RURAL ELECTRIFICATION PROJECT OF ABATETE

AN ACCOUNT OF THE EFFORTS OF THE ABATETE TASK FORCE GROUP ON DEVELOPMENT, BY OYIBO E. ODINAMADU, MON., B.A., M.A., KSC.

Some of you must have heard of the Organization called: The Abatete Task Force Group On Development, TASK FORCE, in connection with the Rural Electrification Project of Abatete.

It was in the later part of 1986 that the Government of the old Anambra State appointed my humble self as a member of the Anambra State Rural Development Board. I was assigned to the Committee for Rural Electrification, and the information was broadcast over the Radio and Television. Then just after Christmas of 1986, while I was still at Abatete, a delegation of the Abatete Youth Association (AYA), Jos Branch, came to me and requested an appointment for their chairman. The appointment was fixed for later that morning.

They came back as scheduled with their Chairman, Mr. Godwin Chianumba. He stated that they were the only Organization of Abatete people, anywhere, which had the membership of indigenes from all the four Quarters of Abatete. He also stated that the project their organization had in mind for Abatete was that of Rural Electrification. He requested to know what I could do to help them achieve that purpose.

I congratulated them on their large mind in keeping Abatete together, and in choosing such a gigantic project. I offered to do anything, within my reach, to help them reach the goal for the whole community. However, I expressed the feeling that they would be unable to handle the Project alone. I, also, said that, in any case, we would have to summon a meeting of some key persons, from all the Quarters of Abatete, to introduce the idea. They accepted the suggestion. Therefore, we scheduled a meeting to take place before New Year’s Day. We invited as many people as possible, including H.R.H.Igwe P. U. Mkpume, Eze Edeogu 1 of Abatete. All the people invited responded, including the Igwe, who continued to be very much interested and supportive of the Project, and attended the meetings quite often.

Invitations were spread wider for the next Meeting. More people attended, and were also very much interested in the Project. Then, it was decided that the organization would be named as a group that has come together to take on some community development tasks for Abatete, hence the name: ABATETE TASK FORCE GROUP ON DEVELOPMENT. My humble self was, unanimously, elected the Chairman, and some other officers were also so elected.

Membership was open to all Abatete men and women, as well as their sons and daughters anywhere, without any limitations. The meetings were always very well attended and punctually, too. Almost every Abatete man, Ono n’uno na ono n’ofia, attended the meetings at one time or the other. It was decided that we would not operate by the four Quarters system of Abatete. We, therefore, appointed or elected people at randomly, by consensus, not mentioning their Quarters, and only on merit and recognizable ability to do the job. We also insisted on a deep sense of responsibility and accountability.

SURVEY MAP

Subsequently, we learned from the Ani Associates, who were supervising the work of the Contractors, the Brown Bovery Company of Germany for Government, told us that it would be necessary to produce a Survey Map before anything else. The AYA (Jos Branch) provided the N20,000.00 (twenty thousand naira) for the Survey Map, which was paid to Ani Associates for the job. Following that, the Organization decided to do a launching at home to introduce the Project to the people in general, and to begin to raise Funds for it.

A TOUR OF NIGERIA

However, it was also decided that, first of all, a tour of Nigeria would be undertaken to meet with all the Abatete indigenes, everywhere we would go. But before the delegation set out, it came to our attention that the Government of Anambra State had published an order in The DAILY STAR requiring every town or community in the State to inaugurate a Development Organization, before a certain dateline, and that any community that defaulted would be penalized. The delegation, therefore, had to carry the news of the Rural Electrification Project and the Survey Map, as well as the information about the Government order, with copies of the Newspaper publication, to all the places we went. The delegation which traveled to Jos, Kaduna, Lagos, Aba, Onitsha, Enugu, etc. was very well received everywhere and had very successful and productive meetings with them. They all approved of the Project, the coming together and the launching for funds.

LAUNCHING FOR NI,000,000.00 FOR EXTENSIONS

The date of the Launching was fixed for 27th March, 1987 at the grounds of the Abatete Community Hall. The occasion was very well attended by people at home and from outside. People at home were requested to bring their Dance Groups. It was a very big occasion and a good one for new policies, reunions, new contacts and renewals of associations and friendships. That occasion also brought Igwe Mkpume, Eze Edeogu 1, and all the Ndi Ichie and Abatete together, for the first time. He sat with all the Ndi Ichie, shook hand, exchanged pleasantries, received and prayed over Kolanuts, Igo Oji, for Abatete as a whole, broke the kola nut, and everybody ate of them. He also poured libation for Abatete and everybody also drank from it.

THE ADDRESS OF WELCOME

Following those ceremonies, the Task Force Group On Development presented an Address of Welcome to the Igwe and the Igwe in Council, the distinguished guest Ndi Igwe, dignitaries, VIPs and all the people assembled for the Launching. In the Address, we asked whether Abatate, men and women, whether they would like to come together now, as a body, under one name, as a necessity for peace in the town, and the good of the people? And there was a very big, unanimous, thunderous and resounding acclamation and shouts of E-E-YE-OO!, YES! YES! YES!, KWUSIE-YA-IKE-OOO! and of the beating of drums, blowing of flutes, horns, whistles, elephant tusks, etc and of singing and dancing, which took quite sometime to cool down.

We went on to tell them that the purposes for the Launching were: One, to request Abatete to leave behind and forget whatever caused the face-off among the people and the quarters, as it is said that: Iwe nwanne n’ewe n’ulu, na ona ewero na okpukpu! Two, to look forward to the future and seek for peace and development and growth; proceeded to tell them about the Rural Electrification Project, hence this Launching for Fund Raising. Three, that the coming together would also be to fulfil the current requirement of the Government that every town or community should inaugurate a Development Organization within the time specified, or be penalized. There also followed a deafening round of ovation and acclamation!

AND THE PEOPLE SAID: LET THERE BE LIGHT!

Thereafter, the Launching started. Ichie Idi Etokwudoaku B.O.Obiefuna and Mrs. Odoziaku Obiefuna, chairmaned the occasion. HRH Igwe P.U.Mkpume, Eze Edeogu I of Abatete and HRH Mrs. Mkpume were the chief guests of honor, while the Obi of the four Quarters and their wives (Ndi Odoziaku) were the co-chief guests of honor. Then all the Ndi Ichie and their wives (Ndi Odoziaku); the guest Ndi Igwe, all the dignitaries and VIPs supported the chairman. Eventually, everybody present was pronounced a dignitary and a very important person, and supporter of the chief guests of honor and of the chairman, from wherever they were. This announcement was also very jubilantly received.

Engr. Chief Dom. Ekesi and Chief, Mrs. Ekesi were the Chief Launchers, and kicked off the donations with N50,000.00 (fifty thousand naira)(N40,000.00 (forty thousand naira)& (N10,000.00) (ten thousand naira), respectively. This drew a very big and tumultuous ovation and excitement. Nearly, N300,000.00 (three hundred thousand naira) was raised on that day, and more donations kept flowing in later from home and outside. The community went agog in celebrating an occasion that offered something to write home about.

MASS MEETING AND THE BIRTH OF THE ADO!

The day after the Launching, being the 28th March, 1987, a Mass Meeting of Abatete was convened at the Community Hall and The Task Force Group decided that Ichie Idi Etokwudoaku B.O.Obiefuna, the Chairman of the Launching, should also chairman the Mass Meeting. And he did, and it was very big success.

While we were at my house taking account of the contributions and doing a post mortem of the Launching, I was sent for three times by the Mass Meeting, through the emissary, Monsignor O.P.Achebe, to ask me: One, to attend the Meeting; Two, or to
confirm whether the Organization would be named as an Association or as a Cultural Organization; Three, or to come to take up the post of Secretary of the new Organization. I, respectfully, declined all the invitations on the grounds that I could not leave the job on hand to attend the Meeting. I could not also combine the responsibilities of the Secretary with that of the Chairman of The Task Force Group. However, I sent them a reply to the enquiry that, according to the Government publication, the Organization to be established should be a ‘Development Organization’. I also sent them a copy of the Newspaper publication.

I went on to suggest that Engr. Dom Ekesi be elected to the post of President. My reasons being that: One, even though he had been very skeptical about any good out of the coming together of Abatete again in one Organization, judging from some past experiences, he had continued to support all the moves to come together. Two, since he and his wife had responded so very well at the launching, I believed that, with that kind of commitment, they would not let the new Organization falter, as it is said that: a piece charcoal fire given to a child in his hand would not scotch him, Na Oku Agunyelu Nwata N’aka Ana ruro ya! And I also felt that: Three, if he allowed the Organization to fail, the weight of it would be on him. Surely, he was elected and he demonstrated that he was equal to the task.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO GOVERNMENT FOR RURAL ELECTRIFICATION

Subsequently, the Government announced the policy of some payments by Communities, which were desirous of having the benefit of its Rural Electrification Project. Abatete was billed the sum of N1,000,000.00 (one million naira). In order to raise the money, graded contributions by all men and women, at home and away from home, were called for. There was an unprecedented response, and well over N1,000,000.00 (one million naira) was raised for the Electrification Project. And Abatete was the first community in the State to raise and make any payment, and to the tune of the sum of N1,000,000.00 (one million naira) to the Government of Anambra State.

Long before the Abatete Task Force On Development came into existence, Mr. Paul Anyaefiena, in his position as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works, had rearranged the list of applications for the Electrification in alphabetical order in his office. Therefore, Abatete came first on the list and Awkuzu, my hometown, the second. Abatete also being the first community to deposit the required amount of money with the Government would have been the first to be served. However, the Commissioner for Works at that time pushed in his hometown before Abatete. However, the work of erecting poles and reticulation started in Abatete in 1989. And with the intermittent periods of waiting for the Government Budget to take effect and the arrival of the BBC materials from overseas, the works at Abatete was finally finished with the switching on of the lights in December, 1992.

Abatete was initially allocated ten transformers. The Task Force Group tried to share these Transformers equitably to the four Quarters. But the Ani Associates and the BBC who had toured Abatete with us and had taken notes of their criteria for the installation of transformers in any community in which they worked, submitted their recommendations to the Government about the reticulation and the placement of the Transformers without taking into consideration our suggestions and recommendations to them.

When we protested, they told us that what mattered was that Abatete would be hooked on to the National Power Grid and that extensions could go on indefinitely. But at home, everybody wanted to be served at the first connection of the light. Without that, most people felt that there was unsatisfactory distribution of the transformers. The policy of the Ani Associates and the BBC took into consideration only establishments like: Secondary Schools, Markets, Hospitals, Maternity Homes and Orphanages, Factories and Industrial Areas, Town Halls, Churches, Igwe’s Palace, as well as Government Establishments such as: Post Offices, Hospitals, Secondary Schools, etc. But they did not consider such places as private residences of important personalities.

We had been promised a free gift of a transformer, by the Commissioner for Works and Utilities, with whom we worked, when we have paid the final N100,000.00 (one hundred thousand naira), as a consolation for the commitment and diligence of the community for being able to collect and pay the full billing. That transformer, if secured, would have been placed strategically to serve the Abatete General Hospital and Umudunu village of Agbaja Quarters. But there was a great deal of controversy about the placement of the Transformers in the town, to the extent that there was delay in collecting the last N100,000.00 (one hundred thousand naira). Then, at that time it was eventually collected and paid to the Government, the Administration had changed hands and the Commissioner with whom we worked had left. And, even though we paid the outstanding amount, we could not hold anyone responsible for the oral promise of a free gift of a transformer made by a functionary who had left office.

Because everybody was not served at the first connection of light in the town, any further decisions by the Task Force about how extension lines should be controlled, approved and constructed, and the light distributed, were not adhered to. There was such a general scrambling and cannibalization of the lines, by hooking on to the high tension lines, stepping down on low tensions and the extension of lines to the houses of people who have not even redeemed their pledges or paid the required fees, that most of the transformers were overloaded, and they started to burn out. Such state of affairs created disorderliness and indiscipline, giving rise to the problems of repairs and replacement of transformers and the lines.

OTHER EFFORTS OF THE TASK FORCE GROUP:
WATER PROSPECTING

While the Task Force was waiting for the Electrification work to start, we undertook some other jobs in the interest of the town. We engaged a Water Prospecting Engineering firm, to help us locate some water tables at Abatete. They located three areas from where it would be possible to tap water – Odida, Ekeagu and Ogbu. And they reported that the one that could produce water for all parts of Abatete would be a borehole at Ekeagu due to the gradient of the topography. Nevertheless, it was decided that the project was for the cooler and only to be pursued after the Electrification.

ROAD TARRING: A THOROUGHFARE FOR IDEMILI

The Idemili Local Government had a project to tar a road in Abatete, which is already a thoroughfare and the shortest route for commuters in Idemili. The Road is to connect two already existing tarred roads. The LGA Engineer carried out inspections and decided on the road leading from Afoigwe through Adazi, Ogidi to Ezi Udokwu, Abatete to Ekeagu. He also decided on another road leading from Ugwu Nwasike, Ogidi to Abatete through Ezi Udokwu to Ekeagu to Alor, which had been tarred. The first road selected happens to be the one that passes in front of my house to connect Ezi Udokwu, and then to Ekeagu.

There was effort on the side of Ogidi people to have the road building start from the Afoigwe end. But the LGA Engineer decided otherwise on the grounds that much of the land from Afoigwe end was uninhabited area before reaching where people lived. Therefore, the first phase of the project was started from Ezi Udokwu end, past my house and stopped just after Mr. Jeremiah Chukwudebelu’s residence when the materials for the first phase was exhausted. In fact, the culverts, which had not been completed, cause a great deal of flooding and erosion problems for Mbala Ifite.

IDEMILI GENERAL HOSPITAL AT ABATETE

There was also an Hospital Project donated to the Government of Anambra State by a Spanish Consortium. The Government decided to build the Hospital in Idemili Local Government Area. And the Project was brought to Abatete, through the instrumentality of Sir P.E.Chukwura, as the mentor of the then Governor of Anambra State, Ifeanyichukwu Madueke.

The Task Force Group became interested in the Project from contacts with the Ministry of Health. We also got involved in the struggle for the ownership of the land on which the Hospital was to be constructed – Abatete or Ogidi. However, it was established that the land belonged to Umudunu, Abatete, but Ogidi was not satisfied. The Task Force Group was also involved in the pressure to have the construction started, the Hospital equipped, staffed and opened and also to start rendering unimpeded services to the people. The Hospital did start to run satisfactorily, serving the whole of Idemili area and beyond, until the Chief Security Officer, Mr. Obumse of Abatete, died suddenly. Then a series of armed robbery and vandalization descended on the Hospital and rendered it useless.

RECONSTRUCTION OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM

Another project that the Task Force took interest in was the reconstruction of the Telecommunications System in the town, one of the installations of which is standing at the junction of Ezi Udokwu and the road leading from Afoigwe, past my house, and the road to Achala. The BBC had discussed in my presence about so many telecommunications lines or water pipelines they observed, which were cut or broken by road builders while they were digging for the road. They lamented how some infrastructures that had been financed, built and put into service for the people were being damaged and rendered useless by contractors who were also paid by the same Government to establish another infrastructure, etc

A MARBLE WALL FOR IMMORTALIZING COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DONORS

One other project the Task Force Group considered undertaking later was that of erecting a marble wall in the Community Hall on which would be recorded, for posterity, the name of every donor, and the amount he/she contributed to the Electrification and other Projects, no matter how big or small the donation, as an encouragement for people to give. There was also the thought of issuing certificates to every donor for keepsake as a legacy to their children and families. The certificates had actually been printed for the Electrification Project but not issued.

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ABATETE COMMUNITY BANK

Then came the establishment of the Abatete Community Bank. Mr. Kamnayo Emekekwue came to me with a document from someone in Government, which sets out the guidelines for setting up Community Banks. He said that the person had asked him to request me to summon a meeting of Abatete indigenes for the purpose of establishing one for Abatete. I agreed to summon an Ad Hoc Meeting but not at my house at Abatete, since it was becoming rather a scandal that every thing that was going on at Abatete was converging on, and revolving around me, and at my house. I, therefore, asked Barrister Igboamalu Okoye to let us hold the Meeting at his house, and he agreed.

