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I want to first thank the members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the southeast zone for going beyond their normal primary duty of reporting events and developments to organize this conversation and through it, seek to set a new agenda for ethical and moral regeneration and conduct in our society. You guys are setting the pace for reasonable discourse in the search for solutions to a problem that has hit our society in such a way that it will take an abnormal being not to be worried anymore. The media had set the agenda for our country’s independence and is doing much more.

Like I stated here in Enugu on June 28, 2019, at the colloquium organized by the Enugu State Council of your great union, at Oakland Hotel, to mark the 50th birthday anniversary of one of you, Nze Magnus Eze, the role of the media in the growth and development of Nigeria has remained one to be proud of.  I said: “the story of Nigeria’s sovereignty cannot be completely told without a golden mention of the role played by the media. From the day Rev. Henry Townsend started Iwe Irohin (meaning, Magazine), the first-ever newspaper in Nigeria in 1859, the media has grown to become a necessity in the development of our country. Though Rev. Townsend’s newspaper lasted some eight years before it was rested, Nigeria grew from there to see its independence struggles enhanced by classy newspapers published by Nigerians, which had incisive articles and analysis written by educated Nigerians which in turn exposed the average Nigerian of the pre-independence era, to what the real issues were. Notably here is The West African Pilot published by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Several other newspapers came following alongside the first radio station in 1950 and the first television station in December 1959.

“The Nigerian media would grow from there to develop the reading culture with fertile arguments, analysis, interviews, editorials and opinions on the future of the country. This development helped to create in Nigeria, a new generation of educated and visionary leaders who saw only one boundary -that between Nigeria and her colonial masters. Those generations of leaders put the media to great use in educating, informing and even entertaining the people. Thus, Nigeria became the envy of others on the African continent as while other countries were struggling to sustain the publication of one or two newspapers, Nigeria was churning our newspapers in their numbers. These media involvements helped bring us to where we are today as a nation.

“Media involvement in the independence of Nigeria did not end there. It continued through the problems we had as a young federation leading to the civil war. After the Civil war, the media played a key role in the re-unification and integration efforts of the government. The media was also at the forefront of the campaign against military rule in Nigeria. Many of your colleagues paid the ultimate prize and yet, the media could not be deterred. The media showed resilience and determination in working towards delivering a country for all of us.

“The struggles that followed the annulment of June 12, 1993, general elections were largely a media struggle. But for the media, our activists, and their activism, would have been silenced by the military. It is, however, unfortunate that when key players in the events of June 12 talk about their roles, they fail to mention the media which was the rallying point of that struggle. Without the media, June 12 would have been forgotten. The media kept it on the front burner of national discourse and continued to push it until it became a national day. That tells you the power of the media. Whatever the media focuses on becomes infectious such that generations of journalists will keep the clamour and carry the message as they designed it.” Therefore, the issue of “reawakening the age-long norms and values of our people” is one which I believe is achievable with a very strong media focus and advocacy, driven by journalists like you.


Ladies and gentlemen, as you all are aware, I entered the race for the governorship of Anambra state and participated in the election that was held in November 2021. My reasons were simply to effect positive change and drive our society in a new direction. I got involved because I saw in leadership, the opportunity to transform society by positively transforming the lives of the people that make up the society. For, what is society but the people? In doing that, I developed a 10-Point Agenda for the transformation of my dear state and our people. Item number 9 on the agenda is titled “Rebuilding Our Ethical Infrastructure”. Under this plan, I promised that “working with the civil society, the religious organizations and the private sector, the government shall promote a CENTER FOR VALUES AND CHARACTER.” I also promised that “there shall be a Senior Policy Adviser to the Governor” whose responsibility will include “value and attitudinal re-orientation of all citizens; continuous training of all cadres of Anambra citizens on integrity, civic rights, duties and responsibilities; training of political appointees and civil servants; restoration of Igbo culture and values; institutionalization of moral instructions in schools and in adult education curriculum; enthrone culture of modesty, trust and honesty through appropriate educational programs, including theatre and film; work with the church and other civil society organizations to enthrone the right values among the citizens; advise government on anti-corruption measures in procurement and project execution; promote a robust anti-corruption legislation, and support and undertake corruption studies and research that would inform government’s anti-corruption agenda.” I still stand by this and strongly recommend all of the above to all the governors of the 36 states and the FCT.

