Film: Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion

By Odimegwu Onwumere

 

Film, as the word implies, is defined as a thin sheet or strip of flexible material, such as a cellulose derivative or a thermoplastic resin, coated with a photosensitive emulsion and used to make photographic negatives or transparencies. In an online report, rom the Old English filmen in the Indo-European roots, it is believed among them that one indication of the gulf between them and their Victorian predecessors is that the Oxford English Dictionary fascicle containing the word film, published in 1896, does not have the sense “a motion picture.” The one hint of the future to be found among still familiar older senses of the word, such as “a thin skin or membranous coating” or “an abnormal thin coating on the cornea,” is the sense of film used in photography, a sense referring to a coating of material, such as gelatin, that could substitute for a photographic plate or be used on a plate or on photographic paper. Thus a word that has been with them since Old English times took on this new use, first recorded in 1845, which has since developed and now refers to an art form, a sense first recorded in 1920. Thereafter, often used in the plural, movies became a sequence of photographs projected onto a screen with sufficient rapidity as to create the illusion of motion and continuity.

sam dede

(Sam Dede; Nigerian Actor)

 

However, on the theme of Film as a Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion, it is imperative to say that Africans, precisely the present day people called Nigerians, didn’t know what film was till when in 1903 the first film was shown at Glover Hall, Lagos; and thereafter in 1904, the first film titled Palaver was shot in Jos, in the present day Plateau State. Before these events took place, Nigerians were enmeshed in folklores, according to the myths of their different ethnic groups before they were amalgamated in 1914, by Sir Lord Luggard. Aftermath of Palaver, film-showing and cinema-going was politicized by the British and American exploiters. Through their makeshift cinema vehicles, they inculcated the much sorted socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. This polarization of film-showing and film-going was sustained through a platform called Colonial Film Unit.

 

In the recent times, Nigerian films have been produced since the 1960s. It is on record that the rise of affordable digital filming and editing technologies has stimulated the country’s video film industry. Later in the 1990s, the movie industry in Nigeria tremendously progressed. Today, Nigeria has the second largest film industry in the world, and rated largest in the Africa’s movie industry – in terms of the value of the movie industry and the number of annual film production. In this regard, film in Nigeria has brought dividends of eco-political empowerment, socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. Nigeria’s annual film production is ahead of the United States but behind the Indian film industries. This was why Hala Gorani and Jeff Koinange, who were formerly of the Cable News Network (CNN) said, Nigeria has a US$250 million movie industry, churning out some 200 videos for the home video, market monthly.

 

In his Keynote Address at the 2nd National Film Festival, 27th November, 2003, titled, In Defence of the Films We Have Made, Odia Ofeimun, a radical Nigerian poet/author, said that film does represent a deep psychological implant pressed into place by so many untold and even unspeakable events in our history. It looks like an underdeveloped prong of the collective mind of a whole nation. But it is actually the result of a deliberate scrambling of categories and genre for the sake of effect in a society where the truth of history is still being told unnecessarily in whispers. Arguably, in western scholarship, such a fare of screen narratives would be appreciated as a special category. In literature, critics of African literature have moved from talking about magical realism, as Latin Americans pursue it, to what our South African-based critic, Harry Garuba, has called animist realism.

 

In the said 1960s, the Nigerian films were dominated by the people from Yoruba ethnic group, thereby giving the people of that region an edge to showcase their culture. And they were manned by Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala), Ola Balogun and others, whom Ofeimun, described as, tough-minded denizens of folk drama. These indigenous Nigerian film pioneers were frustrated by high cost of film production, but they were never discouraged owing to the cultural ties and tourism they were integrating Nigerians through their films. It was as a result of the unrelenting spirit of these film-dudes that television broadcasting in Nigeria, which began in 1960s, received much government support in its early years; and every state had its own broadcasting station by the mid-1980s. It was the efforts of these Nigerian film-dudes that the government law moderated foreign television content to enable the Nigerian film producers showcase their products. As a result, producers in Lagos began televising local popular theater productions, which are not far from the films of the persons mentioned above for Nigeria’s socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. Many of that were circulated on video as well, and a small scale informal video movie trade developed.

