By Ada Anioji
A new book by the writer, Chido Onumah is due to be presented to the public at a launch on May 31.
The book, We are all Biafrans is a collaboration between Parresia Publishers Ltd and the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy and the launch is being carried out in partnership with the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation.
Designed as a platform to reinforce the debate about federalism and national reconciliation, the launch is expected to attract a wide array of Nigerian politicians, academics, activists, media practitioners and social workers. Onumah, who had worked in media establishments in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Canada is presently the Coordinator of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), with headquarters in Abuja.
Like his two previous books (Time to Reclaim Nigeria and Nigeria is Negotiable), We Are All Biafrans is a collection of essays published by the author in various newspapers in the last three years (2013-2016) focusing on the crisis of nationhood in Nigeria. It has five chapters namely, “The Politics of 2015”, “Dancing on the Brink”,“Unmaking Nigeria”, “Of Scoundrels and Statesmen”, and “Last ‘Missionary’ Journey”.
A staunch advocate of federalism in its proper sense, Onumah in this book contends that most, if not all, of the problems of Nigeria today are located in the way the country is structured. As he did in his previous books, he makes an eminently logical case for an urgent socio-political restructuring of Nigeria in order to ward off a looming catastrophe that could endanger our collective well-being. He argues that the country needs to engage episodic political convulsions that threaten its very foundation, including Biafra, June 12, Boko Haram, the “National Question”, citizenship rights, and “militocracy”.
In his typical manner, he takes on Nigeria’s indolent and reactionary ruling elite – civilian and military – and their allies, as well as bandits in uniform, scoundrels posing as statesmen, and conservative ideologues, religious bigots, and ethnic chauvinists posing as patriots.
The author notes that we can’t achieve any meaningful progress as a people until we come to terms with the reality of our existence – that Nigeria is a deeply flawed nation – and sincerely and selflessly confront it.
He raises fundamental questions such as, What is Nigeria and who is a Nigerian? If Nigeria is a federal republic, what constitutes or should constitute the federating units? He posits that the different manifestations of Biafra may well be a metaphor as all ethnic groups in Nigeria are victims of the terrible misrule of the past decades and thus desire a change in their material conditions.
“Chido Onumah raises opinion-making about Nigeria to the standards of great, uncompromising art,” notes Odia Ofeimun, author, poet and ex-President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). We are all Biafrans is a clarion call to reclaim a country that is on the verge of national suicide. It seeks to trigger the debate that will eventually nudge Nigerians towards kick-starting the process of a genuine re-invention of the country.