Ladies and gentlemen, the desire to alter negative realities and develop new ideals in human relations and conduct did not just happen to me because of politics. Before coming out of my comfort to play in the political field, I founded and created the Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation whose basic mission is to recreate humanity through a dedicated focus on transforming society by the re-orientation of values for authentic human development. Our mission at Pro-Value is to create a society where the human person is at the centre of development. This is so because we believe that an individual’s behaviour is governed by character and that character is determined by values. This underscores a major reason for my vision in the proposed creation of the Center for Values and Character.  Therefore, by re-orientating values, we would be able to refine the character of the human person. The reasons we took this curve, ladies and gentlemen, are the same reasons for which we are holding this conversation, which, I believe is very appropriate. It is a conversation that we must hold and continue to until we can bring ourselves, our children and our society, to that point in our human formation journey when we can comfortable say that we have reclaimed our society for our good and the good of our future.


In seeking the reawakening of the age-long norms and values of our people, we inadvertently admit that the good days are gone. Those were the days when parents spoke and children listened. Those were the days when teachers spoke and pupils and students listened. Those were the days when priests and catechists spoke and the congregation listened. I am talking of the days when children played on the streets, hide when they see their teacher coming; the days when children took and trusted instructions from elders because what an elder sees sitting a child will not see even from the peak of the tallest tree. I am also talking of the days when the community had a say in the upbringing and character formation of the child and the days when elders, youths and children lived by the truth because everyone understood, and, appreciated the fact that eziokwu bu ndu.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am also referring to the days when girls learnt the art of home-making and how to also be good mothers (Ezinne) from their mothers who saw it as their obligation and made themselves available to impart knowledge. I am referring to the days when hard work was the hallmark of the youth and people lived by the fruits of their labour. I am sure we all remember the days when a man is considered one because of the size of his yam barn and his children are considered great children because they were equally hard working; this is against the gradual development of the culture of begging among families. I am talking of the days when families were contented with whatever life brought their way and would, out of pride, rather have palm kernel for dinner and still lived happily as good neighbours. When I say these, I also refer to the days when people attained community recognition to become red cap chiefs, Nze, Ozo, Ichie and even appointed to the membership of the Igwe’s cabinet not on account of land holding, number of children or wealth, but on account of how upright, God-fearing, truthful, fair-minded, just, respectful one is perceived to be in the community.

We can all look back to remember the days when life was so sacred that anyone who took life was literally ostracized from the community unlike the contemporary days when cultism and bloodletting among youths are seen as a mark of the tough. We can also remember when such issues as suicide and abortion were also considered sacrileges in our communities. Or, have we forgotten the days when mothers were mothers in deed and words –they made sure their daughters dressed respectfully and properly before leaving their homes; they ensured that their sons also kept the right companions. Have we forgotten the days when no child will bring anything home, no matter how little, if it did not belong to him? And by belonging to him or her, it means that such item was provided for him/her by the parents. We cannot forget the days when the aroma of marijuana (guff) alone, rattled the entire community prompting emergency village meetings and search parties neither can we forget the days when mothers and fathers lived with a certain kind of a shame because their daughter was linked with prostitution or their sons with the least form of robbery. Some parents even lived with some form of shame because their children were seen as haughty, pompous, snobbish and disrespectful for reasons of not greeting their elders.

Those days seem to have gone and may never come back because society evolves. However, it is expected that the evolution of society must not force us, as humans, to lose our cherished ethical and moral values which emanate from our cultures. As I have always said, our culture is our life. Culture is about who we are. Societies all over the world go to great lengths to protect their most cherished cultural values. I have seen this happen in Russia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Egypt, South Africa, and Morocco and in fact, in all the countries I have visited so far. For instance, respect for seniors and good manners are ingrained in every culture that I have interacted. In the western world, standing up in public transport for the elderly is common practice.

Today, we find new expressions that challenge our understanding of character building. Instead of communalism, which we all cherished as a vital tool for social integration and character modification, we now have a new wave of individualism wherein our children tell us that ‘it is my life’. We are buffeted on all fronts by the consequences of this mad rise in individualism which has sadly robbed us of social sanity and our values. So, instead of avoiding drugs, our youths engage in it with certain bravado to suggest that nothing is wrong with it; and in most places, they tell you nothing mega! It is such that those who stay away from this negative habit are seen as social misfits. Today, it seems to be the norm for our youths to aspire to drive the latest SUV, wear designer clothing, wrist watches, necklaces, shoes, latest telephone handset models even when they do not have jobs and earnings to pay for such luxuries and are also not in school.

