By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The Centrist Manifesto by Uchenna Nwankwo; Centrist Books – An Imprint of Centrist Productions Ltd, Ikeja, Lagos; 2022; 202pp
Books that change history do not come as heavy tomes. Back in 1848, the world was shaken up with the publication of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The battle cry across the globe became: “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” The underlying statement ran thusly: “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles.” Revolution became the rage all over the world. Now, in this year of Our Lord, coming out of Nigeria is the landmark book The Centrist Manifesto by Uchenna Nwankwo.
It is crucial to reiterate the two quotes launching forth Uchenna Nwankwo’s The Centrist Manifesto. First is an Albert Einstein quote, to wit: “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” Then follows the Miguel de Unamuno quote: “Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”
The society at large almost always puts the stamp of absurdity on the forehead of every original thinker. In Nigeria where most people would rather eat and consume than think originally, the thinker Uchenna Nwankwo amply represents an endangered species. The saving grace though is that even as the original thinker is scoffed at first he, as history attests, ends up victorious at the very last. For example, Galileo Galelei was made to recant his observation that the earth moved round the sun by the Catholic Church but the Church had to apologize to the scientist in the end.
Uchenna Nwankwo is a prolific author who has earned plaudits from legendary titans such as Nigeria’s first President Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, former US President George Bush, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former French President Francois Mitterrand, former United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez De Cuellar, and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
The Centrist Manifesto paves the path of convergence at the Centre as opposed to the quondam extremisms of Left and Right. The author readily admits that Centrism is not a simple matter to attain as he writes that “it has to be observed that the Centre itself has for too long remained a varied, vaguely defined and nebulous concept.”
Starting out from Nigeria where political parties emerge out of benumbing lack of seriousness with no ideology to crow about, Uchenna Nwankwo expands his ambit to the wide world, armed with the biblical dictum that “my people perish for lack of vision.” According to Uchenna Nwankwo, “The prospect for the emergence and sustenance of the virile and fair society is a function of the viability of the vision and ideology upon which the society is founded, built or run. The absence of or the non-application of such a viable vision in the running of the affairs of the Nigeria country-state as well as most other countries of the world has for too long left the country and the world in general tottering in every sense of the word.”
Uchenna Nwankwo’s centrist intervention aimed at taking Nigeria and the world onto the path of sustainable development, growth, greatness and stability is anchored on the three-pronged channel of “(a) a measured Socio-Economic Format; (b) an in-depth examination of the concept of egalitarianism and of the nature and characteristics of the social stratification model for planet Earth as sanctioned or ordained by the Lord Almighty; and of course (c) a pragmatic Socio-Political Format.”
On Nigeria’s socio-economic plane, the author damns the sole proprietorships dominating the spaces as opposed to firms, corporations and systems that aid growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank misfire through the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and the privatization policy. The phenomenon of the perennial depreciation of labour share goes from local to universal. It is thus necessary to adopt pragmatic measures intervolving Socialism and Capitalism, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in the United States to save the country from the Great Depression of 1929 to 1939. That is the crux of the centrist ideology.
Uchenna Nwankwo delves into Egalitarianism, Communism, Marxism-Leninism, Euro-Communism, Fascism, Classical Capitalism, Modern Capitalism, Socialism and Nationalization before zeroing in on the centrist way of life or ideology which he states “can be said to have evolved naturally from the beginning of times.”
In delineating the elementary and secondary distribution of political power, the author starts out with Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy, before delving into the special and unique status of Nigeria as a “Babel” having “over 250 ethnicities and language groups (to say nothing about its multi-religious cum multi-cultural status and, of course, ethno-developmental differences and dichotomies).”
Finally, Uchenna Nwankwo in The Centrist Manifesto goes to the world stage to tackle the neglected and uncharted terrain of the issue of equitable distribution of power amongst the nations or countries at the world forum. He argues that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) can truly function as the World Assembly or Legislature if an equitable format for power sharing or distribution is achieved.
After the enunciation of theory, there is the ultimate drive for praxis. To put the ideas of Uchenna Nwankwo in The Centrist Manifesto into effective practice, one is here urging interested Nigerians to form a new party which should act as the political vehicle to anchor and see to the entrenchment of the centrist ideology in Nigeria. The biblical injunction stresses that new wine should not be put in an old vessel to avoid contamination or ruination.
Nigeria can follow the lead of how old Russia was transformed. Nikolai Chernychevsky wrote a novel entitled What is to be Done? Lenin followed up with his own book also entitled What is to be Done? Words turned into action, and the Russian revolution happened. Uchenna Nwankwo has provided the words for the change needed in Nigeria.
The Centrist Manifesto presents an ideology whose time has come.
Thank You All.
- A Review presented at the launch of The Centrist Manifesto on Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at Nigerian Institute of Internationa Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, Nigeria.