Most of the few people I invited came. I attended the Meeting with the Project Coordinator of the Task Force Group and convened the Meeting. After introductions, I stated the subject of the Meeting and why we were meeting at that venue. I thanked Barrister Igboamalu Okoye for allowing the use of his residence as the venue, and proceeded to nominate Engr. Dom Ekesi, as the President-General of the ADO, to chairman the Ad Hoc Meeting. And he did. At the Meeting, Protem Officers were elected but no woman was included.

MY ASSESSMENT OF THE WORK OF THE TASK FORCE

My overall assessment of the involvement the Task Force Group in the community development of Abatete is that it achieved the purposes it set out to very, very well. I am infinitely happy for two reasons. First, there was the wide opportunity I had in getting to meet, work with and know more people, big and small, high and low - some of whose contact I would treasure for life. Secondly, I would forever be happy and content for the singular opportunity I had to be involved, and instrumental in bringing the Anambra State Rural Electrification Project to Abatete. And I thank God!

APPRECIATION

Mr. President, I seek your permission to use this opportunity to pay tribute to HRH Igwe P.U. Mkpume and all the Obi and Ndi Ichie of Abatete, Ndi Ide and all the titled men and women, and the generality of the people for their interest and support for the Projects of the Task Force Group. I wish also to pay tribute to all the officers, members, patrons and supporters of the Task Force Group, for their interest, encouragement, seriousness of purpose and tenacity in pursuing the Projects to their very successful end.
Please forgive me not attempting to name everybody individually, as I am bound to make some mistakes or to leave off some.

But I must mention a few, in particular, Engr. Ephraim Okey Anyaegbunam without whose help I would not have been able to go round Abatete, the AYA (Jos Branch), the Secretaries, Finance Officers and the other Officers and Patrons of the Task Force Group, as well as some individuals, especially Ichie Okaka Akuchukwu M.N. Chukwuma, Ichie Idi Etokwudoaku B.O. Obiefuna, Mr. Emma Chikeluba, the Oganiru Age Grade, Mrs. Eliza Agugo, Ogboanyi Tommy Obiefuna, Dr. Emeka Aroh, to name but a few, who were very, very magnanimous to me. May God bless all of you abundantly!

I wish also to pray for the eternal repose of the souls of HRH Igwe P.U Mkpume and HRH Odoziaku Mrs. Mkpume, and all those among the people who have received the higher call, to rest in perfect peace with the Lord. Amen!

ABATETE NA EKENEM UNU-O-O-O! ONYE NWELI UNU NWELI MADU-O-O-O-! ONYE NWELI UNU NWELI MADU-O!

APU’S ROTATIONAL POLICY FOR SELECTING EZE AWKUZU IS ULTRA VIRES HISTORICAL FACTS

Since the throne of Eze Awkuzu is now vacant due to natural causes, I wish to make my objections known to the APU on its Rotational Policy for selecting the Eze Awkuzu which, by hook or crook, brought Chief John Nebolisa to the throne of Eze Awkuzu.

I was very much aware when the APU was founded in 1940 and how Ufoaro of Iruayika, a very poor teenage orphan-boy was found, cleaned, dressed up in big fancy regal clothes, with jewelries of ivory and coral beads, and enthroned the Eze Awkuzu. Among his titles were: Eze and Igwe. The alias was Nnamenyi. He was presented at every function by the APU and respected everywhere with the fanfare of Okwa Opi ma obu Ogbu Ochi to herald his coming with his entourage. The Igba Eze followed him for pomp and pagentry. He was always seated on a throne next to the high table, the twilling large beach-umbrella sported there to give him shade and to lend grandeur. There were also young boys in his entourage carrying his paraphernalia of office. The highest recognition and honour were always accorded him. The APU financed all that until the outbreak of the Nigeria versus Biafra War in 1967.

I was also aware that, after the War in 1971, Anegboka Odife of Igbu Awkuzu declared himself the “Odu” of Awkuzu. He feasted Awkuzu and announced that he wanted to take the office and the title of Eze Awkuzu. He was accepted by the APU and was installed as the “Igwe” or "Eze" Awkuzu with the alias of Nnamenyi. When I enquired from some Awkuzu citizens who were promoting him, about the reason for allowing him to usurp the throne and office of Eze Awkuzu, I was told that the rationale was that Ufoaro was the Eze Ana Awkuzu; and that Anegboka would be the Chief who would be presented to the Government. I wondered why the separation of powers now in Awkuzu and vested in two different persons, which was not so before? I also wondered why Anegboka would be the one to be presented to the Government over and above the reigning Monarch? I also wondered what Anegboka has got over Ufoaro in order to be the one to be presented to the Government as he was just as stark illiterate as Eze Ufoaro?

I did not address the APU then as I was again restrained by some well-meaning Awkuzu citizens. But I used to speak out on these points among Awkuzu citizens, and emphasizing that the actions were ultra vires and an abomination for the reasons that:
i) the rightful and enthroned Eze Awkuzu was still alive.
That Eze Awkuzu:
ii) has a foundation and original home, even though it might be the smallest village of Awkuzu;
iii) was confirmed to be hereditary when the APU fished out Ufoaro and enthroned him;
iv) has rights and privileges, which should not be assumed or usurped by anyone;
v) has original home, which should never be transferred or transformed;
vi) is not for everybody, no matter how intelligent, ambitious or wealthy.

These were some of the points of objection on which my brother, Barrister David Chukwuemeka Akwuba, organized the “Otu Eziokwu” - the Society For the Truth, in which I supported him to the hilt. He carried forward the protest until his death in 1998.

When Anegboka died rather mysteriously, the APU, I was made to understand, decided that the Eze Awkuzu throne would be rotated to Ezi; Ifite; Ikenga. I remarked again that that Rotational Policy was also ultra vires, because the Throne of Awkuzu is Hereditary and not Rotational. Even the posts of Warrant Chiefs appointed by the British Colonial Administration were not hereditary. Quite unlike me, I was again restrained from speaking out openly by some Awkuzu citizens. The Eze Awkuzu Throne, on account of the Rotational Policy, went to Chief Joseph C. Ogamba (Rock of Ages). Somehow, the recognition and the Throne passed over from him to John Nebolisa. Undeniably, the APU must have known why and how it happened, because they accepted, installed and had him recognized by the Government. Now, here we are!!!

I wish to say it now, in a voice loud and clear, that the policy of rotating the office and throne of Eze Awkuzu is ultra vires the facts of history. I also warn that no one else should assume the Throne of Eze Awkuzu on account of this Rotational Policy. If Awkuzu still wants to maintain the Throne and Eze Awkuzu, they should:
i) go back to Square One and pick up from the way the APU started it in 1940 and on and on up to the outbreak of the Nigeria versus Biafra War in 1967.

ii) pick up the Eze Ufoaro Family again and send them to School and groom them to take their rightful, hereditary place in the scheme of things in Awkuzu.

iii) the titles of Eze and Igwe belong to the enthroned person only. But the title of Obi should be for persons appointed by their Arms of Awkuzu to be the next in authority to advise the Eze, but not in the line of succession to the Eze or Igwe. One Obi should be appointed by each of the Three Arms of Awkuzu.

iv) if the next in line is too young to ascend the throne, a Regent should be appointed by the APU to shepherd him until he is of age - the age of 21 years - to take on the responsibility of kingship.

v) thereafter, the Regent must step down and hand the throne and the office completely over to the heir.

vi) the APU must guard against any kind of kingship tussle for the Throne of Eze Awkuzu, either in the family of the Eze or with any outsider.

Oyibo Ekwulo Odinamadu (Mrs) Nee Akwuba
Awkuzu, Nekwa-ni Ofo Nwada N'ana.

A PROFILE OF MRS. OYIBO EKWULO ODINAMADU (NEE AKWUBA) 2005

A PROFILE OF
MRS. OYIBO EKWULO ODINAMADU (NEE AKWUBA)
MON.. B.A., M.A., K.S.C.
K.S.C.(Knight of St. Christopher of the Church Of Nigeria, Ang. Com)
Retired Public Servant;
Life Member, National Council Of Women's Societies;
National Vice President, Unity Party Of Nigeria (UPN) 1978-1984;
Deputy Gubernatorial Candidate (UPN) for Anambra State 1979;
Activist for Fundamental Human Rights For Women.
Inductee, Nigerian National Women’s Hall Of Fame 2004;
Now, visiting in the City of Garner, in the State of North Carolina, U.S.A.

She was born to Mr. Jacob Ekemezie Akwuba and Mrs. Dinah Mgboye Akwuba of Awkuzu town in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State of Nigeria, on 2ndJanuary, 1928.

Had her early education in Nigeria before proceeding to the United States of America in 1948, for further studies. She graduated Bachelor of Arts in Education (History/Sociology) from Lincoln University of Missouri in 1952, and Master of Arts in Education (Social and Philosophical Foundations) from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, U.S.A in 1953.

Returned home early in 1954, the first woman of Eastern Nigeria origin to graduate with a University degree. Was employed as the Assistant Secretary with the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation in 1954 up to 1957 and, thereafter, as an Education Officer with the Ministry of Education.

She was appointed to various Government Boards and Parastatals between 1955 and 1999 including: Member of the Film Censorship Board; was a founding member of the Eastern Nigeria Women’s Amateur Athletic Association and served as its first Secretary; joined the Festival of the Arts Committee in 1955 on which she served until 1972 after the Nigeria versus Biafra War.
Married Benedict Obidimma Odinamadu in 1957 and they were blessed with four children – 2 boys and 2 girls.
In her career she rose to the rank of Inspector of Education and retired voluntarily in 1971.
After retirement was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors of Queen’s (Secondary) School, Enugu. Others were as a Member of: the Anambra State School Board; the Eastern Nigeria Orthorpaedic Hospital Management Board. Others are: the Judicial Commission of Enquiry Into Examination Leakages 1975 (JUDICEEL’75); the Governing Council of Bendel State University (now Ambrose Ali University); the Anambra State Development Board; the Anambra State Local Government Service Commission; the Governing Council of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, among others.

The Beginnings of Voluntary Non-Governmental Organizations In Nigeria.
She and some women in Enugu formed the Organization known as the Women’s Cultural and Philanthropic Organization (WCPO), Enugu 1958. She was elected the President of the WCPO and Mrs. Eluwa the Secretary. The first project of the Organization was to educate the women on what is meant by voluntary, charitable and non-profit making organization and activities.
The WCPO and a few other women’s organizations came together to form the National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS) in August 1958. The Eastern Regional Branch followed in October, 1958 and the Eastern Nigeria Branch in October 1960. She was the president of the Eastern Regional Branch; the Eastern Nigeria Branch; the Biafran Council of Women’s Societies; the East Central State Branch of the NCWS; and the Anambra State Branch, respectively, until 1979.
She And The Women of Eastern Nigeria; First Coup D’Etat And the Pogrom
She and the women were there when the coup d’etat of January 15th, 1966 happened, and watched in absolute awe and consternation.
They were also there during the ensuing genocidal pogrom of 29th May, 29th July, and 29th September 1966, on Ndi Igbo and some other ethnic nationalities of Southern Nigeria, which the North termed the counter coup d’etat of 15th January, 1966. They joined in receiving the wounded, maimed, the dispossessed and the dead pouring home from Northern Nigeria after the massacres.

Her Involvement In the Events Up To the Declaration Of Biafra and the War

They were there when recordings of the Conference were published and proliferated and the people of Eastern Nigeria espoused the agreements. She was a member of the Committee that prepared the Easterners for all eventualities, with the slogans of: EASTERNERS GET READY! ON ABURI WE STAND! SOLIDARITY FOREVER!
Her Participation With The Women Of Biafra In the War

She and the Biafran Council Of Women’s Societies joined in Biafra’s Total War Effort to WIN THE WAR Teams. They also served with the Biafran Council of Women’s Societies (BCWS), the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS), and the Council of Social Services COSS).
The women contributed money, materials and work to cook and to feed the soldiers at the war-fronts and the wounded and the sick soldiers in hospitals. They relentlessly produced dry-pack snacks in millions of packets for soldiers at the Military Camps, War Fronts, Trenches and the wounded and sick in Hospitals. Not the least of their efforts was their dedication to cooking to feed the refugees and soldiers at the camps and hospitals. The women also contributed and raised funds and materials to provide sweaters, blankets and toiletries for the soldiers.

She And Biafran Women’s Delegation And Petition to the Queen of England

In August 1968 the women, under the auspices of the Biafran Council of Women’s Societies, sent on a delegation to the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II. The delegation, which was comprised of four women: Mrs. Oyibo. E. Odinamadu, leading the delegation, Chief, Mrs. Janet N. Mokelu, Mrs. Jemima C. Uzoma, and Miss Mary Ededem, as members, carried the petition of Biafran women, embodying their needs and requests, and had it placed before the Queen through the Biafran High Commission in London.
The petition pleaded with her, firstly as a wife and mother, and secondly as the Head of the Government and people of Britain and the Church of England, to help us by looking compassionately on us and granting our petitions. It also requested for an audience with the delegation to discuss and to explain further the issues in the petition. Our petition outlined the needs and the anguish of the women of Biafra, which required very urgent and patronizing attention as follows:

End the total embargo placed on Biafra, over land, sea and air, so as to end the extreme suffering and starvation of the people.

Stop the massive military support and assistance the Government of Britain was giving to Nigeria, which has prolonged the War.

End the War immediately so as to end the unwarranted genocide on the people of Biafra.

Guarantee the observance of International Conventions, and better attitudes in the prosecution of the War, as long as it will last, by stopping the bombing of innocent civilians - our children, husbands, families and ourselves, in Market places and Schools, and the bombing of the warehouse sites of International Relief Agencies.

Support the granting of sovereignty to the Republic of Biafra, so as to put Nigeria into the correct perspective to avoid future repeats of the genocide and carnage on the people.

Help the women of Biafra by giving us Relief Materials – food, clothing, medications - for the millions of refugees and our families.

The delegation was totally snubbed by the Queen of England, her Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson and the entire Government of England. Neither the Queen, nor the Prime Minister, nor any officer of the Government gave any kind of acknowledgement or reply to our written petition. Not one of them granted the delegation any kind of audience. Mr. Wilson was said at the time to be vacationing at the Silly Island.

Rather the delegation was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who handed them over to Lord Hunt of the conquest of Mount Everest fame, who took them to an outer office room. It was he, Lord Hunt who, in turn, sent them to Oxfam with whom they had some discussion about Relief Materials. However, the Biafran High Commission arranged some international Press Conferences and BBC Televison and Radio Programmes for them. They also arranged a Mass Meeting of Biafrans in the United Kingdom with the delegation in London, and a Church Worship at the West Minster Abbey. Eventually, they heard from the Biafran High Commission that the Authorities they had wanted to see, as we knew, were not in sympathy with the Biafran cause and, therefore, not the least with their requests. Hence, they could not confront them on their requests

The delegation also went to Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland with letters of appreciation to meet with the Friends of Biafra and some executives of the International Red Cross and of the World Council of Churches.

Tried Her Hand In Business Entrepreneurship

She started the Echo Enterprises Limited and went into the business of Retail cum Wholesale of Supermarket Goods with a Fancy Goods or Boutique Section. The Company was set up in Enugu with branches at Abakaliki and Onitsha. Her husband later joined her in the business, and added a Road Haulage section by the name of Pelican Transport Company. He also floated the John Kenneth Nigeria Limited for importation of goods.

She was a delegate of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa to the 27th General Synod of the All Anglican Church of Canada in 1975.
A Bout In Party Politics and Membership Of the Unity Party of Nigeria.

In 1978 she and her husband joined the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo (now late) as its National President. She was elected the first National Vice-president of the Party, which position she held until the Party, among the others, was proscribed by the General Buhari and Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon Military Administration, after their palace coup d’etat of January, 1984. She also served as the Chairman of the National Working Committee of the Party 1978-84. However, in spite of all that was said that Chief Awolowo perpetrated on Biafra and the Igbo people, she and her husband believed in Southern Solidarity.

Unfortunately, she lost her husband by death in November 1979.
Memberships In Church And Community Bodies And Development Efforts

She organized some community development organizations and was made their Chairman, respectively. n Abatete, in Idemili Local Government Area, was the Abatete Task Force Group on Development, and in Awkuzu, in Anambra Local Government Area, she worked with the Awkuzu Youths of the Cameroons. These two organizations brought Electricity to both Abatete and Awkuzu, under the Anambra State Rural Electrification Project.

She is an active member of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion);
was made a Knight of the Church – the Knighthood of St. Christopher – in 1978; was also, for a period, the Provincial Secretary of the Mothers Union of the Province of Nigeria (Anglical Communion).