Today, we see and feel the impact of the progressive decline of the family. In our days, the family was everything. Everyone made effort to stay away from anything that would rub the family name in the mud.  We grew up with the principle of ezi afa ka ego. Today, it seems to be immaterial if the family name is messed with so long as certain things are achieved no matter how –it is now an era when the end justifies the means and not the other way round. Many of our youths live their lives to suggest that the most important thing is to get there and that nothing is wrong with the how. Isn’t that why many of our youths have had the sad fate of facing the hangman or the marksman in Southeast Asian nations? Today, many parents have abdicated the divine responsibility on them to mould the character of their God-given children because of economic and social pressures. Parents seem no longer to care. Nannies and domestic aides are rapidly taking over the role of mothers in the character formation of the child. Many do not even bother to question the source of the material acquisitions their children bring home.

Ladies and gentlemen let me take you along this line too. I am sure that many of us here have been victims of social media bullying. Sometimes, I go on social media to see what is trending. I read many updates by our senior citizens. While I just read and learn, I, however, find it appalling and disturbing how intolerant of other people’s opinions our youths have become. Many senior citizens have rather shied away from engaging in conversations on social media, which rightly ought to bridge the knowledge gap and bring people closer, because of the intolerant behaviour of our youths. And, I ask! When did it become part of our character to insult and abuse our elders because of the opinions that they hold and share? Common sense dictates that if you do not share the same views with others, you develop and expand yours. Societies develop through the convergence of opinions. Democracy grows from the plurality of opinions and everyone is entitled to his or her. So, why the intolerance? Why the insults and abuses of senior citizens and even peers? Truth be told, no one develops because he or she insulted others the most. Such negative behavioural traits destroy rather than build the human person. You win no laurels for such behaviour which, indeed, speaks to a poor upbringing. It betrays the sort of tutelage one underwent under one’s parents. Anyone that was properly brought up, and inculcated with the right values and norms, will not engage in such nasty behaviours no matter how unpleasant the other person’s views are because our holy book says to us in Proverbs 22:6 to: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Lest we forget, Chief Anthony Enahoro (late) moved the motion for the independence of Nigeria in 1953 at the age of 30. Chief Mathew Mbu became a Minister at 23. He went on to hold several other ministerial positions in his youth. If those were in the distant past, let me then bring you down to the fact that Donald Duke became governor of Cross River state at 38 years. Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani became governor of Enugu state at the age of 39 years. Miss Yadomah Bukar Mandara, the youngest delegate to the 2014 National Conference, which was convoked by President Goodluck Jonathan to dialogue and find solutions to the problems of Nigeria, was aged 24 when she was nominated to the conference. Many offered leadership to Nigeria, at different levels, in their youthful days. They were not accepted to leadership because there were no older persons around. I tend to believe that they were elected or appointed to such tasks because of the “content of their character”. Sadly, rather than build on what was possible several years ago, our youths have lost the trajectory of their personal development and delved into the abyss of self-pity and self-destruction. But, they must be made to understand (and that is a task before the media) that no amount of violence, harassment, insults and abuses will, for instance, make the political elite yield the space to the youth. In the contest for power, it is usually brain power and the depth of the mind that brings one to the table of reasonable discourse, not an acerbic tongue.


In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, allow me to remind us that so many Nigerians and non-Nigerians had told us, and still tell us that the future of our country lies in the hands of our youths. As it is said, your academic attainments can get you the best job, but the only thing that will keep you at the job and determine how long you stay up there is your character. Martin Luther King Jnr dreamt that one day his four little children live in a nation where they will be judged “by the content of their character” and nothing else. That should now be our focus.

To reawaken the age-long norms and values of our people, I, therefore, recommend that we must return to basics; that we must begin to rejig our institutional structures that play huge roles in character formation and ethical reorientation. And when I say this, I refer to religious, political and socio-cultural institutions that impact the character of our youths. The church and the school system have huge roles to play. My belief is that we can change our society if we capture the minds of our children at their earliest formation years and direct them properly.

I also believe that we must encourage our religious leaders to see the negative impact of the focus on what many now call the ‘prosperity gospel’ which has robbed many of our youths of that innate gift of the Igbo, which is hard work and enterprise, such that many tend to believe that wealth comes by a certain miraculous wand as prophesied by a pastor leading many to get involved in despicable get-rich-quick acts –remember the Okeite Phenomenon. Sorry, if this offends any pastor here. However, we must tell ourselves some truth if we must come out of the hole that we are currently in. Our religious leader should be encouraged to shift focus to what I call entrepreneurship gospel. The ideals of entrepreneurship gospel are captured in the eternal words of St. Paul spoken to the Thessalonians where he said “If a man will not work, he shall not eat… We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people, we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” In Igbo, we say aka aja aja, na ebute onu mmanu mmanu. This was one of the reasons I instituted a study at the Business School of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, on how to revitalize apprenticeship (Igba Boi) in Igboland. My belief is that we can use apprenticeship, as a veritable tool, to redirect the minds of our youths and bring them back to rewarding enterprise pursuits that would make them actualize themselves, become more useful to themselves and add value to their communities and Igbo society at large.

