Title: A Letter to my countrymen
Publishers: Author/House, Bloomington USA, 2013
Author: Celestina Nwakwoala
Reviewer: Bayo Ogunmupe
A LETTER to my Countrymen is a book on the Nigerian situation. It is a discourse on ways to improve the politics and economy of the Nigerian federation. The author, Dr. Celestina Nwankwoala, the academic widow of an iconoclastic Christian Professor and member of a Nigerian religious brotherhood.
The book is a historical narrative of the Nigerian reality. Her narrative is replete with military jargon the kind given as a sop to the populace after a military coup. The introduction is a justification for change which unfortunately couldn't get Nigeria anywhere. The book is a call for action against the status quo which is the rule of second rate government functionaries.
A Letter to my Countrymen has 14 chapters, 98 pages and is printed by Author House of Bloomington, Indiana in the United States. Unlike other books on the blame game, this letter pinned the blame of the failure of Nigeria on all fronts: the family, the educational system, our belief system and the Nigerian nation state. Much of her messages is by innuendo, through what she said and what she left unsaid. She believes Nigeria can do better.
Nwankwoala wrote in the spirit of disappointment for the hope of a great future which inspired U.S. President John F. Kennedy to phone Sir Abubakar Balewa on August 23, 1964. But unfortunately, Kennedy’s hope for a great Nigerian nation could not be realized by Nigerians. Such hopes were dashed by Army Officers in Nigerian Politics and Society since then.
I agree with the author’s view that Nigerians are hypocritical about their real conditions of life. That was why she reported the case of a university don who instead of seeking the healing of his ailment in a hospital, the lecturer went to a church for deliverance. However, he gave up the ghost on a turture stone while seeking deliverance from his supposedly devil invested body.
It is indeed commendable that Dr. Nwankwoala did not pin Nigeria’s failure on the doorstep of any particular group. For I see the ailment as spiritual backsliding. Which is why our creativity standard is as low as one Nobel prizewinner to 170 million people when it is one winner to 1000 people in Germany.
Moreover, the author’s objectivity is legendary, for though a Christian, she revealed the activities of a Christian Religious Brotherhood who is enslaving its members in the hope of fulfilling an injunction of the Holy Bible which talks of 144 virgins. Also, she is exasperated by the level of impunity in Nigeria. She rightly observed that anybody can get away with any crime in the name of religion. For instance, the Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido paid N3 billion to enable Jigawa indigenes perform this year’s hajj. Isn’t that incredible? For millions of Jigawa citizens have remained jobless for the past year in the midst of that profligacy!
Indeed, Nwankwoala also drew the attention of Financial Crimes Commission to the corruption in churches in the aftermath of her revelations. She gave a good example through her family encounters as narrated in the book. It is noteworthy that she offered solutions to every problem she identified in her book. That enables every reader to contribute his quota to the amelioration of Nigeria through action.
Through writing this book, Mrs. Nwankwoala shows the way to liberate Nigeria from the grips of mediocres. As an educational psychologist from the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. She worked along with her husband at the University for decades before she founded her civil society organization – Nirvana Foundation. Her major concern is to analyse the Nigerian factor, which means a predilection for deception. This concept she avers as being very subversive of Nigerian greatness. That perception drove her to write this “Letter to My Countrymen.” Celestina lives in Port Harcourt with her four children. Currently, she is the Administrative Secretary, Institute of Petroleum Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.