Flavour N’abania, may God bless you, it was the end of the world
“When Hannibal crossed the Alps with elephants riding through the snow upon absurdity, he challenged the inevitable. When Gandhi defeated the British raj with a contradiction – non-violent resistance – he challenged the inevitable. When the black American girl, Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat in a bus to a Whiteman, an action that began to unravel three centuries of America’s racial tragedy, she challenged the inevitable. And so, when Akunne Ukpabi Asika remained behind “enemy lines” as “Onye ofu Okwu” (the voice in the wilderness), in Nigeria, he, like Rosa Parks, Gandhi and Hannibal, challenged the inevitable.”v –Nwaokolobia Agu, Ukpabi Asika: The Making of a Nigeria, Onitsha March, 1985
Continuing, in his Foreword to the 1985 Ukpabi Asika Biography, the veteran Musicologist and Broadcaster stated, “courage to think and perform the unthinkable is one of the most complicated and powerful of human gifts.’’ The key to challenging the inevitable may lie in the difference between vertical and lateral thinking. The ability to evaluate a situation and then to devise some entirely new way of dealing with it, is the greatest of human gifts and without that gift, history would be nothing but mere brutal repetition.
Elsewhere in their Tribute to Leadership: Asika’s Commissioners on his death, recounted that the Administrator inherited a devastated land and people at the end of the civil war. He brought into his Cabinet and top echelons a civil service and wider service bureaucracy brilliant men and women virtually all of whom had been officers in the Biafran defense forces. By the end of 1973-74, the State had not only recovered but joined the mainstream of the Nigerian economy. An industrial survey in June 1970, showed total employment at less than a third of the 1967 and value of total output at an abysmal 1.3% of the 1967 level. Large firms were recording sales turnover of 20-30 % of their pre-war level. In the Trunk A roads and 384 km. of Trunk B roads were severely damaged or destroyed, 65 bridges destroyed. 836 primary schools and 87 post-primary schools were virtually or completely destroyed, 348 primary and 53 post-primary schools heavily damaged. Most sustained heavy losses in equipment. Most hospitals were severely damaged.
Asika, the etan-vital of the post Biafran political economic history faced the overwhelming odds of the war aftermath with confidence. His confidence was a product of his deep Cabinet. He challenged the Zik’s astute team starring the nifty Mbonu Ojike, who in 1958 as the Finance Minister produced the Eastern Nigeria Financial Plan. That illustrious Plan built the Western African market center of Onitsha, Nkalagu Cement etc. In that team was probably the greatest Igbo Dr. M.I. Okpara, who when he took over from Zik continued to rely on a very deep Cabinet. Amongst the Okpara’s team, the star was the great Akpabio, who as the Minister of Education worked his ass off to realize in quick incredible time Zik’s dream of a premier land use University on the hilly topography of Nsukka.
Significantly, Asika has in his effervescent dream team, Chu Okongwu, Osita Okeke – Education, S.G. Ikoku – Economic Development, Ukwu I. Ukwu, Igwe Iweka 11, the first graduate Igbo Engineer, Peter Ejiofor, C. N Njemanze, SAN, Flora Nwapa first African published female Writer, Dr. Magnus Adiele, Chief Charles Abangwu, Innocent Nwoga and Justice Nnaemeka Agu. With this team and others, Asika debated and for every cause of action he assigned responsibilities to responsible Commissioners. His government instilled due process, transparency and accountability. Budgets, Annual Statements of Accounts were published and all expenditure was duly approved by warrant. His education policy led to the establishment of the State School Board and the Teachers Service Commission. For the first time, Primary School headmasters and mistresses were given car loans with salaries paid when due. He invited the Biafran Scientists into the PRODA with a mandate to conduct applied scientific research, leading to the rapid scientific-technological transformation of the East Central State. He was frustrated when the Federal Government in 1975, took over and emasculated the Agency! He founded the IMT to produce Techno – Managerial manpower to produce a solid base for computer literacy. Asika founded the Eastern Data Processing Centre with a main-frame computer. This was many decades before the IT craze in this country!
Today our Governors of Rome appoint their “House Boys” to their exalted State Cabinet. Where there is a brilliant Commissioner in the State team, he is offered a portfolio of no consequence and may not be able to meet with his Governor until 4am after over three months of his last appointment!
Look at Anambra from Mbadinuju and tell me what have been the standing legacies of these “House boys”? Compare the Zik’s, Okpara and Asika’s team with the glaring absurdities we see in Abakiliki, Umuahia etc…
As we coast into the last days of the campaign we take our time to and beat out chests to reiterate that Nwoye’s APC has won it if by our prediction the President is coming and as advised, he is coming to Abagana, Umunya erosion sullied Express road. However, why did the Minister Fashola fail to bring in Julius Berger, the caterpillars and why is the Federal might not in action on that road at these closing critical days of the campaign?
My brother Obaze PDP, has already won it for his clinical presentations and now the money bags would think again before they come around next time. These money bags should understand that Debates and platform deliveries remain part of the game. Without the baggage of PDP, Peter Obi (former Governor has no soapbox charisma…boring speaker), Oseloka Obaze is magnificent standing alone.
Willie Global, Akpokuedike, thank you for your last night N’abania festival, where Flavour, the musical god of our generation performed the act and the stage, singing and thrilling thousands to the end of the world! Few hours to go, Willie Global is closing it out especially with his new alliance with Ifeanyi Uba. It looks like the critical Ojukwu Nnewi homestead; the only Biafran city that never fell to the Nigerian Army during the war is swerving and may decide the result of the election. Next time around your Excellency, please give us a deep Cabinet and establish a Commissioner for Biafran Affairs.
In the North, the Arewa and the Sharia way of life remain unchallengeable. In the West, the Yorubas carry along their bag of “Restructuring” with the OPC and Oduduwa rudiments. For now the number one Igbo State in total abridgment with the people’s interest must acknowledge that Biafra for whatever meaning individuals may define it to be, is indeed internal to the quest of our people’s demand and survival as a group in the Nigerian Federation.
Let the President’s visit welcome the reconstruction of the Enugu/Onitsha Express way. Let the Biafrans boycott the elections but allow the others their fundamental human rights to vote and be voted for. May the best candidate win!
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Author: Uche Atuma