Being a Key Note address delivered by Prof Uwakwe Abugu, Faculty of Law, University of Abuja, during the Opening Ceremony of the Annual Convention of the Nsukka Journalists Foundation, NJF, at Adada House, Nsukka on October 2, 2021
The theme of conference was "Building Nsukka As A Brand."
1. Protocol and Introduction
2.Whose Dream? Your Dream or Our Dream?
In discussing any dream, the identity of the dreamer is very important. This is
because a person’s dream can only be as big or as small as his consciousness can
carry him. Any dream beyond the consciousness of a person can only qualify as an unrealistic and unrealizable hallucination that may call for a doctor’s attention. In building the Nsukka of our Dream, the question is who is the person dreaming? Is it the Nsukka Journalists foundation, NJF, which actually concerned this title, or the dream of NJF and myself, whom you have invited to speak on it, or is it the dream of all of us gathered here today for this event or the dream of the Nsukka indigenes?
This is important because the Nsukka of NJF’s dream may not be a typical Nsukka
politician’s dream nor that of a typical wine tapper in my village nor that of an
okrika trader in Ahia Ogige Nsukka. By the way, it is not every entity or person that
is capable of dreaming. I have met many persons who say that they never dream
while sleeping. Even dream in its metaphoric sense as conceiving of a future reality and proposing the modus operandi for its achievement is not generally available to all entities and persons. This is because to dream by a person requires conscious effort after a period of self - assessment and self-realization. In other words an Nsukka man or woman who does not think Nsukka, eat Nsukka, drink Nsukka, live Nsukka and proud of Nsukka can never conceive of an Nsukka of his or her dream.
By the same token an organization can hardly come up with a particular dream or
project unless that dream forms part of its identity by being entrenched in its
objectives and by such embers being fanned in the consciousness of its members.
So it is practically impossible for all Nsukka persons or organizations to conceive of
the same dream about Nsukka. The reasons being that while many may not yield or dispose themselves towards such dreams, others dreaming may conceive the dream differently. As such Nsukka of our dream may end up being Nsukka of my dream, Nsukka of your dream or Nsukka of NJF’s dream or Nsukka of the dream of any person or organization but certainly not Nsukka of the dream of the whole Nsukka
people. The main reason why it is not possible to conceive of the Nsukka of the
dream of the whole Nsukka is because there is nothing like Nsukka central
government nor any organization made up of representatives of all the cross
sections of Nsukka. The only one closest to such an organization achieved that
identity only by name that is the Nsukka General Assembly. From a membership of
just over 50, made up mainly of the political elites, technocrats, intellectuals,
professionals and business megnates, the Assembly can now boast of a membership
of over 1000 individual mainly the hangers on and foot soldiers of Nsukka
politicians. As presently constituted, the Nsukka General Assembly is not capable
of forging a rallying point for conceiving Nsukka of the dream of the whole Nsukka
people. Political science and state craft teach that the journalists are the Fourth
Estate of the Realm. In a layman’s language, they are the fourth arm of government since constitutionally they are the official watch dog of the other three arms, the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary. In law, it is settled principle that the only arm of government that survives a coup d’tat is the judiciary. However, where the three arms is not in existence, the Fourth Estate i.e. the fourth arm becomes the only arm to carry on the mantle of governance not by legislating in the National or State Assembly nor executing any law, but by representing the people’s conscience and by moulding their consciousness, their thought process and guiding them through developing and executing an agenda for self-realization and achieving optimum development. This is exactly where the Nsukka Journalists Foundation find itself in the context of Nsukka as a people. I make bold to locate the burden of conceiving the Nsukka of our dream and taking steps to build same on the shoulders of Nsukka Journalists Foundation.
So whatever my thoughts on building the Nsukka of our dreams might be they are just suggestions to the NJF in conceiving and building the Nsukka of its dream.
3. The Building Block of the Dream
To build the Nsukka of our dream we need to beam the search light first on Nsukka
as it is now or rather make some assumptions on the present state of Nsukka as a people. The following are basic assumptions about Nsukka.
3.1. We Identify with One Another
We are very clannish and tend to move towards one another. This is evidenced in
the fact that there is no town or local government in Nigeria where Nsukka people do not have a union that brings them together. Even back home there are
uncountable number of socio-political associations of Nsukka indigenes.
Even the Nsukka Journalists Foundation is one such socio-cultural organizations. We can also see this in the gregarious movements among the political class such as the local government Chairmen in Nsukka and the fraternal relationships among Nsukka politicians irrespective of political differences
3.2 We Love our Dialects
We have a very deep love for our dialects and we speak and celebrate it at every
slightest opportunity. This is in spite of sub-dialectical differences among different towns and communities.
3.3 We are a Big Political Block
We represent a formidable political block in Enugu State with Seven local governments in the State and a voting population of about 51%. We can determine the trend and movement of political power in the State. Nsukka is the largest monolithic cultural group in the whole of Enugu State. Perhaps it is to whittle down our supervening political power that the present Anyamelu Local Government Area of Anambra State was forcefully removed from Uzo Uwani Local Government of Enugu State to Anambra State. Again to beef up the population and political capital of Enugu East Senatorial Zone, Isi Uzo local government was unconscionably and in a manner reminiscent of the scramble and petition of Africa, taken away from their kits and kins in Nsukka Senatorial Zone to join Enugu East.
3.4 Our Land is blessed Beyond Measure
We are divinely located as the bridge between the northern and southern Nigeria. By token of this location we have a climate and geography that is an admixture of
North and South. We have crude oil deposit, we have deposit of coal apart from the agrarian soil and special farm produce, especially the Ose Nsukka that is only one
of its kind in the world.