She has participated in various Conferences and Seminars and has delivered papers on a variety of topics, including Women and Politics; Widows and Orphans in the Igbo Traditional Culture. She has also delivered some keynote addresses to some conferences, the latest being the one to the 5th Annual Convention of the Abatete USA Development Organization 2004 on the topic: Community Development: Its Multifarious Presentations and Challenges.

Literary And Leisure Interests And Activities

Pursuing her literary interests, she had published a book in 1980 entitled: The Dilema of The Igbo Political Elite. She is about to finalize the manuscript of a Book, in her Igbo Customs Series, entitled: Women In Igbo Land, to be published in two parts. She is also working on another manuscript entitled: My Journey Through Life: A Part Of History.

In her leisure she loves to engage in a variety of satisfying activities, such as: home-keeping for the family; gardening; sewing; reading and writing.
Honours And Awards Received

Was among the first recipients of the Nigerian National Honours at the first inaugural, during the Independence Anniversary of 1964. She was awarded the honor of Member Of the Order of the Niger (MON).
Awarded the honour of Member of the Democratic Republic of Biafra in 1968 (MODRB).
Awarded A Certificate of Recognition and Service by the National Association of University Women 1980.
Inducted by the Diocese On the Niger of the Church of the Province of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) a Knight of St. Christopher (KSC) in the Order of the Knighthood of St. Christopher in 1982.
Nominated Woman of the Year 1986 by the Nigerian Union of Journalists of the Old Anambra State Council (NUJ).
Nominated Woman of the Year 1997 by the Enugu State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Inducted into the Nigerian National Women’s Hall of Fame by the Nigerian National Center for Women Development in 2004.
Presented her with A Plaque of Appreciation and Recognition at their 5th Annual Convention in 2004 by the Abatete USA Development Union.
A Foundation
She has the Oyibo Odinamadu Foundation, which works to:
i. support programs of Head-Start Kindergarten Education for children ages 2 to 5 years in Eastern Nigeria;
ii. focus attention on issues of the denial of fundamental human rights to women and children, especially to the girl-child and widows, under OMENANA practices of Igbo traditional Native Laws and Customs. The Foundation works to help sustain the clarion call for attention to be directed to these oppressive and punitive practices, locally, nationally and internationally. This is in sustained effort to bring pressures to bear continuously on the appropriate authorities for the reformation or abrogation of these laws and practices that oppress women and the girl-child.
iii. continue with the efforts that focus attention on the societal ills of Nigeria, and towards their amelioration.

Will try to accomplish Number One project through donations of materials for instruction. Will approach Numbers ii & iii above through writing and publishing of articles and books, as well as by sometimes speaking under the Igbo Customs Series programme.

Please log on to the web site: http://oyibo.netfirms.com and donate suggestions, ideas, materials and funds, generously, and as often as you can, in support of these projects. Email Address: oyibomail@yahoo.com.

All Rights Reserved.
Cite As: A Profile of Oyibo E. Odinamadu 2005.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:ITS MULTIFARIOUS PRESENTATIONS AND CHALLENGES.

DEFINITION
I will define Community Development as: Any program, plan of action or activity, embarked upon by either an individual, a group of people, or a community as a whole, which will bring some positive changes, enhancement and growth into the lives or life-styles of individuals, families, the community and, thereby, of the society generally. The program, plan of action or activity could be in categories.

CATEGORIES
I have classified the NEEDS and the CHALLENGES they throw into four categories, as follows:
1. Infrastructures And Physical Facilities.
ii. Social, Cultural, Traditional Activities And the Dynamics For Their
Appreciation And Preservation.
iii. Individual Psychology, Philosophy, Principles And Morality Of Life
Orientations And Dimensions.
iv. Visionary, Revolutionizing And Pioneer Spirit to See Beyond Our Noses, and to do such things as: to Accept And Champion the Cause For the Review And Abrogation Of Inhuman Customary Practices, Ideas, Attitudes And Moral Values.
Community Development is a matter that has engaged the minds, attention and actions of all humankind, with astounding results, since Creation. Humankind includes you, your forebears, families, predecessors and successors in this organization, and my humble self.

MESSAGE: THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!!!
Mr. President, whenever I deal with a subject-matter, I have always liked to deal with it exhaustively. On this occasion, I know that if I do that, this Address will get to be much too long. Therefore, I crave your indulgence, to discuss only one or two of the sub-headings I have outlined in each of the four categories. For the constraint of time, I shall reserve the others for next opportunity. I hope.

The First Category presents the Needs and Challenges for providing:
1. INFRASCTURES AND PHYSICAL FACILITIES.
These Needs are to overcome the lack of such developmental facilities in the Community. Challenges are, therefore, thrown to the citizenry, to find the wherewithal, to:
i. Build of Roads, Bridges and Drainage, And Their Maintenance.
ii. Control Environmental Degradation, such as by Gully Erosion,
Deforestation And Desert Encroachment, Etc.
iii. Provide Portable Water Supply, Distribution Tanks And Pipes,
And Their Maintenance.
iv. Set Up Rural Electrification Network, And Its Maintenance
v. Construct School Buildings; Supply Equipment; Staffing; etc, And Their
Maintenance.
vi. Construct Hospital Buildings; Supply Equipment; Staffing; etc, And Their
Maintenance.
vii. Construct Town, Village Halls And Playgrounds And Their Maintenance.
viii. Build Open And Lock-up Market Stalls; Motor Parks, etc And Their
Maintenance.
ix. Set Up Welfare And Poverty Alleviation Projects by way of: Giving A
Helping Hand to the Poor For Economic Well-being; Donations Of Basic
Needs to Institutions and the Poor; Awarding Of Scholarships For Poor
And the Gifted Children; And by
x. Lifting Others As Go, In Every Way Possible; and the Follow-up.

MESSAGE: WE ARE A COMMUNITY IN A HURRY FOR PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

The Second Category shows up the Needs and the Challenges for the maintenance of:
2. SOCIAL, TRADITIONAL, CULTURAL, REVIVAL ACTIVITIES AND THE DYNAMICS FOR THEIR PRESERVATION.
These exercises are to stem the tide of unwarranted encroachment and threat of extinction of the Culture. They are also for the preservation of the Culture for the people’s identity, which challenges to:
i. Encourage Age Grading For Sons And Daughters Together. Some others do it
ii. Reform Secret Societies And Cults, including Unfriendly And
Destructive Masquerading.
iii. Streamline the Acquisition Of Titles and the Celebration With Fanfare by
Men And Women.
iv. Reform the Celebration Of Marriages According to Traditional and
Customary Practices.
v. Encourage Cultural and Development Organizations.
vi. Institute Community Government, the Igwe And the Igwe-in-Council; etc.
vii. Reforming Traditional Burial Rites.
viii. Discontinue with Cultural And Traditional Widowhood Practices; And
ix. Abolish the Osu And Oru Caste System and the Stigma.
MESSAGE: BE PATRIOTIC! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

The Third Category highlights the Needs and the Challenges to review :
3. INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGOCAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, MORALITY, AND CHARACTER DIMENSIONS, WHICH CHALLENGES INDIVIDUALS, TOWARDS:
i. Strengthening Their Credible Psychological, Philosophical, Principles
And Moral Values of Life OR To Reform Them.
ii. Reviewing Their Overall Human Relationships vis a vis Responsible
Friendship, Leadership And Followership, and to Appreciate the Need
For Espousing Better Approaches.

MESSAGE: THE TIME TO FACE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

Then, the Fourth Category points to the Needs and the Challenges to Develop:
4. VISIONARY, REVOLUTIONIZING AND PIONEERING SPIRIT TO SEE BEYOND ONE’S NOSE, AND TO DO SUCH THINGS AS: TO ACCEPT TO CHAMPION THE CAUSE FOR THE REVIEW AND ABROGATION OF INHUMAN CUSTOMARY PRACTICES, AND

5. DECADED IDEAS, ATTITUTES AND MORAL VALUES.


I wish to call your attention to 6he fact that, in as much as the other three categories are important in the life and existence of a community, that this fourth one for the revolutionizing of its life-style is of paramount importance. This is to facilitate the application of the Universal Fundamental Human Rights in the life of the families and the Communities, and to eschew those practices which constitute:
i. Gender Discriminations, Abuses, Violence Against the Girl-Child
And Women.
ii. Abuses And Violence Especially Against Widows.
iii. Female Circumcision Or Female Genital Mutilations.
iv. Bargaining For And Payment Of Bride-Price.
v. Childhood Marriage.
vi. Total Disinheritance Of the Girl-Child And Women.
vii. Burdensome Child Labour.
viii. Trafficking Of Children And Women.
ix. Maintenance Of the Osu/Oru Caste System And the Stigma.
x. Addiction To Juju, Magical, Mystical Medicinal Arts And Practices.

MESSAGE: ALL OF THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES ARE CRYING OUT TO YOU FOR CONCERTED ACTION FOR CHANGE! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

1. CATEGORY 1: INFRASTURE AND PHYSICAL FACILITIES
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
This is the category that our people have embraced very much. This is due to the fact that the people have come to know, appreciate and live with these facilities in the urban areas. Therefore, they place on them the need to continue with such standards of life in their village homes. There is always the urge to go and set up such facilities in the villages they call home, since the Government is not able to provide it all outside the urban areas. Hence, there is the insistence and rush to set up the physical infrastructures and facilities. The citizenry then collects levies to achieve these projects. The people also pay extra to have such facilities and services extended to their homes. It was very admirable to consider the availability of such amenities as portable water supply, for the benefit of those who cannot afford private extensions.
MESSAGE: WELL DONE! BE STRONG AND ENERGETIC! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO MORE OF THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

2. CATEGORY 11: SOCIAL, CULTURAL, ACTIVITIES, AND THE DYNAMICS FOR THEIR SURVIVAL
This is for the Revival, Renewal, Appreciation And Protection of the Culture, to keep it from adulteration or extinction, and not to lose its communal appeal and identity. Because the aspect, like title-taking, is for individual glorification and exuberance, people rush to do them for themselves. Individuals are also honored with the conferment of titles by the Igwe (king).
MESSAGE: ALL OF THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES ARE CRYING OUT TO YOU FOR ATTENTION. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

3. CATEGORY 111: INDIVIDUAL PHILOSOPHY, IDEALS, PRINCIPLES, AND MORAL STANDARDS DIMENSIONS OF LIFE.
Mr. President, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: This is where individuals hide or expose themselves to public viewing, assessment, and judgment, in the Court of Public Opinion. This is because it gives the yardstick for the measurement of the length and breath and depth of the man or the woman. This gives the totality of the individuals. It gives the general tone and tempo and the disposition of the human elements of the community or society.
I will approach this section by asking a series of questions so that individuals will answer them for themselves and, thereby, categorize themselves as either an asset or a disaster to the community.

111.i. FOR: THE STRENGTHENING OF WORTHY PHILOSOPHY, IDEALS, PRINCIPLES AND MORAL VALUES OF LIFE, I will ask:
What are the values that govern and enrich your life?
Do you believe in God - the God of Christianity, OR: Do you believe in the god of Omenanaism?; Buddhism?; Atheism?; Agnosticism?; Hinduism?; Animism?; Islamism? Any other?
Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, OR: Do you believe in Juju/Magical/Mystical Powers?
Do you put your trust in God and believe in the blessings He could shower on you, OR: Do you believe in yourself and have confidence only in your own ability to chart your own course and direct your life?
Do you pray, believe in the efficacy of Prayers, and make direct prayers to God from deep down your heart and soul, OR: Do you only pray as a matter of routine, and read prayers prepared by others?
Do you listen to the small, still, inner voice in your head as the voice of the Holy Spirit and conscience. OR: Do you think of it as disturbing and then dismiss it?
Do you look at girl-children and women and widows as human beings to be appreciated and treated with respect, OR: Do you see them as sex objects, chattels of possession, ridicule and abuse?
Do you believe in the principles of Fundamental Human Rights in the Constitution of Nigeria and their application to people, OR: Do you believe in OMENANA, hook, line and sinker?
Are you the one who tells people what you think they want to hear, OR: Do you tell them the situation as it is?
Do you practice nepotism and defend your actions and those of the people you love, willy-nilly, OR: Are you open to criticisms, corrections and suggestions?
Are you an Optimist OR A pessimist?; An Introvert OR An Extrovert?
Do you show maturity in matters by listening to and considering all the sides of an issue before making a decision, OR: Do you take sides and jump to conclusions on partial information?
Do you waste time and energy bickering, OR: Do you get on with the work that needs to be done?

MESSAGE: THE TIME TO GIVE TRUTHFUL ANSWERS AND INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF, AND TO BEND OR BREAK WITH IT, IS NOW. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!
111.ii. FOR: ESPOUSING BETTER PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR RESPONSIBLE FRIENDSHIPS, LEADERSHIP AND FOLLOWERSHIP, I will ask:

Do you believe in the Golden Rule, which is: To do unto others as you would have then do unto you OR Do you ride people slipshod?
Do you believe in Truth and Honesty, OR: Do you believe in Trickery and Manipulations and in the expression: “Agholiam ya”?
Do you present a friendly disposition to people, OR: Are you a bully, cantankerous and quarrelsome person?
Are you a good listener and an approachable person, OR: Are you impatient with people, talkative and boisterous?
Are you understanding and sympathetic with people in their situations, OR: Are you apathetic and oppressive?
Are you a good role-model, OR: Are you a distasteful character not to be reckoned with and emulated?
How do you participate in Meetings? Are you peaceful and generate good ideas for progressive actions, OR: Are you a confusionist who likes to destroy good ideas and plans?
Do you like to cooperate by accepting assignments, also volunteering, and putting in your best in responsible service, OR: Do you swim against the current and cause disruptions?
Are you useful in resolving problems and difficulties, OR: Do you pour water into petrol fire and rub salt into an open sore?
What value do you place on Money? Do you go for fair competition and seeing money as acceptable to you only as a Medium of exchange for acquiring, Cool, Honest Wealth, OR: Do you see Money as the powerful Ruler Of Life And Of the World and, in order to acquire it, you practice the Art of: Ogbu Igbo; Ocha gbute, ocharo gbute?
Do you like people, and to work with them, irrespective of which town or the Quarter of Abatete they come from, their religious orientation, Church affiliation, political persuasion, level of education, rich or poor, OR: Are you a segregationist?
Are you a go-getter who is sought for in challenging situations, OR: Are you the one who scatters everything and sets the hands of the clock backwards?
Are you an introvert, therefore, cagey, secretive and self-serving, OR: Are you an extrovert, open-minded, seeking the common good and direct?
Do you tell yourself the truth, OR: Do you deceive yourself by giving yourself cold comfort?
Are you so envious and covetous of others that you pull the stool on which someone is sitting from behind to make the person squat heavily on the bare floor and to get hurt, OR: Do you strive to appreciate people, learn to co-operate with them and to achieve in a positive manner?
Are you so jealous of people and greedy that you not only steal property from them, you also steal their identity and the benefits of the hardwork they have accomplished, OR: Do you give credit and honor to whom they are due and ask for help when you need it?
Are you a predator who practices the principle of: “Nnukwu azu lie obele azu, o’bue”(if the big fish feeds on the small fishes it will grow) OR Do you go by fair competition and assistance to nurture the young and help the weak gather strength?
Do you practice the principle of: “Monkey work, Baboon chop”, OR: Do you stand up for people to reap the benefits of their labor?
Do you gossip and back-bite, OR: do you respect people’s opinion, human dignity and sanctity?

