BOOK REVIEW: “The Rebirth” by Olusola Akinyemi

I held a copy of the book in my hand, and I wondered if I would normally have bought a book about Nigeria from the bookstore, not because the author is relatively unknown, but because it is unlikely for an average Nigerian to read (no to talk of buying) books that are focused on Nigeria as a nation; even if such book was written by a Nobel Laureate. Nigerians seem to believe the solution to the nation problems can’t be found on the pages of a book; that’s my opinion though. Attractively packaged in a green cover with the title in bold embossed white print, and a Nigerian map enclosing a flower (Coctus Spectablis – same flower found in the national coat of arms) centrally placed on the cover page just above the author’s name, Olusola Akinyemi’s THE REBIRTH depicts Nigeria in all it elements. But I am not one to judge a book by the cover – just the same way I wouldn’t judge a cover by the book.             

To put things into proper perspective and understand the need for a rebirth, Olusola Akinyemi takes us on a short trip into the past, backing it up with the saying that the journey into the future of Nigeria can only begin with a true understanding of the past.

The amalgamation in 1914 that paved way for the creation of the country was a corporate conspiracy to facilitate British trade in western Africa; in the process unifying three loosely affiliated ethnicities into a country; the birth of Nigeria. Though a number of people have questioned what influenced the amalgamation of the people with religious, political and cultural differences into the nation Nigeria, the author was quick to point out one fact that is often understated: from the amalgamation, to the end of British rule, through the attainment of independence and even to this day, we have remained together. “Two (though in Nigeria’s case, say three) cannot work together except they agree”, so according to Olusola Akinyemi whether we like to admit it or not, Nigerians obviously agree enough to have stayed together as a nation for 52 years. Though the country’s progress has been hindered by many vices and obstacles – most of which are of our own making – and the country has developed slowly.

Nigeria recently celebrated her 52th independence anniversary, and it is quite alarming that at 52 years the nation is in dire need of a rebirth. Quoting the author “History has thrust upon our generation an indescribably important destiny – to complete a process of integration which our nation has so long developed too slowly, but which is our most powerful opportunity for development”, and Olusola Akinyemi has presented to us a vision for Nigeria.

A drastic change in the national value system; social, political and economic independence that subsequently results in economic and industrial prosperity; restructuring and adopting the economics that works for the country; improved agricultural policies; support for indigenous industry to boost local production of goods; bi-lateral trades; and a total overhauling of the educational system – to mention but a few of the solutions proffered by the author. One thing that shines through in all of these is the author’s infectious optimism. And this is exactly what we need, a little dose of optimism. Olusola Akinyemi strongly believes in the country, and he is willing to share his believe with a larger audience through his book; at a time when a sense of brotherhood (nationhood) and patriotism is almost entirely lacking.

Though some of the author’s suggestions seem far-fetched, they actually do well to paint the ‘big picture’.  The things we can achieve as a nation far surpass whatever obstacle we may currently be facing.

As much as the book addressed issues that directly affect the progress (albeit stunted progress) of Nigeria as a nation, it failed to factor in a solution to the monster that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the national setup, Corruption. The author conveniently avoided the issue of how corruption (and its related vices) would affect the rebirthing process, and no solution was recommended to effectively deal with it. The book also failed to properly highlight or differentiate the roles of individuals, the society, and the government in the task of nation building. It didn’t answer the simple questions of ‘Who does what?’ It is one thing to have a good plan, and it is another thing for a good plan to be properly executed. Proper execution can only be possible when all parties involved know their roles, and play it effectively. For any meaningful change to occur, all hands must be on deck, but then all hands must first be fully aware of their job descriptions.

The Rebirth is not an economic road map, neither is a development masterplan, but rather the book should be viewed as a stir in our minds; a gentle stir that would generate ripples, ripples that would restore our believe in our beloved country, a believe that should infuse in us a fresh sense of patriotism.

Over the years, Nigerians have been largely accused of being unpatriotic and self centered, abandoning the countries and fleeing overseas in search of greener pasture. And those who do not flee engage in parlour-politics in front of their television sets. THE REBIRTH may just be the antidote to that. The book may just be what we (and by ‘we’ I mean Nigerians) need to give us that gently nudge to move this country forward. And according to Olusola Akinyemi, there is no telling how long it will take but one thing is certain, the journey will be long and hard.


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