‘Now when John (de Baptist) had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples. And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another………?’’ Matthew 11: 2-3 (KJV)
Coincidentally his name is John (de Nnia Nwodo), in this role reversed narrative.
We encountered Chief John Nnia Nwodo in an interview granted him on the ‘‘happenstances’’ on Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), when security operatives made a career out of killing
Biafra agitators. In that relaxed interview, he put style and confidence to his intelligent answers, thereby impressing friends and foes. He represented and gave strong character to the Oha-na-Eze – an Igbo apex Socio-cultural organisation. The interviewers weren’t his match as he brought some historical antecedents to back up his answers.
Nwodo had been the Information and Culture minister under the dictator General Alhaji Abdulsalami Abubakar, having previously been the junior minister of Civil Aviation in 1983. He went on to become a Nigeria presidential aspirant in the wake of the third republic, midwifed by General A A Abubakar. Most of all, Chief Nwodo is a Biafran war veteran, having dedicated his young promising life to the trenches – mainly in Nsukka and Abagana sectors. So his eyes saw the hellish war. He experienced the pain of Biafra, largely constituted by Ndi-Igbo (Igbo people), whom he now presides over. In a nutshell, Chief Nwodo knows ‘‘from where the rain started beating Ndi-Igbo’’ in the words of our Eternal Grand Master and Sage Chinua Achebe.
When Chief Nwodo was overwhelmingly elected to the presidency of Oha-na-Eze Ndi-Igbo in January, 2017, many stakeholders adjusted their sitting positions in their easy-chair, in anticipation of a certain change in the life of Ndi-Igbo – for better or worse. ‘‘For worse’’ is in the sense that Chief Nwodo had been an active politician under corrupt governments, including military regimes. On top of that, he had been in active politics, 1999 till date, through which most Nigerian politicians lost their souls to corruption and selfishness. So one can comfortably assume Chief John Nwodo is one of packs.
One of the reasons Chief Sam Mbakwe’s name, fondly called Dee Sam, is ‘‘the key to the gate of heaven’’ in Imo State politics today is his antecedents. He knew where the rain started beating the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria. He was the administrator of Okigwe province and a roving ambassador of war, in the ranks of plenipotentiary. Dee Sam suffered!
It can’t just be possible for such a man who had keyed emotionally into the pains of his people not to be moved to tears if the people’s pains linger. So it happened that he was moved to tears when he made an impassioned appeal to the federal government on the devastation of flood in Ndiegoro near Aba. So the Weeping Governor, as he came to be known, carried over the pains and devastation of the civil war ravished people. He was determined to plug every hole. He set to work – alleviating poverty and gaining fame. And famous he still is. The tonic for good leadership is the election of individuals who know the story of how it all began. Those who were there, from the beginning.
Some days ago, an event played out at Nike Lake Hotel Resort. It was there that Chief Nwodo constituted and inaugurated a 100-member Planning and Strategy Committee, headed by former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo.
The committee’s mandate is to design both the economic and political development agenda for Ndi-Igbo. By so doing, he has set the agenda for Igbos to take their destiny in their own hands, as a marginalised people. The outcome of the committee’s report will be used, in collaboration with their governors, to formulate some integrative eco-programmes for all Igbo speaking states in Nigeria. The ‘‘collabo’’ will see the linking of Igbo speaking states with standard-gauge rail lines. It will also include the programme of planting one million palm trees in the following five years.
This particular programme of palm trees is capable of opening up investment portfolios in small, medium and high scale processing and manufacturing industries, which are hallmark of Ndi-Igbo entrepreneurial spirit. Eastern states of Nigeria alone can help our country match Malaysia one to one. They can give Malaysians a run for their money in their large market share, which they currently enjoy, in the global palm produce market.
By an act of God, Nigeria’s palm oil, mainly found in the eastern states, is reputed to have higher calorific value (CV), which is the energy contained in a fuel or food, measured in Joules per kilogram (J/Kg). High CV is very attractive in procurement for use for bio-oil and other ancillary products.