 

In promoting our culture, it is a known truth, said Ofeimun, that rather than wait on the imports from Hollywood which speak to our common humanity by denying or simply being indifferent to whatever we could call our own, the home-video woke up something that was once there but had been stamped underfoot by managers of the national and sub-regional cultural economy. Not to forget, this was happening when swindlers in the political marketplace were emplacing homegrown democracy with one hand and displacing it with the other. The video arrived in the most homegrown attire that it could weave for itself in a country where the search for foreign exchange had become the defining factor in national dream-making. It turned its back on the dollar trail and reached out for the Naira without hesitation.

 

Rather than the dollar-mania that had overtaken all comers, it sought an import-substitution aesthetic which insisted on building a comparative advantage not as a subaltern of the imported Hollywood stuff but its avid displacer. Whereas in every other area of economic activity, imports have killed the local industry, the home-video industry is one area in which the avalanches of CDs and DVDs that have come as bounties from off-shore bootlegging confederations have merely widened the room for the video marketers to dance.

 

The emergence of film in Nigeria has integrated Nigerian authors to lengthen the showcasing of their arts through films, as a result, widening the scope of that genre’s culture which was previously read by those who cared.

 

Film is widening the cultural relationship and tourism promotion between Nigeria and other countries since the staging of the first National Film Festival in 1993. The festival broke the disparity in the West African coast, relationship with the member states, which were only glued by the awkward smuggling of goods. Film breached the debasement the international creditors meted out on us, in the words of Ofeimun, as those who lapped up what others produced while abandoning their own. Film in Nigeria broke the pariah on cross border trade which was centred on feeding the stomach and brought about the exploration and exploitation of indigenous artistic talents. This broken jinx ended the years of centralised knowledge or awareness: those who could not read books can now watch films, thereby making the culture of Nigerians go round, as against the years when it was few Nigerians that could tell which highlife musicians, authors, or fine artists were doing what within the West coast.

 

Many academics and intellectuals, especially Onokome Okome, Jonathan Haynes, Hyginus Ekwuazi, Wole Ogundele, Obodinma Oha, Brian Larkin and Dul Johnson, made it their business to monitor and censor film, which’s seen by them as art, business and social ideology – with elements of culture and tourism in any defined society. It is only film that can tell story in a way that no other medium can do. Film has integrated the Onitsha Market Literature and widened the culture of only buying and selling, for the inculcation of socio-culture awareness. Likewise, the same is applicable in the Kano Market Literature.

 

His film, Amadi, Ola Balogun had to show the cultural affinity that a people can relate with people from other ethnic group by producing a movie in such a people’s language. It is on record that Amadi is clearly an experimental film: an Igbo film made by a Yoruba. Films such as Cinaventures’ Bisi – Daughter of the River, Ladi Ladebo’s pairing with African American Ossie Davis and in Countdown at Kusini and his later productions, Taboo and Vendorlack in the true and original tale of communality of Africans, thereby making us to grasp the visual results and not in authenticating its Africanness and our culture. Films like Dinner with the Devil by Sanya Dosunmu and Wole Amele and Eddie Ugbomah production, and The Great Attempt which were banned by the film censors, perhaps met their waterloos, because they breached the culture of Nigeria.

 

Hubert Ogunde’s film, Aiye, was termed the modal film of witchcraft, showcasing the Yoruba tradition and their cosmic cultural endowment, which Ofeimun calls, cultural economics. Amaka Igwe, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva, Zack Orji, Tunde Kelani, Galadima, Liz Benson, Kenneth Nnebue, Peter Edochie, Sam Loco Efe, Zeb and Chico Ejiro, Mofe Damijo, Yinka Quadri, Genevieve Nnaji, Jide Kosoko, Omotola Ekehinde, Zack and Fred Amata, became directors, producers, actors and actresses coming from different cultural divides. In the words of Ofeimun, they are new denizens on the block. Their emergence brought about the Nollywood, as it is known today, widening our culture and promoting tourism.

 

Nollywood was set by the release of Living in Bondage critics called the box-office movie in 1992 by NEK Video Links owned by Kenneth Nnebue in the eastern city of Onitsha. The Promotion of tourism in the story goes that Kenneth Nnebue had an excess number of imported video cassettes which he then used to shoot the first film. The huge success of that film set the pace for others to produce other films or home videos. It is a known fact that through the business instincts and ethnic links of the Igbo and their dominance of distribution in major cities across Nigeria, home videos began to reach people across the country. Nollywood exploded into a booming industry that pushed foreign media off the shelves. Against the early Yoruba filmmakers who used local languages, the use of English rather than local languages served to expand the market and fierce marketing using posters, trailers, and television advertising also played a role in Nollywood’s success, bringing back the British and Americans Colonial Film Unit, when films were shown in mobile vans.