3.5 We have the people
Although we started late, Nsukka has overtaken many parts of Igbo land in
education and business. We are very strong in the professions and as technocrats. We are blessed with distinct and rare grey-matter that can excel in any human endeavour and anywhere in the world.
4. Nsukka of our Dream
The Nsukka of our dream to my mind should be:
a. Nsukka that harnesses our full potentials and endowments;
b. Nsukka that maximizes our God given opportunities;
c. Nsukka that speaks with one voice and act in unison in matters of economic,
political and social realities of Enugu State and Nigeria;
d. Nsukka that every Nsukka man or woman is conscientized into thinking and
acting Nsukka first before personal and or other group interests;
e. Nsukka that the “Nwa Nsukka” complex is replaced with the superiority complex of “Nsukka Amaka”, “Nsukka is the Best”, Nke Anyi, Ka Oyi”;and f. Nsukka that all villages and communities are urbanized in terms of government and self-help projects and infrastructure
. Building the Nsukka of our Dream (the Nsukka Brand)
4.1 We Need Nsukka Brand Ambassadors
Those of us who have been called into this Nsukka brand project should realize that it is like a ministry and acalling and that even the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, were not called at the same time.What it means is that we have to take building the Nsukka brand as a personal project, first, by acting,dreaming, eating, speaking and even sleeping Nsukka.
We also need to gradually recruit and induct others to think and act “Nsukkaly” like us.The Nsukka Brand is like an ideology which must be developed by consistent exposure and indoctrination beore it can take firm root.
4.2 Rediscovering our Identity as a people
Most Nsukka surnames are peculiar to Nsukka.Examples are Asogwa, Ugwoke, UgwuAgbo, Ossai, Elugu, Odo etc.This is so even though some of them like Idoko, Ali, Ogbaje, etc are borrowed either from Idoma or Igala.
The result is that we can brand Nsukka by insisting and continuing to maintain our family surnames from generations to generations. For instance the Ojukwu and Orizu families in Anambra State are so large that they span countless generations.My personal observation shows that many Nsukka men and women are not proud of their local surnames, so they either use their father’s English first name or their own first or second names as their surnames.You now see our people bearing such names as Jude Christopher, Emeka John or Davidson Emmanuel. An Nsukka man or woman can easily be identified anywhere in the world by his other peculiar surname.
4.3 Developing and Promoting a more generic name for Nsukka People
The name Nsukka actually belongs toNsukka town made up of Mkpunano, Ihe/Owere and Nru, not even to all other towns in Nsukka Local Government.The result is that while many indigenes of other towns in Nsukka Cultural zone find it difficult to introduce themselves as indigenes of Nsukka, others make the mistake of confusing their township of origin from being an indigene of Nsukka cultural zone. On the other hand, the real indigenes of Nsukka town have cause to complain that their identity is being swallowed up in the maze of the wider dominance of Nsukka asa cultural zone. In the sociopolitical circle,the name Nsukka Senatorial Zone andNsukka Cultural Zone are gaining new prominence in identifying indigenes of the seven Local Government Areas that make up Nsukka cultural zone.But these names are merely descriptions to meet social and political expediency.We actually need and deserve a new name that would readily encompass all of us of Nsukka Cultural group. I make bold to propose that we should begin to promote the name“Igbo Nsukka” as a unifying name for all of us.A deep thought on this proposal is recommended for deliberation by thisFoundation for, when the journalists say yes, only God can say no.
4.4 Forging Close Collaborations Among Nsukka Socio-Cultural Organizations
There are countless socio-cultural organizations in Nsukka. Unfortunately,many of them are either working at cross-purposes or are pursuing the same
objectives in uncoordinated manner.There is nothing wrong with a particular organization like the NJF taking the initiative of extending hands of fellowship to other organizations or even planning and hosting of all Nsukka Town Unions Summit or Nsukka Traditional Rulers Summit.
4.5 Registering an Nsukka Brand Foundation
This should be a non-patisan and not-for-profit organisation, solely for promoting the building everything about Nsukka; Nsukka of our dream and Nsukka Brand.
4.6 Pursuing Nsukka Special Identity Projects
Such projects may include:
Planning and hosting Nsukka Cultural and Manwu Festival;
Planning and hosting Nsukka Food Festival as an advancement of the present;
Setting up a Committee of Experts for developing the Nsukka Dialects Autography for future teaching and learning in Nsukka dialects in schools;
Establishing Radio and Television Stations dedicated to promoting Nsukka people and culture;
Building and Commissioning NsukkaIntegrated Cultural Centre; and
Building and Commissioning NsukkaUnity Fountain and Nsukka Unity Tower in Nsukka town.
4.7 Collaboration with Local Governments of Nsukka Senatorial Zone
With the Cooperation now existing among the Local Government Chairmen, in Nsukka so much in terms of Nsukka Centred Projects could be achieved if the Chairmen are mobilized and sensitized.
4.8 Maintaining Eternal Vigilance in the Defence of NsukkaCause
The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance.We must build a culture of fighting for and defending our rights,ourselves and our possessions from unnecessary infraction.Where were all Nsukka political elites and leaders of thought when Omor and Ifete Ogweri were ceded to Anambra State and Isi Uzo Local Government was forcefully annexed to EnuguEast.We may not believe it but the excision of these territories has implication for the pursuit of Adada State.
Building Nsukka of our dream is a project we all have a duty to promote and buy into. There is no appropriate time than now and we do not need the consensus of the entire Nsukka people to do so.
Some of us including many groups and organizations, like the NJF are already called to the ministry. Only our good work in this regard would convert others and eventually every Nsukka man and woman to opt into this crusade.
Finally, I am convinced beyond doubt that:
“Nsukka is a blue-chip and superior brand. We have the people, we have the head, we have the size, and we have the number. We can go as far as our thoughts and convictions can take us”