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Tony Momoh’s Letters To My Country Men As The Mantra For National Renaissance (2)

Change is the mantra which Tony Momoh has promoted. The objective of the mantra can only be achieved according to Tony Momoh, through good values acquisition

Oshiotse Andrew Okwilagwe

In these letters, Tony Momoh made efforts to provide new paradigms for political participation, provide relevant and adequate information to relieve Nigerians of the mental pressure and encourage them to participate in domestic and international political discussions; and also made efforts to help Nigerians to develop sense of honesty, critical self-appraisal; and to properly place themselves in the realm of national value system change.

The above formed the background for Tony Momoh letters to my countrymen which he specifically addressed to “My Dear Nigerian”. The letters were thereafter written for and addressed to all Nigerians irrespective of age, tribe, education and social status.

The importance of the letters is the clarion call on all Nigerians whoever they are, maybe and whatever they may be, to stand up and be alive to their individual and collective responsibilities in determining and ensuring the good future and fortunes of Nigeria. This call admonishes Nigerians to take the mantle of leadership in their respective individual callings and areas of influence, be it public or private endeavour.

As Tony Momoh opined, if we do not ensure that Nigeria survives, then why are we Nigerians? Where else do we go to expect to be welcomed? And what legacy would we be leaving for posterity? Each of the ten letters to “My Country Men” has a definite objective and conclusion that amounted to a prescribed action for national development at this material time in our national experience to develop sustainably. Tony Momoh noted; “there was a road we would have taken at independence. That road to progress and prosperity, we failed to take or were not encouraged to take”.

Therefore, these letters were meant “to put Nigeria in focus and ask Nigerians to accept that change was necessary, in fact, inevitable if we wanted to make it as a nation and as a disciplined people…” And, that is the call to the “common man” to join in the crusade to liberate our energies for positive action to meet the challenges posed by “our past indiscretions as warriors, intellectuals and acquisitors. The messages in the letters to “My Country Men” have healing potency for Nigerians of all times. In concluding the tenth letter which is the last letter in the series in 1989, he counseled Nigerians represented by Mohammed, Mohammadu Buhari. Note that Mohammed has turned out to be Mohammadu Buhari having used the name Mohammed in his school days.

However, Prince Tony Momoh claims that he is not a prophet but he said: “I do not lay claim to my prophetic power, having no pretensions to parasychological studies, but I believe that the morning can still show the day and that what we have bargained for today is what we would achieve tomorrow. If, therefore, we start off the new political culture with bribery and corruption, then we can only reap the rich harvest of bribery and corruption which is national decay and the perpetuation of the current belief that every Nigerian has his price.

But Mohammed, I do hope that at the end of this letter, you would yourself concede that this administration is determined to have no stone unturned and indeed leave no turn un-stoned, to ensure that Nigeria takes its pride of place as an innovative and enterprising country that is economically, politically and socio-culturally stable… A word is enough for the wise, Mohammed, and I would appeal to you and your colleague of concerned citizens from the state of the Federation and Abuja not to lose hope…” Prince Tony Momoh provides a mantra, for real development not for the APC Political Party alone but for the entire nation.

As a development communication journalist, he has, in a most innovative and creative manner, provided information and knowledge to the “Nigerian” for direct value change. The proposed value change by Tony Momoh became the source of the APC political party mantra which is CHANGE. Change has become the national mantra for hope for good governance and a positive turnaround of the nation. Change is the mantra chanted everywhere in Nigeria. There cannot be any transformation without change. And change is the essence of Tony Momoh’s letter to “My Country Men”.

Tony Momoh succeeded in doing this by prescribing national value upgrading and downgrading. Value upgrading and downgrading have the same positive effects on national values. The logic is that good values are upgraded and held in high national esteem while bad values are downgraded and held in national opprobrium; consequently, good values overshadow bad values and bad values are eventually discarded. Change is the mantra which Tony Momoh has promoted.

The objective of the mantra can only be achieved according to Tony Momoh, through good values acquisition, the increase and widening avenues for their redeployment, greater value analysis and retargeting by adding implementation targets. The change as espoused by Tony Momoh is a capsule of good selforiented values, nation-oriented values, environmentoriented values and spiritual values. He is credited with a theoretical position that “you build a nation when you would have built the people”. This is the real concept of change that had formed the basis of his committed development journalism.

He believes that a reciprocal relationship exists between value attitudinal systems of individuals and structural and organizational aspects of society. What is strong and fundamental here is Tony Momoh’s contention that the social order can be engineered and re-engineered as the case may be through changes in the value and attitudinal systems of individuals and through changes in its structural and organizational aspects. The consequence of this is the progressive movement of the entire social system along a tradition – modernity continuum. This is possible because the ultimate effect is a change in the personality of the recipient of journalism effect. The axiom here is that the spirit has power over matter.

The primary purpose for communication is to bring about behavior change. As initially noted the letters to “My Country Men” are to effect characterological change among the citizenry in the nation. Characterological changes are meant to provide people with new role models that help promote a more active participant orientation in the society and the re-socialisation of the masses.

Change is the import of letters to my countrymen because the themes are woven around good leadership, morality, love, gratitude, respect, obedience, honesty, perseverance, trust and honour, kindness and mercy, good neighbourliness, forgiveness, tolerance and cooperation, trustfulness, integrity, devotion to duty, respect and modesty, frugality and courage, goodwill, humanness, self-reliance and patriotism.

APC concept of change takes off from changes in knowledge, attitude and changes in overt behavior concerning all aspects of development in the nation – politics, economic, industrial, education, technology, agriculture and many others.

(Concluded) •Okwilagwe, HoD Publishing and Copyright Studies Unit of the Department of Library, Archival and Information Studies in the Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan, wrote in via okwilagweandrew@ yahoo.com

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