News Commentary

Where are the Nigerian and African Rockefellers? – By Dr. Emmanuel C. Alozie

Earning a million dollars a day by the age of 53, John D.

Rockefeller has amassed enough wealth to be declared the first billionaire in the world. With his wealth, the founder of Standard Oil had everything the world offers at his command save his health.

Rockefeller suffered from several ailments. Due to his ill heath, he ate very little, his food consisted of only biscuits, bread and liquids.

Some allege that his illnesses emerged as he became absorbed with amassing and protecting his wealth. Asked who gave him his wealth, Rockefeller answered: “God gave it to me.” He could make that assertion because he competed with other moguls, worked hard and could account how he amassed his wealth. I have always wondered when he made this statement and what he had in mind: Did he make it when he became a millionaire? Did he make it when he became the world’s first billionaire? Did he make it when before or after his ailment started? 

Why do I want to know? There are several reasons that I could enumerate, but two persist that I would like to address. Popular reports indicated that Rockefeller recovered after he turned to philanthropy. Becoming a philanthropist enabled him to ease his concentration on amassing or keeping his wealth. He started distribution of his wealth for good causes. I must point out muckrakers accused Standard Oil of treating its employees poorly and forcing them to work in atrocious conditions.

It is estimated that in his life time, Rockefeller gave away over $500 million. The founder of the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University, his gifts were used to create foundations that targeted and had a major impact on medicine, education, and scientific research. Those foundations are credited with the development of medical research, and were influential in the eradication of hookworm and yellow fever.  There are a number of individuals worldwide who have used their talents and wealthy who have used or use their talents and wealth to improve the lots of others and build a cohesive society. They tend to be those who amassed their wealth legitimately and cared for the ordinary man. They are too numerous to mention, but few are Africans.

The other reason I would like to know when Rockefeller made that statement stems from the sorry situation in Nigeria and Africa. In a recent speech, former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi contended that every Nigerian, if not African, who has amassed wealth did so through corruption and corrupt practices. He is right considering that while more than ninety-five of Nigeria’s 160 million people dwell in abject poverty (2011 Human Development Report ranked Nigeria at 156 out of 186 countries), while the leaders and captains of industry amass unimaginable wealth. If asked how, few, if any of them, could claim the Lord gave their wealth to them, or be able to account how they amassed their wealth. Considering Nigeria’s and Africa’s natural resources and human potentials, it is hard fathom why a few would be so privileged, while the masses languish in abject poverty and ill health. Infant mortality remains high. Many die early. Leadership failure and corruption among captains of industry account for the vices in African societies. These include robbery, kidnapping, violence, modern slavery, prostitution, and poor social cohesion.

Amassing wealth at the expenses of the masses is evil. Evil worry people—the kind of worries that make a person sick. The wealthy in Nigeria and Africa are sick. Not only do they suffer from moral decay, dread and poor values, they drown in physical ailments. Few live a long and productive life as a Rockefeller did who lived to be almost a hundred. They die violently or mysteriously, their fortunes are dispersed, or disappear. Their names vanish, instead of being etched in history. If they are remembered, they are remembered for ill, not for good.

As Bolaji pointed out Nigerian and Africa leaders and captains of industry have “sacrificed value systems on the altar of greed, indiscipline, selfishness and insatiable craze for material wealth acquisition.” Save Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrummah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Patrice Lumumba, who are but the few shining stars, Africans cannot point to others as African Rockefeller, Alfred Nobel, Martin Luther King, Jr., General Park Chung-Hee, Lee Kwan Yew Maos Tse Tungs, or Winston Churchill. Rather Africa can account for her abundant corrupt and dictatorial leaders:  Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Zine El Abidin Ben Ali of Tunisia, Ibrahim Babaginda of Nigeria, Mobutu Sese Sekos of Congo, Paul Kagames of Rwanda Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Teodorin Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, Omar al-Bashirs of Sudan, King Mswatis of Swaziland and Daniel Arap Mois of Kenya. 

Achebe’s “There was a Country”: Reflections and Controversies on Awolowo—Dr. Emmanuel C. Alozie

March 6, 2013

As an Ibo child of the Biafran-Nigerian Civil cialis price War, I have read the extract of Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country from a variety of sources. I have also followed the controversy that ensued in the airwaves, pages of newspapers worldwide and the Internet after the Guardian (UK) published the excerpt.

These discussions have enveloped Nigerian and foreign news outlets as well as the Public Square.

