tend to be reminded that when a child is crying with his
hand pointing in one particular direction, either one or
both of his parents may be found in that same direction.
This is a statement of fact as well as an Igbo adage. Dr.
Chris Aniedobe's persistent cry for an ideology of one-nation-one-Nigeria
instinctively merits a more serious attention from all of
us. There must be something good in there for Ndigbo especially.
Otherwise, I don't see why a learned gentleman in the mould
of Dr. Aniedobe should be so deeply concerned.
The last 2003 general election has confirmed that we are
saddled with a political class desperate for power without
purpose. Even the media, which ordinarily have the propensity
to influence public opinion, appear to have compromised
their integrity and to have allowed the politicians to tinker
their independence of mind to a level where we can no longer
believe their stories and news reports.
In the light of the foregoing, it is highly reassuring to
know that there are still Nigerian Newspapers (like Vanguard)
which are committed to the publication of articles that
are capable of uniting Nigerians. It is even more gratifying
to see that there are still Nigerians deeply concerned about
their country's deplorable condition. One of them is Dr.
Chris Aniedobe. Evidently, Dr. Aniedobe does not seek to
be selfishly relevant or politically expedient. He simply
wants to be right and to correct the rest of us based on
sound principles and unshakeable rectitude. His latest effort
on the way forward for Ndigbo (nay, Nigerians) is full of
honest introspection and marked by characteristic boldness.
Thus, he does not spare any of Nigeria's political institutions
and 'misguided' intellectuals like Prof. Omo Omoruyi where
he (Dr. Aniedobe) is convinced they erred in a way that
was to have serious consequences for national cohesion.
Dr. Aniedobe believes (and I share his view) that inordinate
tribalism has created wide social chasms across the nation,
cleavages which have since defined our national life. The
task before Nigerians now, according to Dr. Aniedobe, is
not to allow ourselves to be held hostage any longer by
mistakes of the past. National unity is, therefore, a desideratum.
Dr. Aniedobe is urging us to re-consider some of the errors
of judgement we so blatantly committed in the past as a
nation. He illustrates with considerable legal specifics
that 'when a country commits to nationhood, it commits to
adoption of uniform laws that apply equally to all citizens,
irrespective of their state of origin, unless countervailed
by a more compelling issue of national purpose.' Dr. Aniedobe
argues spiritedly that there is hope once we recognise that
our will-power and genuine effort to shun tribal sentiments
in our dealings with others can lead to the much-needed
nationalist orientation in Nigeria. What Dr. Aniedobe seems
to be saying is that all Nigerian tribes have sinned and
have, therefore, contributed in one way or another to our
bumbling national life. Consequently, he opines that new
bridges of understanding and reconciliation are badly needed
Dr. Aniedobe's command of logic and his appeal to reason
and common sense bring a most worthwhile insight into his
passionate call for NUC. His case for unfettered unity based
on proper appreciation of the dynamics of our recent collective
experiences is gripping. Some people who know him too well
may still be under the illusion that Dr. Aniedobe is so
preoccupied with his 'utopian' political ideology that he
often fails to face the reality on ground in Nigeria today.
I used to have this impression about his writings too. But
I've now come to realise that this impression is by no means
correct or healthy. I?ve come to discover that Dr. Aniedobe's
write-ups are based on a brave survey of contemporary Nigerian
events and peoples, examining such issues as accountability,
rule of law, economic emancipation, the adequacy or otherwise
of the presidential system of government, state police,
the land use act, the basis of our co-existence as a nation,
the need for a robust legislature, the desirability or otherwise
of sectional parties, etc. His commentaries are always detailed
and even where you hold opposing views, you cannot but concede
that he does think deeply before taking a position. I, for
one, am not enamoured of the idea of Ndigbo alone shouldering
the responsibility of enthroning the rule of law in Nigeria
while the other tribes exclusively revel in lawlessness.
Yet Dr. Aniedobe's reasons for his position cannot be easily
faulted without some repercussions in the near future.
