(Born 5 May 1914, Arundizuogu, Biafra)
CELEBRATED AFRICAN peoples-centred intellectual, graduate of University of Chicago, arguably the profoundest political economic thinker in the provisional restoration-of-independence government of (British occupied) east region Nigeria, home of the historic Igbo village republican democratic states that had flourished for over a millennium; minister of economic development and planning and architect of the 1947-1966 transformation of this pre-Igbo genocide political economy to Africa’s most dynamic with immense possibilities.
The Ojike Plan had envisaged a 20-year timeframe, beginning in 1954, during which the east region would be transformed into an advanced multifaceted industrial and agricultural economy. 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 (University of Nsukka) 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-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, launched by Britain and its Hausa-Fulani islamist/jihadist north region-led Nigeria client state on 29 May 1966 and continuing as these lines are written, 52 years on, with the murder of 3.1 million Igbo or 25 per cent of the Igbo population during the first three phases of the crime (29 May 1966-12 January 1970), the east was on course to construct the “
Mbonu Ojike City of Innovation and Enterprise
(Red Garland Quintet, “All mornin’ long” [personnel: Garland, piano; Donald Byrd, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor saxophone; George Joyner, bass; Art Taylor, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, US, 15 November 1957])