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Igbo & Leadership Question: The Achebe Example —By Ikedi Ohakim

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v. Politics of Second Niger Bridge

The federal government had created a National Intervention Project in 2006 under President Obasanjo to restore peace and promote sense of belonging in the country. This gave rise to the N400 billion East-West road project; the N600 billion KanoMaiduguri road project the N200 billion Lokoja-Abaji-Abuja road project and the N150 billion Ibadan-Ogbomosho-Oshogb road. But curiously, the South-East was left out. When we demanded an explanation, we were promised the second Niger Bridge but alas, this project is being pushed to a public-private (sector) participation (PPP) arrangement with a tolling scheme to recoup the cost of the project. Is this a fair deal for Ndigbo? We must continue to ask for our own share of the 2006 National Intervention fund.

vi. Roads Infrastructure: Otuocha-Nmiata-Kogi Road

Ndi Igbo of the South-East must demand the immediate completion of this road, with high economic value but which has been abandoned. This is OtuochaNmiata-Kogi road of less than 150 kilometers which will knock off about three hours from every journey from the South-East to Abuja. The road was awarded to Nigercat in 2009 but curiously, the federal government has not shown any interest in completing this project. Our governors and national assembly members should take note. Ndigbo must demand that this road be completed to reduce the agony of Ndigbo who frequently visit the federal capital in their characteristic manner of making all parts of the country their home.

vii. A New Political System

Igbo Leadership must take us back to our old political system within the South – east which brings people to the top just because they have the qualities needed at the top. Ndigbo must desist from what the writer, Middleton, deprecated as identifying goodness with utility and measuring status by possession. Anyone who calls himself a leader in Igboland must buy into it. This system can quickly restore the economy of Ndigbo and foreswear corruption. Stealing from our people should be treated as an abomination. Because of what we went through during the civil war, any leader who steals from the people should be disciplined. Our leaders must understand that money can make you popular, but it cannot give you eminence.

I will say because we are strong people; we are an enterprising people; we are a creative people; we have competitive spirit; we have self-confidence; we are daringly adventurous; we can take our selves to any height we want. We therefore have no business remaining backward, even if any adversary wishes us to. As Ndigbo, we have done well individually since the end of the unfortunate civil war. Instead of perishing with the war, we came out of it stronger, borrowing from the bravery of Abagana and Nkpor Junction to survive the hostile circumstances we met. Even though we lost everything, we came out of the war more enterprising, borrowing from the ingenuity of transforming a highway into Uli International Airport. Now, however, is the time for Ndigbo to pull together, to create economic power greater than individuals. This we must do in spite of what others wish for us, because we are Ndigbo.

Our country Nigeria is today in a state of turbulence. Our youths are agitated and restless. Igbo youths and their contemporaries elsewhere are demanding for Captain’s announcement. A positive word from the Captain with a calm and confident voice saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We apologize for the turbulence and discomfort. Please be assured that this aircraft is designed to fly safely in much worse condition. We will be leaving the turbulence behind in a few moments, after which the cabin crew will resume their usual friendly service. We will however, continue at an altitude of 38,000 feet above sea level for another 30 minutes and thereafter start descending for landing at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu where the weather is fine and the temperature at 28 degrees Celsius. Enjoy the rest of the flight”.

Being a lecture presented by Dr Ikedi Ohakim, former Governor of Imo State, at the First Chinua Achebe International Conference held at the University of Nigeria Bruins on Tuesday May 22, 2017.

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