DIGNITARIES IN ATTENDANCE
The Convention was hosted by one of WIC’s staunchest affiliates, Igbo Cultural Association of Michigan, (ICAM). Among the participants were the entire executive officers, affiliates’ members, Board of Directors, House of Delegates, other Igbo stake-holders of all stripes, Governments of Anambra and Imo States, Capital Oil & Gas Ltd., The Lower Niger Congress (LNC) and Senator Hope Uzodinma. The government of Anambra State was represented by a team of four led by its Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu. Other members of the team are Hon. Primus Odili (Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Duties), Hon. Cyril Agupugo (Special Adviser to the Governor on Diaspora Affairs) and Hon. Ben Obi (Mbuze). Capital Oil & Gas was represented by its Chairman and CEO, Chief (Dr.) Ifeanyi Ubah while the LNC was represented by Atty. Pascal Ukpabi. HRM, Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri, The Obi of Obi Orodo in Imo State participated actively. A team of formers commissioners led by Hon. Joe Martins Uzodike and Engr. (Dr.) Pat Obi represented H.E. Mr. Peter Obi, the immediate past governor of Anambra State. Chief Elvis Agukwe attended on behalf of the South East/South-South Coalition and South East Peoples Assembly (SEPA) that he serves as Chancellor. Governor Ikedi Ohakim and the Igbo Conversational Group (ICG) were represented by Dr. Ethelbert Okere. The WIC Council of Elders (Dr. Lucius Akuchie – Chairman, Engr. Okike Nwankwo – Secretary, Chief Emeka Nnadi, Dr. Ifeanyi Okpalaobi, Prof. Nick Muoneke and Chike Odunukwe) kept a close watch on the proceedings. The convention also received several goodwill messages from several organizations and individuals.
CONVENTION THEME AND SUB-THEMES
The theme of the Convention was “K’anyi jikọta maka ọdinma na ọganiru ndi Igbo” and the Convention sub-themes were:
2. Projections on the Regional Medical Center of Excellence project
3. Forging strategic Alliance for Ndi Igbo for posterity: Ndi Igbo and their neighbors.
a. The proposed Summit in Geneva Switzerland on “The Igbo Question”
AFFILIATES ROLL CAL AND OPENING CEREMONY
Following the affiliates’ roll call and upon establishing the required quorum, the convention was declared open by the chairman of WIC, Joe Nze Eto.
CONVENTION OBJECTIVES AND ISSUES
The overall objective of the Convention was to explore the difficulties, possibilities and modalities for restoration of the dignity of the Igbo (All business of the convention was conducted mostly in Igbo language). To achieve this overall objective, participants:
Ÿ Explored the constitution and other issues that led to the current state of affairs in WIC. The recalcitrance of the renegade group in Los Angeles that is struggling to derail the noble objectives of WIC is the symbol of the rot in WIC. This group led by Larry Udorji, orchestrated by Jimmy Asiegbu and goaded by three disgruntled erstwhile officers of WIC Chibuzor Onwuchekwe, Charles Chikezie and Cyril Nwaguru was recognized as representing the malaise that has beleaguered the Igbo over the years especially at this critical time in its history. Participants lamented Chibuzor Onwuchekwe’s flagrant abuse of the constitution in 2008 when he registered “Igbo Union, Houston, TX to provide him a platform for re-election when IPC Houston withdrew him from the BOD for behavior unbecoming of an IPC representative in WIC. The convention discussed what needs to be done to bring the group to compliance. The Igbo certainly does not need the nuisance value of these dissidents, not this time, not anytime;
Ÿ Explored the possibility of restructuring the affiliates so as to make it difficult for powerful individuals to usurp and abuse the power of the people. To this end, several models including the parochial system of Igbo Community Association of Nigeria (Dallas) were discussed for possible adoption by affiliates and WIC. It also discussed the fast-tracking of the review of the constitution and bylaws in line with current circumstances of the Igbo in order to make the documents relevant and effective.
