20 years before…
As this race to the restoration of freedom dawns, the Igbo should, as a matter of urgency, retrieve from the archives the plan for the reconstruction and transformation of the then east Nigeria drawn up in the 1950s by Mbonu Ojike, the cerebral Chicago University scholar and African-centred economist, who was the minister of the region’s economic development and planning. The Ojike Plan had envisaged a 20-year timeframe, beginning in 1954, during which the east would be transformed into an advanced multifaceted industrial and agricultural economy.
The main thrust of this plan is still valid and should be reworked and adapted to 21st century priorities and the advantage of new technologies. Such was the impressive pace of this programme that, by 1964, ten years later, the overall economic performance of the east had not only outstripped the rest of Nigeria but was in fact Africa’s fastest growing economy. The east had the best schools and the first independent university system in the country, the best humanpower development in the country across a range of fields including, crucially, engineering, medicine, the arts, and the middle-range technical cadre. The region also had the most integrated infrastructural development in Nigeria and its manufacturing, distributive and extractive enterprises centred in the Enuugwu-Nkalagu-Emene conurbation to the north, Onicha (commercial capital and home to the future Oshimili stock exchange and index) to the west and Igwe Ocha/Port Harcourt-Aba-Calabar to the south were clearly the hubs of the making of this African industrial revolution of recent history. But for the Igbo genocide, the east was on course to construct the “
(Alice Coltrane Sextet, “Something about John Coltrane” [Coltrane, piano; Pharoah Sanders, soprano saxophone, bells; Cecil McBee, bass; Tulsi, tambura; Rashied Ali, drums; Majid Shabazz, tambourine, bells; recorded Impulse! Records,
, 8 November 1970]) New York
The Igbo should now resume this journey in earnest. Right from the outset, Igbo women, who, in the past (i.e. prior to the British conquest and occupation), controlled and exercised extensive rights and authority over their own affairs as well as those of the rest of society, must be repositioned at the epicentre of the shared dual-gender complementary spaces of responsibility, power and authority in this historic transformation of Biafra. The Igbo have one of
Hubs of industrial and agricultural activities are already in place in their designated sites of operation in Igboland and these would form the foci of this transformation: the Onicha-Nnewi-Oka-Ihiala industrial conurbation for machine tools and heavy industry; the Enuugwu-Emene-Nsukka information technology valley; the Aba-Umuahia-Abiriba-Igwe Ocha precision equipment/light industry; the Uburu-Okposi-Egbema sodium carbonate deposits/other minerals for potential pharmaceutical and food-processing manufacturing; reactivation of Enuugwu-Udi coal fields for unlimited power generation to work this manufacturing enterprise and provide affordable lighting and other energy requirements for domestic and industrial requirements in addition to exports to countries across west Africa and elsewhere; work on renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, refuse – it is indeed incumbent on Biafran engineers to exponentially increase the country’s access to these renewables in this first vital phase of redevelopment; enhanced agricultural activities in the central and east Asu/Ebonyi valleys/Abakaleke corridor and the Onicha/upper Anambra farming belt...
Skills & talents(Andrew Hill Trio, “Tripping” or “Naked spirit” [Hill, piano; Rufus Reid, bass; Ben Riley, drums; recorded: Barrigozi Studio, Milan, Italy, 3/4 July 1986])
The involvement of Igbo expertise, especially that currently based abroad in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australasia, and elsewhere in the world is of utmost importance in this transformation project. The utilisation of this asset will understandably be managed with obvious flexibility in the drive and implementation of the enterprise. This will involve opportunities for visiting/adjunct professorships with appropriate colleges/schools/hospitals/laboratories/industrial facilities in Igboland to work in, summertime slots, and sabbatical emplacements.
Restructuring the communication/infrastructure base of
Another road and rail bridge should link the historic twin cities of Asaba and Onicha and a tunnel service under the Oshimili to carry these dual modes of transport should also be constructed. Both bridge and tunnel should be appropriately named Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Asaba and Onicha should also have a modern hovercraft service in operation. Commuter bus, coach, tram and rail services in Igbo cities and towns should quickly replace the ill-suited and unsafe “okada” or motorcycle provisions of the present. The Igbo, a much travelled people worldwide, must now establish direct flight access entry to Igboland from the outside world that is not dependent on
Every Igbo child must have access to a computer and every school in Igboland linked to the internet. Equally crucial, technical colleges should be set up in Igbo cities and towns to develop and expand on that sphere of humanpower resource upon which the advancement of society is largely predicated – growth of plumbers, electricians, draughtspeople, carpenters, builders, etc., etc. Cities and towns including Aba, Nnewi, Agbo, Nsukka, Eha Amuufu, Abakaleke, Ohafia, Mbano, Item, Umuahia, Onicha-Ugbo, Owere, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Aboh, Ozubulu, Agbaani, Akaeze, Abaa, Okigwe, Enuugwu, Asaba, Ogidi, Igwe Ocha, Isele-Ukwu, Igwe Nga, Onicha, Mbaise, Okpana, Oshiri, Ahoada, Ogwu, Ehuugbo, Ehuugbo Road, Uburu, Aguleri, Nnobi, Umu Ubani, Ahiara, Abiriba, should be sites for these colleges. These urban centres could also have their own city universities to cope with the continuously high demands from Igbo youths and others who have, since 1970, consistently maintained top position for the highest number of students seeking university places in
The 50 million Igbo should now set to work as determinably as ever. The prospects are incredibly exciting. This resultant transformation of