PAUL University, Awka, Anambra State rolled drums to celebrate its pioneer proprietor, the Most Rev. Archbishop MSC Anikwenwa [rtd] in grand style on the birthday cum the second annual “Anikwenwa Public Lecture”.
The maiden lecture was held last year but this year coincided with the birthday of the celebrated clergy. The uniqueness of this year’s epoch-making event was the large turnout of people due to great respect bestowed on the man of God for his successful pastoral work and equally for being the proprietor of Paul University, more especially as he gave his premises for the takeoff.
In addition of the uniqueness of the event, one of the prominent senators from the Southeast Geopolitical Zone, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe delivered a keynote address that touched topical issues that constitute challenges in the governance of Nigeria. Consequently, the strategic areas covered triggered comments from the well informed elite that graced the occasion.
In his welcome address, the Acting Vice Chancellor of Paul University, Awka, Ven. Prof. Obiora Nwosu described the Most Rev. Maxwell Anikwenwa, in the words that encapsulated his wide range of ecclesiastical and academic accomplishments. He said: “The Most Rev. Maxwell Anikwenwa is an institution, a great servant of God, an icon, a pillar of Anglican Church in Nigeria, a great visionary and the pioneer proprietor of Paul University; the institution is today giving honour to whom honour is due. The university is celebrating and appreciating a cornerstone of whom God has used to establish Paul University; he gave up his compound for the establishment of the university”.
While appealing for donations from education loving Nigerians, Nwosu commended His Grace, the Most Rev. Alexander Ibezim, Archbishop, Province of the Niger and Bishop, Diocese of Awka, for his various assistance to the university, regretting that unlike similar universities, the university did not get take-off grants.
The chairman of the epochal event and traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Sir Ben Emeka [OkeEbo 11 of Umueri], who extolled the unique pastoral accomplishments of the Archbishop, commended Paul University for using the annual lecture series to immortalise Archbishop Anikwenwa.
In his remarks, the adjunct Provost, College of Post Graduate Studies and DVC Administration, Prof. Godwin Onu, said that it fell on his lot to initiate the annual lecture to make the university visible and make the staff and students proud of their institution.
Commenting on the keynote address by Senator Abaribe, Onu, who is a political scientist, appealed to the presidential aspirants to the 2023 presidency to factor massive devolution of power to reinvent the principles of federal system of government which made the first republic to flourish on a competitive federalism. He contended that the principles of federal system of government will pave way for proper funding tertiary educational institutions.
The Professor of Political Science said: “I have been an advocate of what is called in some quarters as ‘true federalism’. Federalism thrives in Canada, Australia, Germany, US, because every unit of the federation is by law permitted to manage their own affairs. And in those areas that are in the exclusive legislative list they come together to manage their country, manage the army.
“Police is supposed to be a state thing and local government stuff should be a community thing. The federal government is not supposed to be involved in policing unless they have their own police. Restructuring is embedded in true federalism so that there will be competition among the federating units as it was the case in the first republic. If there is true federalism, education may not be a federal affair as the federating units and organisations will establish and have sustainable ways of funding tertiary educational institutions. As it is now in the country, everything is muddled up”
Also speaking, Archbishop Anikwenwa, who was accompanied by his wife was aglow with joy at the epochal event. He said that he was already in heaven; “it is an event that inspires”.
Commenting on the keynote address, the Archbishop of Okigwe Diocese, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. David Onuora, while deploring the parlous economic situation said that “Nigeria is at crossroads and we Nigerians particularly Igbo people must stand up to be counted. The nation will not continue like this to survive and God had given the Igbo man that grace to bring out something out of nothing. And this is the gift Nigeria has refused to explore. For this time around, we must stand firm to reclaim Nigeria by insisting that the right presidential candidate that has the capacity, vision and competence becomes the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
On his feeling about the event, the clergy described Archbishop Anikwenwa as “a model; those of us coming up as bishops and archbishops should do well to understudy personalities like this. I leant integrity from him, I learnt courage, boldness and he was all out for the good of the diocese and not for his personal gains.
“I am happy that his work is still speaking more than 10 years he retired and it gives me joy. We, the younger ones should rediscover his footmarks in the sands of time”.
On the opinion of the presidential candidate of APC, Ahmed Tinubu that it is his turn to rule Nigeria, the distinguished clergy man said: “It is the turn of Nigerians to get a good president that will turn things around; it is not the turn of any individual, any tribe, any nationality but the turn of any Nigerian to have the services of a good committed and patriotic leader”.