Ÿ Expressed delight on the progress so far made by this administration towards the actualization of The Regional Medical Center of Excellence (RMCE), and examined measures that need to be taken to actualize the RMCE for Igbo land. Specific mention was made of the groundbreaking ceremony held in Umuguma, New Owerri on August 14, 2015. The convention heaped enconiums on this administration for its foresight and boldness over this project;
Ÿ Examined the status of the Igbo in the Nigerian polity and expressed satisfaction that the Igbo stood for something it believed in during the March 2015 elections by way of the pattern of their voting. It agreed that no Igbo should harbor regrets in voting the way they did and that they should rather work towards promoting better cohesion with their neighbors, the South-South administrative zone for a better future for our people. Subsequent bilateral meetings with the two zones are needed to set the agenda and modalities for achieving this goal. Furthermore, as part of this objective, the participants discussed the plan of this administration to hold a conference in Geneva, Switzerland to explore synergy with the United Nations on the Igbo Question;
Ÿ The convention viewed with dismay the appointments made so far by President Muhammadu Buhari and insisted that they were in breach of the spirit of federal character enshrined in section 14 (3) of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Over 80% of the appointments were concentrated in the hands of the north with near total exclusion the Igbo in the remaining less than 20%. With the top echelon appointments already made, the convention wondered how the president can “balance” the federal character with the remaining appointments as his subordinates claimed he would.
Ÿ Provided an opportunity for participants to learn from each other and from friends as well as presentations of innovations being undertaken that are of interest to the future of the Igbo as well as actions being taken to counteract the erosion of Igbo dignity and values by others in public utterances and actions
Ÿ Provided opportunities for participants to discuss current and potential contributions of women in enhancing the role of WIC grassroots in developments in our homeland.
Over the three-day period, the Convention participants working in four (4) plenary sessions and one congress resolved as follows:
1. To deploy the council of Elders of WIC and our traditional institutions at in applying traditional means of reigning in the runaway renegades led by Larry Udorji.
2. To continue to develop the books necessary for the study of Igbo language, history and culture at secondary and tertiary levels of education in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world.
3. To declare the lopsided appointments by president Buhari is a Northernization agenda and calls for a review and normalization of appointments to reflect the federal character enshrined in the constitution while urging Buhari to be president of Nigeria and not that of the north
4. To acknowledge that a strong apex organization such as Ohanaeze at home and WIC in the Diaspora require competent, knowledgeable, well-motivated, and innovative human resources; and to find ways promptly to contain renegades within these Igbo institutions who shamelessly denigrate them for personal aggrandizement. Consequently the administration was urged to ensure that the constitution and bylaws review are not delayed any further.
5. To accept the gracious and exemplary offer by the Chairman and CEO of Capital Oil & Gas Ltd.
• Infusion of funds to the tune of guaranteed $500,000 in order to make giant strides in the absolutely important hospital project
• Sponsoring of trips to Nigeria for twenty WIC functionaries to Igbo land to ensure that WIC and the governments of Igbo land as well as key Igbo centric people in Nigeria work in tandem for the actualization of the RMCE project.
• Making the 2016 convention one of a kind that will bring together all Igbo without the nuisance value of renegades.
6. Set up a committee immediately to energetically pursue the proposed Geneva conference on the “Igbo Question”
7. That in line with the UN Resolution 61/295 (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) an excerpt of which reads “Acknowledging that the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, affirm the fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”, World Igbo Congress endorses the proposal by the Lower Niger Congress (LNC) for a referendum for self-determination of the people of southeast and south-south zones as a means of forging a functional alliance within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
8. Calls on all Igbo states to emulate the progressive outlook of Anambra State especially in respect of security and numerous sectors so as to ensure development of Igbo land on even keel in tandem with the now well-known entrepreneurial acumen of the Igbo.
9. Declare that the achievement of the developmental state requires effective collaboration between the political and administrative leadership of Igbo land and urged these leaders to work for Igbo interests and not personal or just states interests.
10. Agreed that competent, transformational and visionary leadership, both political and administrative, largely accounted for the phenomenal growth and development of progressive organizations and people. In contrast with the situation among Igbo organizations, leaders are constrained by the lack of well-developed political systems and values that nurture and develop leaders and are, thus, unable to develop the level of leadership capacity needed to champion the development of Igbo land. Accordingly, it was affirmed that current and emerging WIC leaders should endeavor to emulate and inculcate the leadership style and qualities prevalent in World Jewish Congress from which WIC was conceptualized. It also called for more stringent measures in the selection of Board of Directors and House of Delegates members.
Expressed gratitude to the ICAM for hosting the convention noting that it did the same in 2007. It also expressed gratitude to Chief (Dr.) Ifeanyi Ubah and Anambra State Government for their support