AN ADDRESS BY NDIGBO LAGOS AT THE GRAND RECEPTION FOR THE
SENATE PRESIDENT, CHIEF ANYIM PIUS ANYIM ON DECEMBER 2, 2001.
We are happy to have in our midst such a distinguished array of Nigerians from the highest to the lowest. We are humbled and overwhelmed by your response, given the very short notice and the number of activities going on at this present time at other venues all over the country.
We are particularly touched by the level of representation by other arms of government particularly the executive arm. The heavy presence of lawmakers here today while duly appreciated is not surprising, for as we hear Chief Anyim Pius Anyim is one presiding officer with whom they are pleased Your Presence today gives us an opportunity to debunk some of the fallacies associated with the Igbos One such fallacy that has over time taken on the garb of gospel is the assertion that Igbos have no Kings, are no respecter of constituted authority, and do not appreciate their leaders.
The truth is that Igbos resent inherited authority or privileges. We believe that authority like RESPECT should be earned Leadership should be the price for excelling in one’s chosen field .We are for Meritocracy In Traditional Igbo society, the best yam farmer, the best hunter ,the most gallant warrior all these qualify to be and are duly recognized as EZE.
What this means is simple;the fact that Chief Okafor is today a leader ,it does not follow that a child of his who does not have the sterling qualities that made Chief Okafor a leader would be made one.
What has the foregoing got to do with Chief Anyim Pius Anyim? Plenty, we venture to say. Chief Amyim is the third Senate President Nigbo have given Nigerians in this dispensation .Were Igboland the house of biblical JESSE, Anyim would be DAVID the youngest and the least likely to be chosen; called in only when others had been frustrated in the critical stabilisation and balancing act. His Predecessors did not last long enough in office for us and this country to properly appreciate them for this kind of consensual honour. During their brief tenure, Igboland was inadvertently turned into a polarised polity.
Today, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim is by the special Grace of God a young man who has washed his hands properly and has therefore qualified to eat with Elders and Kings.He is today being admitted to the pantheon of Igbo Greats. For us ,today does not represent a terminal honour .It is an interim dividend paid him to encourage him to do more for his country and its peoples. Today’s event is a case of praising the woman that prepared the delicious native salad so that she might produce more of the same or better quality.
Your Excellencies, another point that must have agitated the minds of many is why honour our son in Lagos, why not Enugu. We admit that the foregoing is a valid question One simplistic answer is that we live in Lagos .A more important answer is the very nature of Lagos .As is well known the Igbos are the only major group whose first eleven plays outside its boundary _They are compelled to , people say, because since 1970 there has been nothing, there to keep them gainfully employed. They had to follow the oil money to Lagos and elsewhere.
In Lagos ,every Igbo village or hamlet is represented . Thus Lagos is a mini – south-east with the added advantage of a broader worldview The petty feuds and ‘wild west’ politics unhappily found at home are non – existent among the Ndigbo Lagos. This is one place where the patent medicine dealer and head of a pharmaceutical giant, bank MDs and lowly bank staff, employers and employees can put heads together to plan an outing because they are all Igbos.
As we welcome our son and his friends, we make bold to say that the outgoing year has been traumatic for the Igbo race and their compatriots . There were the ethno-religious killings in various parts of the country, the recent ports congestion and general insecurity of lives and property.A closer look at these issues is advised.
Because our foods do not come from our farms and consumer goods are not from our factories ,importation is a key fact of our economic life. Pre – shipment inspection was considered a panacea for anticipated fraudulent activities. Government is resort to 100% destination inspection even after pre – shipment was a vote of no confidence on the pre-shipment inspectors. We had suspected all along that pre – shipment inspection was impracticable. We see as a wise move government’s decision to revert to destination inspection .We implore the National Assembly to speedily give this laudable move the needed legal backing.