Also commenting on the keynote address, the former governorship candidate of PDPin the last election, who represented the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, Val Ozoigbo, that commended Senator Abaribe for his apt topic “Nigeria at crossroads-which was forward” which had been in his thoughts and attributed the monstrous challenges facing Nigeria to what he described as “leadership failure over the years”.
“2023 presidential election amount to choosing rightly and appropriately, it is about character, competency, commitment, compassion over primordial sentiments of ethnicity and religion and the nonsense that has held us down; and this is why I believe Nigeria stands a great chance of evolving as a great nation going forward because a lot of civilized Nigerians have all taken their decision from what we can see.
On the issue of the northerners tasking the presidential candidates on the northern interest, Ozoigbo said: “there is no difference between northern interest, western interest, and eastern interest in the good things of life. The wider interest is the same and they are quality education, good roads, security, booming economy from consumption to production, not ethnic jingoism and nepotism”.
In his speech titled: Nigeria at Crossroads-The Way Forward, Senator Abaribe ex-rayed the excruciating challenges and how to advance the fortunes of the Nigerian nation.
He said: “The situation of this country is indeed, dire. There is no gainsaying that. But I do not intend to agonise about Nigeria. We can consolidate by reaffirming our pledge to this country; it is the only one we have. Fortunately, God almighty has already shown up for Ndigbo through the recent judgement of the Court of Appeal on NnamdiKanu. It is a clear referendum on Nigeria’s handling of the case of our brother, Nnamdi Kanu”.
Abaribe rued “that for the way Nigeria is at the moment, unless there is a revolution or a total overhaul of every aspect of the system, not even Angels descending from heaven can salvage the situation. We are tethering on the brink of total collapse”.
Abaribe called for evolvement of good governance at least in the Igbo speaking states by deploying the revenues for the welfare of the people. He said: As we had stated earlier, we have almost lost the Southeast to Conflict Entrepreneurs and it is undeniable that opportunistic crimes are being committed daily by our own people who are taking advantage of the near state of anarchy to unleash mayhem on their kin. We must face the fact that a high percentage of our current security challenges in the Southeast are being perpetrated by our own people who also are partners in crime with foreign undesirables.
“We must look ourselves in the face and agree to confront this menace to our development and well-being. The impact on commerce and industry in the South East of the so-called “Holy Monday” and frequent sit-at-homes is clearly deleterious to our development. We must reject this nihilistic approach. South East should review the system of hiring its leadership because the real factor to our security and development is in our hands”.
The distinguished senator, otherwise called “Mmaagha Ndigbo” called for immediate restructuring of the lopsided federation to reinvent the competitive federalism that made the Eastern Region one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. He contended that “Power/Restructuring must be embarked upon urgently where power is devolved to constituent zones and states so as to unlock their hidden, suppressed productivity in a healthy competitive way.“As a member of Ohaneze Committee on Constitutional Amendment in the 8th Senate,we had recommended a reduction of the 64 item exclusive list to a 23 item list to free up the economic potentials of the country essentially going the route of restructuring. These amendments were not agreed upon by the Joint Committees of the then National Assembly. Of recent, whenever the word, restructuring is mentioned, it raises the hackles of some people. Infact, one of the candidates in the presidential contest was reported to have said “restructuring my foot,” in a viral video.
“However, according the Elder statesman Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Nigeria’s diversity will be better managed under a federation with autonomous units and devolution of powers from the currently powerful centre to the federating units. Anyaoku said that the Nigerian electorate must ensure that the presidential candidates for 2023 elections commit unequivocally to the de-construction of the present political structure and its replacement with an equitable, inclusive and participatory governance system that guarantees a fundamental human rights, with fairness and justice to all citizen”.
On the public sector corruption, he advocated what he termed “self-cleansing, moral reorientation and self-introspection to move out of the rot in the country. The whole shenanigans about subsidy and its effects on our economy have to be tackled head-on and government must take its hand off that sector. NNPC says we consume 66 million litres daily; at 33,000 litres, it means 2,000 trucks from the depot daily; an impossibility.
“That is why Hamid Alli in Custom disputes the figure and Peter Obi has called it a monumental scam. In 2015, Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum gave the correct figure of 29 million litres per day what has happened in Nigeria to margically raise it to 66 million liters per day must be the 10th wonder of th world.
Continuing, Abaribe recalled what Sanusi, [former Emir of Kano] said that Pakistan and Nigeria have nearly the same population, yet Nigeria consumes three times more petrol than Pakistan despite the fact that Pakistan is far more developed than Nigeria. On the causes of inflation and foreign exchange crises, he regretted that a small number of rent seekers become billionaires just from forex exchange arbitrage.