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TranscriptCNN International interviewwith Nigeria's President Obasanjoand Publisher ChidoNwangwu on Democracy and Security Issues

Zik of Africa:Statesman, Intellectual and Titan of Africanpolitics

This tribute-essay by USAfricaonline.comPublisher Chido Nwangwu was first written while he lived in Nigeriain October 1988. It has been updated online, yearly, for the greatDr. Azikiwe's birthday since November 16, 1993 to date, November 16,2005

Flashback to Monday, January 11, 1960:
Thefirst business session of the Nigerian Senate in Lagos is inprogress. It is a full-house impregnated with lofty, patrioticexpectations of a new Nigeria. Standing up amid the expectation,Senator Nuhu Bamali said: "I have the honor to propose that Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe do take the chair of this House as the president. I amhappy that a man who had spent all his life working for the politicalemancipation of his peopleand for the independence of this country should be the first tobecome the president of this..."

The announcement was welcomed with warm, loud applause. Then,with a dignified presidential bearing, and standing tall beyond sixfeet, Zik, the spearhead of the struggle for Nigeria's politicalindependence, early apostle of pan-Africanism, continued his upwardmobility in Nigeria's political history and arena. Nnamdi Azikiwe'Zik of Africa', was born on November 16, 1904 at Zungeru, northernNigeria. He lived as the master of crafty political game-plans. He,like Dr. K.O Mbadiwe,  lived as Nigeria's foremost neologist andwordsmith extraordinaire.

Wednesday, October 12, 1988:
In the bowel of the Nsukka hills, a shouting distance from myalma mater, Nigerias first indigenous university, University ofNigeria, is a quiet, but remarkable home, the Onuiyi Haven. I livedbriefly, like most first year students at the Zik's flats, whcih wasa few minutes walking distance from Azikiwe's Onuiyi Haven.Appropriately, that remarkable stately residence is called Onuiyi.Onuiyi is an Igbo word which ordinarily means the source of astream.

Indeed, here, a stream of wisdom flows from a sage, the grand masterof Nigerian politics; it flows at a finely calibrated tempo and witha disarming subtlety. For many decades, the sages river of wisdom hasnourished generations and cultures, academic gurus and village wags,politicos and iron surgeons (soldiers), kings and queens, princes andplebians. In the background, birds chirp away some musical notes.Tree leaves continued to rustle and sway in harmony as if saying"It's another bright day for the Owelle. You're welcome."
About 9:00 a.m., Zik's personal secretary and his trusted aide, Mr.A. Okolo, briefs him about general issues of importance,correspondence, commitments and visitors to the Onuiyi Haven. Inalmost all public and private ceremonies, he has assisted Dr.Azikiwe.

At 2:48 p.m., Okolo directs this reporter through the second gate. AsI walked the staircase with him, thoughts and questions began to formrapidly on my mind like a fresh colony of mushrooms on a beautifultropical sunrise.
For example, what if Dr. Azikiwe emerged now, what should be thefirst question? Should I follow my planned interview-plot or apply aflexible, situational tactic and flow with the disposition of thesage?
Although Okolo knew I was coming, I still pondered: Will the titan ofAfrican politics grant me just 20 minutes, 10 minutes?
Will he even talk to me? If he did, by any measure in the Africancontinent, it would have been my biggest, most important interview.(Then, I was just in my early twenties serving as Assistant Editor ofPlatform magazine in Lagos; that's shortly after I left the NigerianTelevision Authority as a news and programming presenter).

There were questions I wanted to ask concerning Azikiwe'sautobiographical magnum opus he titled, My Odyssey.Remarkably, 25 years after that books release, our brother Gen. ColinPowell's bestseller is similarly titled, My American Journey.

For all serious students of pan-Africanism, African culture andnationalism and United States-Africa-Nigeria relations, Azikiwesbooks, especially Renascent Africa are vital, a must-read. I read MyOdyssey in 1976 at the Bishop Johnson Street residence of my brother,Samson Orji Nwangwu, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

No other secular book at the time I was growing up helped define andshape my intellectual destination and outlook better than Azikiwe'sautobiography, My Odyssey. Though this lion of Africa's nationalismis dead, many of us await to see if his staff and children will helpfulfil the promise and task he set for himself in London as stated inthe 1970 preface to My Odyssey.
In it he stated: "In a subsequent volume, I hope to discuss how Ifounded the African Continental Bank; my entry into the orbit ofNigerian Politics; my participation in the crusade for the freedom ofNigerian; my stewardship as Premier of Eastern Nigeria; the foundingof the University of Nigeria; my tenure as Governor-General of theFederation of Nigeria and then President of the Federal Republic ofNigeria."

