Honorable Eddie Mbadiwe is the author of two books, ‘A Scientist in Parliament’ and ‘Stunted Dreams.’ He is a former member of the House of Representatives who represented Ideato North/South in Imo State. Here, he talks about what drove him to publish two books, his experience as a House member, and more. Excerpts:
Bookshelf: Why did you decide to write ‘A Scientist in Parliament’ and ‘Stunted Dreams,’ both published in 2019?
Eddie Mbadiwe: I needed to share my experiences. I trained in England under a Nobel Laureate, Professor Dick Syng and returned to Nigeria to contest for the House of Representatives. I felt that if our country is going to be changed, we are the only ones who can do it. Unfortunately, INEC writes the results in Nigeria.
‘Stunted Nigerian Dreams’ is a collection of articles I wrote over many years and that was published in Nigerian newspapers. Before Nnamdi Azikiwe died I was fortunate to have met and had a discussion with him for about an hour in Nsukka. He found some of my articles interesting. It was about my experience in the political process, the intrigues and backbiting. I went to change things in the parliament, but that did not happen and I became frustrated. I found it difficult to go to work. Personally, I feel the entire system needs to be revamped. I am not castigating anybody because we all need to come together and change the system.
When I was invited to Arise Television to talk about Kogi and Bayelsa my first statement was, “there was no election in Kogi and Bayelsa.” INEC gave it to whosoever they wanted to give it to and that is too bad for our country. With this, 2023 will be a nightmare for everybody.
I think educated Nigerians should get more involved in changing the system. Young people presently are not the hope of the future because they are as bad as the old, if not worse. I was the Vice President of the National Union of Nigerian Students in my days. Someone told me that the current president now rides a Range Rover. How can a student afford that? That means he is completely compromised.
Bookshelf: How do you think Nigeria can develop as a nation?
Mbadiwe: First of all, there must be mass education. I went to Katsina by road and saw thousands of children on the streets. They are not in school. I was almost in tears because I realized our future is in danger. All those children can be mobilized within one hour to destroy this country but no one seems to be bothered about this. They are uneducated and have nothing to lose at all. They could become a force to be reckoned with. My suggestion is for all these kids to be enrolled in school up to senior secondary school three. We can afford to give them free education. It is only when they are educated that we can have a discussion. But when you leave them like that, they wouldn’t want to talk to you.
Bookshelf: What did you learn from your visit with late Nnamdi Azikiwe?
Mbadiwe: When we visited him, I was very impressed with how athletic he still was. His P.A., Mr. Okoro was there but he personally served us drinks and biscuits. He said it makes him healthier when he walks. When we were about to leave, we asked him about the secret to his longevity, he said there was no secret but common sense. He said everything should be taken in moderation.
Azikiwe summarized his philosophy of life, things you don’t see in books. He was writing a book he didn’t finish before his death. That is the unfortunate thing when it comes to big books. His family should try and publish that book because there is so much he did, not only in Nigeria but also in the Gold Coast now Ghana. He preferred working with people who were partially educated because he found them more amiable to control. Ojike, one of the foremost nationalists was dismissed when Azikwe set up a panel against him. It is all in this book. These are some of the things Nigerians should know and it should be in the archives. Okpara had only one building in Enugu in his lifetime but those after him allocated government lands to themselves. The kind of sacrifice Okpara, Awolowo and several others made no longer exists.
Bookshelf: What is that one thing you want readers of your books to take away?
Mbadiwe: That Nigerians, as a collective body, can still salvage the nation. I believe we can do that by brainstorming, changing our attitude to life and knowing that you cannot sleep on more than one bed at a time. When you steal government funds it affects everybody. I also want them to know that the Nigerian parliament can be reformed.
Bookshelf: What is your view about how parliament is being run in the country currently?
Mbadiwe: I believe that it can be run better. There has to be a lot more openness. People should be able to go on the internet and know what I earn as a public servant, and if I am living above my means, I should be questioned.