my proud Igbo nation.
Having established that, permit me also to plead that whatsoever may be your socio- political leaning within our stock, and whatsoever may be the type of eye lenses you usually engage when faced with such narratives, whether single vision, bifocal, trifocal, or prism, kindly understand my motive, and read this message with the singleness of a heart filled with love, and desire for genuine glory for my people.
By birth of Isiala-Ngwa stock (the ancestral homeland, and Isi-opara of all Ngwa); a crown prince of Ngwaland, of enviable heritage; an Isi-Opara myself, from the kindred of the traditional custodians of Ofo Ala of my community, thus, even by customs and traditions, possessing innate spiritual authority on issues as they affect my people, and understanding of veiled secrets. Spent some time within my people, have seen their struggles, felt their fears, and witnessed their pains. Therefore, I come, and speak, as one who is involved.
Nde-Ngwa: A people blessed by God Almighty; blessed with such vast mass of beautiful and fertile land you can hardly find anywhere else in Igboland; strong farmers, and some of the best brains. Endowed with a wonderfully accommodating spirit for their blood brothers and sisters, fellow Ndigbo; so much so that before and after the civil war, Aba (Enyimba City) was practically a common ground for all Igbo to settle and trade. A rendezvous of sort for Igbo nile. Hardly will you find any notable Igbo community whose sons and daughters have not lived and/or transacted businesses in Aba Ngwa. God blessed the Ngwa clan in the context of His blessings for the Igbo nation.
However, in the midst of all these blessings, and the good brother posture of Nde-Ngwa, they felt short changed in recognition and appreciation by those to whom she has given much; especially within the political calculations of Abia State, even from the old Imo State.
I believe; I think I believe; that it was on the bedrock of this frustration that in 2014 – 2015, during the build up to the general elections, and as PDP gave their gubernatorial ticket to “an Ngwa”, that you would readily hear many of my people quip: “ma o ga abuula onye ukwu aru, ebe obukwadi onye Ngwa, anyi nga ituru ya” (literally translated to mean: Even if it’s a less than fit person, as long as he is an Ngwa, we will vote him in).
It was such a tragedy; such an anti-climax. I cried. I shouted. I beckoned on my elder brothers, who were well respected in the society; it was all to no avail. I held long meetings with Dede m Elder Emma Adaelu; held meetings with Dede m Chief Allen Nwachukwu (now late. May his soul rest in peace); and a host of others whose names I would not want to mention here, including Archbishops, Bishops, and traditional rulers; but it was all futile. I advanced all sorts of arguments and permutations on what I believed was our best options to ensure that political power remains within our influence for at least the next 18 to 24 years; but alas, my people had become headstrong in one direction and refused all other options.
I was fully convinced, fully persuaded, that my people had once again, in modernity, fallen into the very pit the children of Israel experienced in the days of old; who in frustration of what they saw as the political leadership challenges they were experiencing gave up on trusting their God for direction and leadership, and sought vehemently to be given “their own” king.
“And the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so they do also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of king that shall reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8 vs. 7-9.
My people settled for Saul instead of David who God prepared and sent to them.
Saul’s only qualifications were that he was an Israelite, and very tall. In this case, the only qualifications for which most of our people were drafted into blind support were that the man is our brother, and has a Ph.D (somewhat academically tall). Saul thought very little of himself (1 Samuel 9 vs. 21: a very major leadership flaw). I perceive very strongly too that this our own thinks so very little of himself, especially since he is surrounded so fiercely at breath-distance by those who chose him by themselves, for themselves, and hold him for his people. From the Bible account we learn that “nativity” and “tallness” are not qualities that guarantee visionary leadership and excellence. Saul failed in cases where it mattered most. His people suffered some of their greatest shame and defeat during his tenure. Hmmm! Mysteries of this life, repeating themselves again and again, yet man never learns, neither does he understand.
Nearly seven years down the line, the majority of us now look at ourselves in dismal disbelief and choking frustration asking: What happened to our turn? Kedu kwanu maka nwa Aba g’aru Aba?
A tiny stretch of road is “painted” with asphalt; then we gather all the media houses in Nigeria, pay them handsomely, recruit our mass of jobless youths, and shameless men whose god is their belly, and celebrate our failures, mediocrity, and lack of vision.
As the Lord liveth, I have no personal grouse with my brother, the governor; none, whatsoever.
I also think, though from afar, that as a human being he might be a nice person. I think he is a jolly good fellow, as the boys are wont to say. However, I also think he came to governance grossly unprepared, and while in governance still could not prepare. Again, I believe, most regrettably, that his shoulders were far too fragile and weak to give birth to the glorious fulfilment of the age long hopes and aspirations of a whole clan: my Ngwa people. Though his primary emergence as PDP flag bearer was not by our collective choice, even by proxy, but by circumstantial foist, the people heaped upon him all their age-long expectations for the status-uplift of the Ngwa identity, the rapid development of Aba and its environs, and the general turnaround of Abia State to become a veritable signpost of progress. Which credit would have gone to Nde-Ngwa.
Fast forward. I have known a man, who though not “ancestrally” from Ala Ngwa, but whose great-grand Pa migrated to Isiala Ngwa (of all places) almost four generations ago. This great-grand Pa died at a ripe age and his children buried him there; and Ala-Ngwa accepted his body, never spewing him out. Fast forward, this great-grand Pa’s grandson, who was born in Ngwa land, with his umbilical cord buried in our land, finally had his own children; and among them is a brilliant star that the gracious Lord brought forth; as if as a gift of a son to Nde-Ngwa for being faithful in service to humanity.
Like David, the Lord caused this young man to be trained in the ways of life, conquering commerce and economics, and with great wisdom; in preparation for the divine assignment ahead of him. Born, like his father, in Ngwa land; with his immediate ancestors, three generations back, underneath the Ngwa earth; educated primarily in Ngwa land; his dad, a well-known and widely respected pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, shared the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ nowhere else but through the length and breadth of Ngwa land. Still settled in Ngwa, and passionate about his Ngwa people; yet passionate about humanity.
It is indeed time for Nde-Ngwa to rise up and embrace their God’s gift. A man who the majority of notable Ngwa traditional rulers collectively, in 2014, with then Governor T.A. Orji as special guest, installed and crowned Ugwu-Ngwa. Time for my people to call their son, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti, of Umuru, Nvosi, Isiala-Ngwa South Local Government Area, Abia State, their son: and forge a common front for our common good.
As 2023 approaches, we must lead from the front, and crave the indulgence of our brothers and sisters from the rest of Abia, especially Abia North, unto whom we have shown tremendous love till date, to show understanding and help us express gratitude to the Lord our God, who planted this star in our earth womb, and caused him to bloom forth.
Under no guise or circumstance shall we repeat the mistake of the past.
Nde k’anyi, ndewo nu!
• Nwachukwu writes from Abia