Way Forward: Igbo World Assembly Message to Ndiigbo and Nigerians

Igbo World Assembly (IWA) welcomes the various Igbo leaders present today,Ndi Eze, Governors/Representatives, Elected officials and Ohanaeze leaders. Igbo World Assembly extends an enthusiastic support to our brethren on a worldwide basis. The theme for the convention is: WAY FORWARD FOR NDIIGBO(OJEMBA CHETAKWA ALA IGBO): Our mission remains the Actualization of Igbo Agenda and Youth Empowerment. IWA and Ohanaeze Ndiigbo are working together towards improving the lives of our people through collective efforts with all stakeholders.

IWA is the Umbrella Organization that represents the Apex National Igbo Organizations (outside Nigeria) in more than thirty-five countries in the various parts of the world such as USA, UK, France, Spain, Finland, Netherland, Ireland, India, Ghana, Mali, Dubai, Pakistan, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Russia, Australia, Denmark, Japan, China, Turkey, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Sweden and Canada. The Igbo World Assembly (IWA) works very closely and recognizes Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo as the mouthpiece of Ndi-Igbo World Wide. Our goal is clear, Ndi-Igbo must speak with one voice and one accord

The Igbo World Assembly, is the only bona fide, inter-continental, Igbo Advocacy group of its kind founded on May 19, 2008, and represents a committed attempt to truly perfect a Global Igbo Union. IWA is founded on the twin principles of Njikoka and Igba Izu (cooperation/synergy and collaboration) and we are committed to working with, collaborating with, partnering with all genuine Igbo political, economic and social expression vehicles. By presenting a platform to leverage Igbo Diaspora as a strategic partner on Igbo issues, we aim to advance the Igbo agenda as never before done in our post-war history…

IWA will commence by expressing our support for and solidarity with Ohaneze Ndi Igbo currently led by the indomitable Barrister John Nnnia Nwodo for continuing the mission of bringing Ndiigbo together, the mission, which Chief Ojukwu fought for throughout his lifetime. As the representatives of Ndi Igbo in Diaspora, we are resolute at making peace and /or combating the adversary syndrome that has plagued Ndi Igbo for a very long time.

Our goal is clear, Ndi-Igbo must speak with one voice and one accord; we must seek to do and be done equitably, by all means expedient or warranted; we must wage struggles as necessary; we must conclude peace as always necessary; we must establish and prosper our economies; we must promote our welfare; we must tell our stories; and we must celebrate our culture and history.

True democracy and freedom is what we want for ourselves as Ndiigbo, Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Our history in Nigeria clearly shows that Ndiigbo have always stood for democracy and fair play for all. We do not believe or promote religious based politics and ideology. We want a Nigeria where the majority’s right is balanced with the minority’s right. We want a Nigeria where the various ethnic groups feel that they have a stake in the future of the country. We envision a Nigeria where leadership is based on the ability to work hard, where fairness reigns with a sense of direction and accountability to the various groups and for the common good of the country. We envision a Nigeria where people can vote and be voted for everywhere.

This belief system is deeply rooted in meritocracy; a system that gives opportunities and advantages to people on the basis of their ability and not on the basis of their wealth or seniority. This belief system, my friends, is the basis for our refusal to accept mediocrity. Mediocrity has no place in any progressive democracy. Ndiigbo are egalitarian by nature. We believe that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy equal social, political, and economic rights and opportunities. We do not believe in murdering or attacking others, visitors, guests, or strangers in our midst. Ndiigbo are among the most welcoming, friendly, hospitable and tolerant and freedom loving people on earth. Our renowned hospitality, friendship and welcoming nature are highlighted on our use of “Kola nut” to symbolize our warmness, friendship, and universal brotherhood to all.

This attribute is epitomized in common Igbo aphorism that states, “Nwanne di na mba” meaning that a stranger from a foreign land also suffices as a brother or a sister. This Igbo mantra of “Nwanne di na mba” enables us as Ndi Igbo to settle anywhere in the world as our home and enables us to welcome anybody in our midst. This attitude of Ndi Igbo is so ingrained in us that it could be misconstrued as an anomaly or illness by others.

Another vintage Igbo cliché, “Oje mba enwe ilo”, meaning a traveler/visitor has no enemy, was an old mantra drilled on every Igboman/woman, early in our lives and used to encourage us and those we come in contact with, to be kind to travelers/strangers that we may encounter along our trails in life. Those strangers and/or travelers our adage advised have no enemies and means us no harm.