MESSAGE: ALL OF THESE COGENT QUESTIONS ARE WAITING FOR YOUR HONEST ANSWERS. ANSWER THEM NOW! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

111.iii. THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION IS NOW WELL CONSTITUTED BY THE PRESENCE OF THE WITNESSES; THE PROSECUTION; THE DEFENCE; THE JURY; AND THE JUDGE.
Now, you are the ALL IN ALL: the Plaintiff and the Prosecutor; the Defendant and the Defense Attorney; the Witnesses, and above all, you are the Jury and your own Judge in this Court of Public Opinion.
In a sports situation, you are the: Competitor, the Referee, as well as the Spectators. You have to decide for yourself on which side of the divide you belong. Would you be discharged and acquitted, OR: Are you to be convicted, penalized and incarcerated to do some re-thinking and re-assessment of your self, your attitudes, beliefs and character. You would also be ordered to go do some retracing of your steps backwards and sideways, as in a law court; OR: whether you are to be embraced and congratulated on your performance. Would you, as in a sports situation, be ordered to go and do more well-articulated training so as to be better prepared to win in a competition?
Whichever way you judge yourself, remember the saying that; Ka onye n’eme na ibe fa mali (no matter what one’s character is like, his kindred knows). The ball is now squarely in your court. Enjoy yourself.!!!
MESSAGE: ABATETE IS WAITING, ANXIOUSLY, FOR HONEST, SINCERE ANSWERS AND INFORMATION FROM YOU. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

The fourth Category is :
4. TO DEVELOP THE VISIONARY, REVOLUTIONING AND PIONEERING, SPIRIT TO SEE BEYOND ONE’S NOSE, AND TO DO SUCH THINGS AS: TO ACCEPT AND CHAMPION THE CAUSE FOR THE REVIEW AND ABROGATION OF INHUMAN, CUSTOMARY AND TRADITIONAL PRACTICES, IDEAS, ATTITUDES, AND MORAL VALUES.
The most abused and violated human beings in Igbo land, Abatete inclusive, are children, especially girl-children, women and widows in particular. Simply because they are female, the girl-child and women are abused and violated from their cradles to their graves. The incidences of abuse and violence against them have become so endemic in the lives of the communities and the society that people regard them as the normal way of living. They do not perceive them any more as abuse or denial of universal fundamental human rights. These maltreatment are explained away as “OMENANA”. This means to say that they are: a system of life in the families and communities and the society, as ordained by God, and not to be questioned, altered or abrogated.
This multitude of practices are the actions that constitute abuses; violence; suppression; oppression; subjugation; tyranny; chauvinism; sadism; brutality; enslavement; victimization; cruelty; trafficking of women and children, name it, in Igbo land. In fact, these actions are crimes on humanity.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 contradicts itself in that it provides for equality of all citizens without any kind of discrimination and at the same time, recognizes three systems of Laws which clash with each other. These are, namely: British Common Laws; Nigerian Statutory Laws; Customary Laws or Practices including Islamic Laws, as well as the citing of Judicial Precedents. Customary Practices have, over the ages, acquired the power and status of laws. But they are yet undebated, unwritten, and uncodified. But they function side-by-side with the other two Legal Systems. That is the System that is very detrimental to the universal fundamental human rights of the girl-child and women.
In the communities of Igbo land, any woman who dares question any of the Customary And Traditional practices (OMENANA) or contravenes them in the family or community, does so at the risk of being ostracized, even by her own paternal family. She could also be sent away, by her matrimonial family, bag and baggage, “crying to her Mama”. Yet, in this day and age most, if not all, of these cultural and traditional practices, are oppressive and outmoded and are crying out for reform or complete abrogation.

MESSAGE: WOMEN ARE HUMAN BEINGS TOO. STOP THE ABUSES, VIOLENCE AND THE OPPRESSIONS BY CULTURAL AND TRADITIONAL PRACTICES. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

5. REPUGNANCY TEST CLAUSE:
MESSAGE: LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR DILLY-DALLYING. TIME WASTED CANNEVER BE REGAINED! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!
The British colonials saw the oppressive ways of the Customary and Traditional Practices, and instituted the Repugnancy Test Clause, as part of the Nigerian Legal System in 1900. It provides for the overriding of any Customary And Traditional Law And Practice in the Courts if it is in conflict with natural justice and equity. Also Customary And Traditional Law should be overridden if they were in conflict with the written and official law, and the rights of women and children. Unfortunately, the Test Clause was left, by the Law Courts and Law Enforcement Agencies, to lie dormant, for one whole century until 1997, just before it was re-introduced in the 1999 Constitution. It was not only on 10th April 1997, that a Judge of the Anambra State Appelate Court, Justice Niki Tobi, showed a change of heart, by taking the bull by the horns, and come up with a pioneer decision, in his writing of the lead judgment for the ruling. This was in the Mojekwu vs Mojekwu, in the Nnewi Oli-Ekpe Appeal Case, appealed from the lower Court, which was ruled in favor the girl-child and women. He wrote:
“All human beings – male and female - are born freely, without any inhibition on grounds of sex; and that is constitutional. Any form of societal discrimination on ground of sex, apart from being unconstitutional, is antithetic to a civil society built on the tenets of democracy, which we have freely chosen as a people. We need not travel all the way to Beijing to know that some of our customs, including the Nnewi “Oli-Ekpe” custom, relied upon by the appellant, are not consistent with our civilized world in which we all live today, including the appellant. In my humble view, it is the monopoly of God to determine the sex of a baby and not the parents. Although the scientific world disagrees with the divine truth, I believe that God, the Creator of human beings, is also the final authority of who should be male or female. Accordingly, for a customary law to discriminate against a particular sex is to say the least an affront to the Almighty God Himself. Let nobody do such a thing. On my part, I have no difficulty in holding that “Oli-Ekpe” custom of Nnewi is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience”.
This should be the spirit of the bloodless revolutionary initiatives for woman's emancipation always, everywhere in Igbo land and Nigeria. Although, at the time I read about this judgement, it was stated that the case was then before the Supreme Court on appeal, and that until the Supreme Court pronounces on the matter and overrules its previous decisions, we need not jubilate. (Joy Ezeilo). Yet the judgement has been acclaimed everywhere as a landmark decision.
The Supreme Court must have pronounced on the matter since there have been more of such judgments since then. For instance, the instances where the Courts of Appeal declared the custom of disinheritance of women and the girl-child, as discriminatory against women, in Anambra and Enugu States, respectively. Some of these cases include:
Theresa Onwo v. Nwafor Oko and 12 others.
Mojekwu v. Ejikeme.
Alajemba Uke and Anor v. Albert Iro.;
Okonkwo v. Okagbue (1994).
Ukeje v. Ukeje and Anor (February 26, 2001).
In all of the above cases , the judges denounced such disinheritance practices as repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

MESSAGE: WIVES AND DAUGHTERS OF ABATETE (IGBO LAND) NEED MORE OF THESE JUDGMENTS AND REFORMS EVERY DAY. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4. ii. ABUSES AND VIOLENCE ESPECIALLY AGAINST WIDOWS
Widows are, first, accused by the relations of their deceased spouses, as well as by the Umuada or Umuokpu Association, of being responsible for the deaths of their spouses. Then they are put through all manners of abusive treatments, degradation and violence, including actual physical battering, physical and mental torture.
All of these acts of maltreatment could be traced to jealousy, spite and retaliation, at a time when the widows are in need of the greatest sympathy and empathy. The facts of how well the widows had lived with their spouses in their lives-time do not absolve them from these ill-treatments.
Making them drink some of the water used to bathe the corpse of their husbands as well as making them swear by the local deity, so as to absolve them of the accusation of killing their spouses if they did not die within one year, are some of the abusive treatments meted to widows.
The hair of the widow must be scattered by the Umuada/Umuokpu, to be scraped to the scalp after the funeral.
In some communities, she must cry and wail aloud, every night and every early morning, addressing her deceased husband by all of his aliases and nicknames, for all of three native weeks.
Widows are also made to sit at a position in the lying-in-state room, from where they would be watching the bodies of their husbands as they lay in-state, for as long as the bodies are there.
In some communities, the Umuada pr Umuokpu settle in to sleep-over for one to three native weeks, during which period they must be fed three square meals a day plus extras.
The Umuada or Umuokpu, of course, take turns to go and attend to their private businesses during the day.
They give the order not to dismantle the lying-in-state bed until the day they are leaving.
The widow should not to be seen to be having a bath, eating or sleeping on a bed for three native weeks.
Widows are made to sit and sleep on the floor, near the hearth.
At best, nowadays, the concession for them to sit and sleep on mattresses, placed on bare floors, is for cold comfort and a cover-up.
Widows are also made to eat and drink from old, chipped and broken vessels.
They are not allowed to sit outside and look around during the funeral and afterwards for one month.
They are not to talk aloud for one month.
They are to be incarcerated or pulled into a mourning period of one year or six months, as the case may be, as reformed for different communities by the relevant Development Union, Progressive Union or Igwe-in/Council.
They are to be dressed in all black, or in all white as Christians do nowadays.
They are not to wear make-up or jewelry, not even a wrist watch, except the black or white beads, as the case may be.
They are not to travel beyond a certain distance within the mourning period.
A widow should accept a substitute husband nominated by the family if the widow is still of child bearing age.
If she refuses the person so appointed, she should not to be seen with a man or become pregnant during the period.
It also requires a ceremony and ritual to be performed by the patriarch of the family at the end of the mourning period of six months or one year, before the widow could perform her own requirements, so as to be pulled out of mourning and widowhood.
The widow’s part includes going to the bad bush, alone, in the dead of the night, to throw away her mourning clothes and shaven hair, and then to the stream, to bathe. Some widows have been attacked by unscrupulous persons on such occasions.
In other words, to be brought out of widowhood means that the patriarch must do his part before her overgrown hair could be shaven again, and before she would be allowed to sit on a chair, sleep on a bed, and have a bath.
In some cases, the patriarchs are so cruel and spiteful that they refuse to do the rituals for the widows in due time. So, the widows go on in the mourning situation for much longer periods of time than is required.
Oddly enough, widowers are left severely alone, in fact, are sympathized with and absolved from all these practices. There is only one case in Abatete that I know of where the Umuada or Umuokpu Association descended heavily on the widower because he tried to marry another wife before one year of his wife’s death. The exclusion of men from all the abuses makes one think and believe that it must be the men who lay down all these oppressive rules, assign the duty to the Umuada or Umuokpu Association to carry them out, and then turn around to accuse women of being their own worst enemies.
If the men are not the evil geniuses behind these demeaning practices, why should they not call the kindred daughters to order and have these practices stopped, with immediate effect? This could be done through the Family Meetings, Development Unions, Progressive Unions, and the Igwe-In-Council. I will cry FOUL if the men say that they are not the culprits and also that they cannot legislate to stop the practices! After all, it is men that are being mourned by their wives when they die; and it is in their memories that the Umuada/Umuokpu are standing up against their widows. If men do not reform or prohibit these practices in their lives-time, it undoubtedly follows that they are the conniving tortoises who would want to spite their widows after their deaths.
It must be borne in mind that all of these aberrations of human rights are happening in the glare of broad daylight and under the noses and consciousness of the living men. My stance is that widows should be left alone to mourn their husbands the way they feel, and people will, of course, see and assess how she did it. There is no sense in forcing a process of mourning on all widows and sitting on them to do it. Anybody looking into such a personal matter or legislating about how it should be done, is merely intruding.

MESSAGE: WIDOWS ARE NOT CRIMINALS. THEY ARE CRYING OUT, DESPERATELY, AND WAITING FOR YOUR INTERVENTION. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4.iii. FEMALE GENITAL CIRCUMCISION or CUTTING or MUTILATION (FGM)
The most cruel treatment of abuse and violence on a girl-child is female circumcision or female genital cutting or mutilation (FMG). It is defined as: A practice that involves the cutting off of part or the whole of a female’s clitoris and some other parts of her sex organs whether for cultural or any non-therapeutic reasons.
Really, the term circumcision is a misnomer, as Circumcision means cutting around and refers to the operation on the penis of a boy. For a girl the operation is more of an excision, that is, a partial or a total cutting off or removal of the clitoris. It also involves, in some cases, the cutting away of the labia minora, that is the inner lips of the vulva.

MESSAGE: FGM IS BARBAROUS AND CRUEL. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4. iii.a. REASONS FOR FEMALE CIRCUMCISION OR FGM
Among the reasons proffered for the practice of female circumcision or FGM anywhere are for:
Curbing her sexual appetite. (Thereby she just lends her body without any erotic feelings).
Cultural preservation and tradition. (This makes girls and women slaves of tradition).
Religious demand. (This is unfounded belief even in Islamic religion).
Protection of virginity. (Researchers say it does not really protect virginity).
(But what about the man’s virginity, one would ask? What protects it)?
Keeping her from being over-sexed to prevent promiscuity. (One would ask:
what about men’s over-sexuality and promiscuousness)?
Increasing sexual pleasure for the husband. (This is sadism even as the wife is in pains).
Family honour and jealousies. (This is absurd, in defense of which some families kill the girls/women).
Aesthetic reasons. (It should not at all to be compared with the aesthetics of male circumcision which Ndi Igbo describe as Icho Mma).
Purification. (What does the circumcision an excision purify)?
Enhancing fertility. (This is mere superstition as it rather destroys fertility).
Giving a sense of belonging to a group. (This is rubbish! What of facial scarifying; tattooing and teeth carving, which are readily seen for identification, but which have been scrapped long ago, in Abatete and the rest of Igbo land, without any fanfare, for the sake of modernity, because they concern men most)?
Increasing matrimonial opportunities. (This preference is sadistic. (Actually, it is only to deepen men’s control and domination over women).
Above all, rendering women easier prey for rape, even marital rape.

MESSAGE: THE REASONS FOR FGM ARE SADISTIC, SUPERSTITIOUS AND A CRYING OUT SHAME! STOP FGM NOW! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4.1ii.b. TYPES OF FGM
FGM, according to 1995 classification by WHO Technical Committee, is of four main types:
Type I involves the excision of the prepuce (the fold of skin above the clitoris) with or without excision of part or the entire clitoris. It is commonly called "Sunna."
Type II involves the excision of the prepuce and clitoris (clitoridectomy) together with partial or total excision of the labia minora otherwise known as the inner lip.
Type III or infibulation involves the excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching or narrowing the vaginal opening. It is sometimes referred to as "Pharaonic circumcision" or "Sudanese circumcision". To be precise, in infibulation, which is a more severe operation, a razor is used to excise the clitoris by cutting from top to bottom of the small lip (or the vulva). Then the flesh is scraped from the inside of the large lip. Then a paste is applied to ensure adhesion of the large lips by means of acacia thorns. The scar tissue closes the vagina almost completely. When a girl gets married, it has to be opened again, perhaps with a razor blade or by forcing with a penis. This must be very painful for the victim.
Type IV was identified as unclassified by the Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria in collaboration with the World Health Organization Nigeria, due to the various forms it can take. It includes pricking, piercing, incising, stretching, cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue. The form of the scarping of tissue surrounding the vaginal orifice, is known as Angurya Cuts. The cutting of the anterior and sometimes posterior vaginal wall is called Gishiri Cuts. In all of these, there is the introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding, or the introduction of herbs into the vagina with the aim of tightening or narrowing it . There are other procedures that fall under the definition of Female Genital Mutilation as given above.
The Type I operation, which is the commonest and the mildest form of all female circumcision, is the one performed on girls in Igbo land. This is done from eight days old to ten years or more of age. As the wound heals, they develop scar tissue, which most often create a barrier to sexual contact and childbirth. It has also been linked to stillbirth. The skin of the vulva and vaginal canal is normally soft and elastic to enable it expand easily during childbirth, to allow the baby to come out without much difficulty. FGM makes the area dense and hard because of scarring and very difficult for the child to come out during childbirth. The consequence is stillborn after all the struggling, causing tearing of the vulva, excessive bleeding and, possibly, the death of the woman too.

MESSAGE: THE PRACTICE OF FGM IS INHUMAN AND VERY HARMFUL. IT IS LACKING IN COMPASSION. STOP IT NOW! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4.iii.c. THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF CIRCUMCISION/FGM
Major effects of FGM by the cutting or excision of the clitoris are that it takes away the erotic bunch for sexual enjoyment. It also takes away the elasticity of the outer and inner tissues of the female sexual body
It carries infection due to quack, crude and traditional methods being used.
It gives acute and chronic pelvic inflammation emanating from infection at the time of circumcision.
It causes infertility due to the blockage of the fallopian tube by infections and inflammation.
It forms scar tissue and keloids, narrowing the opening of the vagina, so much that there is painful sexual contact, probably bleeding, due to tearing of the narrowed opening of the vagina.
It creates difficult labor due to the hardening and non-elasticity of the opening of the vagina.
There is the risk of catching blood-transmitted diseases like HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis etc, due to the bleeding and contact with infected persons.
There is loss of normal sexual function and, at times, shock and death due to excessive bleeding.
Reports of studies have shown that the act of female genital cutting or mutilation, in all of its four types, is the root of most of the diseases and sicknesses of women, connected to childbirth. This is from conception, difficult pregnancy, difficult childbirth to severe fistulas or the tearing of the womb, the mouth of the womb, the urinary bladder and the connection between the vagina and the anus and still-births.
It causes infant and maternal mortality.
The female body also gets so hardened by the scarring, as to cause such terrible tearing and bleeding and pain to most of the victims, at sexual contact and childbearing, as may cause shock and death.
In fact, according to a UNESCO report, if a girl survives the operation, there are
further hazards such as:
severe shock from fear and pain;
uncontrolled bleeding;
tetanus and other infections;
painful menstruation during adolescence;
infection when the scars are broken after marriage; and
difficulties during childbirth.
In addition, the permanent changes in the female genitalia,
the growth of dermoid cyst
the development of bladder fistulae,
as well as other pathological conditions
capable of affecting the normal sexuality, and
interfere in marital relationships and can lead to infertility; or may result in divorce.
At times, paste mixtures made of herbs, cow dung, hot ashes, barks and roots of trees or other unknown mixtures are rubbed onto the wound to stop bleeding.
FGM is indeed a very dirty, barbaric and crude exercise on the girl-child and women.

