From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa The Ijaw Youth Council [IYC] has rejected the planned take-off of Operation Crocodile SmileII in the Niger Delta region scheduled to commence Saturday. Lately, the waterways in the Niger Delta region especially in Bayelsa State had been gripped by criminal activities culminating in the attack and killing of soldiers and other security…
As I was proofreading my upcoming book, I was struck with the promise, Nigeria—what the nation could have been if everyone and every arm of the government could muster the courage to build a critical mass. In fact, I am dismayed that Nigeria, after several perfidious years of democracy, still faces a bleak future primarily because of the culture of corruption, ethnic politics, religious tensions, and insecurity that have permeated the entire society.
Amusingly, it is even more difficult to find a less corrupt public official in Abuja or to stumble on someone who is bold and willing to rattle the center than to find a dilapidated road in the entire country. Then I recalled the quit notice to the Igbo people in the North and wondered what could have been, if the residency rights meant something. That is, if the ‘indigenes’ mentality is no longer obtainable in every part of the nation. As I was rememorating on what seemed to be one Nigeria when we were growing up, I began wonder to think if there will ever be a lasting solution that will save the nation.
Yes, some people have proposed restructuring; I will save the topic for another day when its merits and demerits will be argued. But before then, what needs to be changed at this juncture is us, our attitude. It is fascinating that people always clamour for change, but they deliberately forget that change begins with them. It is ironic that we want change, yet we don’t want to change.
Interestingly, I recollected Chief Vincent Azie’s keynote speech some years ago in USA. Chief Azie, the legendary auditor general of the federation, who wrote and presented a report that indicted the three arms of the government on corruption, received the coveted PNF USA Platinum award in recognition of his integrity, transparency, probity, and impeccable character in public service. The Igbo in the Diaspora recognized Chief Azie’s boldness and outstanding—unparalleled—public service performance.
As the keynote speaker during the Pan Igbo Conference, under the theme, ‘Realigning Our Economic Political and Socio-Cultural Agenda: A Panacea for Economic and Political Empowerment’, Azie touched on numerous issues concerning Nigeria, particularly the Igbo. He began by paraphrasing a part of the objectives of PNF USA, which states, ‘Pan Ndi-Igbo Foundation is a platform for the Articulation, Development, Promotion and Protection of the common/political interests of Ndi Igbo in particular and Nigeria in general.’
Vin Azie proceeded to define the Igbo man in relation to location, language, and characteristics with both positive and negative aspects. He defined the Igbo positive characteristics as nationalistic, aggressive, enthusiastic, amiable, friendly, and reliable. Other positive characteristics of the Igbo he enunciated were: credible, trustworthy, extrovert, focused, risk seeker, patriotic, open-minded, selfless, objective, firm, courageous, forthright, and dogged fighting spirit.
He pointed out that the Igbo negative characteristics lay in their gullibility, egocentrism, money mindedness, individualistic, and republicanism. These characteristics could also be found in our streaks of extremism in fraud, robbery, felony, and cheating. As a result, it was essential to stress or put the explanation and import of the word re-alignment in perspective.
Chief Azie stressed that Ndi Igbo should realign in a manner to freely discuss, analyze, criticize, previous/current performance in each of the underlisted areas to highlight failures, inefficiencies, personalized graft, lost opportunities, etc.
Chief Vincent Azie further listed the following as the overriding impairments toward Igbo success: 1. Disillusionment and frustration occasioned by failure leading to lethargy on the part of prominent Igbos already in good stead to continue any struggle. 2. Lack of enthusiasm by the frontline movers / participators arising from apprehension that the resultant prime benefit may not eventually be theirs personally.
Potential threat to life, limb and property from constitutional authority 4. Perception of hopelessness arising from lack of firm support base or even a shoulder to lean upon to continue the pursuit of a just cause. 5. Subterranean understanding geared towards excluding Igbos from attaining the peak of a political or economic pursuit. 6. Lack of a strong, supportive, dedicated pressure group.
The perception of the Igbo person by other compatriots is an admixture of admiration and awe. These instigate them at every pedestal to strive for a headstart even before the Igbo becomes conscious that he is being viewed as a threat. The Igbos as at now undeniably have the least efficient strategy for group empowerment and pay no commendable attention to cultivating effective diplomacy. 9. Informal interpersonal contact is highly stratified and restricted thereby limiting timely access to valuable, sensitive information that may prove useful to those in positions of authority. The adverse consequences of an ill-prepared and/or selectively executed national budget.
For the way forward, Azie proffered the following solutions to our lingering problems: 1. Remain unshakably focused on the objectives desired and pursue them with the greatest vigor.
Business Moguls/top flight industrialists should pull their capital and human resources in any form of arrangement that would push them to the apex of the key sectors of the economy.
There should be a shift away from the molecular (one-man) business enterprises which, render the entrepreneurs insignificant and therefore victims of any irrational economic policy.
The rules governing fair competition should be allowed to hold sway in any operating business environment, so that only viable units can survive. Any sinister manner or unorthodox method employed to eliminate competition should not be tolerated. 5. Any political platform on ground including its machinery/organs should be re-assessed, revitalized and generously funded to reinvigorate its modus operandi cum efficiency towards attaining the desired goal.
We shall mellow our republican tendencies (posture) so that an adopted political shelter would be able to accommodate very many thereby guaranteeing the numerical strength necessary for achieving success in a democracy.
7. Every individual should re-appraise his egocentric characteristic using the principle of ranking and rating to convince himself as to when to bow to a superior profile. This will ease the emergence of the best candidate for a political/executive position.
Each Igbo man / woman should strive to sustain the already flourishing inter-personal relationship cultivated over the years thereby oiling the trust that Nigerians from other tribes have in us as a people which could be converted to advantage at any opportune time.