This has continued despite what have being happening to Ndi-Igbo in various parts of Nigeria. The intermittent destruction of their lives and properties, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. Ndi Igbo individually, have more than any group of people in Nigeria, developed various parts of Nigeria even as we neglect our own states in Igboland. It is time for Ndi Igbo to implement a “think home philosophy” meaning that; we might perish as a people on the long run if we do not begin now, to self-actualize and make ways to our homeland.

We need to liberate ourselves, and more importantly, our children, our youth from the apparent confusion and bondage associated with not knowing one’s history, culture, literature, philosophy, ideology, fables and politics. The Igbo philosophy of “Igwe bu ike, onye aghana nwanneya, Egbe belu ugo belu” etc ought to be inculcated in the minds of our youths anywhere they are.

The reach of Ndi-Igbo whether it is spirituality, mysticism, civilization, philosophy, trading, agriculture and iron work etc, extended beyond the shores of Africa. Igbo are (Ndi Mbu na Ndi Gboo) the first people created and the ancient people is a fact.

We salute and welcome the large growing Igbo nation and our ancestors. We will fulfill the dreams of Ndiigbo both Na Ala Igbo (Igbo land in Nigeria or the mother land) and Ala Igbo (Igbo land) in the new world (US, Brazil, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, Cameron and the entire Caribbean’s and West Indies) and position Igbo as a black nation that every black worldwide will point to with pride, it is important that we begin to seriously consider the needs of the Global Igbo.

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The Igbo Leadership Question

  1. Igbo leaders are supposed to be men or women elected by a group to act and speak on their behalf. Igbo leaders are supposed to derive their authority and power from the people they are leading or representing and exercises such power and authority for the benefit of the people and not for himself or herself.
  2. Igbo leader’s words and actions must at all times reflect the fully discussed and agreed views, opinions, needs, aspirations, fears and interests of the people he/she represents. Igbo leaders should protect and defend the interests of the people at all times and should be prepared to lay down their lives in defense of Ndiigbo if need be.

I will like to touch on some of the issues facing our nation Nigeria today

SECURITY:

Igbo World Assembly (IWA), express their discomfort at the worsening security situation in our country Nigeria. IWA urge for all the towns in the Southeast to set up a vigorous and robust vigilantes’ outfit to guard every part of our areas.

South east zone should be prepared to defend themselves and say no to the activities of the terrorist herdsmen in the area, because if we are not vigilant the herdsmen would invade and assert their authority over you.

The herdsmen as vandals, who were out to kill innocent people, Ndi-Igbo should come together and fight this evil. We are thanking Ohanaeze President General for helping the people of the Southeast to form a coalition with the people of the Southwest and South-South and Middle Belt regions. if the people of these regions have a good understanding on the leadership issues of Nigeria, the political power balance that has been eluding the zones would be realized.

In the past we had peace and tranquility in Nigeria, but things have changed with stories of herdsmen invading our villages, killing people, destroying crops and raping our women, something we cannot tolerate… We are very concerned about that because the well- being of our people is involved. We will no longer accept this condition and we are going to talk to our people on what to do.

“Everybody needs to prepare to defend themselves and his family against the menacing herdsmen because we are not prepared to cede an inch of any Igbo land to anybody. Our people must protect their crops always. If any animal comes to eat the crops, it means hunger will be in the land because that is what the people use after harvesting and sales to train their children.

These animals must be killed if they invade the farms and destroy the crops. If the cows come and eat our food, we will eat the cows. If the herders kill our people and destroy our things, we have the right to reciprocate. We want peace for us and for everybody, but if somebody comes to fight us on our land, we will fight back.”

2023 ELECTIONS: SOUTH EAST PRESIDENCY

All the regions of Nigeria have produced Presidents and it is now the turn of the SE region to provide good leadership for the good of all Nigerians so as to move Nigeria in a positive direction. We should be our brother’s keeper.

For the good of Nigeria, we believe our geopolitical interest should extend to ethnic regions in Nigeria that aspires to its mission of uniting all Nigeria of like minds, through the concept of “standing together for the betterment of the entire Nigeria.