MESSAGE: NEEDLESS TO DELIBERATELY INFLICT DISEASES, SICKNESSES, AND DEATHS ON THE GIRL-CHILD AND WOMEN. IT IS CRIMINAL. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4.iii.d. PSYCHOLOGICAL, SEXUAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF FGM
Almost all the types of female genital mutilation involve the removal of part or the whole of the clitoris, which is the main female sexual organ, equivalent in its anatomy and physiology to the male organ, the penis.
Sexual dysfunction in both partners may be the result of painful intercourse and reduced sexual sensitivity following clitoridectomy and narrowing of the vaginal opening.
The more severe types of FGM, like infibulation, remove larger parts of the genitals, and close off the vagina, leaving areas of tough scar tissue in place of sensitive genitals, thus creating permanent damage and dysfunction.
FGM may leave a lasting mark on the life and mind of the woman who has undergone it.
The psychological complications of FGM may be submerged deeply in the child’s subconscious mind, and may trigger the onset of behavioral disturbances.
The possible loss of trust and confidence in those that inflicted the operation and the care-givers have been reported as another serious effect.
In the long run, women may suffer feelings of inferiority, incompleteness, anxiety, depression, chronic irritability, frigidity, marital conflicts, conversion reactions, or even psychosis.
Many women traumatized by their FGM may have no acceptable means of expressing their feelings and fears and, so, suffer in silence.
Unfortunately, inadequate research so far exists to establish scientifically the precise magnitude of psychological and social consequences of FGM, and its effect on child development. (World Health Organization August 1996).

MESSAGE: FGM IS BRUTAL, SPITEFUL AND DEPRESSING. IT RESULTS TO LOW SELF-ESTEEM. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4.iii.e. A LAW PROHIBITING FGM IN NIGERIA IS PASSED.
BRAVO!!! The law prohibiting Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation in Nigeria was introduced by Mrs. Janet Adeyemi in the House of Representatives in the year 2000. It was passed by the National Assembly, assented to by the Senate, and signed by the President in 2002. HURRAH!!!
Reporter Abiodun Raufu of Lagos stated that:

Nigeria recommends jail terms to eradicate female genital mutilation.
The first clause of the Circumcision of Girls and Women (Prohibition) Law says that no person shall circumcise a girl or woman and no person shall abet or aid the circumcision of any girl or woman.
He further reported that: Already, some activists have complained that the two year imprisonment prescribed by the new law is not strict enough, especially as it allows for an option of a fine of only $100 (69; 111) or the imposition of both the fine and incarceration.
I cannot agree more with the observers who say that the punishment for one who breaks the law is not strict enough. However, the new law is a long sought victory in the crusade to abolish female genital mutilation in Nigeria.
According to the Law, circumcision of a girl or woman means cutting off all or part of the external sex organs of a girl or woman, other than on medical grounds.
The Law against female genital mutilation had been operational in five Southern States (Anambra not included) out of the 36 states in Nigeria.
This new Law is the first nationwide Law on female genital circumcision or cutting or mutilation.
What is left now is for every citizen, man and woman, to help the Federal, State and Local Governments to enforce the Law and effect compliance.
One does not need to have been or known a victim of the practice to be sympathetic or empathetic with the girl-children and women who are victims.

MESSAGE: THE GIRL-CHILD AND WOMEN ARE WAITING, ANXIOUSLY, AND LOOKING UP TO YOU TO RUN TO THEIR RESCUE. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

4.v. CHILD MARRIAGE
Another aspect of brutal abuse and violence on the girl-child is being betrothed for marriage, at a very tender age - from birth to puberty or earlier - at about 10 to 12 years of age. This way, the girl has no childhood and no time for growing up.
A Law which prohibits Child Marriage had been passed by the Eastern Nigeria Government in 1956. But, like the Law regulating Bride Price, also of 1956, the people did not take them seriously and both the Courts and the Law Enforcement Agencies also ignored them.
Criminal as they are, some men put such underage girls in the family way, after their first menstruation. Then they expect such girls to carry the pregnancies and give birth to the babies on their own, usually at the backyard, or at the Maternity Home, without adequate medical attention or Cesarean Section.
The result is the tearing of the womb, the vagina, the anus, the bladder and the connecting tissues, called obstetric fistulas, and the death of the babies and, most of the time, of the mothers too. If the girl-victims survive at all, they may never be able to have another child. See The Irish Times of Monday, July 23, 2001 and the Article entitled: Branded As Witches And Left To Die: A Report by Dr. Ann Ward of The Medical Missionaries of Mary, Itam, Cross River State, Nigeria.
Telephone: 087 – 9701819; Website: www.medical-missionaries.com.

MESSAGE: THE GIRL-CHILD NEEDS TO BE LEFT ALONE TO ENJOY HER CHILDHOOD AND TO GROW UP NORMALLY. FIGHT FOR HER NOW! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

5. SOME OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND TREATIES TO WHICH NIGERIA IS A SIGNATORY.
Nigeria is a signatory to many UN Conventions and International Treaties that guarantee women’s freedoms from discriminatory practices. They also guarantee equal universal fundamental human rights for women as for men. These Instruments, which are not adhered to or enforced when adopted into Nigerian Laws by Nigeria, include:
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
Convention of Political Rights of Women.
Slavery Convention of 1926 as amended; and
Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery.
There is also the Banjul Charter Of the Organization Of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU), called the Charter of African Human and Peoples Rights.
If the provisions of these Charters and Conventions would be complied with and enforced in Nigeria (Igbo land), women would not be complaining at all. But the snag is the unfavourable ideas and attitudes of the dominant group in power - men - towards implementing them. Therefore, the Charters, Conventions and Treaties become mere paper tigers; toothless bulldogs; and the epitome of: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied.! A law just on paper is a dead law!

MESSAGE: JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED!THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

6. THE CHALLENGE RIGHT NOW!
I, hereby, challenge you! You are, thereby, challenged! Be you, therefore, challenged RIGHT NOW! Abatete USA Development Union you are, definitely, challenged to pick up the gauntlet RIGHT NOW and get into action, on all fronts, to kill the monster of the stifling cultural and traditional practices in Abatete! and in Igbo land. I, vehemently, challenge you, the members of the Abatete USA, individually and collectively, to make the commitment RIGHT NOW to take up the pioneering duty of bringing about compliance with, and the enforcement, IN GOOD CONSCIENCE, of the laws prohibiting:
female genital circumcision and all of FGM at home and wherever you may be!; to weigh in heavily for the promotion of non-violence on, and non-abuse of children, especially of the girl-child, and women!, on children, especially on the girl-child; women; and widows!

MESSAGE: TO LIBERATE THE GIRL-CHILD AND WOMEN NOW IS TO EMPOWER MEN TO LIBERATE THEMSELVES! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!
I challenge you to fight to abolish:
Child Marriage!; Burdensome Child Labor!; Trafficking Of Children And Women!; All the Other Issues of Abuse And Violence On Women And Children.

MESSAGE: TIME AND TIDE WAIT FOR NO ONE! DO NOT KEEP TILL TOMORROW WHAT YOU SHOULD DO TODAY. THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!!!

7. CONCLUSION
The NEWSWEEK of June 21, 2004 reported that as President Clinton was beginning to address the Annual Convention of the nation’s Publishers and Booksellers, promoting his autobiography: “My Life”, before the publication, he began by saying that people told him that books like this are boring and self-serving. Then he said that he just hoped that his book is interesting and self-serving. The audience roared with laughter. The report continued by saying that, at the end of the session, Mr. Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books in Oxford, Mass., who had made an advance order of 100 copies doubled it to 200 copies. The book which was published on 22nd June, 2004 was reported as having sold 400,000 copies the first day, and probably, that number or more, multiplied by the number of days since then, to date!

In this case, I just hope that you have not been bored with what I have had to say. Above all, that I have not been self-serving, as I have not talked about myself. But I do hope that you would have picked up some of the issues I raised in the Address as good, palatable food for thought, which you must have masticated quite properly, as we went along, for a concerted action of a resounding swallowing.

MESSAGE: STAND UP FOR EQUITY AND JUSTICE. STAND UP WOMEN AND THE DIGNITY OF WOMANHOOD! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!

MESSAGE: THE TIME IS, IN FACT, OVERDUE TO EMPOWER AND LIBERATE IGBO WOMEN AND WOMEN AS A WHOLE! THE TIME TO RISE UP TO THESE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES IS RIGHT NOW!!!

MESSAGE: THE TIME TO ASK TO BE BLESSED, TO BE BLESSED AND TO REMAIN BLESSED IS RIGHT NOW!!!

All copyrights reserved. Cite as Keynote Address Fifth Annual Convention AUSADU 2004: E-mail Address: oyibomail@yahoo.com.

SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH NIGERIA: TO TELL THE TRUTH!

It must be admitted that it would appear that something is definitely wrong with Nigeria. This is why things are going haywire as they are now in the country. Professor Obaro Ikimi had, in his article entitled: “They Shed Human Blood to Get Rich Quick”, asked whether Nigeria was under a curse?.

First and foremost, from my observation, what appears to be wrong with Nigeria is that the Government operatives, past and present, have not been telling the truth. They have not been telling themselves, and the people they govern the home truths - about themselves, about what they are doing, about what they are going to do with the people, and about the resources of the country. But, according to the Big Book, it is only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that shall save the person and make him or her free. So is the case also with Nigeria. The Government operatives, high and low, should tell Nigerians and the world the truth, and continue in the path of truth and rectitude in order to effect good government. This should be the real truth- not imagined or concocted or claimed ‘truths’. In the face of the truth, they should stop engaging in the current ‘game of hide and seek’. They should start to treat Nigerians as full grown and mature adults that they are, instead of treating them as nitwits that should be led by the nose.

Two, following the telling of the truth to the people, there should be displayed the hallmark of democracy and good government, which is namely: the Open Door Policy. This should be characterized by free and open-minded discussions and debates among the people, in which there should be no witch-hunting. These should be free and fair expositions, in which people have the responsibility to speak out the truth about the Governments of the country and themselves, as a system of carthorses, without fear or favour or recriminations. While the people speak, the Government should and must listen. Through these discussions and expositions acceptable facts, which the Government should take in good faith and act upon, in a positive way, should emerge.

In addition, the likes of the Justice Oputa Commission of Inquiry, with powers of a proper court of law, should be set up. It would not be enough to talk, and embrace and say, ‘I forgive you’, in a judicial commission of inquiry. From the outcomes of the discussions, directives, policies, programs and legislation for the improvement of the lives of the people should be articulated and applied. The opinions, needs and aspirations of the people should be paramount in the mind of Government in everything. Only that way will the sovereignty rightly belong to the people. The Government would have then metamorphosed into the Government of the people, by the people and for the people; not for the few who have snatched it.

Some Of The Reasons Why Things Continue To Go Wrong With Nigeria

There are a few reasons why things continue to go wrong with Nigeria. First, there is the lack of the application of the provisions of the Constitution for and among the people. For instance, there is a great display of Indiscipline among the Government operatives, which spills over and infects the people. This potrays faulty upbringing, which manifests in very many ways, including bribery and corruption and other corrupt practices, greed and avarice, which shows up in the looting of the treasury of Government’s financial resources. A major part of this indiscipline is the practice of accepting an employment or contract from the public or private sector and not doing the job responsibly, by not completing the job and abandoning it, while taking the remuneration or payment for the job or contract and making away with it.

Non performance and non-completion of any job of employment, truthfully and honestly, is killing the country, and giving it a very bad name and image, at home and abroad. This kind of behaviour is a crime. It should be severely dealt with as a criminal matter. The War Against Indiscipline (WAI), which was scrapped by a former Military Government, was doing Nigeria a great deal of good. It should be re-instituted as it was, to continue with fighting the ills of the society and straightening out the objectionable behavioural patterns of the people.

Other Contributory Factors Are:

The international advance fee payment scam (419), for which Nigeria is very notorious. This practice has given Nigeria such a very bad image that one almost feels like covering his or her face in shame whenever Nigeria is mentioned. The embarrassment also makes one not to want to introduce himself or herself as a Nigerian or to welcome that appellation with smiles.

Probably, such a dirty and stinking image of Nigeria, among other things, has contributed to the fact that, as it has been observed, the Nigerian Head of State is never as well and cheerfully received at the White House as his counterparts. The signs and body language demonstrated with him each time he appeared on the rostrum with his host speak volumes, and are very eloquent testimonies and pointers to the fact that Nigeria is, somehow, failing the test of acceptability.

There is the presence of uncontrollable jealousies and hatred among the citizenry and ethnic nationalities of Nigeria. These unwholesome attitudes erupt into ethnic rivalries and wars from time to time. The Government must find ways and means of reconciling the peoples of Nigeria with each other. The Government must find other ways of quenching ethnic disturbances by pursuing the course of peace and brotherliness among the ethnic nationalities, rather than by force of oppression and suppression. The cleavages of ethnic hatred must be arrested and not allowed to continue to widen. The widening creates more cracks in the foundation of the Nigerian body politic and is sinking.

Misunderstanding of the true essence of Politics. This manifests in the do or die in political campaigning and unfair practices and competitions in order to win. These give rise to political enmities and feuds; suppression and domination of sections of the people; wanton destruction of lives and property; uneven application of Government authority, power and responsibility, which gives rise to uneven distribution of amenities and development. This also gives rise to the resentment by some sections of the people about Government’s preferential treatment of some, to the exclusion of some others.

Broken promises and betrayed hopes. For instance, the promises of: No Victors And No Vanquished turned out to be a camouflage because the people of Biafra were treated, and have continued to be treated as the conquered people up to date. The people have not been reintegrated into the Nigerian body politic as expected after thirty-three years. They have been marginalised, secluded and excluded, by the successive Nigerian Governments, and treated as second or third-class citizens. Any move by them to come closer has been resented and rejected, and any move by the Government to bridge the gap has been a false one. This state of affairs should not be allowed to go on forever.

The policy of the three Rs after the Nigeria versus Biafra War of Reconciliation; Rehabilitation and Reconstruction were never implemented. This act of commission has destroyed the will, resolve and love of the people for each other and for the country. The hopes of the Nigerian soldiers, who served on the Biafran side and who were asked to submit their claims of property destruction before, during and after the War, were raised and dashed due to no response. Now they are dying off one after the other. Is this the intention of the Government?
Delineation Of The Nigeria/Biafra War Memories Thirty-five Years Later With The Memories of World War II Of Japan and Germany Fifty Years After

There are credible lessons to be learnt from the World War II memories of Japan and Germany, the Axis Powers, who were the conquered. In their introduction to the Memories of War: The Second World War and Japanese Historical Memory In Comparative Perspective, Takashi Inoguchi and Lyn Jackson, the Editors, in the following quotes, alongside our comments, wrote:

“Buchholz, however, stresses that different levels of memory need to be observed when discussing the construction of historical memory. She points out the necessity of observing at least three levels of the public memory, including the political and official, literary or cultural and individual or popular levels.
Generally, when addressing historical memory and issues such as the acknowledgement of war responsibility it is the official-level views that are discussed. Nevertheless, hardly ever does anyone talk or write about their own personal participation in brutalities against the invaded people at home. It appears that nobody knew anything, saw anything, or took part in anything - yet, everybody felt very close to the resistance movement”.