 

However, in Europe, in its Cross Border Cooperation: Neighbourhood Programmes under Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) programme, the European Union launched its “Wider Europe – New Neighbourhood” initiative in 2003. The creation of Neighbourhood Programmes, covering the period 2004-2006, became the first step in implementation of the new instrument. The Neighbourhood Programmes as a bi/trilateral programmes and regional/multilateral cooperation programmes, involved both sides of the European Union’s external borders. They supported local and regional authorities and organisations inside and outside the Union to work together to improve the economic and social conditions of the areas concerned, to address common challenges, ensuring efficient and secure borders as well as promoting people-to-people contacts. The initiative seek to address the challenges posed by proximity and neighbourhood, aimed at working with neighbouring countries towards improving conditions for the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons as well as developing a zone of prosperity and friendly neighbourhood.

 

“Paving the Way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument”, the Commission adopted the Communication as part of its new policy, which envisaged the creation of a new instrument for dealing with the common challenges arising from proximity related issues on external borders of the enlarged EU. Among the many examples of projects that were carried out by the initiative, a successful project for national and international heritage reservation was the one entitled, Arctic Archives and Films under Restoration in Barents Region (AARE). The project aimed at increasing the know-how of the Russian partners (from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk) in restoring, digitising and archiving of the unique audiovisual materials – arctic documentary films, as well as to facilitate their public access.

 

Film as a Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion, however, has brought much good to humankind. Film has brought quantitative studies increasingly dominating analyses of conflict, issues of data validity which have many a times received tremendous consideration. Our local cultures are in sojourn all over the world through film. In the interaction of cultures, globalisation is also setting the pace.

 

With the approach that local cultures are overwhelmed, it is on record that there is sufficient evidence, in accord with a comment that ‘dynamic cultures will overcome conservative cultures’. In another vein, reports explicate that attempts by Nigerian video films to mainstream along the lines of global commercial culture could explain their superficial commitment to culture… since the elements of local cultures are daily refined by influences which dictate the mainstreaming of values to fit global prescriptions. That, itself, brings into question the optimism of a former Secretary-General of the United Nations who, in reference to nationhood and cultural projection, stated (De Cuellar, 1995: 7): “Nationhood… has led each people to challenge the frame of reference in which the West’s system of values alone generated rules assumed to be universal and to demand the right to forge different versions of modernization.” A different view is the interpretation that ‘forging different versions of modernization’ means projecting a version of local culture which suits the demands of global popular culture.

 

Gelete: Irin Ajo Eda Laye, says the report, which chronicles facets of a man’s journey through life and was produced by a former television personality – Jaiye Ojo, is another. The film is said to be a collage of the lives of different people from different backgrounds: intrigues, desperation, greed, misfortune, betrayal, and leaves lessons… it portrays Yoruba culture in its richness, leaving out the kind of abusive and rotten language used in some other films, ostensibly to raise their popular appeal.

 

The world cup and other world’s grand finales are today extolled by their fans through film. The case of the world cup in South Africa is an immense case study. People, who could not be there live, were united as fans by the televised world cup films in what many call Film Centres for Football. In the Film Centres for Football, a Christian could shake hand with a Muslim, irrespective of their religious background, and an American can sit with an Iraqi and watch football film, irrespective of their countries wrangling, and so on.

 

Nigerians can’t thank the Nigerian Film Corporation, set up in 1979, and the Nigerian Film Distribution Company enough, for playing very great-secondary roles in their affirmative consequence towards emancipating our film. Posterity will always remember foundation and pioneering work of Nigerian filmmakers like Sanya Dosunmu, Jab Adu, Ola Balogun and Eddie Ugbomah; Ade Foloyan, Moses Adejumo Olaiya, Herbert Ogunde and Bankole Bello. As part of its cultural preservation programmes, in 2009, UNESCO called for greater support for Nollywood, which it said, is the second-largest employer in Nigeria.