Of all the issues of value that Achebe enumerated about Nigeria before, during and after the war, the single issue that has attracted most attention dealt with his contention that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the second ranking person in the federal government during the war advocated, hunger as a weapon of war. It has been estimated that one to two million Ibos died during the pogrom and a war in which hunger was used as an instrument of war. Some degree of attention has been paid to the financial policies that almost rendered Ibos bankrupt if not for their resilience.  Ibos received a pittance of twenty pounds in exchange of any amount of Biafran currency they had and/or money left in Nigerian banks prior to the war. Considering the near economic ruin and the starvation of Ibo children and adults faced during the war—why would anyone not admire Achebe’s position and willingness to outline the consequences of the actions of the two men at the helm of the federal government during the war? As the first African war to garner attention in the world media stemming from the photographs and news coverage of starving Ibo children with distended stomach, the conflict was dubbed a “media propaganda war.” The sufferings of Biafrans witnessed on pages of newspapers and on films evoked strong reaction from the public in many countries.

Accounts and perceptions of the war as well as the controversies brewing over Achebe’s claims are colored by whom you are and personal experiences. Yorubas have rallied to defend Awolowo, their leader, who contributed much to the development of the West, he must be given his due. If he worked to prevent the war before it commenced as his disciplines have pointed out, his effort must be recognized. Let us not forget Emeka Ojukwu declared him as the best leader Nigeria never had” and in his interviews did not bore resentment for the man. As head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon has defended his war policies. Most Northerners would surely support him, if you read foreign commentators and commentaries, their stance on the war are colored by the policies of their governments. For example, Adam Nossiter of New York Times seemed to blame the Ibos for rushing into war and for the plight of her people. But let us not forget that the freedom loving government of the United States stood by as Ibos were slaughtered and her children starved to death. The U.S. stood by at the behest of the British government—a government that has had uneasy relationships with Ibos in lieu of their fierce republican and industrial tendencies—let us not forget the Aba women’s riot against unfair British taxation. Of all the groups in Nigeria, Ibos resisted British rule from the onset, this accounts for the strained relationship between Ibos and the British.  Owing to feudal systems in the North and monarchical rule in the Southwest, the British had an easier go in those regions. Despite the sour relationship between the Ibos and the British, Achebe tended to recall colonial rule with nostalgia, this speaks to his objectivity. Like Nossiter, most British officials and commentators, it could be argued share the view Ibos rushed into an unattainable war. While not absolving Ibo leaders of the era of making mistakes—for example the dominant role of Ibos army officers in the 1966 coup—it should not be forgotten that Ibos were being massacred in almost every part of the North and pockets of the West following the revenge coup of  1966. At the same time, a Yourba gave his life to defend an Ibo head of state. As a result of the pogrom, Ibos had to retreat to their ancestral home for security. They had no choice but to defend themselves at shores of their ancestral home. Defending themselves meant establishing a homeland—just as the Jews did. As Wole Soyinka pointed out, secession and the military option were unwise steps for Ibos, but one has to consider Ibos had few options in the face of intense prosecution and massacre.

As Ibos reflect on the war, it would be wrong to condemn and ostracize Ibos whose views of the war differed from the majority as long as their contentions remain objective and devoid of personal and political expedience. Considering the rut among Ibos, the war and the current controversies provide the tribe with an opportunity to engage in soul searching. Ibos must point out where our late able leader (whom my father guarded from the beginning to the end of the war at Biafran state houses in Enugu, Aba and Umuahia), and his cabinet might have gone wrong so as to take corrective actions in the future. We should respect the opinions of non-Ibos and foreigners in order to learn. Ibos should base on their fate and reflections on the notion that no matter the degree of effort being taken to seek absolution, deny or hide the truth of the three-year war, history has a way of exposing the truth. Time will judge the actions of the federal government under the leadership of Gowon and Awolowo. They prosecuted one of the dirtiest wars in human history with the support of their allies abroad.

 It should not be forgotten the history will remember that the government of the United States stood by, while Russia and Britain, Cold War foes, became fast friends to supply the federal government with moral and logistics support as well as ammunitions to destroy the Ibos. History will also show that France, Haiti, Israel and Tanzania recognized the downtrodden Ibos and came to their assistance. History will also recall the ordinary people in the United States and Europe worked to feed starving Biafran children. It is stunning to read from A.B.C Nwosu that Steve Jobs, Apple founder, renounced Christianity as result of the inaction of the American and British government and their allies. Let us not forget the student from Columbia University who died of the burns he suffered after setting himself on fire to urge the United Nations to take action on Biafra.

Let us not forget, Ibos have recovered somewhat, but after forty years, an Ibo is yet to reach of pinnacle of power in Nigeria. Ibos are still being killed in the guise of religion and suffer from economic marginalization. Only hard work, dedication, self-reflection, brotherliness and unity that used to be the hallmarks of Ibo values would return them their rightful place. Let us not forget our shortcomings—our hubris—as Achebe pointed out in his book. The self-aggrandizement found among Ibo leaders of today can only lead them to abyss. As part of the entity known as Nigeria, Ibos must extend their hands across the Niger. They must remain vigilant and cautious. Africans, at large, must find ways to co-exist and use their rich natural and human endowments to promote the welfare of the African masses.

