Book review: made in aba by enyi abaribe

If you are born in Nigeria, your natural reaction to politicians is cynicism and distrust. But here comes Enyinnaya Abaribe who has distinguished himself as a true leader, an honest one, and one who clearly understands his job description. I was excited when the launch of his autobiography was announced. And today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book.

Made in Aba is an autobiography of Sen Enyi Abaribe, a former deputy governor of Abia state and the senator representing Abia south senatorial district. This 10-chapter book tells of the story of Sen Abaribe’s childhood, professional life, and politics. His motivation to write his autobiography came while going through his father’s documents after he passed on. He found his fathers’ world war medals and a certificate in accounting dating back to 1942.

The book opens with a prologue where Abaribe defines what I may call his personal manifesto- the essence of his being. He identifies his origin as an Igbo man, his spirituality as a seventh day Adventist and aspirations for generation yet unborn. As an Igbo man, he was brought up to never beg or grovel. 

In chapter 1, he talks about a self-fulfilling prophecy where he declared he wanted to be a “big man” when he grew. This declaration seems to manifest in every area of his life. From becoming a lecturer at a young age to becoming a manager in SCOA. He described his life as a life of coincidences. Abaribe references the Igbo cosmology that words possess the power to bring thoughts into reality. He felt a sense of purpose that transcended just being wealthy and that led him into politics.

In opening chapter 2, he makes a bold declaration “I am Igbo”. Indeed, it is admirable how Abaribe owns his Igbo root and upbringing. In this chapter, he delves into his family tree on both paternal and maternal side listing their achievements. 

Abaribe takes the reader on a nostalgic journey in the post-colonial Aba. You could feel his grief as he described the once glorious city which had green fields, flowers and running water. All that has deteriorated to the Aba we know today. I share his view that lack of planned environment has direction correlation with crime and lawlessness.

“Being elected to office makes one beholden to the electorate and not to turn him into a tin-god deserving obeisance.” These are Abaribe’s words, but one must wonder if only him has such a mindset. In this chapter he narrates his journey into self-discovery including his secondary schooling which was interrupted by the Biafran war and all that came with it. The other two chapters narrates his experiences with his first job as a teacher, undergraduate life at Uniben, lecturing at Ekpoma, working at SCOA, and how these experiences shaped him.

It gets interesting in chapter 6 as he begins to discuss his unpleasant experience as a deputy governor to Orji Uzo Kalu (OUK). To summarize these chapters will be a great disservice to the author and the story. Hence, I will encourage everyone to order a copy from Roving Heights. Three impeachment attempts were made on him in his one tenure as deputy governor as because he was viewed as not loyal to the governor’s mother. He described OUK as one suffering from an acute form of the Hubris syndrome. 

He shared these 2 lessons he learnt from politics. 

  1. Never assume you will get to your destination on the first attempt. 
  2. Be known for who you are.
  3. The importance of an independent legislative arm of government

He echoes Chinua Achebe’s sentiments that the problem of Nigeria is precisely and fundamentally lack political leadership. And if I may, a critical mass of people with great values.

Abaribe addressed the growing call for the Biafran state. In his opinion, Nigeria serves the cause of Ndi Igbo rather than being landlocked, he would rather push for restructuring and self-governance of every region as true federalism should be. 

In closing, he shared his thoughts on constitution amendment, rotation of political offices, state policing, local government autonomy, land use act, NYSC, immunity clause, among others. 

Made in Aba is easy to read. I love how he interspersed the book with Igbo words, his firm declaration of his roots, and the deep profound quotes. I hate that the publisher duplicated several pages. I also think the editor needed to do more…

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to go into politics. I also recommend the book to every Igbo person in Nigeria. With the continued genocide, police brutality and marginalization against the Igbos, it is important that we do not forget who we are for the Igbo man does not cower to threats

Get your copy at Roving. It can also be delivered nationwide.

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