 

About the Author: 

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, is a Poets for Human Rights member, USA., co-founded by Poet Laureate Larry Jaffe, the author of One Child Sold; and a Champions For Nigeria Resident Poet, United Kingdom . Onwumere is a voracious reader, prolific writer, researcher, poet, thinker, social critic, political analyst, an activist, etc. He has published four books namely: Piquant: Love Poems To Prince Tonye Princewill (2008), The many wrong doings of Madam do-good (2009), Through the Crucible (2012) and The Disgrace of Marriage (2012). Tel: +2348032552855.

Expectant mothers in Nigeria prefer religious homes to hospitals

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The indisputable fact that Nigeria is a religious country is even affecting the psyche of many pregnant women. They have a confidence that with their faith in their different religions, the aspect of reception to quality health and family planning are not for them.

This state-of-mind has resulted to a lot of women losing their lives in the cause of child delivery. The time they ought to have used to visit a hospital they instead use it to stay in different prayer homes supplicating, looking for Utopian miracle that most times is elusive.

Most of them have a narrow way-of-thinking, believing that since a woman is pregnant, the next level is to deliver her of the child. But they are most times oblivious that there are wobbly situations of pregnancy related impediments like obstetric fistula, which leads to caesarean section: a situation that occurs after a woman in labour must have exhausted all avenues for normal delivery.

Religious faiths quite often make these expectant mothers’ situations very unfortunate. With an account that 40 percent of the worldwide commonness of obstetric fistula is counted in Nigeria, there is an evaluation of between 400,000 and 800,000 cases of obstetric fistula, especially in the northern part of the country and with an indication of 20,000 novel cases per year, said to be the highest in the world.

It is obvious in Nigeria that many pregnant women do not care for the health administration system, but religious system for delivery. Conversely, they forgot or knew, but do not want to accept the fact that, the later does not ensure a framework supportable on the table of scientists.

What these women do not know is that there has never been a time the World Health Organisation, WHO, or any health body in the world had prescribed that annual budget for the health sector should go for the religious organizations for the purpose of child delivery.

Rather, WHO would say that at least 15 per cent of the government’s budgets should be allocated to the health sector, but especially in the developing countries, which Nigeria is a part, to enable the much expected result in health delivery achieved.

The reason most pregnant women still visit the religious bodies nevertheless does meet the eyes, not minding the epoch where governments at all levels have continued to make antenatal and postnatal overhauling free in order to support and sponsor the expectant mothers.

Government has been showing that it has a transformation agenda for the health sector, even though that such agenda has not been favourable at all levels, but, at least, it is favouring pregnant women, than any other class in Nigeria.

As one dodgy religious country, most of the women who have had unfortunate delivery in the past attribute their woes to being spiritual, especially if they were befallen by ailment before or after the process of being pregnant.

Such statement like, ‘God forbid, it is not my portion to suffer this disease again’, ‘Holy Ghost fire’, are often heard among them, while looking for solutions to their situations. Many of them diagnosed with terminal diseases prefer going to their religious organisations and with the philosophy of, ‘For divine healing’, instead of going for palliative, rather than elusive curative approach.

Nonetheless, there are people who support the thinking of these women, because the authorities have not had all the equipments for dealing with such ailments like cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, and many other mortal diseases, unlike Uganda which is said to have been only the third African country to have made morphine obtainable and reasonably-priced to her patient residents.

Morphine is yet to be accessible in Nigeria and, imagine a pregnant woman suffering from one of the diseases.

Many Nigerians would not want to be correlated with a pregnant woman, let alone, the one with a terminal disease. So, some of these women instead of going to the hospital and be mocked, prefer their religious bodies, where they believe dishonour and stigmatisation will be on errand and their situation will not be disclosed to their families and friends, to avoid family members and friends’ segregation and they may be repaired without much stress.

In a testimony of May 2004, a Professor of Anaesthesia & Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, argues that such behavior against people with terminal diseases is very detrimental.

The professor hinges her point, saying: “The members of the palliative care team include physicians (family, surgeons, oncologists, radiotherapists, Palliative care/pain experts), nurses (hospital, community-based, private duty), pharmacists, social workers, therapists (physiotherapy, occupational, music and recreational), chaplain, families, friends, volunteers. The hospice provides palliative care to meet the entire patient’s needs (emotional, social and spiritual) as well as the needs of the family.”

Further, connoisseurs argue that as a result that health practitioners/patients have poor knowledge of soothing care, individualistic approach becomes fad to the management of terminal disease-patients, unlike in few countries – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Egypt – where established care, support/pain control exist.

