THE REVIEW OF THE BOOK TITTLED ‘HUNGER REPUBLIC’
AUTHOR: STANLEY EDOKPOLO
DR. FELIX NWAOKOLO
Let me unconventionally start this review with a quote from Ratan Tata which seems to summarize the 19 chaptered book; “If you want to walk fast, walk alone, but if you want to walk far, walk together”. This is what I believe the author, Stanley Edokpolo, an erudite writer in his impressive element who avoided esoterica, simply and sublimely covered in his 19th book titled ‘HUNGER REPUBLIC’
Like the title of the book, the author permeates through succinctly the hopelessness, cynicism, pessimism and unpatriotic propensity of the people of Cush Island, apparently a fictitious Island. Conversely, without underplaying the obvious negativism that seemed to have pervaded the ones benignant and lively city of CUSH ISLAND, the author made unambiguous the almost neglected sides of the city, the abundant potentials, the individual and collective responsibilities of the citizen, the role of the political class and the international society.
In the first 4 chapters, he was clear about the many years of neglect by the government which resulted in people leaving Cush Island to other cities, infrastructure decay, factories shutting down, total collapse of the education sector, increase in unemployment and of course, upsurge in crime. The author tried to underscore these points by using characters to express this frustration particularly the dichotomy between the rich and the poor.
I was particularly intrigued by the seeming rebellious act of Wright, the determination, conviction, tact, sagacity and the never die attitude, that forsook the family wealth in Greenland to make a difference in Cush Island. There were some turns and twist through the chapters, suspense, cravings to re-enact the history of Cush Island. Whilst Wright, a stranger in the context of the chapters, was honestly resilient, there was an Andre the complete opposite, who saw Wright’s resilience as a goose chase. Andre was an epitome of pessimism, who never believed in the dignity of labor. After all the system has bequeathed the Island with hopelessness, so, let the RAAC syndrome take effect. True to the words of the author, the system failure left bitter pills in the mouth of everyone everywhere in the Island, only a few like Wright, Prince, Big Mama and the New Mayor saw things differently.
Chapter 5 through 9, the author impressively made bold the thin line between the perceptions on the Island; Pessimist, Optimist and the Realist. Instructive in these chapters are the following;
1. You must have faith in yourself at all times regardless of the situation you find yourself. Without faith in a bright future, no one can achieve anything; you have to believe in the future you expect if not, there is no point doing anything: In the words of the author on Page 108 of Hunger Republic.
2. You must have faith in your country; you cannot afford to be ambivalent. No place like home. Also remember that there are other countries/states that are worse than your own. The HEAVENS we run to for either greener pastures, holiday and/or medicals were built by their own people, who will build yours after you either destroy what is left or you run away?
3. Where is your S.M.A.R.T.ness?
The author tried, albeit, successfully in my opinion, to open readers minds to our intrinsic potentials as a people, the concept of proper planning and implementation, the value of partnership and the strength of mentorship. I reflect on a quote on page 86 (Chapter 10), “The person who needs to plan more is that man who has nothing. If you have nothing, you lose nothing by planning”. Precisely, in the same chapter 10, he (the author) delved into the value of SMART (ly) planning. Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Barred. He posited that without a SMART plan, you have no business dreaming of success. I cannot agree any less. Chapters 11 and 12 helped to explain in more details the need to do what is legitimately required to make the difference.
Without fear of sounding patronizing, I want to differ a little from the Narrator’s perspective in chapter 14 “Everything rises and falls with the Leadership”. Even though the author’s subsequent chapters brought back the argument of the need to do things differently, purposefully and together.
Specifically, I’d like to argue that;
1. When, as a people, we remain complacent because there is a leader to be blamed for system failure and accused of avariciousness, we and the generation un-born will pay the steep price
2. There is need for us as a people to change our perception, be less cynical and be more embracing of the leaders’ good gestures of transformative agendas.
