THE METAMORPHOSIS OF 20 POUNDS
Last Friday, October 15, I was at Nnewi and Awka both in Anambra State where President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned two privately owned multi-billion naira projects.
In Nnewi, he commissioned Nigeria’s first private vehicle manufacturing plant owned by Chief Innocent Chukwuma, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Innoson Group of Companies and in Awka, he commissioned an infusion plant owned by Dr Ifeanyi Okoye, the Chairman, Juhel Pharmacy Limited which is the biggest in Africa and the first of its kind in the West African Sub-region.
At the events, I had watched Jonathan very closely to see the expression on his face and my humble conclusion was that he was overwhelmed by what he saw on ground. Speaking while commissioning Innoson Vehicles, he had said: “We have been importing vehicles and other equipment, whether electronics or other military hardware that the consumption rate is high. We should arrange a way that the Federal Government should assist foreign companies to come and establish plants in Nigeria. I will advise the chief economic adviser to work on that. So, coming here gives me joy because Innosen Vehicle Manufacturing plant is not just assembling parts that are imported but from all indications, it is only the engine that the company brings in from their partner in China and every other thing is built here. Even abroad, no particular company produces everything whether aircraft, automobile or even turbines.
Many components are imported from other companies. So it is a good beginning and it shows that as a nation, we have the potential, we have the ability to do great things. This is a good example. When you talk of Anambra State in terms of land area, it is one of the smallest states in Nigeria, but in terms of brain density, it is the highest.”
Early this year, I was on the entourage of the Minister of Works, Senator Mohammed Sanusi Dagash, when he was on a working visit to both Lagos and Ogun States. During the visit, he inspected the facilities of Capital Oil Limited, owned by Ifeanyi Uba. He visited the Capital Oil depot and Capital Oil Truck Park where he declared open a restaurant. Seeing the Capital Oil facilities, which has the highest fuel storage capacity in the country, as well as the truck park, said to be the biggest in Africa for its capacity to accommodate more than 1,000 trailers at a time, the Minister lacked appropriate words to express his feelings.
Again, some time in 2002, I was present when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, commissioned the Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPMDA) Complex and Balogun Business Association Complex both in Lagos International Trade Fair Complex respectively. I also saw the wonder on their faces then.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, not known for making‘ quotable quotes’ the only one that could be attributed to him in recent times being the one he made at Owerri the day Gov. Ikedi Ohakim defected to the Peoples Democratic Party: “this is a promise made, promise kept and promise fulfilled”, had on the day of the commissioning of ASPMDA, said “People are talking about privatization, this is privatization itself.”
Having been privileged to witness all that, I can sincerely say that I am not a mind reader to know whether the wonder on the faces of the people mentioned above during the commissioning of the various Igbo self help efforts were that of love or hate.
However, I can bet on the sincerity of the Works Minister, Senator Mohammed Sanusi Dagash for one thing. The way he expressed his disappointment over the poor handling of the Onitsha-Owerri road, which was awarded to two traditional rulers in the South East as far back as 2002, and till date the road project is still ongoing. Few years ago, he had out of anger taken one side of the road and gave it to Julius Berger and the part has been completed leaving the other side to the traditional rulers who are no doubt well connected to the powers that be at Abuja and who never meant well for Ndigbo. If the Works Minister has his way, he would have revoked the contract of the other side long time ago. That is a case of somebody who means well for a people and that is why I say that I can bet for his sincerity on the gigantic strides being made by Igbo sons and daughters because there is no way we can know what is going on in somebody’s mind except through his action or inaction.
But one common thing with all the people mentioned except Senator Dagash is that they just, commissioned the projects and goes their way without talking about the infrastructure like road and power supply that would sustain the project that they had commissioned.
On the part of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo, the type of economic warfare, which he launched against Ndigbo immediately after the commissioning of the Auto Spare Parts Complex in 2002, was beyond imagination. It seemed as if the thought that was going on in his mind was how could a people that were reduced to point zero during the war and given only 20 pounds after the civil war would have risen so fast to be making giant strides. Therefore, the only option was to cripple them economically and that was probably why his administration began to bring out policies to destroy businesses where Igbo hold sway and also to starve them of enabling infrastructure like good road network and power supply that would enable them to continue to make more giant strides as well as deprive them of federal government presence.
