NATIONAL COUNCIL ADDRESS
NATIONAL CONVENTION ADDRESS
DEPUTY GOVERNORS ADDRESS
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO SPEAKER HOUSE OF REPS. ADDRESS

THE STATE OF THE ASSOCIATION ADDRESS BY DR. OBINNA UBANI-EBERE, PRESIDENT & CEO OF NGWA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION USA, INC.TO THE 20TH NNAUSA NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING, HOLDING AT ROBERT TREAT HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY.

Distinguished Members of National Council, Fellow Ngwa Citizens, Honored Guests and Observers, Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of Ngwa National Association, USA and myself, I would like to welcome you all to the 20th National Council Meeting. I would first like to show my appreciation to our host, New Jersey Chapter of Ngwa National Association for the excellent arrangement they have provided for the 10th Annual National Convention. I am very grateful to Mr. Johnson Woko, President of New Jersey Chapter and Mr. Buoyant Enyiorji, Chairman of New Jersey Chapter Convention Planning Committee as well as Dr. Paul Ogbonna, New Jersey Chapter National Council Representative for their leadership and support.

I am also pleased to officially welcome new members of National Council and the newest Chapters of NNAUSA, North New York and Connecticut Chapters. Your membership in NNAUSA brings us closer together and of course, gives you the unlimited voice in our Association. Also, your membership gives you the opportunity to offer your ideas for dialogue and discussion.

Please join me to officially congratulate and welcome North New York and Connecticut Chapters into Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. Once again, I am also using this opportunity to call on nonmembers to join NNAUSA. When you join NNAUSA, you will have a strong platform to bring new values, concepts and agenda for improving the entire structure of the Association. I am delighted to inform you that NNAUSA is expanding to Canada and Europe. It is an impressive development. Ngwa groups in these areas are getting more coordinated so as to become associate or affiliate Chapter of NNAUSA. By God's grace, I will go to Europe and Canada next year to encourage our people to form Ngwa organizations. As I have done in the past, I would like to remind new members that National Council is the Board of Trustees of NNAUSA. It is the policy making body of our Association, and we handle important issues of NNAUSA in the Council Meetings in a professional and accountable manner. Therefore, we will only allow National Council Representatives, Chapter Presidents and Committee chairs that have pending proposals before this body to deliberate on the issues before the Council. You will agree with me that the purpose of representative Council or board will be defeated if the Chair allows everyone or non-council members in this room to speak. It does not make any sense at all, for you to pay for a hotel accommodation and transportation for your representatives to this Council, and at the same time, you will not give them the confidence, opportunity and trust to represent you. After all, they only vote according to their Chapter instructions.

Therefore, if you have any contribution to issues being deliberated by the National Council, I strongly encourage you to approach your Chapter President and Council Representative. And they will make representation on your behalf as well as that of your Chapter. That is our system and our way of conducting National Council Meetings. It is that simple and I thank each and every one of you for your cooperation and understanding. To night, I stand before this honorable assembly of the 20th National Council Meeting to announce that Ngwa National Association; USA is ten years old today. You will agree with me that bringing people together and managing them is a complicated task. The building of an organization is not simple. The organizing and leading of people is a complex and frustrating task that requires patient and endurance. The formation of Ngwa National Association, USA was initiated and spearheaded by the Chicago Chapter of Ngwa National Association 12 years ago. The first organizing meeting of NNAUSA was held at Chicago while its second meeting was in New York, followed by constitutional conferences in Huntsville, AL, Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, etc. Our membership continues to grow, from the 6 founding Chapters to 21 Chapters, with over six hundred members. It is important to note that the majority of the founding members of NNAUSA in the 1980s were students in US colleges and universities. They supported NNAUSA financially and morally.

Over the years, however, the sociology of NNAUSA membership has changed and 99% of our current members are working professionals and business people. Still, we are encouraging our students and youngsters to join Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. and take active leadership in the up and running of the Association. NNAUSA has come a long way. It has evolved from when Chapters were completely responsible for all convention expense (accommodation, hall, food, entertainment, etc.) to a point when it became impossible for the host Chapter alone to carry the burden of the Annual National Convention. Gone were the days when NNAUSA hosted its convention in apartment's clubhouses and dilapidated hotels. There is no doubt that NNAUSA is on a progress note and with continuous improvement, strategy and bold vision, Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is on its way to higher heights.

While we did encounter ups and downs during the initial years of NNAUSA, I am pleased to state that NNAUSA has triumphed over minor and major obstacles often associated with grassroots cultural organizations. I thank God that we have an organization that brings us together in Diaspora. There is no question that Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is the largest, most active and visible Ngwa organization in Diaspora. It is truly, the United Organizations of Ndi-Ngwa in North America. Collectively, we have provided the energy, resources, vision and strategic leadership that propelled Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. to success. The current outlook of NNAUSA is great but the road to the future is still bumpy. We must, therefore, be united in order to withstand the pressure and overcome challenges from the external and internal environment of NNAUSA in a rapidly changing world.

