Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Echoes From The Past… Keeping Nigeria’s Dream Alive




Echoes-past-copy
THE book, Echoes from the Past, is a compilation of discourses the author had at various fora on different subjects.
The common denominator of which is that they are matters concerning Nigeria and her peoples.
The welfare and security of Nigerians as the primary concern of government take a leading role in the book. The material location and time schedule are the past, the present and the future.
The author, Prince Tony Momoh began the writing of the book two years before the centenary commemoration of the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914.
Published only last November, the compilation has 19 chapters spread across 456 pages, an introduction, a preface and an epilogue that chronicles the founding fathers of Nigerian nation.
The author believes that Nigeria does not only have a future, but that it has a mission to raise Africa to the position of a super power in the world, a mission which we all must rally round to fulfill.
The first five chapters delineate the search for a viable unity and ideology for a meaningful polity. They begin with the belief that this country does not only have a future but that Nigeria has a mission for which all of us should play our part in its fulfillment.
The author takes the historical route in chronicling our road to nationhood. Here, the institutions of a democratic state are enumerated, with the legislative arm of government with its oversight functions outlined with alacrity. The people remain sovereign with the press as the watchdog of the people, exposing the usurpation of the rights of the sovereign.
Thus, the three arms of government as enshrined in Chapter Two of the Constitution are examined in detail. Chronicling Nigeria’s attainment of 50 years as an independent nation is the mainstain of chapters six to ten. Within that umbrage is the Nigerian economy at age 50. Momoh addressed our debt problems. It was his own take in 2005 when we were praising President Olusegun Obasanjo for giving the Paris Club of European creditors a whopping $12 billion to buy out $30 billion Nigerian debt of doubtful origin. The author’s opinion was that the loss of $12 billion would lead us to greater problems in the future. That future is now, which is why we are having great problems.
For as at 2012, we are back to owing $5billion to our local people. It is more debilitating to our economy to owe locals than outsiders. With indebtedness to locals, you cripple their businesses with the banks pouncing on their collaterals. The consequences are numerous with employees losing their jobs and their families suffering.
Contained herein are examinations of our 12 years of democracy, Abacha’s vision 2010 and Obasanjo’s National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS). So far, those measures have failed to address our development challenges.
In the circumstances, Momoh stressed that Nigerian leaders had promoted compromise to an art form. In the event, our leaders have failed to muster the courage with which to tackle our problems.
Here, the author highlights our situational roots. He asserts that a Nigerian must belong to one of the six geo-political zones. He must be either a Christian, Muslim or traditionalist. Every Nigerian belongs to one of the 250 nationalities, 774 local governments, 360 federal constituencies, 36 states or 109 senatorial districts. Chapter10 features the untold story of General Yakubu Gowon, which Momoh packaged in an interview he conducted in 1983 at the London home of the Nigerian leader. The government in power at that time barred its publication, but now you can read it in this compilation.
The next duster of five chapters is 11 to 15. It contains a potpourri of ideas, from the advent of Nollywood through the imperatives of the National Anthem, Nigerian nation state as a failed state and an examination of the rights of women.
Momoh’s belief, as much as mine is that the claim that Nigeria will become a failed state by 2015 is spurious. It lacked both proof as well as spiritual foundation. He dismissed the belief that nations can just evolve without divine inaction. It isn’t so. He argued that Nigeria was created for a purpose by God and expressed the optimism that the country would thrive to attain her God-giving destiny of leading Africa into a quartet of world super-powers, coming after China, the Organization of American States and the European Union.
Momoh’s Dialogue with the Deaf scripted in chapter 16 will interest readers. If we have been told for years of what went wrong in Nigeria, what to do to right the wrongs of our history, but we are still persisting in wrongdoing, widening our road to perdiction, then we may seek rectitude by other means. The offer to rectify Nigerian dream gone awry is a most telling piece of the compilation.
In 2000, the author met Olusegun Obasanjo and discussed mobilizing the country for development. The ensuing programme became constituency projects. Unfortunately, these laudable projects are now being bastardised by legislators who believe that monies voted for such projects are meant to be spent without accountability.
Chapter 19 is a piece on Barack Hussein Obama, the President of the United States who assumed his second term as U.S President just last month after an exciting presidential election victory. The piece is to show the developing world an example of how seek and appropriate power. Obama depicts a person who knew what he wanted in life, worked to achieve it. It goes to show America as an environment that gave the dreamer the opportunity to fulfill his dream.
In the end, Echoes is a reminder of what Nigerians have been through from which we must draw lessons that should help us take the future into our hands. Nigeria did not exist by accident; God has a plan for her. As we go through it, we must leave milestones that are good for others to live by.
The most salutary aspect of this book is its outline of economic and social plans for Nigeria. Nigeria has experimented with governmental models except socialism; has more constitutions than any country. This book contains all the social plans, the rolling plans, the policy plans, particularly, the contents of the National Open Apprenticeship Scheme for the country. Much of the contents of Echoes are first time in
print.
This book is as unique as the experience of its author, a journalist, lawyer, former Minister of Information and Culture and politician. A prince of Auchi in Edo State, Tony Momoh was educated at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, the University of Lagos and the Nigerian Law School, Lagos. He was Minister of information (1986-90). Before then he had worked in the Daily Times as Editor, General Manager and Chairman, National Registration Council, Nigeria Union of Journalists.
Momoh has published many books on media, law and politics. He is the Yerima of Auchi Kingdom and National Chairman, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). The gist of this book is that we must first build the Nigerian if we must build an enduring Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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