That was evidenced when the contract for the second bridge across the River Niger came up. Federal government had awarded contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of many bridges across the country but the Igbo were told by the Obasanjo administration that if they needed a second bridge across the Niger, they should construct it by themselves. The thinking could be that after all, the Igbo have got used to doing things for themselves.
Since then this policy has come to stay and that is why presidents in the country go to the other parts of the country to lay foundation of projects but only go the South East to commission privately owned projects and they never see anything wrong with this.Why I commend the ‘can do’ spirit of the Igbo, the people at the centre should at least try to search their conscience. They should ask themselves why there is no federal presence in the South East as is in the other parts of the country.
Federal government should in good spirit begin to appreciate the nationalistic spirit of the Igbo. It is only the Igbo that can go to another part of the country, fill up swamps or reclaim lands and build houses or set up companies.
It is the Igbo that can go to the other parts of the country and build multi-billion naira projects as evidenced by the Capital Oil investments in Lagos and other parts of the country as well as what the Igbo did at the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex.These are signs of self-integration into the entity called Nigeria. Since the end of the civil war, the Nigerian state has been playing politics with the re-integration of Igbo, but Igbo has through their investments in the other parts of the country shown commitment to one Nigeria. Therefore, I feel that the Federal Government should appreciate this by making it presence felt in the South East. Rather than only going there to commission privately owned enterprise, hail those who have sabotaged Igbo cause or to receive party defectors. It should be going there to lay foundation of projects, which it would at the end of the day go, and commission for a change.
This will no doubt give the Igbo a feeling that they are not being mocked by their self-help efforts rather that they are complimenting government efforts.
However, it would take an honourable man, a keeper of agreement to do this. But with the doublespeak, intimidation and mudslinging, which are currently ruling the airwaves, I don’t see this coming very soon.
It is my strong belief that any thing that is not right is not from God. Power is good but if it were not from God then nothing good would come out of it. This is evidenced in the lack of dividend of government at the centre and in the other parts of the country. Many of our leaders have been coming into office through the window instead of the door and that is why nothing solid is being done. The only road that leads to the east from the Southwest that is Benin-Ore road is still a death trap. The Onitsha –Owerri road has not fared better. The second bridge across river Niger is still a subject of politics.
The way forward is therefore for the Igbo to get their acts together and know which way to follow. They should not allow themselves to be stampede into taking decision they may regret in years to come.
Igbo nation has done well on its own going by their peculiar circumstance. In fact, there is no nation in the world that could be compared with the Igbo in terms of making a quick comeback just few years after the nation was utterly destroyed. However, that seems to be the problem that the nation is having with some powerful people in the other parts of the country. The questions on their minds seem to be, “Why didn’t the Igbo nation stay down when they were defeated in war? Why did they rise up so soon as if nothing happened to them and even has the audacity to compete with us?” But that is the Igbo spirit, which nobody can take away from them.
I sincerely believe that the Igbo are talking of occupying the office of the president of this country is simply for psychological reasons. I am saying this because without been in the office, they have done better than those that have been ruling and would even do more if they should come together and have a single vision which I know would later become a Nigerian vision and the other parts of the country would be begging to key into it.
We have done well with our twenty pounds because God saw that we are being unjustly treated in the country which we played leading role before and after independence, just as Pharaoh maltreated the Hebrews that helped Egypt in their time of need and for that unjust treatment God kept on multiplying them. God would keep on multiplying our 20 pounds and also give us the desire of our heart if we come together to seek him in righteousness and that is by supporting causes that are just and noble instead of flowing with the winds or pandering to an empty gallery as our so called leaders are thoughtlessly doing at the moment for either selfish reasons or out of fear of intimidation.
Last word, if it is not right, then it is not from God and if it is not from God, nothing good will come out of it. The state of development across the country can testify to that. Our so-called leaders have been breaking rules to emerge and the masses have been paying for this through lack of development, hunger, diseases and death. Now I think is the time to follow those who follow the rule so that God will lead us in the path of righteousness and plenty for a change. Anosike lives in Satellite Town, Lagos (08035779230).