A description also has it that upon those diseases are global threats, the stigmatisation that is being shown to victims of deadly diseases in Nigeria affects the socio-economic progress of the country, as the sufferers probably miss work and, are unemployed or stop-working early.

From the above explanation, it is not a bolt-from-the-blue why Nigeria still ranks high the list of countries with towering maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Figures from the UN World Population Prospects and the Institute for Health Metric Reports (2010) are that the country has a ratio of 545 per 100,000 live births on the maternal mortality index and 75 per 1000 live births on the infant mortality index.

Aside that the Federal Government budgets about $3m annually to provide free family planning facilities for Nigerians, it is imperative to say that many pregnant women will not avoid going to their religious organizations for total therapeutic solutions to their situations than going for gesture measures.

To deliver Nigeria of this porous morale, however, since these women have physical, emotional, practical, and spiritual aspects attached to their religious organizations than in the hospital, it is suggestive that most of the prayer centres should have visiting or resident medical officials that will use the opportunity of the women’s belief-system and examine their pregnancy states. Negative socio-behavioural attitudes in Nigeria against pregnant women with terminal diseases must be drastically reduced, which invariably fosters the increase of attendants to religious homes.

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com

Soldier Rapes Girl For 5Hours Under A Tree

By Odimegwu Onwumere

There is uneasiness in Nigeria. Hardly is there good news coming from many quarters these days. Every day that comes has its rearing ugly news. Many things are happening at the same time.

September 9 2014 was not an exemption. It was the day that a 23-year-old National Diploma, ND, student of Mass Communication Department, Ibarapa Polytechnic, was reported by Vanguard to have been supposedly raped by a soldier under a tree.

prez jona

Although, the girl later identified the soldier when security operatives on operation the day she was apparently raped were later paraded before her. It was learnt that the soldier was one of the soldiers stationed to take care of Operation Burst, which was stationed in Oyo State by Governor Abiola Ajimobi to stem criminality.

According to the source, the alleged rape incident happened in August 29 in Eruwa area of the state by 10.30pm. The girl who said that she was raped for five hours by the soldier added that she had seen a friend off and was returning when the soldier accosted her and said that she was one of the criminals in the area, a statement she declined.

The soldier thereafter asked her to climb on the motorcycle he was riding on. When he saw that the girl was unruly to abide by his command, the girl said that he brought out a dagger and threatened to kill her if she refuses. Nerve-quaking girl, she climbed on the motorcycle to the tree where she said that she was raped for five hours.

Case being reported to police, the girl’s counsel whose name was simple given as Mr. Adeosun confirmed the incident, saying: “In the morning of Saturday, August 30, 2014, the victim called her parents on the telephone and told them what happened. It was the parents that came to brief our office. We thereafter advised that the victim should report to the Police Station at Eruwa, which she did.”

Quoting the security outfit, it was learnt that Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo, said that the suspect had been advocated “for disciplinary measure for abandoning his duty post.” The outfit’s Second in Command, CSP Elijah Bawa, said that a team of security men was sent to Eruwa for investigations as soon as the information of the rape was disclosed to it.

Investigation revealed that the team joined with the Divisional Police Officer for the Eruwa Division, DSP Kayode Adigun. It was at the meeting that the alleged rape issue was meant to be understood that a complaint in respect to that had been lodged.

The girl was, as learnt, not treated well by the hospital where she had gone for treatment. Analysts have since condemned the act of rape. Commenting on Vanguard online, one commentator frowned that the reason why the soldier should intimidate the innocent girl by 10. 30pm did not meet the eyes, as that hour was even too early to harass any Nigerian moving in the street when it was not curfew.

The commentator said: “Just across Seme border in Benin Republic, their citizens start going out by 12am as if it is still 9am in the morning to them. What people should be asking is whether our government gives us 24hrs light and not to blame the poor girl for no reason at all. It is important that Nigerians understand that. If we can have 24hrs light daily then security is 100% guaranteed; the reason armed robbers operate unhindered is because of no light…”

Without doubt, Nigeria is a country where most times security men and women who were supposed to protect the lives and property of their citizenry end up being the lawbreakers. It is unpleasant that some of them who break laws are often time purportedly shielded by their different security organisations from facing the law.

There is trepidation if the Army authority would not deny that one of their own was not involved in the act as the girl might not have collected data from her private part immediately after the incident for forensic examination.