I believe, and strongly recommend, that we must also return to our cultural foundations and promote those good ideals of our cultures and traditions as they affect the family, parenting, sacredness of life, respect for elders, other people’s property and the virtues of hard work. As Igbo people, we must go back to teaching our children what constitutes nso ani and help them to know them and respect them too. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that if we consciously play our roles as parents and religious leaders; and if our educational systems are rejigged to accommodate moral education while our social and political leaders become role models, we would have been able to reawaken the consciousness of our people towards resurrecting our cherished norms and values.


All hopes are not yet lost. The little efforts of those like you all here, who are deeply worried, tells me that we shall overcome. I am happy that already, we have a governmental tool to help us drive this need for ethical and attitudinal reorientation countrywide. I am talking of the National Orientation Agency (NOA). What we have in our hands is not a problem exclusive to a particular geopolitical zone. It is a national problem. Therefore, I further recommend, and strongly too, that we must push for the expansion of the mandate of NOA to include ethical and attitudinal reorientation of Nigerians. If need be, let there be a name change for NOA, and perhaps an upgrade into a commission, to reflect this new mandate. Let us call it National Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission with expanded mandate to become a very effective and functional tool towards achieving values reorientation across the country. If this upgrade and name change demands legislation, there will be nothing wrong with the National Assembly, and indeed, all state Houses of Assembly, enacting same to give it the necessary legislative backing.

Expanding its mandate to include ethical and attitudinal reorientation will empower NOA to be more active in the push against such negative public national habits as official corruption. In making this call, I am mindful of the fact that government, including previous ones, had made attempts to refocus ethical and public morality issues through such rebranding instruments like ‘Not in Our Character’ of the Walter Ofonagoro era, ‘Heart of Africa’ of the Frank Nweke era, ‘Good People, Great Nation’ of the Dora Akunyili era, and recently ‘Change begins With Me’. These have been laudable attempts that failed because they were not institutionalized. Like those before it, ‘Change Begins with Me’ of Alhaji Lai Mohammed will end with his time as Minister of Information and National Orientation. This is the reason I further recommend that the next government from 2023 finds a way to institutionalize ethical and attitudinal reorientation into its programme of action for the country.

Further to those, another major reason we must institutionalize ethical and attitudinal reorientation is that our governmental system shows itself as bereft of character both in the leadership selection process and leadership in itself. Often, we have been told that the problem of Nigeria is not the absence of human capital but the dearth of leadership. However, I think that the major problem with leadership in our clime is the absence of persons whose content of character are not inspiring enough to drive the country and its people towards positive action that would berth the sort of change and growth that we all envisage. Let us not make mistakes about it, the character of some of those who we elect to leadership, from the wards to the federal levels, have always come with question marks.

This reality begins with our leadership selection process. Ladies and gentlemen, how comfortable are we with a leadership selection process where those who elect our candidates; are themselves persons of questionable character? Is it no longer true that birds of same feather flock together? In some states and communities, we see persons who honed their skills from touting at motor parks, not academic institutions and environments, leading in deciding who becomes the flagbearer of political parties and indeed, who wins in the final election. This trend should worry us because it portends great danger ahead for our country. As it is said, you cannot plant mangoes and harvest apples. This is what those countries that we look up to for support have done and are still doing.

For instance, in ‘Democracy and Development: A Prolegomena for Growth’, I argued that China has created, and adapted, a leadership selection process which pools its best hands for future leadership tasks on merit. Merit here includes the development of character, good public conduct and leadership delivery. In that paper, I referenced Zhang Weiwei, the Director of China Institute at Fudan University, where he said: “China has established a system of meritocracy or what can be described as “selection plus election”, where competent leaders are selected on the basis of performance and broad support through a vigorous process of screening, opinion surveys, internal evaluations and various types of election. This is much in line with the Confucian tradition of meritocracy… China’s political and institutional arrangements and innovations have so far produced a system which has in many ways combined the best options of selecting well-tested competent leaders and the least bad option of ensuring the exit of the leaders who should exit for all kinds of reasons.”

I closed my arguments in the paper saying “we must design, and develop, a leadership system that promotes meritocracy through a selection process that identifies, and elects, the best of the best (that is persons of character) and entrust them with the management of the commonwealth.” If China could do it, nothing says that Nigeria cannot do it. All it takes is determination and focus. If we focus our efforts at cleaning the leadership selection process, we will find how easy it is to ensure that shadowy characters no longer trot our political space as leaders and determinants of the fate of the people.

