By Ajong Mbapndah L*
Far from allowing the COVID-19 confinement period to go to waste, the astute Nigerian Lawyer and Politician Okey Sam Mbonu put it to proper use with the publication of his first book The “Sons of Thunder-An American Odyssey” (SoT).
Recently, Mbonu, a former Presidential hopeful in Nigeria was joined by special guests at an exclusive resort in the Maryland suburbs for the U.S launch of the book. The guest list included high profile personalities like Prof Kingsley Moghalu, a former Deputy Chair of the Nigerian Central Bank and Presidential hopeful himself.
Beyond the book and the success of its launch, the big elephant at the event was the angst over precarious socio-economic and political developments in Nigeria as the sun slowly sets on the second and last term of President Buhari.
“Ordinary Nigerians are approaching their limits of tolerance, and somethings will snap and go into self-correction mode over the next one year or so,” says Okey Sam Mbonu in an interview with Pan African Visions.
Accusing the bulk current of leaders of sleaze, Okey Sam Mbonu charges that the next president of Nigeria would need to be free of existing corruption baggage from the get-go as he mulls another presidential run to replace Buhari.
Sons of Thunder your first book is out, what finally pushed Okey Sam Mbonu into the world of publishing?
Okey Sam Mbonu: Well, this literary work has been long in coming, because I have been writing short stories worthy of publication since about age 12. However, as a multi-talented youth, one finds oneself trying out various career tracks, until one or two of them become dominant and takes a life of its own.
What is the book about and when are the seminal messages you seek to share with readers?
Okey Sam Mbonu: The “Sons of Thunder-An American Odyssey” (SoT), is an anthology of Poetic Stories from socio-politics to spirituality, captured in a poetic rhythm. It is Art, Motivation, & Entertainment. It features the seminal works “Freedom”, “Across the Potomac”, “Faking in LA”, “Frenemies”, “Unity”, “The Traitor”, and others. The book captures my sojourn in the United States, and around the other 4 major continents, including Africa, Asia, and Europe over the past two decades. It is now on sale on Amazon worldwide.
The unique thing about the “SoT”, is that the book is one of the few 21st Century works that is being rendered via Print, eBook, Audio, and Short Films! Thus, we are breaking new grounds here, because ordinarily, it takes a while for a Book to go from print to Film.
How did your own checkered political experiences have in some of the content that you share?
Okey Sam Mbonu: At least fifty percent of the poetic stories are derived from my actual and practical socio-political experiences, including the vicious underbelly of emerging democracies, and also US socio-political issues. I wrote about the political treachery you can only learn on the fields, and not in political science classrooms, and also the highs and lows of the process. The book is full of intrigues, entertainment, and deep reflections, rendered in a simple, and easy to digest format.
May we get some of the feedback you have received from readers?
Okey Sam Mbonu: The work has received some interim phenomenal reviews, featuring phrases like, “utterly awesome”, “inspiring”, “powerful verses”, “deep and cerebral”, and “A must read”. Reviews are still pouring in as at press time.
For those who are interest in procuring copies of the book, where can they get copies?
Ans: A simple search on Amazon.com, for “Okey Samuel Mbonu” will bring folks face to face with the book. or they may follow the below amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Sons-Thunder-Okey-Samuel-Mbonu/dp/B08KQBYM2D/ref=sr_1_2?crid=34JQMR7MHQOXN&dchild=1&keywords=okey+samuel+mbonu&qid=1633548156&sprefix=Okey+Samu%2Caps%2C159&sr=8-2
What is your reading of political developments in Nigeria today?
Okey Sam Mbonu : Nigeria is currently on a fast descent to unknown territory. Security has become a nightmare, not just in Nigeria’s restive Northeast and Northwest, where Boko Haram and Bandits reign, but now in the venerable Southeast and Southwest regions, which provide the bulk of the material resources that the elites feed on, with voracious frenzy.
Even as a new-generation candidate, and I belong to a forum of former Presidential Candidates and Aspirants, where we brainstorm on national issues; we find that the nation is so skewed along north-south and religious lines, that a major socio-cultural shakeup will need to happen, among the populace, for the nation to thrive. What Nigerian masses miss, is that there are actually just two tribes in Nigeria, i.e.: the less than one million thoroughly corrupt leaders of the past 20 years, versus the 200 million other Nigerians, who wake-up and hustle all day, and live from hand to mouth.
Nevertheless, southern Nigeria is thriving with a default evolving economy, while many parts of northern Nigeria are suffering from the crushing load of too many mouths to feed, and a relentless hold on the economy by the regional leaders. Banditry and Boko Haram are clear evidence that an unscripted revolution started way before now, and many of these areas are now designated no-go areas, with their elites escaping to the Capital Abuja, where they barricade themselves in high-end mansions, and perhaps corner over 50 percent of the nation’s available police force for protection. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that Bandits maybe closing in on the capital. 2023 will be a major test of sovereignty in Africa’s most populous republic.
As critical as you are, what are some of the things that President Buhari got right?
Okey Sam Mbonu: Well, President Buhari may have kept some public sleaze at bay, by holding in-check, many federal public servants in Abuja, who were previously on a corruption rampage in the capital, where mid-level public servants under Mr. Jonathan, would just embezzle hundreds of millions of USD under their agency, without fear of prosecution. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under Mr. Bawa, may have become more effective in the past one year, since a new Chairman was appointed to replace a controversial past chairman Mr. Magu, who has been accused of substantial corruption.
Politics in Nigeria has been dominated in the last couple of decades by the APC and the PDP, do you think the presence of a third vibrant front will be beneficial to Nigerian politics?
Okey Sam Mbonu: Yes, if the new front is populated with a mix of old-hands and new-generation candidates, ideally tested in the global arena, like some of my colleagues with global credentials. However, the two dominant parties APC & PDP may undergo substantial shakeups internally, that the newly emerged status may provide the populace themselves direct and indirect opportunities for change. That moment may be close.
As President Buhari’s second and last mandate grinds to an end, what kind of qualities or profile do you think the next Nigerian leader must have?
Okey Sam Mbonu: The next president of Nigeria would need to be free of existing corruption baggage from the get-go, or else they will not have the moral fortitude to fight corruption. 98% of the current leaders are entangled with sleaze, even if they have cleverly maneuvered their way around the current court system in Nigeria, to remain out of jail. However, ordinary Nigerians are approaching their limits of tolerance, and somethings will snap and go into self-correction mode over the next one year or so.
You were in the running for the last election, does Okey Sam Mbonu still nurse Presidential ambitions, and will he be in the running to replace President Buhari?
Okey Sam Mbonu: There’s a good chance that I’ll be in the race. Our campaign team is gathering substantial feedback on the ground and building the necessary relationships for a more formidable run, via the primaries of whoever emerges the next two big parties. This time, my team’s efforts may be channeled differently than in the last run. We’re getting stronger by the day.