Azikiwe'scolorful and combative entry into the trying times of nationalisticagitation and post-independence partisan politics has been supportedand illuminated by his penetrating prolific, and incisive literarypower. Azikiwe lived as the better embodiment of Nigeria's and indeedAfrica's "philosopher-king" - alongside the likes of Kwame Nkrumah ofGhana and Leopold Senghor of Senegal in the 1960s. Yet, to this day,the followers and foes of the artful Azikiwean political stratagemand craftiness expected Nigeria's most durable political figure stillseek to clear a forest of issues obstructing a thorough understandingof events and personalities in the development of Nigeria, especiallyhis relationship with the late nationalists Chief Obafemi Awolowo,Ahmadu Bello and the Zikist Movement.

Contrary to dangerously uninformed, pedestrian revisionism ofNigeria's nationalist struggle by some fellows, that country did notget its independence "on a platter of gold" during Azikiwe's time.For instance, just as recent as Thursday, August 24, 1983 in a widelycirculated open-letter to Nigerians, which he titled "History willvindicate the Just," former president Azikiwe reminded the attentiveof the struggle to free and build that richly-endowed country of 100million.
As the grandmaster of Nigeria's politics passed, what manner ofgoverning legacy will those uniformed tin-gods masquerading asleaders and their conniving greedy, gang of buccaneer politicians doin memory of "our father?" The answer, my friends, is blowing inwind.

Regardless, as Nnamdi Azikiwe, principal witness, eminent scholar,key player and insightful chronicler of African and Nigerian history,politics, culture, sociology, arts, enterprise, ethics, journalismand diplomacy passes on (he told anyone who listened that hes not ina hurry to leave this planet), the mans array of accolades anddistinctions and a handful of unfulfilled hopes remain a veryinstructive profile in the world, particularly, within the universeof people of African descent.

I strongly believe that when all the vital indicators and elements ofleadership are considered, and a millennial choice worthy of seriousconsideration and debate is made; a choice which can stand the testof time and serious intellectual assessment, Nnamdi Azikiwe is trulythe closest approximation to a philosopher King in Nigeria (likeKwame Nkrumah in Ghana, and Nelson Mandela in South Africa). No otherNigerian is more deserving; and no one has a thread running throughthe longest duration of the geopolitical history of Nigeria; notwithin the past 100 years. None. Azikiwe is the one.  He didmore to bring Nigerians together, with all of its imperfections andinequities.
The Owelle gave Nigerian nationalism an actual, federalistic impetusmore than any other Nigerian. He traversed the key events ofNigeria's history more than any other.
Above all his predecessors and contemporaries, his intellect remainedlucid like a thousand candles in a poorly lit room.
Although, he compromised on certain issues many would have preferredhe stuck to his guns. He left a few decisive battles he could havefought beyond his ideal vision of things. Which leads me to thequestion: What if Azikiwe had gone beyond the ought-to in his agendafor Nigeria and his place in history, may be that country's presenthistory could have been different. It's just a thought,  just amay be. But who am I to raise questions regarding the wisdom of ourfather, our pathfinder, the navigator, the pacesetter?

Imagine the sad, embarrasing turn, the sad news in November 2005 ofthe burning  of parts of his own home in Onitsha during aviolent confrontation between Nigeria's police and the MASSOB areentirely unfortunate and condemnable.

Today November 16, in what could have been his 101st birthday, may I make this toast to our father, the great and unmatchedone. Here, to:

The Zik of Africa, master of crafty political game-plans, member of athousand learned associations, eminent alumnus of Howard, MichiganState, Pennsylvania, and Lincoln Universities, founder of Universityof Nigeria, Nsukka (my alma mater), father of generations, inimitablewordsmith of euphonious diction and oratorical elegance, poet andpolitician, statesman and living legend, I thank for illuminating mymind, our collective mind. Even after 101 years, your lineage andworks endure. On this your 101st birth date, I rise, again, topropose a toast that  in another 101 years to come,  thatthe son of my  now 46 months old son Chido Nwangwu II,  byHis grace, Chido Nwangwu III,  will also rise to toast to honoryou, Zik of Africa, for the plenitude of roles and assortedinspirations you brought to all of us. They will rise to toast to Zikof Africa, as the man who saw tomorrow. Nna anyi  Owelle, nwaEze Chima, ndeewo!!!