Whilst not taking anything away from the huge expectations from the government, it has become increasingly important to borrow and domesticate the words of J. F. Kennedy (35th President of the United States) “Ask not what your country can do for you,- ask what you can do for your country”. The responsibility of building a nation should and must be a collective one.
Allow me to completely digress. The more I read Hunger Republic for the purpose of a critical, unbiased and informed perspective; I cannot help but to think of my country Nigeria and very importantly my dear state, DELTA State. Clearly, Stanley Edokpolo made no mention of Nigeria and/or Nigerians neither did he mention Delta State, however, without doubt, the opinion of the author is a true reflection of the happenings in our clime. Nigeria and Nigerians, a beleaguered nation and a people, more than ever before, need to reappraise ourselves apolitically, look inward and create the enabling environment for annexing the unmatchable opportunities that abound in our country. It is very worrisome when we consider what we lose daily to foreign nations through our frequent avoidable trips for all kinds of reasons. Recently, we see Nigerians leaving the shores of our dear nations to foreign lands for their marital vows, birthday celebrations and name it. This to me, and I am sure in the view of the author of Hunger Republic, is simply unpatriotic and not a show of affluence.
May I quickly appreciate a SMART governor, who, for once, understands the needs of the economy of the state, proactively and pragmatically investing in the future of the state. He understands his responsibilities and the huge expectations of the people; very importantly, he understands the crucial role of the citizenry in making good his agenda, creating the required value chain, judicious and impactful distribution of the scarce wealth of our state.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, very humbly, I ask that you give a deserving applause to our amiable and proactive governor, His Excellency, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa.
In the same vein, I want to very warmly appreciate the Delta State House of Assembly led by a quintessential gentleman Rt. Hon. Monday Igbuya for their impeccable support of the SMART agenda of His Excellency. For creating a conducive and progressive working environment, frictionless relationship between the executive and legislature, supporting and ensuring quick passages of bills that will support the growth of the economy of the state. This is a show of good faith; the SMART people of Delta State appreciate you.
The author in chapters 15 through 19 emphasized the need for a people to accept to do things differently, pragmatically, conscientiously, selflessly, and with the fear of God. Hugo, in Chapters 15 and 16, represents a self-serving agent of stagnation, a beneficiary of the old unproductive and retrogressive ways. The author in the closing chapters made the message simpler by advocating a win-win synergy between the government and the people, between the private and the public sector. Chapters 17 and 18 closed the argument on the value of togetherness, unity, disciplined, focused and purposeful leadership.
Whilst reading chapter 17, I found myself whispering late Evg. Sunny Okosu’s song “Which Way Nigeria, Which Way to Go, I love My Father Land, I want to know”. The chapter is reminiscence of true patriotism expected of all to make the desired and deserved difference.
Permit me to leave you to be the reviewer of Chapter 19.
In conclusion, I want to say that the Author Stanley Edokpolo did a very commendable job, true to his character. The expressions, perception and the messages leave nothing to be desired of his conviction and patriotism.
VERONICA ONAJITE EDOKPOLO
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
I want us to take a moment to honor a great woman of valor and integrity. A dedicated, committed, detribalized, passionate, disciplined, focused, honest and kind hearted.
A woman who from cradle saw the need and the value of and in human beings; she once said, “There is a difference between human being and being human”.
A democrat per excellence, a compassionate and exemplary philanthropist, a mother to many, a believer, very tireless, studious, sagacious, a woman whose ingenuity is responsible for many transformations that happened in her constituency. The matriarch of a great dynasty.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am talking about
• One time member of the Pilgrim board
• Two time local education secretary
• The welfare chairman of Okowa Campaign Organization
• An educationist
• An entrepreneur
May I respectfully crave your indulgence, Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, to be on our feet for a minute in honor of one of the greatest women of modern Delta State’s Politics, until her demise, the Secretary of Okpe Local Government Area Council, HON. VICTORIA ONAJITE EDOKPOLO
MAY HER GENTLE SOUL CONTINUE TO REST IN PEACE.