The good news is that NNAUSA has remained one indivisible national cultural organization. The secret of our success lies in the commitment of our members and of course, the structure of NNAUSA Constitution, which makes it impossible for one single member or Chapter to control the affairs of the Association. Also, unity, quality membership, openness and appreciation of differences of opinion amongst our members are attributes of our successes. There is no question that Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is very strong and on the right track. It is well known that there is strength in number. We have Ngwa people in the United States and Canada that are not members of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. While we cannot question their reasons for not joining NNAUSA, it is important to say that they need to join the organization in order for them to have the opportunity of making viable contributions for the development of NNAUSA and Ngwa/Ukwa communities in Abia State of Nigeria. Above all, I want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the founders and all members for standing strongly behind Ngwa National Association, USA for these ten good years.

At this year's Annual Convention, we are focusing on ten recent strategic developments in Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. These are:
1. Launching of NEOF and Fund-Raising. Launching of the NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF), which was approved by the National Council meeting of April 2001 in Austin, TX. The Council also approved seed money of $10,000.00 for the Foundation and committed an additional $20,000.00 for its takeoff after this convention. The Foundation's goal is to support education and undermine ignorance as well as illiteracy in Ngwa/Ukwa areas of Abia State, Nigeria. Since Nigerian Education system is currently in bad shape, NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF) is a great promise for our people. In view of this situation, we expect to raise $40,000.00 in this Convention for this project and we are asking for your generous support.
2. Honoring our Women. The Third Annual Presidential Dinner is designed to honor our women. Also, two prominent Nigerians---Chief Bola Ige; Minister for Justice and Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Minister of Transport will be honored in this year's NNAUSA Presidential Dinner. Senators and some members of House of Representatives will also be recognized for their various contributions.
3. Children/Youth Network Forum. The Children and Youth Forum is generating a lot of interest in and support from children and youngsters. There is indeed great enthusiasm of excitement among our youths. At least, they have reason now to attend NNAUSA Annual Convention. Saturday's night has been allocated to the youngsters and they are very excited about it. It is a way of cultivating them into NNAUSA.
4. NNAUSA Free Medical Screening Program. NNAUSA Free Medical Screening Program will continue for the third year in the history of NNAUSA. Ngwa doctors, nurses and other health care professionals will be available to answer your health questions and undertake basic health screening. This program will take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings
5. Convention Church Service Program. Our Convention Church Service Program will also continue for the third year in the history of NNAUSA. We initiated the Convention Church Service Program in order to give our members the opportunity of worshiping at the convention site while attending the Convention. The Convention Church Service Program will take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We strongly encourage you to participate in the church programs.
6. NNAUSA Soccer Cup Competition/Schedule. Information on NNAUSA Soccer Cup Competition under the leadership of Baba Okwandu will be shared with the audience during this Convention. The competition is scheduled for September 2001 to December 2001. We strongly challenge you to register a team in your village for this soccer competition.
7. NNAUSA Self-help Credit Union. There is no question that we must develop strategies to empower people at home. While such goal cannot be compromised, we must remember that our children are born and raised in America like their counterparts whose parents come from Asia and other parts of the world. In view of this situation, the National Council setup a steering committee to look into the possibility of establishing NNAUSA Self-help Credit Union for our Association. The committee shall present its preliminary report to this 10th Annual Convention.
8. NUCO Forum. The NUCO Forum is scheduled for Saturday night. We are asking everyone to participate in this important forum. Like any other organization, NUCO is the Political Action Committee (PAC) or arm of NNAUSA. It was founded by the current NNAUSA leadership and needs the support of every member of NNAUSA. Since there is strength in number, we are encouraging everyone to become a member of NUCO in order to stimulate discussions and dialogues, which will eventuate into programs and strategies for the up and running of NUCO. Our sentiments in this gathering must, therefore, evoke a new strategic thinking on how to confront political conditions of our people in Abia State. This is necessary in order to challenge political miscalculations of some young Ngwa politicians and Ezes in Ngwa/Ukwa areas of Abia State. Currently, NUCO is highly involved in helping to find solutions to many of the political problems of our people in Abia State.
9. Round Table Dialogues with Nigerian Delegates. We have the green light that many politicians and civic leaders will be attending the 10th Annual Convention of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. The 10th Annual Convention offers us a window of opportunity for dialogue, questions and answers with the Nigerian delegates. It is also a time to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to NNAUSA.
10. Convention Cultural Night. Finally, we will end the 10th Annual Convention with a cultural gala and festival night. The cultural gala night is open to both NNAUSA members and nonmembers. We encourage you to attend this cultural night that will promote our rich heritage cultural.