ChidoNwangwu,  a member of theNnamdi Azikiwe Foundation and analyst on CNN International and theVoice of America, is Founder and Publisher of African-owned U.S.-basedprofessional newspaper to be published on the internet),  CLASSmagazine, The Black Business Journal,, and in 2006 Chido traveled with and coveredU.S. President Clinton's visit to parts of Africa March-April 2,1998,  and Nigeria in August 2000 and  served on HoustonMayor Lee Brown's international business advisory board (Africa). Heis the recipient of the 1997 Journalism Excellence and Public Policyawards.

INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: Osamabin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa'sstability. By Chido Nwangwu

CLASSis the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine forAfricans in north America, described by The New York Times as themagazine for affluent Africansin America. It is published byprofessional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders andpioneers.

Click image for the
latest2005 cover editions of CLASS magazine. 8303 SW Freeway, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77074.Phone: 713-270-5500. Cell direct:832-45-CHIDO (24436)

Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide. By Chido Nwangwu

INSIGHT: Destruction of property and human massacres are always traumatic events in a community, saddening and enraging, but the organizers of the beauty contest, as well as the participants, must understand that they are totally free of guilt. The guilty are the storm troopers of intolerance, the manipulators of feeble-minded but murderous hordes of fanaticism. By Prof. Wole Soyinka

Why Martin Luther King's legacy and vision are relevant into 21st century. By Chido Nwangwu



Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century.
Achebe, scholar, social conscience, cultural historian and globally-acclaimed writer, has been a significant and binding source for an engaging understanding of African pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial history and realities. I believe that such insight has made him a favorite of African-Americans, and other scholars and regular folks in search of a better, realistic understanding of Africa, at least, from Achebe's utilization of his rich and dynamic Igbo ancestry, in south eastern Nigeria. I share the same ancestry, and he's one of my mentors.
By Chido Nwangwu. Click here for commentary
Chinua Achebe returns "home" from U.S., to love and adulation of community.Achebe on oral tradition, juxtapositioning of language and linguistic colonialism. World-famous Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe has said that Africans should not be overly concerned if the long-established tradition of oral storytelling dies out. Achebe, once described by Nelson Mandela as "the writer in whose presence prison walls fell down," told the BBC that he agreed that the art was dying out - but insisted it could be revived "if we decide that the oral story is absolutely necessary." "Oral storytelling was important when I was writing - it may not be important when the next generation is writing," he said. Achebe, who is very critical of colonialism and its aftermath in Africa, explained that he himself writes in English because he is a victim of linguistic colonialism. But he added that he felt it was important not to "lose sight of the need for our mother tongue."

"I hope I have shown it is possible to show respect to English and Igbo together. Chinua Achebe added that "The situation may well develop in the future, in which the different languages of Africa will begin to reassert themselves," he added. "I have made provision for that myself, by writing certain kinds of material in Igbo. For instance, I will insist my poetry is translated back into Igbo while I'm still around."

See related resources/text/references:
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu On the books, life and work of our Literary ...Achebe, the eagle on the iroko, our pathfinder, social conscience of millions...
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Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents." These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.' Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president. By Al Johnson
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Obasanjo: Let me say this to you, when you put the question of 10,000 -- 10,000 people dying in Nigeria, of course, for a population of over 120 million people...." But Founder and recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997),
Chido Nwangwu, who appeared on the same program as as a CNN International analyst (Africa) pointed out that "when (President Obasanjo) answered that in a country of 100 million that 10,000 people are said to have died, as if that was a small number, that in itself reflects a disconnect with the concerns of Nigerians. The second one is that when the risk is civil disagreement, the police are required to intervene in the country. And the deployment of the armed forces of Nigeria requires at least some consultation, however modest, with the parliament." Nwangwu, former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily Times continued that "the third factor that is equally important to underscore is that the armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action rather than just containing a civil disagreement." He noted in backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process by a majority of the members of the National Assembly, predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See rush transcript of the CNN International news program.
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CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.

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