The zones of South-East and a few other zones that have not tasted the presidency, should move to the front of the line for their opportunity to participate in the leadership process. To ensure equality and fairness amongst the zones, we support Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo’s position on more state creation as one way to level the playing field. We believe that equitable number of states within each geo-political zone will assist in equalizing the inequity as it now exists.

IWA’S BLUE PRINT FOR NDI-IGBO

  1. To reposition Ndi-Igbo politically in seeking POLITICAL EQUITY.
  2. To reposition and Regenerate the South East and South South Geo-Political Zones.
  3. Attract “genuine” foreign investors to SE & SS in the field of Technology, Healthcare and Social Services
  4. Agriculture and Food Security: Food sufficiency and production is a necessity. We need to be self-sufficient in food production.
  5. Work assiduously for the creation and implementation new states in South-East and South-South as recommended in the Nigerian national confab.
  6. Push for Youth Empowerment and Skill Acquisition
  7. Work for security in South East and South South Geo Political Zones.
  8. Cultural heritage. -To support and propagate our Igbo language and culture. Support CISA movement for promotion of our cultural heritage ie Igbo village in Staunton, Virginia

10 To achieve self-sufficiency in Power/Energy Sectors

  1. IWA rejects and condemns selfishness by some of our politicians against the general interest of Ndiigbo. Our people in positions of authority and those who are in the corridors of power in our country must regard themselves as holding those positions in trust for Ndiigbo.
  2. IWA calls for a change in investment strategy as Ndiigbo by thinking home first in our future investment decisions.

APPLICATION OF IWA BLUE PRINT FOR NDI-IGBO AS STATED BELOW:

1.. The application of the twin principles of Njikoka(synergy) and Igba Izu (Flexibility/Collaboration/Dialogue/Diplomacy). and not Nzogbu Nzogbu(force) strategy;

2.. Therapy and healing for our “Igbo Enwe Eze Syndrome” (Individualism vs. consensus/collective strategy politically speaking).

3.. We need diversification of strategies so as to have several options. We should always put our smartest men and women in the front to represent Igbo interest in Nigerian and world affairs at all times.

4.. We need to broadly define Ndi Igbo to include all our brothers and sisters at home, outside Igbo land and in diaspora

  1. We need to work for the interest of Ndi-Igbo first and then the interest of Nigeria or any political parties.

6.. We always need to remember that we are the largest ethnic group in Nigeria and Africa

7.. We need to have elected and appointed federal offices commensurate with the large size of Ndi-igbo as the largest ethnic group in Nigeria and Africa.

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8.. Isolationism is not part of Igbo culture and it will not help Ndiigbo. It is our nature to reach out to others of like mind for the good of Nigerians. Isolationism or secession will not serve our overall best interest unless we lack any other options.

9.. An alliance with other groups/neighbors is the key regardless of the fear of a hidden Igbo agenda for domination. This fear of Igbo domination was keeping neighbors from working with us.

10.Ndiigbo need to be prepared to play prominent roles at the Nigerian political center stage and not at the peripheral of political power

11.IWA states that Ndiigbo should not have permanent friends or enemies. But we should have permanent interest such as creating a level playing field and fair play for all Nigerians

12.There is a need to restructure Nigeria to ensure true federalism based on regions or zones therefore implementation of the key agreements of the just concluded National Conference is critically important.

13.We need a Nigerian political structure that is based on equity, fair play, balance and equal access to political power for the good of all Nigerians.

14.IWA feels that what Nigeria needs on the long run is true federalism which is a system of government based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between National and Regional/State Governments. The individual federating units need to have more control over their own affairs and should only be controlled by a central government for issues in the single exclusive list.

15.IWA position is that eventually Nigeria should be redefined as Federating Units based on Zones/ Regions which means that these structures of power and administration would develop and manage the resources in their territory and pay royalty and tax to the federal government.

  1. IWA felt that a return to fiscal federalism as contained in the 1963 Constitution is the way to go eventually. IWA believes that each region should be responsible for the development and management of resources including minerals from their region. This will foster industrial development and competition among regions instead of the current docile nature of a majority of states as presently constituted.

17.A fully functional Electrical Power system (including gas and coal powered), fully functional International Airport, Major federal Roads,modern railways system and Second Niger bridge should be built in the South East zone

18.IWA reiterated its position about Ndiigbo/SE that Presidency should be zoned by all parties to SE Nigeria in 2023. And all efforts should be geared to achieving that.