Super Eagle’s Triumph Symbolizes the Promise of Nigeria – Dr. Emmanuel C. Alozie

February 13, 2013

Since her founding, the union we call Nigeria has been a divided house.

The nation’s division stems from the ethnic, religious, political and economic differences. Corruption, avarice, and opportunistic leaders who inflame the public contribute to the chronic division that has plagued and continues to plague the country. The impact of Nigerian disharmony has been shattering: thousands have been killed and continue to be killed. Nigeria fought a war and over a million died.

The scars of that war remain. The nation suffers from economic malaise.

Nigerian politics and democracy remains the laughing stock of the world. Elections are rigged. Administrations rule with impunity at the expense of the masses. Nigerians lack a sense of belonging, nationalism and nationhood and patriotism remains non-existent. Violence and terrorism are rampant.

Despite these intractable gulfs and socioeconomic challenges that dominate every sphere of Nigerian life, the Nigerian promise comes to light whenever one of our sport teams—more  especially—one of the national soccer sides—takes the field during international campaigns. We unite to cheer them. If a team is doing well as the Super Eagles exhibited in South Africa, we eschew our divisions and forgo our economic hardship to root for the team from our homes and streets—one of the few occasions when we exhibit our patriotism. Whether we are listening on radio in Kano, on television in Port Harcourt, reading a newspaper in Enugu or surfacing the Internet in Lagos, Nigerians become one and cheer as patriots. We do not cheer as Ijaws, Tivs, Urhobos, Muslims, Christians or adherents to traditional faiths—we cheer as an entity. The Nigerian multitude turned into a trinity of one.

Like Nigeria in 1980, Tunisia in 1994, Atlanta, USA, in 1996, and South Africa in 2013, where our national teams ended up as champion—their feats engender euphoria. It unites us briefly and we become proud to be Nigerian. Our lagging patriotism arises, and for a moment our per hopes and the promise of Nigeria move from being wishful thinking, to becoming possibilities As was the case last Sunday after the Super Eagles won African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Nigerians celebrated abundantly and continue to celebrate, I paused to reflect. As I reflected, I came with some questions. Let me pose them to every Nigerian: How long will the celebrations last?  Can the victory help to transform the country?  Can Nigeria run the course of champion? Can we revive our nation?

Are You Aware of the Connection Between Wilma and St. Peter? – Dr. Emmanuel C. Alozie

February 13, 2013

Born prematurely and weighing only 4.5 pounds, the twentieth of twenty siblings, a variety of ailments including measles, mumps, scarlet fever, chicken pox and double pneumonia plagued her from birth viagra online canada pharmacy to age twelve.

Wilma Rudolf contracted infantile paralysis at the age of four, the disease left her partially crippled. Though she recovered, the disease left her left leg and foot twisted requiring her to wear brace and an orthopedic shoe for support of her foot for another two years. In the segregated South, Wilma could not be attended to at the hospital in her hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee. Her parents had to take her to Fisk University in Nashville to receive treatment and never gave up her; Wilma never gave up on herself.

Using crutches to walk, like her parents, Wilma became determined to shed the crutches.

Her parents ensured she adhered strictly to doctor’s medical instructions, but while keeping to her strict medical regimen, Wilma flouted one.

In the absence of her parents, she would abandon her crutches to walk on her own. As she practiced walking without crutches, afraid of being caught, she posted a sister on the door to watch so as to report to her when her parents arrived home. Guilt ridden for flouting her instruction of her doctors and deceiving her parents, she confessed to the doctor during a visit she has been trying to walk on her strength.

Instead of condemning her, the doctor told her it was fine but instructed her to practice walking on her own briefly at a time to avoid reversing her recovery. Excited, Wilma told her doctor she prayed and talked briefly to Jesus prior to undertaking any of her walks without crutches, implying that her walks on her strength were as brief as the doctors liked.

Like Wilma, Peter talked to Jesus briefly at shores of a Lake of Gennesaret. That brief exchange changed his life. After a day and night of toiling without  much catch, Peter and his fellow fishermen were cleaning their net and boat when Jesus walked up to them. Jesus asked them if he could use their boat, the fishermen agreed. Climbing on the boat, Jesus sailed some distance from beach. From the boat he preached to the gathered crowd.

When he finished preaching, he asked Peter and his fellow fishermen to cast their net into the sea. Realizing why, Peter told Jesus they have been trying for hours without success. Reluctant to cast their net as He instructed, Jesus insisted. The fishermen consented and they cast their net. Their catch was so abundant; they needed assistance to pull it out of the water. The fishermen were stunned and their perceptions of Jesus and his power changed, they became immediate converts.