Times have changed and NNAUSA as an organization must also change in order to remain a strong, viable and competitive Association in the 21st century. It is also vitally important that we change the ways we do business in NNAUSA in order to be accountable to members and legal authorities that oversee the operation of tax-exempt and not-for-profit organizations in the United States. Obviously, in times of strategic change of programs and ways of doing things in an organization such as NNAUSA, some members will have real problems abandoning old concepts to embrace and defend new ones. As the President, I know that people resist and oppose quality changes, even when it is for the good benefits of the organization. I believe, however, that it is our responsibility as leaders and stakeholders to educate people on these changes and show their validity and appropriateness. These we have tried to do in all the projects and issue that NNAUSA have been involved in since this Administration came to office.

In the beginning, NNAUSA was a single product agenda organization. We concentrated our energy in funding All Ngwa Cultural Organization (ANCO) Building in Aba-Ngwa. The paradigm of putting our eggs in one basket was sound then, considering our smaller number and limited information available to us about the building. Today, the current NNAUSA leadership has diversified the Association's agenda, programs and engagements in Ala-Ngwa. We have put these issues and projects on proper foundation. That is what they called continuous improvement and development of an organization. We know that with strong will and your support, Ala Ngwa shall reap the rewards of these long-term investments and plans. Never again, will NNAUSA undertake capital projects without adequate feasibility studies, cost analysis and projections, as well as active supervision and accountability.

As we celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Ngwa National Association, USA, I will like to use this opportunity to draw your attention to recent developments in our organization. Over these three years, a new philosophy or paradigm has gained credence and momentum in NNAUSA. This paradigm rests on the premise that to be effective and lasting as a nonprofit cultural and educational organization, we must vigorously pursue IRS 501©)(3) status in order to raise fund required to achieve our goals. This philosophy required us to amend or revise our constitution, mission statement and above all, to articulate strategic plans in order to meet the IRS requirements. The sentiment of pursuing IRS 501©(3) 1999. I am particularly pleased to inform you that our vision has translated into visible realities and strengths for Ngwa National Association USA, Inc.
Below are activities we have undertaken and accomplished since 1999:

1. IRS 501(3)(3) Tax exempt status for the Association after ten (10) years of existence.

2. Established NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation to respond to the problems of education development and empowerment in Ngwa / Ukwa communities in Abia State.

3. Undertook preliminary work for the establishment of NNAUSA Healthcare Foundation as well as NNAUSA Self-help Credit Union.

4. Developed first Five-year Development Plan, Convention and National Council Meetings Schedules for NNAUSA.

5. Instituted a free health care screening and church worship as part of the Annual National Convention Program of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc.

6. Formed NUCO (Ngwa -Ukwa Coalition), which is NNAUSA's Political Action Committee and a common cause political advocacy organization.

7. Network with other Ngwa organizations around the world in an effort to foster a broad-based unity and development amongst all Ngwas.

8. Engaged in an aggressive membership drive and formation of new NNAUSA Chapters. Five Chapters have been added to increase Chapter members from 16 to 21. The new Chapters are Bay Area, St. Louis, South Jersey, North New York and Connecticut.

9. Establishment of NNAUSA's own Newspaper called "Quarterly or Community Advocate International Newspaper. The Newspaper is now under NUCO leadership funding and management.

10. Established a NNAUSA Web siteNgwa National.Org and Ndingwa @egroups.com in order to enhance and improve the communication between NNAUSA and its chapters as well as members.

11. Promotion of Ngwa culture and tradition as a top priority and an integral part of NNAUSA Annual Convention.

12. Launched $1 million dollar fund raising for NNAUSA

13. Began the registration of NNAUSA Institute for Development at Aba-Ngwa, which the National Council mandated during one of our Teleconference Meetings.

14. Launched the Youth wing of NNAUSA.

15. Established day care program for our families during the Convention.

16. Attended at least the 99% of Chapter cultural and fund-raising activities during the last three year.

17. Recognized the past two administrations of NNAUSA during the 1999 Convention.

18. Wrote the election and campaign guidelines for NNAUSA.

19. Established Presidential Dinner and Business network

20. Produced a comprehensive directory for NNAUSA

21. Reorganized the burial fund of the Association.

22. Developed NNAUSA Flag and Logo.

23. Amended and bound NNAUSA Constitution into a booklet

I believe in consent agenda when it comes to the up and running of an organization, such as NNAUSA. Therefore, the goal of this Administration is to provide a forum for participatory leadership. With participatory leadership, it is possible for us, as concerned members, to make a difference in our Association and Ngwa land. I am very optimistic that our meetings this weekend will be very productive and cordial for the benefit of all participants. It is fair to say, of course, that our collective effort and energy is the engine that propelled NNAUSA to success in the 21st Century. So, the credit for what we have achieved or initiated for the progress of NNAUSA should go to every hard working member of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc.