Finally, it is gratifying that this event is organized by journalists themselves. What this brings to mind is the great role that the media must play in reshaping public morality through the creation and development of media content that builds character and behaviour of our people. As it is today, the content of what is aired on the visual media as musicals, home movies, skits etc is a challenge on the moral integrity of society. Some years ago, we had such greatly entertaining visual creations like The New Masquerade, Village Headmaster, and Cock Crow at Dawn etc. While they were educative as well as entertaining, they did not leave huge question marks on public morality, culture and character like many contemporary media contents are doing. In the musical industry for instance, aside the lurid visuals shown on television and freely available on social media platforms, which are also open to minors, you also wonder what drives the sort of lyrics that accompany these visuals. Sometimes, I tend to argue that these new characterizations may be part of the destructive neo-colonial idealism that aims at subjugating our cultural values and norms and birth a new culture that robs us of our identities. If you cause a review of what Lord Macaulay was alleged to have said in an address to the British parliament on February 2, 1835, you may get my drift. In the alleged address, Lord Macaulay allegedly said: “I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth have I seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, hey will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”. I use this quote and attribution cautiously given that some accounts dispute its authenticity. However, the message it conveys need not be lost on us.

Therefore, I believe, and also strongly recommend, that visual creations for television can be very entertaining as well as commercially rewarding without being aggressively challenging of public morality and character formation of our children. This was why in my lecture titled ‘Reinventing Nigeria’s Unity for Global Relevance In the 21st Century: Issues of Identity, Governance and Stability’ which I delivered at the Sam Epelle memorial lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in Asaba, Delta State in September 2021, I called for a new synergy between media content creators (Nollywood) and the NIPR for the development of media content that not only portrays a positive image for our country, but also helps build on character formation while still remaining entertaining and commercially rewarding.

Flashback: “In Nollywood, we see a different sort of presentation of Nigeria’s cultural identities. Nollywood gives us an image that could be considered negative depending on the worldview that one holds. For example, Nollywood generally makes you feel that mother-in-laws are evil and perennially wicked. That is negative stereotyping. While some mother-in-laws may be terrible, a vast majority of them are most loving of their daughters-in-law or sons-in-law.  But that is not what you get in Nollywood which also makes you think that almost every rich Nigerian met with a babalawo or a witch doctor before he became rich. If those depictions are what the world ought to know about our cultures, then, I believe there is need for a redefinition of our values.”

Redefining these characterizations is a task before all of us too, especially journalists who set the agenda and mold public opinion as we engage ourselves in reawakening the age-long norms and values of our country.

Thank you for listening.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Nnamdi Nwigwe

    August 21, 2022 at 7:53 am

    I took time to read this masterpiece lecture that chiefly addressed the moral decadence in our society not just on our Youths but on many of us even more on the ruling elderly class. The lead speaker Prof Obiorah Okonkwo gave a sound and in depth knowledge in discussing the subject matter. The lead speaker touched on everything that bothers on our moral values and also make suggestions on how to change the tide if the system is serious about the future of Nigeria but I slightly disagree with the blame of failure of our moral values on our Youths who in the recent times have turn around to reclaim back their country which some elders amongst us damaged by teaching them the wrong value through character exhibition.

    I will therefore suggest that the contents of this discussion as presented by Prof Obiorah Okonkwo be made a case study by scholars and research institutes to develop what can be part of our teaching curriculum in schools at all levels.

    I will end my comment by thanking Prof Obiorah for taking time out of his busy schedule to deliver this wonderful and very valuable lecture.
    Thanks for reading.

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WEEKEND DIGEST ON ANAMBRA TAX MATTERS: Focus on new Vehicle Card License System for Anambra State



Front view of the proposed vehicle card license for Anambra State.

In a digital economy, there is potential to enhance productivity, increase income and improve social well-being by creating job opportunities in new markets, as well as boosting employment in some existing occupations. Key benefits of the digital economy include the expansion of business opportunities, the creation of new employment opportunities, the enhancement of public service, etc.

Two days ago, the Anambra State Internal Revenue Service (AiRS) through the State Motor Registry held a meeting with stakeholders in the Transport Sector comprising the Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra (OCHA) Brigade, Federal Road Safety Corps, Representatives of DSS, State Police Command, Civil Defense, etc. The essence of the meeting was to introduce to the Stakeholders the new Vehicle Card License System being proposed by the Anambra State Government. The meeting took place at the Training Hall of the Revenue House, Awka.

The new Vehicle Card License system will replace the former paper documents and will help the State government and the vehicle owners checkmate the activities of illegal revenue operators who issue fake vehicle documents to unsuspecting motor vehicle owners. The new Vehicle Card License will be accompanied by a sticker.

