Dying for Nigeria

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Nwadike's book
Nwadike's book

While many Nigerians would write off Nigeria as a country not worth dying for, Ogu Bundu Nwadike, a Nigerian, writes a book in which he makes a case to convince his fellow men and women why they should die for their country

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug. 5, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

NOT many Nigerians believe that the country is worth dying for.  So, when Ogu Bundu Nwadike, a Nigerian born writer, set out to publish his first major work with the title Nigeria: Worth Dying For, he knew he would have to convince cynics of the Nigerian state with hard facts that the country is actually worth dying for.

Nwadike, in the 17-chapter book, laid bare his conviction and love for the country. “Without mincing words and sounding unduly academic, let us consider the conviction of this vision that there is no problem in Nigeria which does not occur in varying degrees in every country of the world. And if these problems have not led to the collapse of those countries, then the problems of Nigeria cannot lead to its failure,” he said.

During the unveiling of the book at the Zaboom Chinese Restaurant in Lagos, Nwadike said he was initially a cynic of the Nigerian state until events in his life later spurred his optimism for the country.  “I was in the left, left in the sense that I was a hardcore critic, having served in the press for some time. But as time went on and as I was studying, trying to know exactly why things seem not to be moving and why all we see are problems and there is no sign of solution. Is it that there is no solution or is it that the solutions are not being appreciated? So I concluded that the problem is that, naturally, people tend to see more of the bad than the good even of anybody. But I am of the view that there is no concept that is totally bad about anything or anybody in the real sense of it. There is no one person who is good and another person who is bad,” he said.

Nwadike said the cynicism of some Nigerians toward the country has affected their thinking of the country. “A guy once told me that the reason he was scheming very passionately to join the Nigerian police was because he knew he would never be broke as a police officer. “My reaction to that is: How did he get that kind of mindset?” he asked. He explained that the level of cynicism in the country was such that the country was believed to have been founded on corruption.

An excerpt in his book reads: “Over the past five decades of Nigeria’s independence, there is one very powerful, imaginary entity that has recurrently been imputed with Nigeria’s national woes. His name is corruption. In fact, the very foundation of Nigeria in 1914 was speculated by left-wing analysts and critics to have been laid on corruption. Nigeria’s so much cherished independence was viciously criticised by some people at the time to have been fraudulently and hurriedly orchestrated by corruption. The soldiers that rocked the nascent civilians political governance with a murderous coup d’←tat in 1966 advanced political and economic corruption as the major motivation for their dastardly acts. This feeble pointing to corruption and the desire to fight against it as their motivation was repeatedly re-enacted by each successive bloody or bloodless coup and counter-coup by soldiers.”

Nwadike
Nwadike

According to him, this obsession about Nigeria being corrupt has led to the conclusion that many institutions in the state are corrupt.  “Custom officials are thieves! Policemen are thieves! Immigration officials are thieves! Who then is the good man?” The solution to such a mindset led Nwadike to concentrate on some good people in the country who have made the difference in their various capacities.

“Is it true that everybody is bad? Is it possible that all politicians are corrupt? Is there a way that we can sieve the wheat from the chaff? Can we tar Nigerians with the dirty brush of corruption? Is all the evidence of wealth a product of corruption? Are they stolen money? Is it money from vice? I said no, because I know that there are people in Nigeria that cannot touch corruption or stolen money with a one million kilometer pole. They won’t even do that at the risk of there lives. These are the people that I decided to highlight,” he explained.

One of such persons he highlighted as worthy of emulation was Dora Nkem Akunyili, former minister of information and a one-time director general of the National Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC. He said Akunyili remained a quintessential example of the contemporary Nigerians with outstanding report cards of exemplary conduct in public office in Nigeria. “Every Nigerian that is sincerely nationalistic, patriotic, incorruptible and positively fanatical about Nigeria’s growth, development and ultimate greatness, possesses the same true Nigerian spirit of Dora Akunyili,” he said.

His choice of Akunyili, as one of the honest Nigerians who has contributed immensely to the progress of the country, was premised on her activities at NAFDAC.  “Before Akunyili emerged on the scene as DG of NAFDAC and optimistically resolved to do things right, the merchants of fake drugs caused the untimely death of thousands of people, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children. Respect for life was thrown to the wind by the merchants of death drugs in their pursuits of easy wealth. And for the first time in the annals of the fight against fake drugs and their dealers in Nigeria, a sincere, decisive, practical, bold fight was taken to the bases of the very vicious enemies of the Nigerian nation and victory was achieved by Dora Akunyili,” he said in the book.

Nwadike also recalled the uncommon honesty Akunyili displayed during her days as zonal secretary of the Major General Muhammadu Buhari led-Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, PTF between 1997 and 2000. Akunyili was diagnosed for a suspected pancreatic problem and travelled to London for treatment. The PTF gave her 17, 000 pounds from which she was supposed to pay 12, 000 pounds for the surgery and 5,000 pounds for other contingent expenses. But when she got to the London Hospital, doctors found that the initial diagnosis was wrong and so she would not require surgery.  When she returned from London, she did a letter to the executive chairman who was General Buhari, informing him about the incident in London and then returned the 12, 000 pounds to the government. Buhari was impressed and noted in her record that there are still Nigerians with personal integrity.

Other Nigerians who also got conspicuous mention in the book include Babatunde Raji Fashola, Lagos State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, Imo State governor, Aliyu Wamako, Sokoto State governor, Theodore Orji, Abia State governor and Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State governor. Other personalities, who made the list of exemplary leadership in the country are David Mark, Senate president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Stephen Keshi, chief coach of the Super Eagles, among others.

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