Against the insecurity mainly in the northern part of the country occasioned by insurgents, some Nigerians have lampooned the Army that this is one of their soldiers who had always given excuses that they do not have sophisticated ammunitions to engage Boko Haram, but here he’s raping a girl.

This declaration said: “This is the same soldier that would not be able to handle a gun against Boko Haram for 5minutes, but found it very convenient to rape for 5 hours? We do not need immoral soldiers in the society for such is worse than terrorists. Terrorists are identified enemies from afar, but unlawful soldiers are enemies within, who are being maintained with the tax payers’ money and treated with courtesy by both the government and populace and, yet, they are our enemies.”

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348057778358

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com

Emeka Obasi: I least expected this

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I have known Prince Emeka Obasi for over a decade now. We have had numerous phone interactions. He has a calm voice and has a way of advising and making peace. I’m saying this because this is the way he sounds in our conversations. This is the reason I least expected that one open letter to Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu that is signed with his name was coming from him till I was made to believe so through many rejoinders and counter-rejoinders to the said letter.

I’ve known princes as peacemakers and not persons that throw tantrums and take sides when there is uproar in a given situation. If actually my friend, Emeka, is a prince by heritage and not by mere choice of name, he would not have started his so-called open letter to Kalu by writing that he read “with a great deal of embarrassment the article that was ghosted in the column you allegedly write in The Sun Newspaper of Sunday 16th August 2014”.

If he knew the ignominy of his sentence, he would by now be on his knees asking for forgiveness for infringing on the fundamental right to speech of Kalu.  Obasi seems bent on using hate speeches against the person of Kalu, perhaps oblivious of the level that hate speeches can go.

If he does not know the level hate speeches can go, he should know it today that it was the  hate speeches of Adolf Hitler between 1941 and 1945 against the Jews that led to the killing of over 10 million people by the German military when the Jews were camped in four different concentration camps. They were burnt, shot, cremated, and subjected to all forms of bestiality.

It is not the position of princes to throw tantrums when their dukedom is ensnared in the fight of the titans like our state of Abia is experiencing between the present governor, T.A Orji and his predecessor, Orji Uzor Kalu. If Obasi is as sincere as he sounds on phone whenever we are conversing,  he will accept that he  benefitted a lot from Kalu in whose administration he served as a commissioner and was appointed to man other portfolios.
I do not want to say that Obasi was an opportunist because I read in one of the rejoinders that Obasi became a commissioner through the efforts of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who implored Kalu to make Obasi commissioner. Obasi knew that IBB is among the many Nigerians that Kalu has Kilimanjaro respect for and he did not waste that opportunity. But today, he is rewarding Kalu with the obverse.

prince emeka obasi

Prince Obasi should have been preaching and carving out ways to make peace between the former two brothers who are now divided by politics, which was occasioned b gossip such as  Obasi’s “open letter to Kalu”, because of the love for wealth. I do not want to write what I read in one of the rejoinders against Obasi’s position against Kalu that Obasi is a man who can do anything  because of money; I do not also want to write that he was said to have been in enmity with his father before he died some years ago. I do not want to write that he might not be at peace with himself, so he may not like peace to reign in the state.
If we may take the above as political attacks, are we also going to take the position of the Prince siding Governor Orji for the pummel of Kalu as a gimmick because Governor Orji is his clansman?  Obasi did not think otherwise before insulting the personality of Kalu. His letter has traits  of a man who was battling with his conscience while penning down those lines that have now engendered  a lot of critiques against him.
I remember an incident on November 25, 2001 when Obasi was serving under Kalu as the State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism. While holding a press briefing about the suspension of the Deputy Governor, Chief Eyinaya Abaribe, who was suspended by the State Executive Council in Umuahia the previous day, he said, “the decision to suspend Abaribe was thoroughly deliberated on by members and the resolution was unanimous (which Obasi was a member? Mine).

“The Executive Council thoroughly considered the issues raised against the deputy governor which bordered on absenteeism from Exco meetings and office. Council members were particularly aggrieved that he had consistently portrayed them in very negative light.

“His conduct negates the spirit of collective responsibility which underpins presidential system and collegiality which binds members of the state executive council together as a body.”

But this same Obasi is now among those who would insult Kalu with their spiteful comments that Kalu did not ‘get’ it as governor, whereas they were the people calling the shots. Remember that Kalu did not attend the meeting where the like of Obasi squared up and suspended Abaribe.