Right now, the political and official level of memory of the Nigeria versus Biafra War is ruling Nigeria. The people who hold these views are those who fought and won the War. They are the people who made the policies for and of the outcome of the Peace Conference. They are the people who were to carry them out. They are the people who have not been willing to carry out their policies. Therefore, they do not think they should share in the responsibility for the war or see the need for a relaxation of the stranglehold on the conquered. Consequently, Biafrans remain nailed at the stake.

“Japan and Germany, former "enemy" States in World War II, are now widely considered to be suitable to join the five "victorious" powers of the War for permanent membership in the Security Council of the United Nations”.

Since the end of the Nigeria versus Biafra War, a civil war, which ended well over thirty-four years ago, Biafrans, especially the Igbo, have been marginalized and stood off. They have been discriminated against and denied good positions in the scheme of things in Nigeria. Every move and every good intention of theirs are suspect and misconstrued. All the guarantees of the Directive Principles of State Policy and of the Fundamental Human Rights under the 1999 Constitution are denied them, thereby reducing them to second and third-class citizens. How long does the Government plan for this state of affairs to continue?

“During the occupation period, a reformist and progressive phase of the occupation in Japan was replaced by a "reverse" phase, with policies aimed at rapid rehabilitation of the economy, conservative policies, change in the US strategic policy towards Japan, the "red purge," etc. With the emergence of the Cold War, and with the Korean War and the United States policy of containment in Eastern Asia, Japan became an important ally of the United States, providing land for its major bases. Japan was also rearmed to a certain degree. At this stage, Japan as well as Germany were considered to be "peace-loving" states by the US and Allies. Following the occupation period, Japan had successfully democratized - the sovereignty of Japan resided in the people, not in the emperor; and civil and human rights, including the rights of women, were protected. Masaki Miyake states in his paper that it is necessary to review and further study the occupation policies and their effects in Japan and Germany in order to find a basis of historical memory”.

But in the case of Nigeria, the “reverse” policy followed immediately, and made a right about turn, from its original positive position of No Victors, No Vanquished; and the 3Rs of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. It quickly turned into the three negative 3Ds of: Distrust, Disdain and Destroy. It has stayed on that negative course for thirty-four years, and is not showing much of any signs of changing. Japan and Germany fought an international World War, but Nigeria and Biafra fought an internal Civil War. Will the hatred, the animosity and the sadism evident in the persecution of Biafrans by the leadership of Nigeria last forever?
For instance, the Nigerian soldiers who fought on the side of Biafra were asked by this Administration in the year 2001, thirty years after the War, to submit their claims of the damages they suffered before, during and after the War, and they did. To this day, there has not been any acknowledgement of such submissions or a settlement or rehabilitation. Those hopes that were raised falsely and dashed are killing the people off one after the other. Is this raising and dashing of hopes, once again, not sadistic and spiteful? When will Biafrans, soldiers and civilians, be received back, reconciled and re-integrated as full-fledged citizens into the Nigerian body politic? Are the feelings of hatred and animosity towards them pathological and incurable?

“Petra Buchholz, in her paper included in the publication, refers to the speech of the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Richard von Weizs┼ácker. In this he stressed that people need to know how they stand in relation to the past, in order not to be led astray in the present”

The leaders of Nigeria, their Allies and Nigerians have assumed that they are the “clean people” in the causes and prosecution of the Nigeria versus Biafra War. They do not share in any responsibility for the War. They apportion all the blame to Biafrans and their Allies and heap all the responsibility on them only. The Nigerian Army was the “clean Army”. Only their members who served in the Biafran Army were culpable, and so carry all the responsibility. Nobody of the Nigerian Army saw or took part in the killings, the executions, the starvation, the bombings, the rapes, the arson, the shootings, the looting, the banking decree, the abandoned property issue, and in all the other atrocities that took place before, during and after the War. Yet they and the Governments they served were all part and parcel of it all.

“To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, the authors of the publication have contributed papers related to the Japanese historical memory of the War, in a comparative perspective. They addressed questions such as these: To what extent has Japan "come to terms" with its past? Is war responsibility admitted at both the official and individual levels? How did the occupation policies affect values and attitudes in the post-war period? Why was the spirit of reconciliation evident in the ceremonies of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II in Germany and Europe, yet not in Japan and Pacific Asia? In the United States, why did the perception gap between Japan and Germany widen and become more negative towards Japan recently? How have Japan's relationships with other Asian countries developed, and what steps could be taken to strengthen the relationships in the future? What is Japan's conception of its history? How, then, is the war remembered in Japan”?

Have Nigerians, their leaders and Allies been doing any soul-searching with regards to their characters and responsibility for the War, before, during and after, as has been going on, on the Biafran side? See Professor Ben Nwabueze’s Ahiajoku Lecture of 1985, at the Igbo Net Ahiajoku Lecture Series Website, Microsoft Internet Explorer, entitled: The Igbo In the Context Of Modern Government And Politics In Nigeria: A Call For Self-Examination And Self-Correction, and judge for yourself. What questions have the political and official view-holders of Nigeria been asking themselves about the state of affairs and the divisiveness, among the people of Nigeria today? The divisiveness often degenerates into warring factions and inter-ethnic and religious wars. As a help, take the questions that the Japanese asked themselves, and substitute Nigeria for Japan, and ethnic Nigerian groups for Asian neighbours, and see what answers you will get. What is the relationship of Nigerians with each other now as against their relationships with Biafrans? Is it the same as Debt, Disdain and Detachment as Japan had with her neighbours, or that of Doubt, Dislike and Destroy? Where does this type of relationship place Nigeria today with her former Allies and neighbours, at home and abroad?

“Japan and Germany shared similar experiences as defeated Axis powers subject to the post-war occupation policies of the United States and the Allied powers, and both recovered to become economic powers.”

A very good example for delineation of the effects of fulfilled or unfulfilled promises and policies could be found in the memories of the occupation of Japan and Germany after the World War II. After the War, even during the occupation, which ended in 1995, the Allied Powers forgave the Axis Powers, tore down the Berlin Wall, and helped them towards reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The countries of the Allied Powers are not of the same ethnic group with the Axis Powers, yet they helped them to recoup and to stand on their feet again. The Axis Powers were helped in all sorts of ways by the Allied Powers to get up to a situation where they are now even more technologically strong and advanced than some of their conquerors. The Allied Powers - the Victors - have also helped the Axis Powers - the Vanquished - to become permanent members with the original five victor-members of the UN Security Council, which defeated them. The hatred and animosity for the defeated has not lived with them forever.

“Until now, the catch-word "clean Army" (Die saubere Wehrmacht) is widely believed to be an appropriate description for the army, a myth that was assiduously constructed during 50 post-war years. An essential point of the discussion was whether the German army had been a "single respectable association" in the Hitler State, or if it had been a "criminal organization.
Nevertheless, German soldiers who were members of the "clean army" have kept silent about the killings, looting, and executions that were undertaken when invading Russia. Personal tales concerning war atrocities committed by German soldiers are not existent. It does not matter if we consider written accounts or interviews: in German narratives there is no death, no burning or looting, no killing committed by German soldiers”.

Nigerians are the “clean people” in the causes of the Nigeria versus Biafra War. They do not share in any responsibility for the War. They heap the responsibility on Biafrans only. The Nigerian Army was the “clean Army”. Only their members who joined the Biafran Army were bad and so carry all the responsibility. They were not supposed to react to the wanton killing of their innocent relations and the destruction of their properties during the pogrom. Nobody of the Nigerian Arms saw, took part in the killings, the executions, the starvation, the bombings, the rapes, the arson, the shootings, the looting, and other atrocities that took place before, during and after the War. Yet they and the Governments they served were all part and parcel of it all.

“In 1993, Japan's long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party was ousted by a coalition party, and the new prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa (the grandson of Prince Fumimaro Konoe, a wartime prime minister), publicly stated that an aggressive and wrong war had been waged by the Japanese military in the 1930s and 1940s. The official apology was delivered in 1995 - 50 years after the end of World War II, by the then prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama”.

In 1933, Japan admitted publicly having waged an aggressive and wrong War in the 1930s and 1940s, and offered an apology publicly in 1995. When will Nigeria’s admission of its share in the blame for the Nigeria versus Biafra War and the apology come? Japan also had a change of policy called “reverse” phase, which policies aimed at rapid rehabilitation of the economy, conservative policies, change in the US strategic policy towards Japan, the "red purge," etc. With the emergence of the Cold War, and with the Korean War and the United States policy of containment in eastern Asia, Japan became an important ally of the United States, providing land for its major bases. Japan was also rearmed to a certain degree. At this stage, Japan as well as Germany were considered to be "peace-loving" states by the US and Allies. Following the occupation period, Japan had successfully democratized. The sovereignty of Japan resided in the people, not in the emperor; and civil and human rights, including the rights of women, were protected”. For Japan, the reverse policy turned the negative policy to positive and has been improving ever since. There has not been anything near it in Nigeria.

“Takashi Inoguchi concludes the publication with reflections on Japan and Pacific Asia on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. He points out that Japan's relationship with other Asian countries has been hierarchical and asymmetrical this century, whether militarily, economically or culturally. It is now necessary, 50 years after the war, for Japan to achieve greater closeness and symmetry with its Asian neighbours, and to base its ties more intensively on interactions at the grass-roots level. According to Inoguchi, Japan's relationship with Pacific Asia in this century is one of "debt, disdain and detachment”.

For Nigeria, the sovereignty of the people of Nigeria seems to reside with the executive operatives of the Government and not in the people. Hence the Governments are being run as private businesses, with preference for some and spite for others. No effort is being made to harmonize Nigerians from the grass-roots level. The policy of the executive operatives seems to be that of: Divide and Rule. The more the people are divided from the grassroots and are at daggers-drawn against each other, the better for the executive operatives.


Other Factors Relevant To Government’s Failure to Fathom Nigeria’s Woes

There are conditions existing in the society, which are against the tenets of democratic government and seem to defy solution. These are the:

i. Complete breakdown of Law and Order in the polity. This is evident in the way some people take the law into their own hands. It manifests in the way such actions as assassinations and extra judicial killings, intimidation, robbery, snatching of cars, kidnapping, and destruction of lives and property and arson reign supreme. These actions are the expressions of the people’s dissatisfaction with the performances of the Police and the Law Courts, which the Government has shown inability to straighten out.

ii. Reign of Terror in the country. For fear of their lives, people are afraid to speak out. All they want to do is to hide in a corner, make a living for themselves and their families - decent or not - and to stay alive. On the altar of the reign of terror in the country, personalities like Dele Giwa, Tunde Idiagbon, Chief Alfred Rewani, General Yar’adua, MKO Abiola, Bola Ige, Barrister and Mrs. Igwe, to name but a few, have been sacrificed. General Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is crying foul that they are after his life. Worse of all, the Government has not said or done much about these cases. It has not been able to fathom, as it should, what has happened or what is happening to the citizens of Nigeria, and to do something tangible to stop its escallation.

iii. Legacy of Instability And Indiscipline. There is a debilitating legacy of instability of Government in Nigeria. There has been such a rapid turnover, which also drastically affects its policies and programs. The efforts of those who tried to serve the Government and people well, like Sampson Omeruah, by establishing the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) during the regime of Muhammed Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon, were cut short and replaced with a useless, jaw-breaking jargon called MAMSER. This is one of the policies where the Federal Government ought to retrace its steps.

iv. The Begin Again (B.A.) Syndrome. The culture of non-continuity; of breakdown and begin again in Nigeria (BA) has taken incalculable and irreversible toll on the nation. It has done irrecoverable damage to lives, property, growth and development. It has also cost the nation friendships, associations, growth and development, sanity, peace and quiet. Government policies and programs should be successive, continuous and progressive, not disruptive.

v. Lack of Security and Freedom: The country is not free and safe! Life and property are not safe and secure! The citizenry are not relaxed! The people are afraid to move about! Foreigners are afraid to visit and to travel in Nigeria! But we go to their countries, including the Government operatives past and present, feel free and safe and enjoy all of their amenities! Life is not sweet, appetizing and inviting in our country. But life trying to fulfil all of its promises for Nigerians in foreign countries but not in our country! Why is it so? No wonder the adverse brain drain from Nigeria! Is that fair?


vi. Dearth Of Patriotism In the Leaders, which Equals to SELFISHNESS

There is a complete lack of the sense of patriotism and love of the country. There is also the lack of love for their families, relations, friends and fellow citizens by the leaders of Nigeria. If it were not so, why would they not want all the facilities and amenities they enjoy overseas to be established in Nigeria, so that they would also be as happy at home as they are overseas? Is it a matter of: I am alright so we are alright (Onye wolu ozue nya ukwu, osi umu nna ya na va aghali)? Why would they not want to have the generality of our people enjoy those amenities as the people do overseas? Why would they not want the amenities and facilities they enjoy overseas to be established at home so that our foreign friends and neighbours could also come to enjoy them with us? Why should they decimate and siphon away all the resources meant for these developments and services into their own pockets and leave the country high and dry? Why is their appetite for wealth - stolen wealth - insatiable? Is there not some element of foolishness and gluttony in it?

Above all, all their stolen wealth is taken outside of the country and saved in foreign banks. One can comfortably enjoy but so much of one’s wealth himself in his lifetime, without making himself sick and mad. What is the point in keeping so much money and continuing to accumulate more, to the other utter disregard of the sacred duties and responsibilities entrusted to him by the people? This nauseating wealth the individual would soon leave behind, never to come back to it, as soon as Mr. Death knocks at the door? Why is the appetite of the people for money and wealth so insatiable? By keeping so much of their loot overseas, they take the advantage of Nigeria’s resources from Nigerians and give it to foreigners in their own lands. By so doing, do they realize that they are further offering the former colonialists better conditions for exploitation, as they practiced on us during the imperialistic times.

The fact is that this time around, the offer is on a platter of gold, as the Honourable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe would put it, without their trying, suffering and dying for it, as they did then. This way, our people support and build up the foreign economies, create jobs for them, furnish them with prosperity, while our people languish in unemployment, disease, poverty and penury. Then the foreigners turn around to push the goods they produced to us and we continue to buy those goods from them with our own money at prices set by them. Above all, through the secrecy in which such accounts are shrouded, the whole of the money so stashed away, at their death, is lost to their families and to Nigeria, forever. Because of the unpatriotic actions of our so-called leaders, our hospitals are not equipped. Therefore, our people flock overseas for better and advanced medical treatment and, more often than not, die there and have to be carried home at greater expense. How foolish and stupid! When will they learn?


Government’s Inability To Solve Nigeria’s Problems

There are some cogent reasons why it has not been possible for the Government to get to the bottom of Nigeria’s problems in order to solve them.

i. Deaf Ears, Calloused Minds And Very Thick Skins. The first and foremost reason is the fact that the leaders are not listening to the people for their opinions and needs with open ears, minds and sensitivity. The leaders of Government are deaf and incensed to the yearnings and aspirations of the people. They have plugged their ears so tightly that not even water could seep through. They have developed such thick skins that not even a spiked spear could pierce through.

ii. The Pollution Of The Stream Is From The Source. There is an Igbo adage which says that: The stream which is stirred and polluted at the source will never get settled and clean unless the stirring and pollution at the source stops (Mili si n’isi we gbalua aya edoro belu so ma mgbalu okwusili na isi mili). The problems that bedevil Nigeria started from the top, with the people at the top, and are embedded with the people at the top. If the stream is being stirred and polluted at the source, there is no earthly chance that it will get to be clean and pure downstream, unless the stirring and pollution at the source stop.