The many Locust years of Military rule had created a class of second – hand or “‘tokunboh” Nigerians. The ‘tokunboh’ – dependent generation ,a product of SAP without a human face ,to paraphrase a certain OTTA farmer ,are our compatriots who can only afford second – hand home appliances. We believe that until we can develop and grow our economy to guarantee the good life for more than the operators in a few privileged sectors such as politics, banking ,oil and telecommunications, it is our duty to ensure our peoples’ access to what they can afford ,where they are not harmful to their health and our environment .we most humbly ask the executive to reconsider the move to ban these tokunboh items even as we implore the National Assembly not to do along with any such anti – people move One area the Obasanjo administration deserves kudos is the area of primary health care.
However, government’s efforts at grassroots healthcare delivery system may not be optimal in the face of neglect and in some states, persecution of key players in the system such as patent medicine dealers and traditional medicine practitioners. In Lagos state ,for instance, they are the target of systematic harassment and exploitation in the mistaken belief that they are the sources of expired and adulterated drugs. These practitioners are literally the lifeline for the many that dwell in Lagos urban slums They must be saved from the misplaced aggression of the Lagos state Task Force on fake and adulterated drugs .Faking of drugs is a multibillion naira business not within the reach of patent medicine dealers .If anything they are victims of highly placed international syndicates.
Permit us your excellencies. Ladies and Gentlemen to return to the issue of ethno-religious killings in various parts of the country particularly the nother part of our nation It is of particular concern to us because each time it happens Igbos routinely lose more than any other group in terms of properties and lives Reasons often adduced for this are the homogeneity of our religious belief and the high visibility of our investments all over the country .On account of Igbos abiding faith in Nigeria we have invested heavily wherever we live . No other groups have reciprocated this gesture. With our high level and high – profile investments all over the country, we have the highest stake to assure the unity and prosperity of Nigeria. In this wise, consequently, and everything rightly considered, our call for a National conference is not as undertakers embarking on the balkernisation of our beloved country. No. We are and have been committed to this as midwives of a new Nigeria where no Nigerian is a settler to be tolerated for a season and thereafter, dispossessed and chased away. The Government, viz the Executive and the Legislative has a duty to convene such a conference . The travails of the Tivs in central Nigeria and other Nigerians in Sharia states have brought to the fore the need to urgently address the fundamental question of our country including as they pertain to citizenship and the rights deriving therefrom.
Furthermore, the spate of armed robberies and the menace of ethnic militia have tended to give credence to the calls for state police Our inglorious past of misuse of regional police makes us apprehensively, understandably .While a decision is awaited on such a fundamental question, may we urge that neighborhood policing be embarked upon whereby police live among the people and they police get to know them and protect them, get to know them and protect them.
Marginalization is one word we would rather not to have use in this address. We produced a weeping Governor in the 2-d Republic, we do not want to be seen as the weeping zone in this republic So no Jeremiads. However, we want to share our anxieties with our esteemed guests. Xmas is ,that time of, the year when Igbos and other casterers flock to their ancestral homes to touch base with those still ,left out there. It is now 23 days away.
Our anxiety has to do with the roads to the south – east ,especially the Onitsha – Owerri road the Enugu – Port – Harcourt Expressway, the Owerri -Port – harcourt road. Our brother the senate president not too long ago told us of lofty plans the administration has for these and other south – caster roads .Our plea today is that until ,these lofty plans materialize, remedial measures be taken to make these roads passable for the incredibly heavy traffic burden they will be called upon to bear in the next few weeks.
Finally, a, word for our son ,the senate president. We see the Grace of God in your emergence as the senate president of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria By virtue of this office, you have become the easter Leg of the Nigeria tripod .That makes you the father of, the whole east As a father you should take steps to put yourself above the fray in the petty feuds in parts of that zone and region. Igbos have Kings; those whose qualities and service and accomplishments compel acceptance. Our Kingship is a meritocracy ;it is performance – indexed .There is no coasting for our King, for should any body outperform him, that person becomes our new King. Today, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim is admitted to this exclusive club He remains a member for as long as we can see his back.
Ndigbo Lagos thought out todays event and financed it entirely with the voluntary donation of willing individuals, market and community and associations There is no third party funding. Infact a few individuals wanted to fund it exclusively but in the truest Igbo Tradition, it was thrown open so that the soaring eagles of our economy may perch alongside the less endowed birds of pedestrian finance. Guest Of Honor, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.