A CHRONICLE AND A CLARION CALL - A REVIEW OF TIME TO RECLAIM NIGERIA
By Abdul Mahmud*
The trouble with writers is that they must trouble our already troubled peace of mind. Please pardon the tautology. It seems to be their lot to unleash their vision of the ideal society on our already troubled planet. And in a social-political environment where all the institutions of state have become, literally, the enemy of the ordinary citizen, the inspired writer becomes the voice of the dispossessed. He or she becomes the voice of reason that guides and instructs us toward propagating social equity and political redemption.
Chido Onumah's Time To Reclaim Nigeria, is a timely book, (please pardon the pun), that focuses on the disturbing paradox of his nation -- that is blessed by so much resource, but also cursed by so much suffering and injustice.
Time To Reclaim Nigeria's three hundred and twelve pages is structured into three parts with eight chapters that comprise three appendixes and several pages of truly reader-friendly index. Chido Onumah has also done the reader a good turn by including the responses of so many of his compatriots across the globe: aside the forward written by Prof. Harry Garuba (of the University of Cape Town, South Africa), the preface written by Prof Bioko Agozino (of the Dept. of Sociology, Virginia Tech, USA), the introduction written by Kwesi Pratt Jnr. (managing editor, The Insight newspaper, Ghana), there are nine pages of blurbs from thirty four readers of this book. This, I must say is a bibliographical record!
We are all familiar with the details of Nigeria's embarrassing situation, but the refreshing aspect of this book, TIME TO RECLAIM NIGERIA, is that it not only chronicles and denounces all the shenanigans and malfeasances of Nigeria's infamous political actors in the last ten years of the Fourth Republic, it also calls for an urgent mending of the damaged contract between the badly traumatized citizen and the plundering Nigerian state.
Understandably, so much anger and gloom permeate the analytical pages of Time To Reclaim Nigeria. The author, a self-confessed revolutionary, however, does not shy away from proffering a way out of the quagmire of the present dismal picture of the nation. Chido Onumah also dares to dream an alternative vision of a more just and equitable nation.
For those bitten by the bug of change, this book can't but be a magnetic force powering that desired objective. In this 312 paged book, the historical picture of gloom, a dreadful milieu enveloped by poor leadership stare us in the face, is starkly depicted and analyzed.
The most courageous thing about Time to Reclaim Nigeria is that it does not mince words in the analyses of the daunting challenges facing Nigeria. This is most likely going to make the reader to conclude that this one work, driven not just by anger but also a patriotic passion for a genuine transformation of Nigeria, not the phony slogans of transformation being sold to a terribly impoverished populace.
I must conclude this short review by reverting to the words of two of the earlier illustrious readers of this very important book. The Harvard Professor of Comparative Literature Biodun Jeyifo says, "Without oversimplifying or idealizing things, Chido Onumah always writes with the vision of a better, more just and more humane Nigeria as the bedrock of his faith and his optimism. His is an impassioned and urgent voice that we would do well to listen"
This reviewer cannot but concur! Every reader of this book either domiciled in Nigeria, or in the Diaspora, should also heed the words of another perceptive reader, Professor Harry Garuba of the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town University, South Africa: "Home, they say is where the hurt is; but home is also where hope nests. Time To Reclaim Nigeria takes us through the hurt to the home of hope. If you are reading this, it's time to embark on this journey from hurt to hope with Chido Onumah's book as guide and compass.'
*Lawyer and poet, Abdul Mahmud is ex-president, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).