Some of the problems that pollute Nigeria’s stream are found in some pertinent questions that have to be answered, but which remain unattended to. For instance:

i. Lack Of Security Of Life And Property. Why is the country not safe for lives and property? People are not safe even inside their own homes. Why are people afraid to move about in the country, towns, communities and the vicinity? Nobody else can answer these questions better than the Federal Government. Also nobody else could make the country safe if the Federal Government does not. Foreigners are afraid to visit and travel in Nigeria. They are scared stiff to just visit and on vacation or to do business. Are the political leaders of Nigeria not ashamed of it? What could be done to set the situation right again?

ii. Debilitating Brain Drain From the Country. Why has there been such a brain drain from the country since the end of the Nigeria versus Biafra War? The situation must be arrested and reversed. Proper and concerted efforts must be made to bring back the brains drained out of Nigeria and keep them safe and free at home. These sons and daughters of Nigeria should be attracted back home and employed usefully and advantageously for the development of the nation. On account of all of the foregoing adverse conditions that exist in the country, there has been an exodus of capable citizens of Nigeria from home. This is a drain of intellectuals, well-educated and trained people who should be contributing to the building up and sustenance of Nigeria. Mark you, most of them did not go away to stay. But conditions have not improved well enough for them to return.

iii. Widespread Ethnic Unfriendliness. Why is there so much unfriendliness among the ethnic peoples of Nigeria? The operatives of the Nigerian Government will have to admit that their lack of the display of love of country, ethical values and friendly attitudes with the people is yielding negative results. The unfriendliness is caused by the mis-handling of issues of public interest in the country by Government operatives. This attitude pervades all over the country. They find it easier, or it pays them better to condone ethnic or personal rivalries and disruptions rather than to mediate among them amicably. Public properties are destroyed wantonly or damaged beyond repair, thereby putting the taxpayers into greater expenditure over and over again.

There is no cultivation of friendship among the people from the grassroots. Rather enmity is planted and propagated. For this failure, the leaders are personally responsible. This wrong handling by the leaders is in the lack of patriotism and commitment themselves to the wellbeing of the country and of fellow Nigerians. This poor character reflects very badly on the people. The absence of the spirit of patriotism is most noticeable now, not only among the Military people who have served Nigeria or are serving her now since the Military take-over started in Nigeria but also among the so called new-breed politicians. The spirit of patriotism and ethical values must be revived.

iv. Political and Economic Power By Snatching: Why could elections in Nigeria not be free and fair? Some people should not, in all honesty, entertain any more ambitions to sponsor candidates or to rule Nigeria. These people have been very mindless of the Igbo saying that Ezi afa ka ego, a good name is worth more than money. They should know that their names stink. They should realize that the bad name and image they have given to Nigeria at home and abroad will require decades of rectitude to correct and erase. They should realize that there are acceptable ways of doing things in contemporary civilized societies. They should know that their brash, brute, barbaric way of wrenching power and wealth is against all civilized standards. Such actions show them up as lacking in proper home training and upbringing. It also shows them up as having been unable to imbibe the proper values of their upbringing and educated, whereby they showed up as uncivilized and uncouth. The obvious fact is that their contacts with the outside, civilized world have yielded no proper gains to themselves or to the country. If anything they have been a disgrace to Nigeria.

v. The Sharing Of The National Cake. The bone of contention and what is at stake in Nigeria is the sharing of the National Cake. The scramble for it started with the discovery of petroleum oil in commercial quantities in Nigeria, and from the top. These plunderers should know that all the woes of Nigeria - the wrongdoing of emptying by stealing and siphoning of Nigeria’s financial and economic resources, and all the corrupt practices - started with petroleum oil and with them at the top. The top means the top of the past and present Military, quasi-Military and some civilian leaders of the Government of Nigeria, who are still in office or have already left office. They are the ones who taught the people that there is a ‘national cake’ to be shared. It is the house mouse that told the bush rat that there is some meat in the soup condiments basket (Oke bi n’uno gwali nke bi no’fia na anu di na ngiga).

If the leaders of Nigeria of all descriptions, especially the military and quasi-military, who started the looting of Nigeria’s resources, in the first place, have refused to change their minds, there could be no way the looting would stop at the bottom, unless there is a change from the top. It would appear that the Federal Government lacks the political will and legal muscle to make such people comply. Government should not negotiate with criminals. They should rather be disgraced and brought under the law. There should not be any sacred cows. No one should be above the law. The law should not be a respecter of persons. Once exceptions start to be made, confusion would step in. It should not be a question of making a scapegoat of one or two persons while the others are shielded. If the culprits would not change their minds to tell the truth and to return their loot to the people, they should be made to do so.

vi. The Syndrome Of Nothing Works. Why is there the chronic disease of non-functioning infrastructure and utilities in Nigeria? In Nigeria nothing works! This statement was made by Mr. Anthony Longe of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to the Judicial Commission Of Enquiry Into Examination Leakages 1975 (JUDICEEL ’75) while he was being interviewed. The Chairman and majority of the members of the Commission did not take kindly to this true statement and so, in their Report, recommended that he be relieved of his post. They also recommended the sack of Dr, Vincent Ike for being at the head of WAEC, though tucked away in Gambia. These two, among others, were sacked. The WAEC has never recovered itself ever since and has not been the same. These days, as I understand, people go to the office of WAEC and get Examination result printouts for admissions into tertiary institutions, which are not reflected in the authentic master result sheets.

vii. In Nigeria:
The Telephone does not work.
Roads are not passable or motorable, especially in certain parts of the country.
Water does not run.
Light does not throw and shine.
Power does not flow.(Why was the Oji River Power Station not revamped after the War)?
None of the four Refineries in Nigeria works.
Petroleum products, with which Nature has endowed Nigeria in abundance, are very scarce and inaccessible and cost lives.
Unbelievable but true, petroleum products are imported by Nigeria.
Prices for fuel and petroleum products continue to be increased and have become objects for strife and death.
Schools do not open, do not teach to raise our hopes of tomorrow.
Merit has been sacrificed for illiteracy and mediocrity.
Good teaching and learning declined in educating and bringing up the nation’s hopes for tomorrow.
Examination Leakages and ‘Expo” have become a very big business in Nigeria. Government did not embark upon policies, programs and projects that would create jobs and prosperity in both the public and private sectors.
Projects and Programmes that were to be started were eaten down to the marrow through bribery and corruption.
Fraud and looting of Government treasury and resources continue to escalate and thrive.
Graduates and the youth and capable work force remain unemployed for many years.
Crime, thuggery and cultism, which have become substitute behaviours, are on the increase. Education at tertiary levels is degraded, and especially women are vulnerable.
has not been any improvement in the situation year to year, to this day. Abject poverty and destitution in the midst of plenty is the lot of the generality of Nigerians.
Yet Nigeria has been steadily and increasingly earning revenue from petroleum oil, annually. Etc, etc, ad infinitum.
Is the above a proper and enviable description for a country that acquired her independence from a colonial imperialist over forty years ago, and with the kind of economic and human resources that Nigeria has? Is this as a result of incompetence or indolence or both?

viii. Everybody Wants A Share Of The National Cake.
The practice of siphoning Government funds and all manners of corrupt practices in the public service, by the rank and file at their levels, is seen by them and the people as a way of getting their own share of the national cake. Also the practice of Government operatives keeping the allocations to their agencies for payment for services and development is also seen as sharing in the national cake. Therefore, the velocity of the wrongdoing does not decrease. Rather it escalates, gathering momentum as it digs deeper, and lower down into the fabric of the society. This is because the people have been led to reason that, every Nigerian who is in a position where he or she could lay hands on some Government resources, had better ‘make hay while the sun shines’. This is simply by ‘dipping his or her own bucket into the river just where he or she is’, for his or her own share of the national cake.


ix. No Confidence In The Nigerian Police. Why have the people lost confidence in the Nigerian Police? The causes and effects of these should be properly investigated and remedied. The Nigerian Police should be properly maintained so as to restore public confidence in them. Their salaries should be paid promptly. They should have attractive prospects for advancement and incentives for efficient and meritorious service. They should be issued with proper and complete uniforms, their service vehicles properly maintained with other duty costs. The causes for the brazenly, open hunt for and acceptance of bribes and collection of illegal toll from the people, for which they are being hated, should be properly looked into.

But the evidence, which amounts to indictment of the Federal Government, was given by some rank and file of the Nigerian Police Force Zone 2, to the Senate Committee On Police Affairs. It was reported by Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja, in This Day News Online of Sunday, 29th August 2004 is an eye-opener. The Report confirms what Nigerians have known all along: that they demand bribe from Nigerians to augment the operational costs. These are the expenses incurred by them while on duty, including their colleagues and fellow officers, if they died in the line of duty, protecting lives and property of Nigerians. They charged that the Federal Government has failed in the funding of the Police; that the only option left for them is “to collect bribes to take care of ourselves and run our daily operations”.

In order to have peace, tranquility and security to return and reign in the country again, the image and functions of the Nigerian Police must be revamped. What testimony could be clearer and what indictment more damaging to the image of the Federal Government in the maintenance of the Police, on whom the security of the lives and property of the people depend, than the foregoing? Now that the people have lost confidence in the Police and say so openly, how will it be regained?

x. The Jungle Justice And Reign Of Terror.
That this state of affairs goes on in the country makes people not to speak out for fear of their lives. People have, therefore, become psychophantic and unable to say what they know to be the truth. They tell the people in authority and anybody for that matter, only what they think they want to hear. Consequently, the country is run on falsehood and half-truths. It will not be an over-statement to say that, on account of this, there has been a complete breakdown of law and order in the country. Only the Police could help to bring back the reign of peace, tranquility and security of life and property.

xi. Broken Promises, Dashed Hopes, Unfulfilled Policies and Programmes.
Why are the promises and policies out of the Peace Conference after the Nigeria versus Biafra War 1967-1971 not fulfilled? Those promises and policies, which turned out to be false and empty, should be fulfilled. The promises of “No Victor, No Vanquished” and the empty policies of the 3Rs, of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction should be jumped on immediately and implemented. The urgency with which these issues would be tackled now would disarm the Igbo proverb, which says that: Ula kwelu izu abugolu onwu (A sleep that lasts for one native week has turned into death). It should not be death. Let it be just long slumber to be awakened from, though slowly but surely.

It is the sum total of the foregoing state of affairs plus more that has made it impossible for the Governments to muster enough political will and legal muscle to tackle the criminal and other problematic issues of the country effectively. Besides, there are too many ‘sacred cows’ who the Governments hold sacrosanct and dread to touch.

xii. Are Nigeria’s Woes Intractable?
A resounding NO! is the answer. But the are problems that only well-written and well-delivered speeches, palatable promises, the setting up of multiple bodies to take responsibility for the different aspects of Government businesses will not solve. These methods have achieved very little or nothing in the past. Numerous commissions of inquiry to study their failings and to report have come and gone without making appreciable dent into the matters at hand. The process would appear to be moving round and round in a vicious circle, achieving little or nothing, while the culprits carry on in their dubious ways and laughing the Government to scorn.

xiii. What Should Be Done?
Nigerians are not bad people. It is the people who are leading them and handling the affairs of the Government of the country that are bad. They are the people who are not telling themselves and the people they represent, or the people they are serving the truth. This should be the truth about what they are doing or have done. The Government of a country cannot run indefinitely on falsehood! Sooner that later, the house of the pack of lies will collapse like a house of a pack of cards and the truth will be exposed! The Government operatives have, in the main, been very selfish, greedy and avaricious in serving their own personal interests. Although, while doing what they are doing, they are like the ostrich, which buries its head in the sand, and exposing the rest of its body, yet believing that no body sees them. This deception has to stop and should stop.

xiv. Who Is Fooling Who?
Nobody is fooling anybody. The people who delude themselves by believing that they are fooling the people should stop it. They plan mischief at home and run away elsewhere to hide while their plans are exploding and causing havoc behind them. They turn around and deny the fact. Then they heap the blame on their adversaries. What a shame! One thing is clear, and that is that they are not fooling anybody, and are not getting away with anything. The people who encourage them in such activities are just leading them on the path of self-destruction. People should stop sucking up to these deceitful characters. They should stop being psychophantic and gullible towards them. Rather, they should tell them in plain language what they are, and how they are regarded by the people. They should be treated as what they are. These fraudulent characters are nothing but common thieves and liars who have no integrity.

Their so-called wealth are stolen goods. Of course, they should know themselves for, is it not said that birds of the same feathers flock together? When people could not explain the source of their sudden and obtrusive wealth, there is much there to be desired. Holding a public office, high or low, does not give the one the license to help himself or herself to more than the legitimate remuneration for that office. For shame and embarrassment, these shady characters should not have any courage to look at people straight in the face and into the eyes. They should not have the moral courage to brag about their stolen wealth, to flaunt it around in people’s face and want to smother Nigerians with it.

xiv. Debt Forgiveness Requests.
Nigeria wants to be forgiven her external debts. But the creditor-nations would argue that the country makes so much more money than she requires for her internal business, that she is in a very good position to pay her external debts, comfortably. The leaders and top public servants of Nigerian Government are so greedy and avaricious that they siphon away all the money, and lodge into their own accounts in foreign banks for themselves, without spending any or much on Nigeria’s internal needs. They observe that our roads are not rehabilitated, the vaccine drugs are adulterated, and tap water does not run (as has been the case in Anambra State since 2001) and a host of other woes bedeviling Nigerians. Such money lodged in foreign banks enrich those countries, and impoverish Nigerians. Due to the secrecy surrounding such accounts, when the persons die, the money is lost to the families of the deceased and the people of Nigeria, forever.


That was why Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, during her tenure of office, was once quoted as saying that the money five or six Nigerian men have stashed away in British Banks would be enough to pay all of Nigeria’s external debts. She threatened to publish the list of such persons and their assets, and also seize the assets to offset Nigeria’s debts. Eventually, she neither published the list, nor seized the assets, nor offset Nigeria’s debt to Britain. She did not also forgive or write off Nigeria’s debt to her Government. Now, the debts have accumulated more. The number of persons whose assets could offset the debts has also decreased to two. How I wish she had taken the actions she threatened then!

Ifeanyi Agbogu, reporting in allAfrica.com. Vanguard (Lagos) News of August 27th, 2004 under the heading: Nigeria’s Debt Forgiveness Request: Matters Arising, stated: “Here in Nigeria are four refineries. None of them is working. There are refineries abroad with Nigerians as major shareholders promoting the businesses so much so that back home the improvement of our refineries is an illusion. Tollgates were destroyed without recourse to the effect of the act on the people. We have enough to make us the wealthiest people in the world. I am disgusted when we ask to be forgiven our debts. The reason we give, oftentimes, is that the money was embezzled by our past leaders. Talk! Who of those in power now was not there in the past fifteen years, at least. God so loved us, He took away all the imbalances in nature, such as earthquakes, flooding, terrorist attacks from us. Our atmosphere is so conducive.

“But then what is the (only) way out? Discipline, that is all! Then there was that shameful saga of 241 million dollars in the Internal Affairs Ministry. Veritable data puts our debt at 28 billion dollars. Nigerians (most of them past leaders) have over 170 billion dollars in foreign accounts. I really pray and hope that Nigeria is not forgiven our debts….”

Another report by Ben Agande in Abuja, National News of Sunday, August 29, 2004, captioned: $170 billion alleged loot alarms Obasanjo, states as follows. “Alleged increase in the money suspected to have been stolen by some Nigerian Government officials and kept in foreign bank accounts from 50 billion in 1999 to 170 billion in 2003 may have persuaded President Obasanjo to soft pedal on his campaign for debt forgiveness by Nigeria’s foreign creditors. Consequently, security agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) were said to have been mandated to unmask the Government officials involved. Those fingered, according to the document, stumbled upon by Sunday Vanguard in Abuja last week included officials both at the State and Federal levels. Obasanjo and the Minister of State for Finance, Mrs. Nena Nneadi had, specifically, accused State Governors of stashing abroad funds belonging to their States. Obasanjo and Nneadi refused to disclose names despite protests by many Governors who affirmed their innocence…….” Why the secrecy? Sacred cows?

However, some of the debtor-nations still have enormous resources, which the greedy ones among their leaders continue to loot as if they were there just for the taking. The debtor nations have argued that with the resources their leaders misapply and loot, they can afford to pay their debts, if only the leaders will have a change of heart. It is imperative that the leaders - past and present - should develop some compassion towards the people they are ruling or have ruled. They should hang their heads in shame knowing that the wealth they bandy around is not legitimately their own, that it was stolen, criminally acquired. The current leaders and top public servants should also learn the same lessons. They should learn to handle the resources of the people in their care honestly, more shrewdly and efficiently for the benefit of the governments and the people. Without this change of mind, there is no hope of redemption and recovery for Nigeria.

Nevertheless, regardless, of what use Africa is making of her present resources, the accumulated debts from the adverse effects of all the exploitation over the years of colonization by creditor nations, past and present, plus the adverse effects of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) on their economies, constitute a deadly stranglehold on African nations. These were measures taken by the creditor-nations and their financial institutions for setting up the structure of their economic world order. The adverse effects of the incurable diseases and internal wars, which appear to be deliberately imposed on Africa, are ravaging Africa’s economy and decimating her populations. The creditor-nations should, in conscience-bound, be compelled by these conditions to change their minds and to forgive, write off and forget the debts. Consequently, the debts should be forgiven, written off and forgotten.

