In Search Of

A few weeks ago, on a visit home, by home here one should read Igboland, and as it is the habit of most who make the same trip, attempts were made to seek out possibilities of buying some farm produce to take back to Lagos. The search unfolded two things, first, the price of Palm oil is almost the same price as that sold in Lagos, even more in most cases and it is scarce; secondly, there were more rotten yams in the barns and soils of Igboland than one can imagine, and they are either sold at give away prices or are allowed to rotten. The truth of the matter is that as it is today, Igboland cannot feed itself, and depends heavily on imported food to sustain its citizenry. Why is it so? What has gone wrong with the Palm oil plantations, the yam barns, the cassava farms and the rice paddies? What is evident in this issues is that we made the wrong turn sometime ago, opted for the wrong policies and went in pursuit of mirages; and today none seems to know the road back again or another road to escape our present impasse.
We are entering the sixth decade since the great resolute and collective attempt at developing Igboland. The pioneering work of M. I. Okpara and his team seem to have found no successor and their achievements still dwarf the attempts or non attempt by the present crop of Igbo administrators.
The development of the human mind was pursued alongside the development of basic infrastructures and the creation of jobs, setting up of Industries and tapping of the natural resources, of which Igboland is richly endowed. They figured then that the only way to actually consider oneself free is when one is freed from the entrapments of living under the shadows of others, this includes that of the colonial masters. The values they met and built upon, meant that the composition of the society they intended to build must be in harmony with the character and content of the people; this ensured that we were not just becoming a thriving society, but one with norms, values and a deep respect for the human being.
In this edition, we have tried to bring together various essays on and about those days; though the features of our present day Igboland seem dramatically different from theirs, it is instructive to know that the margins of fundamental investments and growths recorded then are quite high and leagues ahead of us, this is made more profound when one considers their operational funds and the limitations they faced. Our take on all these is that they invested hugely on human beings, while our values seem focused on the brass and dysfunctional.
Leaders and people who invested in the growth of education over the years are now benefitting from that investment; today, there is a total disconnect between the government and leaders on one side and the people and workers on another. The tragedy is not just the collapse of the integrated system of co-operation in Igboland of yore; it is also expressed in the bubble we have come to observe over and over again in all spheres of our life, and which has now become a symbolism of sorts, representing and regarded as the main feature of Igbo misappropriation. Here lies the reason why most of the industries today are mere names, seriously reminding us of our failure.
Yet we can all contribute to the correction of these mistakes; What Igboland needs is a uniform set of rules based on the soundest research to keep teenage minds constructively engaged; culturally sound and patriotically Igbo this way, the hopes we all share would in a given time frame begin to benefit them first and everyone who shares the dream of Igbo renaissance. The most relevant lessons to take from the failures of 1970-2008 as reflected in the grim faces of despondency in Igboland today is that over half of the problems we face were created by us, inflicted by us and can be corrected by us.
That there are no collectively incorporated policies of development in the south-east is not just a marginalizing Abuja policy, but a failure of Igbo leadership and enterprise, and this is only going to get worse if we do not, as a Collective, constructively start reassessing ourselves in that light. Losing the war has never been more pathetic as when you look at the confusion that reigns in and around Igboland today. There is no use putting on a sham and deceptive face over the consequences of our rather self imposed problems. Time has come for us to dust up slowly and ambitiously too the Okpara blue print of yesterday, and juxtaposing it with the fine visionary works done by some of our academics over the years, coalesce them to form a new blueprint for our drive towards reviving our substance as a people and society.
Our political future lies in our economic independence. We cannot remain careless or stupid about how this things work. Our claim to political supremacy lies in a substantiated acquisition of an economic space that is ruled by the principles of free trade and driven by a strong production base, while improving our wide network of distribution class. We can beg, cajole or harass Abuja as much as we can or want, it remains true that the best and fastest route to Abuja lies in the development of strong functional Industrial Estates in Aba, Nnewi, Enugu, Onitsha and Owerri. The rice pads of Ebonyi, Adazi and Nsukka, if fully developed have more portent Power than that which is presently derived from falsified comradeship and bloated benefits of partisan party politics.
The next few decades would be decisive for us, for we must attempt by all means to find answers to the questions posed and problems raised in our society in the last four decades; Nigeria is in no shape to shake off its multiple problems anytime soon, and we are in no shape to continue to wait. We must get our best minds to explore the possibilities for the generating and distributing of enough electricity to power the Industries we’ll attract, and the ones we would indigenously build. Nothing in the book says we can’t attract major Companies to start outsourcing technologies and works to us. Our Governors have work to do; but the most tedious of work still lies with the academia, scientists and visionary investors, who see beyond the little ponds of immediate gratification, and see the great ocean span of nationhood, built on a solid foundation of economics, values and culture.
The search for a free, fair and equitable society in Igboland and by extension Nigeria lies in our securing that economic independence, which has eluded us since after the war. We certainly can get that and I am optimistic that you feel that too…
Ndewo nu……

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