Peter and his fellow fishermen acquiesced when Jesus asked them to join his ministry to become fishers of men.

Back to Wilma, by age twelve, the premature baby, recovered o her most ailments. Also, her persistence and hard work paid off when she unexpectedly started walking on her own. She got engaged youth sports and excelled. A short four years later, at sixteen, Wilma won a bronze medal in the 4×4 relay at 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. Eight years later, at twenty-four, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. These feats came from a sickly child of whom much was not expected of in life, had it not been for her determination, persistence and hard work.

Persistence and hard work are values that connect Wilma and Peter. As a disciple of Jesus, Peter had his challenges. Hot tempered, he cut the ear of one of the Roman guards who came to arrest Jesus, he argued with Jesus when he told him he would deny him thrice before daybreak. Spotted during Jesus’s passion at the compound where the son of God was imprisoned, Peter denied Jesus thrice before daybreak as Jesus predicted. Like Wilma, instead of giving up, Peter learned from his failures. He turned his failure into virtue not only a dogged follower, but as a hardworking and persistent messenger of Jesus Christ.  Assuming the helm of Jesus’ ministry following His death, resurrection and ascension, Peter endured hunger, beatings, imprisonment, and threat against his life to spread the word and continue the work of Jesus. Two thousand years later, the world is reaping the fruits of Peter’s hard work and persistence.

These qualities are called for in every Ibo man and Nigerian. The Ibo tribe and the nation of Nigeria have indomitable problems. Since the end of war, Ibos have lost values they possessed for centuries: we are no longer our brother’s keepers, relationships between siblings become sour and break down once they reach adulthood. Also, Ibos pay lip service to hard work, with much more Ibo youth engaged in petty, education has largely given way to exchange in goods and services. We are prone to be jealous of each other. Aggrandizement, greed, and kidnapping have become commonplace in Iboland. Our women man streets of most Nigerian big cities. We sell out our own in politics and other spheres of life.

With regard to corporate Nigeria, it has been described as failing state in spite of her enormous human and natural resources. The United States has stated that Nigeria may fail in a couple of decades. Considering the degree of unemployment, violence, killings, corruption and other innumerable social vices plaguing the country, the prediction must not be dismissed. These problems will persist if Nigerian leaders and masses do not change their ways. Nigerians must shed their wanton desire for quick march to power, wealth, and dominance.

We can do so if we emulate the values of hard work and persistence that connected Wilma and Peter. I must add patience—for without patience, it is difficult to reach any objective in life.

Note: I would like thank and give credit to Rev. Tri Van Tran of Church of St Mary, Park Forest, Illinois, whose sermon inspired and influenced this column.

Igbos and the Nigerian presidency: Is the dream attainable? – Dr. Emmanuel C. Alozie

February 27, 2013

Forty years after the Biafran-Nigerian Civil War, Igbos are clamoring to reach the pinnacle of the Nigerian leadership—the presidency. After half a century of independence, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi remains the only Ibo who has occupied the coveted position. He ruled for only six for six months. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a ceremonial head-of-state. As the 2015 elections approach, the road to the presidency remains arduous.

While the Igbos clamor for that elusive position, it is important to think of the obstacles and how arduous the road to the presidency remains. The lack of unity and differences that exist among Igbos exact a toll on the cause. Independence and fierce of ambition drive every prominent Igbo to aspire for the presidency, thus, they sabotage one another. Few, if any politicians of Igbo extraction have the resources and national stature to undertake a credible run. This is one of the reasons we must organize and rally the few candidates that could. Also, opinions differ as to whether Igbos should challenge President Goodluck Jonathan if he wants to run in 2015. Some Igbos argue that he should not be challenged in order to forge unity with the South-South. Forging a strong relationship is important. That notion must not be dismissed. Proponents of Igbo presidency in 2015 may disagree.

Speaking of obstacles to attaining Igbo presidency, they do not come within; there are factors without. The North is clamoring to return to power. They are employing ever necessary means as to accomplish that goal. The current outbreak of violence is being attributed to Northern loss of power. The Yorubas are better organized and they speak with one if their interests are threatened. Unlike the Igbos, Yoruba’s would bury their disagreements and work together if push comes to shove.  Support for Igbo presidency is not being meaningfully supported by any group in other regions of the country.

The situation remains very dare for Igbos. Considering the Igbo aspiration, they should keep in mind and derived strength from the notion that “nothing is impossible.” If the Igbos are to realize their objective assuming the coveted, they have a long way to go.  They must start taking baby steps such as forging united front to speak with one voice, entering into alliances with other groups, and to keep demonstrating their tendencies as nationalists.

Igbos should never throw in the towel, but they should navigate the course with caution. Whats my ip

Powered by Interchanges