The relevant word, attitude and behaviour is ‘Discipline’. It is not by talking! It is not by pretence! It is not by psychophancy! It is not by gullibility! It is only by a personal decision and commitment to do the right things at the right time! No more, No less! Otherwise Nigeria is doomed! There is not going to be any magic!

One also wonders whether the list of the patronizers of the Okija Deities Shrines has been published? It is this kind of secrecy that breeds sacred cows and shields them. When the culprits are not exposed, justice is not done and would not be done. Then the nation continues to suffer. Businesses of public interest should not be shrouded in secrecy. Otherwise, it becomes private business. Nigerians should be treated as mature adults that they are by their leaders and not as idiots to be hoodwinked.

CALLS FOR A SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE

In the VanguardNigeriaOnline News of Sunday, 29th August, 2004, Jide Ajani writes: “Nigeria may not be a failed State. However, it is performing the ablution of moving into the stage. Between those populating the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration (it’s quite a crowd in there), who see on the firmament a glorious dawn, a land where milk and honey will soon flow, on the one hand, and those calling for a thorough restructuring of the Nigerian nation, who also form a crowd on their own, on the other hand, they see different things. Where the former sees milk and honey at the end of the tunnel, the latter sees chaos, disaster and all the ingredients of melancholy…..The irony in all of these is that whereas Nigeria’s President Obasanjo is the one graciously hosting the negotiation talks on Daffur, the wretched and endangered western part of Sudan, because of its humanitarian catastrophe, Nigeria is herself with such metaphoric expressions of Daffur….There is a sudden resurgence in the call for a Sovereign National Conference…..”

A Nationality Issue

The call for a Sovereign National Conference for Nigeria has gone on for quite sometime now. Everyday, more groups and individuals raise their voices and join in the call or request or demand, which has, so far, not received approval from the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Government. For a true perspective on the call for a Sovereign National Conference, and the need to look thoroughly at the nationality issue, it is imperative that all the ethnic nationalities of Nigeria must meet to deliberate. The Conference would be a golden opportunity to take a good look at all the other issues that are pressurizing the people, in order to assuage their desires and the agitation.

As we understand it, the purpose of the Meeting will be, first to re-examine the way the country called Nigeria has been put together. It would also be to determine the best way for the different ethnic nationalities of Nigeria, which seem not to have been compatible, should come together, so as to avoid upsetting the apple-cart that was set up by the colonialists. The Conference will be for the purpose of forming a true federation in which the center could hold satisfactorily.

In order to see some good examples of existing situations, which make such a Conference imperative and imminent, we have to take a good look around the whole world. We need a global view. To focus on Nigeria alone, is like watching a television show and focusing on one square centimeter in one corner of the screen, instead of viewing the full screen. We must see the whole screen to understand the picture.

Nationalities all over the world have been agitating and are now insisting on their freedom and full self-government. It is as if they have woken up from a long and deep sleep to realize what their true situation is. Even if the dialogue of all the ethnic nationalities of Nigeria might not mean full independence for them, it will be worth the while to review how the provisions of the Constitution that unite them are being followed. It will also go to find the ways and means for better sharing of the natural resources to sustain the people. Without a shadow of doubt, the sorting out of these issues will engender good neighborliness, happier and more peaceful co-existence. A few examples will illustrate what has steadily developed into a relentless, unstoppable trend throughout the world.

1. FRANCE. Brittany, Provence, Corsica, Basque and other regions, which are parts of France, are now striving for their freedom and self-government from France. Each one of the nationalities has its own language (and it is not French), culture, and national expectations. They consider France an oppressive foreign power.

2. UNITED KINGDOM. Scotland, Wales, Cornwall want to break away from England and become independent nations. Northern Ireland wants to break away and rejoin the Republic of Ireland. Each one of the four nationalities has its own language (and it is not English), culture, and national expectations. In announcing plans for the new parliaments of these various nationalities, Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom said, “The hand of history is upon our shoulder”. In other words, the irresistible force of change is compelling the British government to do the right thing.

3. SPAIN. The nationalities of Catalonia and Basque are now insisting on breaking away from Spain to become independent nations. These two nationalities have their own language (and it is not Spanish), culture, and national expectations. The Basque region in Northern Spain is using violent means to break away from Spain and join with the Basque region in southern France to become one Basque nation.

4. BELGIUM. The nationalities of Flanders and Walloonia make up the country of Belgium, a country with a total population of just 10 million. Only the king, who does not belong to any of the two nationalities, considers himself Belgian. Everybody else is either Flemish or Walloon and would gladly become a national of a separate nation.

5. THE BALKANS. Marxist Concepts of Nationality: The Comintern and the Balkans. Traditional Marxism holds that the capitalist system is the source of conflict between and among nationalities. Consequently, once a communist system was established, national animosities and hatreds would disappear. Peace and harmony would reign. Over the past several decades, however, this philosophical formulation has been the source of trouble and bitter controversy, especially among Balkan communists and their mentor, Josef Stalin.

In the Balkans, discussion of nationality problems from the Marxist point of view took place even before Stalin was born. With respect to the nationality question in the Balkans, Markovich believed that he had found the "master key" in the formation of a Balkan federation of South Slavs, where the peoples could live together on the basis of equality and self-government. He was interested in the liberation of South Slavs living under foreign rule. To that end he wanted to see the destruction of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. He believed that his native Serbia could help in the liberation of brother Slavs, but he wanted to be sure that Serbia retained the image of "liberator" and not become an "oppressor."

Tutsovich was critical of Serbia's desire to get an outlet to the Adriatic across Albanian territory, although if done by mutual agreement, he said, there could be benefits both to Serbia and Albania. He and his fellow Social Democrats believed, however, that Albania should be an "autonomous member of a democratic Balkan federation. "

The Yugoslav communists went through some bitter controversies over the nationality question. Their mentor, Stalin, as commissar of nationalities under Lenin, produced a brief book entitled Marxism and the National Question. The book's essential message is that national hostilities are the result of the conflicts of capitalist classes. If applied to Yugoslav-Albanian relations, for example, the Serbs and Albanians were at each other's throats because their respective "bourgeoisie" were in conflict. Unless totally blind, they should have known that Serbo-Albanian disputes were not based on class struggle. (It was based on genuine desire to be free, united, and independent of their oppressors).

It is estimated that in today’s Europe, there are 50 nationalities that are striving to re-establish their freedom and self-government as independent nations.

6. RUSSIA. The nationality of Chechnya in Russia has been engaged in an armed struggle for the last one thousand years, to gain its independence from Russia. No matter how much violence Russia uses against them, the Chechnyans are not now about to give up after fighting for one thousand years. See what happened in Russia in September 2004, when some thousands of Russian school children and some of their parents and teachers were held hostage by a group of Chechnyans, who demanded the release of their people held prisoners by Russia. At the end of about fifty-eight hours, without food and water, Russian soldiers made an effort to force their way into the Gymnasium, where the hostages were held. The bombs, which the captors had hung and wired all over the ceiling, detonated and caused the roof and ceiling to cave in. Thereby, killing more than 700 people including the Chechnyans, some of the parents and teachers and children.

7. IRAQ. Many people think that Iraq consists of only the Kurdish nationality, the Sunni Muslims, and the Shiite Muslims. Nothing is farther from the truth. There are no less than 20 nationalities in Iraq, within the Sunni, Shiite, Christian, and other religious groups. The nationalities are entirely different from their religious affiliations. Experts on Iraq have stated that one of the main possibilities after the war is that Iraq will break up into nationalities. The nationalities in Iraq are now so awake that none of them is willing to be ruled by another.

8. INDIA. There are about one thousand nationalities in India. If you read international newspapers carefully, you will see items about what the press and the government of India call ‘separatist groups’ that are engaged in violent fighting against the government. The separatist groups are various nationalities using violent means to win their freedom and self-government from India. The numbers of the separatist groups are increasing. There is a Report On the International Seminar on the Indian Nationality Question, which states as follows:

“The nationalities in India developed in the medieval period based on the development of the vernacular languages. The diverse conditions of the agrarian economy and trade meant that there was great diversity amongst the different regions of India. The British conquest stifled the emergence of nationalities and set off a chain of tribal and peasant rebellions. The rise of the anti-colonial movement stimulated the various national languages. (So is the case in Nigeria). The National Congress was compelled to take this into account and at its Nagpur Congress in 1920 it accepted the need to restructure its organization on the basis of linguistic provinces. After 1947, the Congress did not fulfill its promise to establish linguistic provinces. Only after the agitation for the formation of the Andhra Province was the Government compelled - despite the opposition of big capital based in Bombay - to establish the reorganization of the states on the basis of linguistic affinity, which led to a partial resolution of the national question”.

9. CHINA. Most people are not aware of it, but there are about seven hundred nationalities in China. Each of these nationalities has its own language, culture, and national expectations. Many of the nationalities, such as the Uygurs in western China, are struggling with the government of China for their freedom and self-government.

10. INDONESIA. With its population of 220 million scattered on more than one thousand islands, Indonesia consists of hundreds of nationalities. Many of the nationalities are struggling for their freedom and self-government from the government of Indonesia. Some of the nationalities are using violent means to make their case, and the government of Indonesia has resorted to violent repression to keep them down. The nationalities are determined to succeed.

11. NIGERIA. With its population of 130 million, Nigeria is made up of some 522 nationalities. Some are less than half a million in population, others are tens of millions. Each nationality has its own language (which are not the dialects), it’s own culture, and its own national expectations. There are now frequently and more eruptions of violence between one ethnic group and the other. These the Government tries to quell and control by force. The wars may have been contained once they are open, but have they been controlled and stopped?

12. THE CONGO, ETHIOPIA, SUDAN, SOMALIA, RWANDA, BURUNDI, LIBERIA, SIERRA LEONE. Nationality issues have torn, or are tearing, these African countries apart. Bloodshed and poverty have become the hallmark of their unresolved nationality question.

As these examples show, the nationality issue is not limited to Nigeria. It is a dramatic worldwide development. If we keep running away from it, there is great danger that the gathering storm will outrun and overtake us ever before we are ready. It would be wiser to be proactive and, thereby, ensure lasting success for ourselves and for our future generations. Let us do the right thing. Does any Nigerian want to be forced into a tragic situation of bloody violence and repressive coercion? We are not Prophets of Doom. Nigeria has had one Civil War. Let us hope that she will not be drawn into another one.
A Sovereign National Conference

India called its own A National Congress. They first met in 1920 and again after their Independence in 1947. What matters is actually the agreement amicably reached at the Meeting to realign the groups that make up Nigeria, and set out how they could co-exist peacefully. Our suggestions are that: the Congress should be a completely new body of representatives, comprising men and women, selected and mandated by every ethnic nationality in each State. It should not be any of the elected National Legislative Houses or a combination of them. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should take full responsibility for summoning the conference, funding it and presiding over it. The Conference should assemble with immediate effect.


Back To Square One


When I forget something, I usually go back to where I was when the thought came to me. Invariably, the matter comes back to me at that spot. I must say that I am not alone in the application of this method as some of my friends have expressed the same idea. Therefore, I strongly suggest that Nigeria should borrow a leaf from this system of recollecting and go back to square one to refresh her memories. I support the rest of Nigerians who are saying: Let us go back to the drawing board to fashion out the best system of federation for Nigeria. Let us go back to square one. Let us go back to where the colonialists started, retrace their steps, and see whether we could find the error and the missing link by doing those things they omitted doing, and leaving off those things they did, which they should not have done. I should think that by so doing, we should succeed!


The Fear Factor For the Sovereign National Conference


One can understand the fear of President Obasanjo not to be the one that will convene or preside over what would appear to be the dismantling or disintegration of Nigeria. We do not blame him one bit. However, we suggest that he should dismiss any such fears that he might have, as they could be very counter-productive. He is a Nigerian and he should know, fully well, what the situation is and what has been happening. A look at what has been happening around the world might not really be pointing at an outcome of disintegration or dismantling of Nigeria. The Conference could result just in measures that would make Nigeria stand on firmer grounds and to prosper as a united, ethnic-friendly, solid and patriotic nation. Take a look at the countries of Europe and see how small and self-contained they are. Also see how restive some of them are with their neighbours for the reasons of not being self-contained, geographically contiguous and compatible. It would be very interesting to observe the reasons why some of them have refused to join the European Economic Union or to have full membership and participation, and how others are being rejected from joining. The same reasons of incompatibility, which apply to some Middle-Eastern countries are making them very restiveness. Probably, the time has come for the Biblical Injunction of: To Your Tents O Israel! to take effect. There is also the Igbo saying: To Let Everybody Answer His Or Her Father’s Name, Ka Onye Obuna Za Afa Nna Ya, to materialize. This means that the evolutionary time has come for humankind to try new systems of Government different from what has been on since the ages.


The Wind Of Change Is Blowing All Over The World


If the Sovereign National Conference has to be held, as it should be, it had better be now than later. A matter could go on deteriorating until it gets to a point where it can no longer be repaired or salvaged. Sustaining an error for a protracted period can never make it right. Therefore, a better piece of advice would be to Go Back To Square One Now. That would be by retracing the steps to where the colonial imperialists started now, rather than leave it to our children and grandchildren for later. The Government should not continue to cling to power and refusal by adhering to Harold Lasky’s dictum of “Absolute power that corrupts absolutely”; or to Winston Churchill’s policies of: “Divide and Rule” and “What we have we hold”. The Government should listen to Tony Blair’s utterance that “The hand of history is on our shoulder”, and then reflect for a while and, inevitably, heed Harold Macmillan’s prophetic observation of “The wind of change that is blowing over Africa”. It was since that Harold Wilson’s speech in Zimbabwe that the wind of change, desirable changes of the independence of the nations, has swept through Africa.

This time around, the wind of change is blowing all over the world. It shows that the very foundation on which most of the old countries of the world was founded were faulty and is finding it very, very difficult to hold. Colonialism, imperialism, and domination have never been a credible basis for ruling over peoples. Only a free association of willing states, on the basis of equality, justice and equity is justifiable and could withstand the test of time. Let the Government not resist the agitation and demands any further. In this case, the Government should see and feel the wind of change that is blowing over Nigeria, and acquiesce. Let the situation not get to that of the situation of the fly that did not accept better advice and got buried with the corpse (Ijiji n’enwero ndumodu ka an’eni nya na ozu). Nigeria should get on with the Sovereign National Conference because the prognosis is very good - very promising!

Empowerment Of Women By A Sovereign National Conference

A Sovereign National Conference for Nigeria will be very good for women. It will empower women the more as women will have the chance of being elected as part of the representation of their ethnic groups. They will also participate fully in its deliberations, decision-making to fashion out a new Nigeria. Women will also be fully involved in the execution of its decisions. Women will, nevertheless, bask in the sunshine of the glorious dawn of the new Nigeria.


Change Of Direction: It Is Credible To Be A Pioneer!

It is very disconcerting to know that most Nigerians feel that not much is being done by the present Administration to ameliorate the country’s social, political and economic problems. It is very discouraging to know that they feel that rather than get better, the situation is fast deteriorating. It is also pertinent to note that the worst scenario is that the people at the helm of the affairs of Government continue to claim and to tell the people and the world that things are going well. It is a great pity that after all these years of performance, they have not learned that claiming that things are going well does not make them really go well. Also that continuing in the path of wrong decisions and performance only makes things continue to go wrong. To effect a change in the right direction, there must be a change of mind, attitude, policy and direction. It would be much to the credit of Nigeria to make haste and be the first - the pioneer - in Africa to hold a Sovereign National Conference. After all, she has been claming to be in the position of leadership in Africa for being the biggest and the most populous, probably the richest country in Africa.

Oyibo E. Odinamadu (Mrs).
M.O.N., B.A., M.A., K.S.C.
(Knight of St. Christopher, Church of the Province of Nigeria, Anglican Comm.)
Inductee, National Nigerian Women Hall Of Fame.
Retired Public Servant;
Life Member, National Council Of Women's Societies of Nigeria;
Former. National Vice President, Unity Party Of Nigeria (UPN);
Activist for Fundamental Human Rights For Women and Children.
Now, visiting in the City of Garner, in the State of North Carolina, U.S.A.

All Rights Reserved
Cite as: Profile of Oyibo E. Odinamadu (Mrs.) 2005.