The card has unique security features such as a QR code embedded in it that brings out the particulars and information about the vehicle and the owner when scanned. The QR code will enable the easy authentication of the card as all particulars of the vehicle are contained in this unique card.

The card which is green and white is unique to Anambra State.

Back view of the proposed vehicle card license with a QR code embedded on it

Effective take-off of the new Vehicle Card License system in Anambra State is Monday, May 22, 2023.

In the case of loss, the card can be replaced if the owner reported the loss to the management. The card is free of cost.

This is a new project that will ease problems associated with the manual system of registering vehicles in Anambra State. We all should accept it, support it and benefit from it.


• Sylvia Tochukwu-Ngige is Head, Taxpayer Education, and Enlightenment Team, AiRS

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The Mathematical Ozekhome



Professor Mike Ozekhome, SAN

By Sam Otuonye

“Consequently, as regards this raging ruckus and scrimmage as to whether the 25% votes required by S.134 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is applicable to the FCT, Abuja, I have now decided to navigate further, some uncharted routes, by going mathematical to find X.” (Mike Ozekhome).

The legal silk, Prof. Mike Ozekhome (SAN), went beyond borders and treaded where many students, graduates, and even teachers, dread. Mathematics is in enemity with many students, particularly, Law and Humanities. Prior to the new University admission requirement of a credit in English Language and Mathematics across all courses, Mathematics was not a compulsory subject for applicants of Law and Humanities. If you were not good at mathematics you definitely did not have any bearing with Science and Business courses. You are automatically consigned to Arts and Law. But, a case of exception must be made here; as not all Law and Arts students were weaklings in mathematics. Few that knew mathematics still chose those courses for the love they had for them – Ozekhome may be one of those in this category.

According to Albert Einstein, “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.Prof. Ozekhome brought pure mathematics to bear on the 25% FCT status dilemma, with lucid logical ideas that elevated reasonable man test and left no discerning person in doubt as to its nitty-gritty. He deployed the mathematical anatomy of BODMAS (Bracket, Of, Division, Multiplication, Addition and Subtraction) to plot the legal cum logical graph of his perspective on the subject matter. He was responding to a piece written by a Lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, on the raging controversial constitutional interpretation of the 25% votes requirement in the FCT, Abuja, in the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election.

While many legal luminaries have argued that FCT should not attract special attention as regards the 25% votes spread; for electoral convenience, I guess, Prof. Ozekhome insists otherwise. He argued: “Had the law makers intended that the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, will be treated simply as a “State” and no more in section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution, they would have simply stopped there. There was no need to specifically add the new phrase “AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”, as in section 134(2)(b). The Constitution would simply have provided for “two-thirds of all the States in the Federation”, and stopped there. But, it did not.” He supported his argument with diverse law reports and courts judgments.

This piece is not intended to join issues with the legal gurus and their arguments, as yours truly, is not a lawyer, but to highlight the assiduous essence of academic and professional excellence – studying to show yourself approved. The Holy Book asserted in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Apostle Paul was admonishing Timothy to employ diligence and accuracy in his work for God. Many professionals find it difficult to go beyond their normal peripheral professional routine. They are not in-touch with the axiomatic expressions of ‘out-of-the-box’, ‘going beyond borders’, ‘breaking limits’, etc. They have remained static, stationary and sedentary over their years of professional practice and career. Across all professions, there seems to be a striking redundancy in research and development. And this scenario erodes our value as a people, because you cannot develop beyond what you know.

In his expose, titled; “Finding the BODMAS X in the Mathematics of 25% of the FCT, Abuja”, Prof. Ozekhome said; “My deep research has just thrown up a judgment where the court was called upon to interpret and translate 1.00 to percentage. The Honourable Justice Nelson Ogbuanya of National Industrial Court, in resolving the mathematical legal question, held that “1.00 of an amount means one whole number and not a fraction; and when converted to percentage, it means 100% and not 1%.” This shows that he went beyond the ordinary to exhume evidential proofs. Daniel said in the Holy Book (Daniel 9:2)”In the first year of his reign (referring to Darius) I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in desolations of Jerusalem.” Professional and academic excellence is: Study and Research. Simple!

When Ozekhome said, “Mercifully, I am very proud to announce to Ajulo and others that going by my well known antecedents which are self-evident (simply google me), I do not belong to such a lowly class of ego-masseurs. I am certainly not one of those cheap obsequious fawners, brown-nosers, or toady characters that hang around political merchants and buccaneers of corridors of power”; was he exhibiting pride, haughtiness and bravado? I do not think so. He is simply a man that has shown himself approved. And, who can lower his shoulders!

