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The Road Not Followed

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Author:           Leo Oko Ogba

Publisher:        Self-Publishing

Reviewer:        Goke Ilesanmi

Valuable first-hand experience, accurate historical record and right education are capable of changing the mindset of any group of disgruntled people through potency of enlightenment and persuasion as well as quenching the otherwise raging fire of conflicts, prejudice and/or discrimination.

This is why I want us to examine this book entitled “The Road Not Followed” written by Dr Leo Oko Ogba, who was once a young Biafra Soldier between 1967 and 1970 and thus has an authoritative first-hand experience articulated in this historical book.

Ogba, who is currently a Senior Legislative Aide at the Senate of the Nigerian National Assembly is an expert and Consultant in Conflict Management, Legislative Studies, International Development Studiesand Voluntary Services Management.

This book is centred on the memories of the author as a boy soldier during the Nigerian Civil War. It also examines the multiplicity of threats dragging the integration of the Nigerian nation in the corridor of fragility among other issues. According to Ogba, the story of the failure of Biafra is simply the story of the failure of a threatened polity to employ peaceful negotiation as well as creative imagination strategy of nation-building as an alternative conflict resolution mechanism in a multi-ethnic nation.

This author says fifty years after the quest for a superior performing Biafra State in the African regional space, and the end of the resultant devastating civil war, not much has changed about the resolve to accomplish a unique environment to showcase the potential of the Biafra vision.Ogba adds that today, the same issues that led to the civil war have re-ignitedmassive secessionist agitations for a Biafra nation, championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra with the support, both public and covert, of the younger generation of the Igbo, many of whom are either too young to remember the war or were not yet born at the time.

Ogba submits that although much has been written about the Biafra struggle, most of such narratives have not really addressed the area of “the other road not followed” and how this affected the outcome of the civil war and the future agenda of the struggle. He says the purpose of this book is to fill this historical vacuum and offer rational enlightenment to save a generation of youths from making the same mistakes of the past.

Structurally, this book is segmented into ten chapters. Chapter one is christened “The Biafra questions – where and when it all began for me”. The author saysthe air of political emancipation from colonialism swept through Africa, having made landfall in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), which became the first country to secure independence from Britain in 1957.Ogba says while no consensus could be reached among the component regions of Nigeria on the purpose of the independence, among the citizens, the desire for independence was high and most Nigerians were sentimentally against the idea of continuing life under the colonial rule of Britain. The author says in 1965, he began to develop interest in the turbulent politics unfolding in Nigeria and other developments across the world of politics, economy and military revolutions.

Chapter two examines the subject of the making of the Nigerian Civil War and the Biafra question. Here, the author says moving from a colonised to an independent status was a road overloaded with difficulties and disagreements not just from the colonialists, but from the different ethnic groups and the political elite. Ogba adds that the colonialists had ruled three regions of Nigeria differently and employed divide-and-rule tactics before independence was eventually granted in 1960.

In chapters three to six, the author examines the concepts of the odds in the making of a Biafra soldier; the realities in the lives of young soldiers and the last days of Biafra; the post-traumatic effects of the civil war and survival of young Biafra soldiers as well as the possibility of a way manifesting where there is a will.

In chapter seven, thematically tagged “Biafra-Nigeria war: The road not followed”,the author says, “War is never an alternative to a peaceful environment because of its serious consequences on communities and human nature.” He adds that conflict interventions as a change agent should not be allowed to degenerate into hot wars.             Chapter eight is christened “So that we do not forget”. Here Ogba concretely appeals to personal and national conscience and consciousness here. According to him, whenever a war has already been fought and caused enormous destruction and frustrations, it is important not to forget what caused the war, the missed opportunities for peaceful resolution and the implications we derive from the ugly incident.

In chapters nine and ten, Ogba examines the issues of the third option as the Biafra of the mind and the pathway towards achieving the Biafra of the mind.

Conceptually, this book scores an excellent mark, especially with the depth and quality of contents confirming massive first-hand experience of the author.

Stylistically, this text is exceptional. Ogba proves his scholastic acumen and eclecticism of quality high-profile work experience, particularly as a former Special Adviser on Speeches and Public Communicationto a Governor of Abia State, with his professional mode of presentation and simplicity of language. He also shows that he was a University Lecturer by aligning with the academic culture in the form of including rich Notes and References at the end of the text to lend conceptual authenticity. Another plus is the visual communication of the outer front cover of the book which reinforces the book title. Ogba uses quotes/classical allusions and proverbs to amplify his message.

However, some errors are noticed in the book. One of the errors is the word “presently” used as “now”. “Presently” means “(very) soon” in British English and “now” in American English. In the Prologue, the word “potentials” is used in place of “potential”. The word “potential” is an uncountable noun and cannot take an “s”.

Finally, this text is outstanding. It is a must-read for those who want to know the genesis of Biafra agitations, origin of some of our current national crises and solutions.

GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.

Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng

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ECOWAS Court nullifies ECOWAS Commission staff’s dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.

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Tinubu names National Theatre after Wole Soyinka

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President Bola Tinubu has named the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

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Tinubu sympathises with victims of building collapse in Plateau

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President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the tragic collapse of a school building, which resulted in multiple deaths and many surviving victims in Jos, Plateau, with profound grief.

His spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement on Friday, said the President described the incident as a huge loss to the nation, as well as a devastating development – too excruciating to imagine.

“The President condoles with the bereaved families, families of all the victims, and the people and Government of Plateau State.

“President Tinubu commends emergency responders, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), security agencies, and all citizens involved in the search, rescue, and resuscitation efforts.

“The President assures the people of Plateau State of his fervent support at this difficult time,” said the statement.

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