IGBO AGENDA/DEMANDS

1.. In the area of infrastructural development, we continue to advocate the federal government to fully operationalize the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, which has been upgraded to the international standard by making possible for major world airlines like KLM, Lufthansa, British airways, Alitalia, AirFrance,Delta Airline,United Airline etc to land and take off from the airport,and for upgrading of Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport at Owerri. We thank President Jonathan for a good Job done so far and fulfillment of promise as far as Akanu Ibiam International Airport is concerned

2.. We want Nigerian Government to implement the much needed repairs on the Enugu to Port Harcourt Road, Onitsha to Enugu Road, Ninth Mile to Markudi Road, Umuahia to Arochukwu Road, Enugu to Abakiliki Road and the bridge linking Ebonyi and Obubra in Cross River,Onitsha to lagos Highway are paramount to infrastructural growth and development of our people.

3.. Intervention in the 2000 active erosion sites in the Igboland,

4.. The building of coal-fired plant and the reactivation of coal mines at Enugu. We also need a Gas fired plants in our oil and gas producing areas.

5.. We need world class sea ports in Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onitsha, Uguta

6.. The dredging of River Niger up to Lokoja with a Sea Port in Onitsha. These are needed for Nigeria to be fully economically integrated and functional power.

7.. IWA want immediate construction of a standard guage East-west Railway line incorporated in the 2nd Niger Bridge design, to run from Onitsha westwards to Lagos and its seaports and eastwards to Enugu, Onitsha Aba, Owerri, Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar.

  1. There ought to be at least a Federal government sponsored 500 barrel per day of crude oil mega refinery sited between Abia and Imo states and then a mega petrochemical industry strategically sited to serve Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states both aimed at providing jobs to our teaming young graduates.

11.IWA demand that South East massive supply of natural gas should be exploited. Both government and private sector industrialists should invest heavily in this sector so as to provide power, jobs and wellbeing for our youths and citizens. This will also change the rural-urban migration and brain drain being experienced in our land

  1. IWA want Ndiigbo to continue the leadership in commodity trading but we should now take the lead in manufacturing of the commodities that we sell

13.IWA demands for major Federal Government presence in Igboland with sponsored industries

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

We are concerned that our language and culture is dying slowly. We have millions of young Ndi Igbo born in foreign land that cannot speak Igbo and only slightly understands our culture. It gets worse – most of the Igbo children born and bred in various parts of Igbo land cannot speak Igbo fluently and/or write a single sentence in Igbo language. If this is not quickly reversed, our status will continue to evaporate as already predicted by some experts. A credit pass in Igbo should be a condition for admission into tertiary institutions cited in Igboland, especially for students of Igbo origin

We should think of how to bring our foreign born Ndi Igbo home periodically so that appropriate cultural values and education can be effectively taught to them through our Igbo based universities. This is why we are happy about the work done in this area by Prof. Pita Ejiofor in regards to “Subakwa Igbo” blue print. No one will respect you when you do not respect yourself. The framework for our values and belief systems are deeply rooted in our language, which is an integral part of our culture.

More than 8-10 million Igbos in Diaspora needs this and they like to come home and get the Igbo experience.

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IGBO WEST AFRICAN VILLAGE IN STAUNTON VIRGINIA USA

I would like to use this opportunity to bring to your attention some important developments in the life of Ndi-Igbo in the American Diaspora. In September 17-18, 2010 the State of Virginia through the Frontier Culture Museum Foundation completed the Igbo West African Village in Staunton Virginia, an 18th century Igbo Village as a representation of her West African exhibit to celebrate the contributions of Ndi-Igbo who were brought to Virginia(USA) as slaves in the building of America.. The State of Virginia celebrated the contribution of Ndiigbo(West Africa) to the culture and life of their state and America as a whole.

The Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia, USA, is made up of the Igbo Farm, Irish Farm, German Farm and English Farm Villages. The Governors of Commonwealth of Virginia, from Bob McDonnell to the present governor Ralph Northam have appointed and reappointed me, Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze to represent West Africa/African as a member of Board of Trustees.