I’m not sure what leads people into such behaviour as double-speak like Obasi has shown in his open letter to Kalu today. I don’t want to believe that my friend Obasi is the beggarly type that genuflects to the side that is rosy today thereby forgetting the past and his stance in those days.

When he was Commissioner under Kalu, he saw Kalu as the messiah that came to Abia State. But now that his “Dede” in the person of Governor T.A. Orji is in power, the later has become Obasi’s messiah possibly in a bid for stomach infrastructure.

What was expected from the Prince was to make peace and not be pointing fingers at his “Dede’s” perceived political foe. If there was any man who benefited from Kalu when he was governor, I think that person was Obasi with different portfolios to his credit under Kalu’s administration. My advice to Obasi is that in the ‘scale of preference’ between a cow and a road, wise people choose the  road, and not the cow, because they know that the road will never close, but the meat from the cow does not last forever.

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com

My thought about peace in Nigeria

By Odimegwu Onwumere

History teaches us that unity is strength, and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity, said Haile Selassie.

A peaceful society would do everything within its coffers to keep and maintain peace. This is not new to Nigerians. We have always been a peaceful people and can still maintain peace no matter the contrary.

We cannot hijack peace and replace it with wars and chaos where none should exist. We have known that war and chaos are not part of human beings but are created by greed and shortsightedness, hence combativeness and belligerent attributes which will not better our lots or lift us to the 21st century humanity.

prez jona

Political turbulence will never have pay-offs except regret and sorrows. If our pasts were turbulently violent, our future should be better than our past, if we can make our today a good place for us all.

We are not beasts that we will be hatching Chimpanzee aggression that do not support our neighbours, but attack our collective responsibilities. All over the world, people are yearning for peace and we would not be a better people if combatant schools are erected in the nooks and crannies of our environment because of politics.

It should not be commonplace if we sack our tomorrow and call such ruinous habit politics. We are one no matter our different political interests. We should see ourselves as neighbouring communities that do not make wars with each other.

Our country was not founded out of the dust of wars, so it behooves on us to make it a peaceful system. Much as we knew, even an organization like the European Union which was founded after the Second World War, has been able to avert chaos on its continent, we can.

We will pay the price if we refuse to make peace today. We cannot continue with the sharp increase in political casualties following one interest or the other, which we invariably know that we will pay the negative price if we do not take a decision and fan the embers of peace initiatives, instead of fanning the embers of war initiatives, which the end product will be sorrows and totters.

If we notice, our political fights are taking place in our villages, towns and cities, public places and market places with upward disturbing escalating traits. We cannot afford to have political Taliban, when we know that in a place like Afghanistan were exists the gruesome Taliban; life has not been easy for the citizens of that country. Taliban anywhere causes injuries and deaths of about 80% of a country, state, council they are.

In 1988–1989 reportedly, there was the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan without a reached agreement between pro and anti-government forces inside the country. The aftermath was the terrible (un)civil war that ensued.

Today, some of us in Nigeria are doing everything within our reach to make our country a place that we can call our own, but just like the Soviet Union reportedly did everything to bring peace in Afghanistan, but the West mounted the contrary, so also some persons are thwarting the peace moves in our country for their self-centered interests.

For how long shall we continue to live like two warring brothers? All of us should not continue in turmoil. The perceived divisions in our country can only grind the efforts we are making for a better Nigeria if the divisions continue to stay funded. We should learn lessons from the comment by one Gabriel Carlyle in “Afghans pay price for US refusal to make peace” on the happenings in Afghanistan.

Carlyle said: With the US set to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan in 2015, following the ‘end of combat operations’ at the end of this year, and both Afghan presidential hopefuls committed to signing a long-term ‘security’ arrangement with the US within a month of taking office – ensuring the continued flow of US funds, without which the Afghan army and police would collapse – the war looks set to grind on for a good deal longer yet.

We must make Nigeria a peaceful place, unlike in “War is not part and parcel of human nature”, where Douglas P Fry inter alia writes as if speaking in idiom about our country thus: Over recent centuries, non-Western peoples have been portrayed as ‘primitive’ and ‘savage’ and such views have facilitated the atrocities of enslavement, displacement and annihilation directed against indigenous peoples during colonialism and subsequently. The existence of peaceful peoples and peace systems might not be anticipated as they contradict the familiar stereotypes of uncivilised and warlike savages.

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com