It takes resilience, consistency, hard work and doggedness to achieve outstanding feats. From the authority he asserted in his write-up, it does not appear to me that he hired a Number Expert to distil the figures and formular for him. He seems to be one of those students that mathematics did not intimidate. He wrote; “But, the variables must, nonetheless be ascertained before proceeding to conclude or ascribe a fixed figure in a given arithmetical equation. It is this inability to ascertain the variable figure that usually makes some students afraid of, and intimidated by, mathematics.”

He was indeed charitable by his choice of words, … some students…” The fact is that many students hated mathematics perfectly well. Those days in Secondary School, mathematics class used to be scanty as most Arts students disappeared into other classes holding English, Literature, Government, etc. They used to evade mathematics class with swagger, oblivious of thefact that no knowledge is a waste. One of the definitions of ‘Education’ which interests me most is that which says that,Education is knowing bits of everything but more of one to earn a living. Mathematics is central to every profession and career no matter how little. Those in the Arts (like Ozekhome) that refused to run away from it but learned a bit of it are harvesting and harnessing the benefits today. They are showing themselves approved of their workmanship more than most of their colleagues. And there is nothing anybody can do about it.

Nigeria is known for brandishing certificates, both genuine, fake and bought, even as our academic value is continually being eroded, particularly in the public schools –primary, secondary and tertiary. The public sector places certificates above competence and capacity. That does not suggest that certificates are to be discouraged, but it must add corresponding competenceand capacity value. Most of the job recruitments in government circles are done without proper interviews. They do not constitute strong interview panels and Human Resources Consultants to screen the applicants. They draw the recruits/employees from the legislative, executive, judiciary, political appointees, ethnic, and nepotistic lists. Sometimes, the jobs are sold for personal gains or as official revenue generation.So many civil and public servants do not even understand the fundamentals of the jobs they are doing. Even, some of the applicants (who are graduates) cannot write the application letter for the job they seek to do. So sad!

Our dear country, Nigeria, must shift away from this odious narrative and embrace the global best practices in education and skill acquisition. Research and Development (R&D) must be given a place of priority in our Education System, with cutting-edge facilities and technological infrastructure. And, for the Constitutional legal legend; Chief, Prof. Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LLM, PhD, LLD, D.Litt, I join the knowledge-seeking people of Nigeria and the world over, to salute your erudition.

• Otuonye, writes from Enugu                                       

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Peter Mbah’s Political Sophistication and his Credo of One Enugu



By Dr Chukwuemeka Aroh

God has ultimately blessed us in Enugu state with what we have relentlessly prayed and cast about for. Our dear Governor-elect is the best thing that has happened for us this season. Permit me to call him “Peter God-sent Ndubuisi Mbah”.

“Tomorrow is Here”! we shout with great joy, but the haters of tomorrow frown at us and wish Enugu a permanent seat in auld lang syne. We respond loud and clear to them “we have bid farewell to the years of yore in Enugu”. We are already in a tomorrow that is loaded with state transformational goodies; Integrated sector-based productivity growth, inclusive and transparent governance, cross-cutting programmes and social services, expecting water to drop for Enugu residents in a trice. If wishes were horses beggars would ride they say. Wawa! haters of tomorrow your wishes shall not materialize, we can’t go back to yesterday. Enugu state is unstoppable now and on autopilot towards building a peaceful and secure, highly developed and prosperous state for all.
Why? Because:
“Peter is Here”
“Tomorrow is Here”
“Nothing can stop Enugu State, we are all the way up”

Barr. Mbah’s, first step in this dance of governance portrays a good omen and a harbinger of better times to come. A step that reinforces what we had always known about him which motivated us into evangelists for him and of course voting massively for him. We didn’t stop there, we also defended our votes especially when we sensed a ruination of justice was in the offing at the collation centre.

Just as we know a good dancer from their first step, we know good leaders from their leadoff decision. Our Governor-elect has displayed his leadership mastery, compassion and selflessness once again. This attitude and path has calmed down an Enugu that was at the height of it’s volatility ever in many years. This situation which erupted from desperate political rattle sabres who introduced sharp divisions and do or die politics into Enugu state just few months ago. Most painful is the awakening of the premordial moribund caste sentiment, an unimaginable straw just to whip up sentiments to influence the politics. All these done for their own selfish ambitions. Ignorantly, because of their narrow lopsided world view, thinking that these antediluvian, tribal sentiments and violence was going to help them win. Thank goodness they lost, as we the people of Enugu were smarter than all these.