Up to fifty percent of present African Americans have Igbo ancestry and has been validated by DNA testing. DNA testing is performed and an appropriate Igbo names are assigned such as Emeka or Chioma.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE IGBO FARM VILLAGE

During the transatlantic slave trade, thousands of enslaved Igbo people came directly to Virginia via shipping ports in Calabar and Bonny. Igboland was the principal source of the labour force in the tobacco plantation in Virginia in 1740s. At a point, they outnumbered and eventually replaced their Irish indentured counterparts. The Igbo labourers produced the tobacco that became the mainstay of the Virginian economy. The Igbo also provided the labour in the Black Belt that made cotton king. And they continued to contribute to nation building and to the development of the frontier culture in the United States. Thus the Igbo were among the first effective settlers Anglo-America, and among the first groups to cross the Cumberland Gap to open the gateway for the territorial expansion of the United States. Thus the building of the Igbo Farm Village in Staunton, Virginia, like the English, German, and Irish Farmsteads, built by American Frontier Culture Foundation, is a tangible recognition of the contribution of the Igbo people to the first English permanent settlement of Virginia, to American nation building in the United States, and to the development the greater American frontier culture.

It is equally an important notice to Ndigbo that Professor (Ticha) Akuma Kalu Njoku, Director of West African Cultural Heritage Education and Tourism (WACHET) and DSG Igbo Heritage and Culture Institute of IWA, is the brain behind the research work on the Frontier Culture Museum (The Igbo Farm Village), Virginia USA.

IGBO YOUTHS

With respect to our youths, one of the major determinants of good governance and sustainable development is the extent to which the government is able to create an enabling environment for its human capital development. The reality about Nigeria is that, in spite of the cost of formal education, and its attendant difficulties, the prospect of employment is less promising. Overall, there is an obvious mismatch between the graduate turnout rate and the graduate employment rate in Nigeria thus reinforcing that sense of hopelessness amongst the youth and increase in criminal activities. This is why youth development is a priority for us. It has been our vision to continue to stress the need for youth development in the areas of character education, building and remolding of the future workforce.

The Youth have been taken for granted for years especially the underprivileged Igbo youths. Therefore, for future Igbo advancement, in terms of Economic, Social, Education, and Cultural agenda, the youths must be at the center of the agenda. Our agenda for youth starts with character education, remolding our youth for future ethical leadership as the workforce of the future. As far as our political direction goes our youth have their role to play as the elders also have their define role. We need to work together and avoid any unnecessary in fighting. Respect your elders is the Igbo culture.

OHANAEZE VS IPOB PROBLEMS:

Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo President General and all the duly elected officials are holding public trust.

IWA is therefore categorically stating that while we appreciate the value added of the IPOB to the advancement of Ndi-Igbo freedom and progress, we must always be truthful to ourselves when an anomaly occurs among the groups in the trenches and the pathways of our journey to justice.

We are therefore, calling on trailblazers not to lose track to the tasks at hand. In-fighting, we strongly believe can only weaken and divide us. A reminder to the IPOB leadership that “Oha-na-eze” is by definition, all encompassing of “Ndi-Igbo” Granted, constituency may differ, but the end result should be the same. We are all Ndi-Igbo and aspires for the same “Agenda”.

 As far as our political direction goes our youth have their role to play as the elders also have their define role to play. We need to work together and avoid any unnecessary in fighting. Respect your elders is the Igbo culture. The axiom ,"Nwata si nnia na nya buya uzo muta di okpala, onye buzi nnia",  Nwata bunie nnia enu, ngwongwo na ngwongwo ayachie ya anya" 

Ndi-Igbo, Ohanaeze, IPOB or otherwise,we are looking for the same thing. A reminder therefore, that our journey to justice in Nigeria will never be attained by one group alone, irrespective of how well-orchestrated the group may be. Our approaches may differ but, united on the tasks at hand, we prevail, however, divided we will fall by the wayside…

History has taught us that our journey to justice will not be actualized from one front. Justice, balance and or Igbo Agenda will not be accomplished through reactionary ” tigbue zogbue” only. Sometimes between ” tigbue zogbue” and diplomacy the answer emerges.

Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze

Long Live Ndi Igbo

Long Live IWA

Nigeria Kwenu

Nwachukwu Anakwenze MD, MPH, MBA

Onowu Abagana

IWA Chairman

CISA Chairman Board of Presidents/Representatives

ASA Worldwide Chairman
Ohanaeze Ndiigbo Diaspora Committee Chairman
Okaa Omee na Abagana
Omeligbo na Agulerie
Ife Ndiigbo na Nri Kingdom
Ike Ndiigbo na Iduu Eri Kingdom
Okala madu na okala muo

What are your thoughts?

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