Still by an act of God, the specie of palm oil found in eastern Nigeria can easily be converted to bio-oil/fuel for use (in vehicles for instance). The ‘‘magic’’ lies in the ease or low cost with which its moisture content can be expelled in a simple pyrolysis technology. Nigeria’s palm oil yields the highest possible bio-oil and synthetic gas (syngas).
It is no long news therefore about the ingenuity of the Igbo people. The defunct People’s Republic of Biafra, mainly Igbos, was able to sustain itself with bio-oil and gas as fuel when it was blockaded during the civil war, 1967-70. Ingenious Biafrans even used crude technology of pyrolysis, and it worked damn well.
As exciting as palm tree programme is, the most tickling mandate to Prof Chukwuma Soludo’s committee is the task to explore the possibility of coal mining.
Perhaps I can now assume the status of a hypocrite here. As a consultant in renewable energy, it may sound scandalous to advocate for coal mining, which contributes nearly 70% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission and the consequent destruction of the ozone layer. Carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas (GHG) on the planet. But what shall I do in the face of more-than-critical situation of lack electric power in Nigeria? I think it is right for respective governments to tailor their domestic policies to suit them right, but they should also strive hard to meet global agreements.
In the wake of December, 1997, Kyoto Protocol on climate change – effective February, 2005, China dodged to sign unto it. China said it wasn’t ready then. And how would they? China was in deficit in power generation. It needed coal fired power to firm its power supply. So it is natural Chinese reverted to ‘‘God-given treasure’’ under their feet to shore up demands, else there would be unrest.
This they did until they were out of ‘‘trouble’’. Meanwhile United States of America, as a champion of United Nation’s cause, had shut-down its coal mines in Wyoming and elsewhere, with many Americans out of job. Now China has bounced back to renewable energy and leading with an average 40% market share installed capacity of biomass, wind and solar versus the rest of the world, after utilising their coal deposits, at 64%, to meet local demands.
President Donald Trump didn’t find this international politics funny. It irked him. He pulled the USA out of Paris Agreement. He called the story of climate change a hoax, and it possibly can be. He has gone back to look inwards, by way of resuming coal mining and providing mining jobs to Americans in Wyoming, West Virginia, etc.
Despite the huge deposit of coal in eastern Nigeria, in the wake of Kyoto Protocol, Nigeria took the bait in order to impress renewable energy global facilitators. International politics can be interesting, especially as third world countries, such as Nigeria, don’t get it.
This may account for why Chief Nwodo added, as a brief to the committee, ‘‘to formulate as a policy the maximisation of the coal resources for power generation’’. Despite that CO2 output from coal is about 1.183KgCO2e/kWh of electricity, I am hoping that this should be done urgently. On the other hand, a substantial revenue should be earmarked for carbon capture and sequestration, such as the planting of a million palm trees – since trees absorb CO2, to save our earth.
If there is any zone that badly needs power in Nigeria, it is south-east. The people of that clime are industrious with manufacturing and fabrication. Lack of electric power has really kept the manufacturing hubs of Aba, Nnewi and Onitsha down for far too long, and Nigeria is paying dearly for it.
Leadership is also the ability to see further into the future. Chief Nwodo has demonstrated this, and we leap with joy.
As someone who has visited all the three-senatorial zones of every state of the federation, 109 of them, including the capital city, Abuja, I can fairly talk about Nigeria. By extant laws, the mineral deposits are under the federal government. But it pains to see members of northern zones set up make-shift quarries in order to mine their mineral deposits, like quartz and other ‘‘precious stones’’, as a means of livelihood.
In the south-south, it wasn’t funny for residents of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, early this year, when they were confronted with pitch-black particulate matters (PM). Those PMs, in the form of carbon soot, are microns in size. They came from illegal and unregulated refineries set up my locals, from where they also help themselves. PMs are amorphous by nature and attack the lungs. They cause bronchitis is split seconds.
The east does not benefit from that sort of illegality. So it is important we give the call for restructuring teething bite – more voice, starting from Oha-na-Eze leadership. Restructuring solves the problem of parasitic association of federating states, also known as ‘‘who is fooling who in Nigeria’’.
Therefore Chief John Nnia Nwodo, I am now ever willing to take some words back to the man who sent me.
‘‘Christ answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them…….’’ Matthew 11:4-5 (KJV).
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