Against this backdrop, the story I have is that of Peter Mbah’s jaw-dropping, virtuosic, avuncular, altruistic, humanistic and unifying acceptance speech. A speech that has vellicated breathing a sigh of relief to the general Enugu populace and has broken down the nay sayers into sober and remorseful reflections. I can personally classify it as the best acceptance speech by a Governor-elect. I will liken it to the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln where he committed post-Civil War America to “a new birth of freedom.” Lincoln’s speech carried a message that ideals are worth dying for and that it is up to the living to carry on the work of those who died to protect ideals. Studies in American history shows us how this singular speech changed the country. Here in Enugu, Barr Peter has made one of such speeches that will impact the histroy of Enugu state and be remembered for a very long time if not forever.

The main thrust of the speech being that he called for a New Enugu, One Enugu and an Enugu that we can all call our own irrespective of who we are, Our Enugu. Peter Mbah, a man  who like the children of Issachar in chronicles of the holy bible has a perfect understanding of the times, driven by sensitivity for the people he understood that what Enugu needed most was healing. A palliate from the bedlam and pandemonium by balkanizers who with their hate speeches and hate actions attempted to divide Enugu for their narcissistic reasons but failed. In the words of the great Governor- elect “let’s restate that ours will not be government of any section of the state. It is your government ndi Enugu” … “We are all brothers and sisters, those who attempted to create a wedge between us failed woefully” Inter alia.

The significance of this speech is heightened as it is coming at a post election period. An election where the opposition completely went full scale dirty but instead of standing on understandable animosity to make a divisive and vindictive acceptance speech he chooses to call for love and unity. This is very impressive and a reflection of the true colour of the man who has just acquired by popular mandate the number one citizen of the state. The simple interpretation of this speech is; Come to me, I am your governor, a governor for all, even those that opposed and are still opposing me presently. I hold nothing against anybody and I bear no grudges. Let what happened during the elections stay with the elections which is already in the past despite how low, painful and embarrassing. This is the voice of a father, the governor we have been waiting for and we are proud of him.

This acceptance speech weeks after is still the talk of the town: amongst scholars, social gatherings, churches, village squares, beer parlours, everywhere people gather. People are amazed at his response, they are flabbergasted by his approach and grossly impressed by his maturity. One could attempt also to liken him as a person just like a preacher will do to Jesus who we just celebrated this easter, few days ago. Who said about those that crucified him ” father forgive them for they know not what they are doing” in the book of Luke of the holy bible. Don’t mind me if I am sounding religious, my apologies, but I have for weeks thought about what to equate Enugu’s Governor-elect’s acceptance speech and political body language to, that’s exactly how I got here. The reason being that it was heavy and mind blowing to me knowing the blackmails, castigations, false witnessing, sabotage and even assasination of his impaccable character, name it, all he had to deal and put up with in the name of politics.  Must politics be dirty, filled with evil propaganda and falsehood? Do we even ignore the inec collation center drama that turned it into a tribunal, the votes that where eliminated, the negligence of PDP’s concerns about a particular local government, the military suppression, rigging during the elections and the padding. Which do I mention and which do I leave really? All these done to hoodwink and delude ndi Enugu and even at the last count INEC but after all Peter Mbah of PDP still won.

Dr Mbah has proceeded on the journey of the New Enugu in love, without umbrage. He beckoned on ndi Enugu to move on together, stating clearly what his sole goal is and I quote “Only one obligation, to devote every tissue of my flesh, the totality of my mind and spirit to the task of greatness of Enugu”. This I like to call PFDIM( People Focused Disruptive Innovation Model) of governance. Completely represented in his well articulated manifesto which has become the new Enugu’s political bible and an anchor of our development expectations.

That’s the hallmark of great leadership, he never bothered to fire back for one day form day one or even look back. What manner of man is this? I must say his a true child of God who understands vengeance is of God who never fails to pay each man back in their own coin. We wouldn’t be overflogging to keep repeating that Barr Peter Mbah is God sent to Enugu state . His attitude of no grudges and loving people from all places, all religions and political divides is unparalleled. He wears a political lense I like to call “One Enugu”.

We are very optmistic in Enugu because our Governor-elect has started well. The bedrock of development in any clime emanates from the non-polarization of the people. This implies that unity is the bedrock of development. This is simply  why in our Nigerian coat of arm as a nation we have : “unity and faith” and “peace and progress”. Enugu state being a microcosm of Nigeria, therefore this represents us. Our governor-elect has said in every form let us unite and have faith in each other and the system as well so there shall be peace and progress in Enugu. This is the genesis of the pinnacle miracle and anticipated eldorado in Enugu, stay tuned Enugu is coming.

Dr Chukwuemeka Aroh writes from Enugu

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