By Dr. Chuks Osuji MON
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my practice as a Public Opinion Analyst is the voluntary nature of information in flow to me from members of the public. Thus, the strength of our ability to collect, gather, receive information for processing and analysis depends mostly on the ability of members of the relevant public to come to us and regularly volunteer information. Because, according to Professor V.O Kay, an American Political Scientist, “the formation of public opinion begins with the conception of ideas, issues of public interests beginning with individual who begin to nurse those both expressed or unexpressed opinions in themselves. Once these views begin to build up, they are processed. It is through such processing that opinion begins to build if captured by those whose duties are to present such opinions to the public in any manner for the consumption of members of the public whether such opinion is negative or positive, it does not matter. But what matters is that they must originate from information from relevant members of the society.”
To this end, in fact, it is not possible to function as a Public Opinion Analyst without what Kinsten Headrouers referred to as, “information volunteerism.” It is in the process of this that not quite long ago when Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was in the process of announcing his lists of Cabinet that a highly seasoned “off and on” politician walked into my office for a chart. Of course, it was incumbent on me to offer him the opportunity for us to discuss in fact he made a very interesting visitor.
He began by asking me the rationale of the names the Governor has appointed into his Cabinet. He wanted to know in particular why is it that Professor Viola Onwuliri who had served at the Federal Level as Minister should be appointed and accepted the position of Commissioner at the State level and that why Rt. Hon. Chuma Nnaji and Dr. Vin Udokwu both who had been Commissioners in the State should be reappointed Commissioners? He Queried. As he paused and waited for my response after he had said so many things to justify his opposition.
Although I don’t have a functional eye vision to look into his eye balls, I could read his mind set very well to perceive that he was very genuine in his inquires. I elected to give him what I considered to be an appropriate answer whether my answer satisfied him or not.
I began to respond with the simplest of his inquiry. I told him that in functional politics there is correlation between “contributions, hard work and reward.” I reminded him that Dr. Vin Udokwu was the Director General of Ihedioha’s campaign thrust and the entire campaign and all the activities of the campaign was heaped on his head. Properly translated, if anybody should be given the first, the most prominent position in Ihedioha’s Government, particularly that of chief of Staff, SSG or any other top position. But given the presence of geo-politics in Imo State, there are other considerations which probably did not work in his favour. Besides, in a way, in simple logic, “if you work you chop.”
Furthermore, Dr. Udokwu is one of the most senior and experienced persons in that set up in terms of public affairs and public service.
On the side of Rt. Hon. Chuma Nnaji, he was Ihedioha’s running mate in 2015. He, too, is highly experienced having served in two terms in Imo house of assembly and also served as a commissioner for information and strategy under Ohakim’s administration.
On the issue of professor Viola Onwuliri coming down to serve as a commissioner, having served as a minister at a federal level must be a commendable decision. In all honesty she must have accepted the position for two main reasons: to bring to bear on their administration the enormity of her experience: and two to bring innovations in the ministry of education, which is perhaps the largest of all the ministries. And therefore, her decision also must be commended and should be giving the support and encouragement.
Just two months in the ministry as a commissioner for education, it is clear that she will make the desired impact. In fact, the main thrust of this analysis is to harp on the directives which she has given to headmasters, headmistresses of primary schools in the state and principals of secondary school that the use of Igbo language must be enforced in these schools every Thursday. This directive definitely gladdened the minds of many members of the public. Because the fear that the Igbo language may go into extinct before long is real and must not be allowed to come to fruition.
Today, many Igbo scholars and traditional rulers have been making strenuous effort to ensure the sustenance, growth and development of Igbo language and culture in our daily affairs.
This brings me to an important aspect of this analysis. Several years ago, I had the opportunity of visiting Brazil in South America where I observed several Yoruba communities. I also observed some Yoruba names in existence such as Ijesha and Ilesha and many other Yoruba communities. After interacting with the corresponding Igbo Communities as an Igbo scholar, I shaded tears to find out that Yoruba’s several years ago on a slavering mission came to Brazil with their language and culture even as slaves. Today I remain to be challenged. If one goes to Brazil one will find numerous Yoruba communities with their language and culture invoked. Yet, they are Brazilians and not Nigerians. Conversely, pockets of Igbo communities are very-very few, but bereft of any Igbo language or culture. Although they are Brazilians nobody but nobody can link them up to Igbo Genealogy.
The point that I am making here is that the directives by the Honorable commissioner for education should be given a boast by a positive intellectual and professional support in this regard, schools must arrange various cultural activities at least once a month to ensure that the feeling of Igbo Language and culture should permeate the fabrics of our children’s lifestyle. Lifestyle such as: cultural displays, folklore, riddles, proverbs and Idioms should be included. For Example: I recall with good memory that in 1999 I was invited by world Igbo congress to have interactions with Igbo Children in the Detroit Michigan. The children’s request with their parents (All Nigerians) was to ask me to tell them at least ten Igbo stories connected to Tortoise. To them it sounded as if it was a tough request. But to me it was as easy as drinking ice tea. Imagine their perception and excitement.
Thus, the introduction of the use of Igbo Language and culture in our primary and secondary school in Imo State on Thursdays compulsorily must mark a new renaissance in Igbo language and culture. Let us look beyond geo politics and clannishness to give this idea big support and positive encouragement. To me, it is, Viola Onwuliri model of new renaissance of Igbo language and cultures.
Dr. Chuks Osuji is Public Opinion Analyst, Political Scientist and a renowned Public Relations consultant