Any ethnic or tribal party is, in his considered opinion,
an anachronism in the 21st century. Dr. Aniedobe precisely
feels that tribalists are rear-guard combatants, people
preparing to catch a train which has long departed from
the station. In a pluralistic polity like ours where centrifugal
and centripetal forces are in a fierce contest for the nation?s
soul, every political party should serve as a vehicle for
national mobilization, rather than a bandwagon for kinsmen
alone. Parochial parties can exist in mature democracies
without the system being in mortal danger, but not in a
typical developing nation which is a new and delicate historical
and political formation. Against this backdrop, Dr. Aniedobe
is definitely right in lampooning most of us (especially
the APGA apologists amongst us) for nursing undue political
ambition that has tended to sorely highlight our tribal
differences at this time of national search for integration.
Chris Aniedobe's National Unity Conference is one of the
very few calls which analyses the Nigerian condition and
links it to its current political and economic circumstances.
Most other lamentations of the Nigerian situation are just
full of rhetoric and are obsessed with raw political innuendoes.
They tragically ignore the importance of the economy in
determining social behaviours and political indices. Dr.
Aniedobe displays, in his latest effort, an impressive knowledge
of development economics. Not quite surprising. One thing
which must be said about Dr. Aniedobe, a lawyer and an engineer
combined, is that he is acutely keen on societal transformation
and re-engineering. Most leaders who changed dramatically
the development fortunes of their countries came from backgrounds
not easily associated with economic or development matters.
Let us take Lee Kuan Yew, in the opinion of most analysts,
the most important Third World Leader in the last 40 years.
He took Singapore (less developed than Nigeria's Bayelsa
State, without any mineral deposits and without prospects)
from the abyss and morass of backwardness to the dizzy heights
of a world economic power. Singapore , a city state of only
3 million, is perhaps the most transparent, the cleanest
and the most disciplined country in the world. All this
transformation took place in less than one generation. Lee
Kuan Yew is no economist, but a lawyer. "I was never
a prisoner of any theory", he wrote in his excellent
book, From Third World To First: The Story Of Singapore
From 1965 To 2000. "What guided me were reason and
reality". Another great Third World leader is Mahathir
Mohammed, the Malaysian Prime Minister, a visionary and
thinker whose performance has continued to amaze and stun
the West. He is a medical doctor. Park, who set in motion
the economic machinery which got South Korea out of its
Third World economic mess, even though the country has no
mineral resources, is another great leader worthy of note.
He was a professional soldier who came to power in 1961
via a military coup d?etat. Augusto Pinochet has a messy
human rights record, but he turned Chile into South America's
third largest economy, with a solid manufacturing base.
He is a soldier and geophysicist. Frank D. Roosevelt ended
the Great Depression in the United States (from 1929-1939)
with his New Deal. He was no economist. Americans had their
best economic times in history under Bill Clinton. He is
While admiring the wonderful transformation which other
peoples have undergone on account of having imaginative
leaders, let us console ourselves that the same feat can
still be achieved in Nigeria . But we have to get our politics
right, as Dr. Aniedobe has eloquently and relentlessly campaigned
thus far. What is needed is a government, a leadership which
can produce answers to the myriad social, economic and political
problems that confront the nation. When Nigerians stumble
on such a leader, they will find that it does not matter
in the least what tribe or zone he comes from. What will
matter is that he is able to enunciate and carry out development
programmes that will better the lot of the average Nigerian,
irrespective again of ancestry, and earn the country honour
and respect in the comity of nations.
There is nothing to add to, or subtract from, Dr. Aniedobe's
extremely thoughtful and clarion call for the unity of Nigerian
nation except to conclude this review with a warning shot
from Dr. Aniedobe himself. He wrote: 'As a contemporary
Nigerian and Igbo leader, I will fight to transform Igboland
to an exemplar of good citizenship in a united Nigeria,
and you can tell the neoconfederatists, Ohaneze, APGA, Igbo
leaders of thought, and all other institutions purporting
to speak for the Igbos, that the nationalists among us will
resist every attempt to move us from the edge of the jungle
to the jungle hintherland of any political formula based
on tribal accommodation.'
Osondu, please tell Dr. Chris Aniedobe that we are right
behind him on this all-important battle to transform Nigeria
for the better. Let him just count on our support any day.
More grease to his elbow and more ink to his prolific pen.
On your part, Osondu, please keep taking us out of the thick
forest of tribalism which has remained the bane of Nigerian
society since the inception of our embattled nationhood.
We are, indeed, comfortable with your vision and mission
statement. And we believe that with you at the vanguard
of BMP, we shall soon see the light at the dark end of the
tunnel. So help us God!!!
Jimbuoy Okoye (Akalanze