I know that our people love immediate gratification. But the problem with immediate gratification is that it undermines the effectiveness of a leader. As far as I am concerned, immediate gratification is not a precondition for the work that I am doing for NNAUSA. Therefore, I do not care who gets credit for what have been achieved so long as we accomplish our goals. It is not a secret that NNAUSA has a stringent bureaucratic system of decision making process. The system is slow in decision making process and project implementation but it puts the Executive in check. I strongly believe in leadership by consent and consensus building. And this is in line with our constitution. As far as I am the President of NNAUSA, I will respect the Constitutional process of NNAUSA because it is our system and it has worked for the past 10 years.

Our people must learn to be patient and must understand the dividends of long-term planning for any project we are undertaking either for here or at home, because any project constructed on a faulty or fragile foundation is bound to collapse. The people you elected to work for you are doing their best. They work day and night for you. NNAUSA work is a full time job and nobody is paid to do the work. I have high respect for members of the Executive and their families for the amount of time and energy they put in NNAUSA's work. I thank Mrs. Nwokeocha, Mr. Nwachukwu, Mr. Jacob, Mrs. Onyenso and all our committee leaders for their leadership.

As a tax-exempt legal entity, we are proud to say that Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is a law-abiding organization and we strictly undertake programs or projects that can pass IRS test and scrutiny. That is why we cannot venture to yield to any internal or external environmental pressure that will lead to any violation of NNAUSA Tax exempt status or misinterpretation of the facts of the law. Such temptations or agitation must be avoided and resisted at all times by the current and future leaders as well as all NNAUSA members in order to avert costly mistakes, penalty and unnecessary collusion with the Federal regulations as well as State tax laws. As your President, my job is also to make sure that NNAUSA is operating within the law. The President will resist any pressure to unilaterally spend NNAUSA Fund without the approval of the National Council. Above all, I will not violate any tax laws in order to satisfy interest group.

We all know that ignorance is like a demonic force, and common sense tells us that any organization that has no plan or do not plan for the future is planning for failure. That is why we have designed a five-year Development Plan for NNAUSA. Since we have completed our plan of action, it is imperative that we concentrate our energy on the implementation process. And the first thing on the implementation list is NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF) while the second item is the Soccer program, which shall takeoff this September. Also, NNAUSA office or NNAUSA Institute for Development will be up and running at Aba-Ngwa this year.

The challenge is there, and there are plenty of opportunities for us to use this Foundation to raise fund and materials for the support of education in Abia State. I therefore, challenge the Board of Trustees of NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF) to give scholarships to Ngwa/Ukwa sons and daughters and ship books and other educational materials to Ngwa/Ukwa schools this year with the money we have committed for the Foundation. Above all, they must design ways and means to raise more funds for the up and running of the Foundation. The planning and managing of NNAUSA Annual Convention is a full time work. It consumes time, energy and money. However, if the planning team can start negotiations with the hotel, at least, three years ahead of schedule, there is no question that we will overcome some of the last minute obstacles and difficulties of organizing and managing NNAUSA Convention. That is why we took time to prepare the Six-Year Convention and Council Meeting Schedules for all our chapters. I hope that the new approach gives the future hosts of NNAUSA Annual Conventions and the National Council Meetings financial planning and organizational leverages. Certainly, it will reduce stress and confusion associated with convention planning.

Here are the schedules:

SIX YEAR NATIONAL CONVENTION SCHEDULE 2002-2007

YEAR
MONTH
CHAPTER
2002
9
Los Angeles
2003
9
Atlanta
2004
9
Chicago
2005
9
New York
2006
9
Houston
2007
9
Dallas

SIX YEAR NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING SCHEDULE 2002-2007

YEAR
MONTH
CHAPTER
2002
4
Philadelphia
2003
4
New York
2004
4
Houston
2005
4
Washington D.C.
2006
4
North carolina
2007
4
MS/LU

 

In the history of NNAUSA, this is the first time National Council has been asked to create two new elective positions in one year when the Association has no plan to raise its annual dues. There is nothing wrong for us to create the offices of National Cultural Director and Publicity Secretary. After all, it is for the interest and good of our Association. Since the proposed positions pose financial challenges to NNAUSA and of course, to the National Council, I ask the following questions to this honorable assembly of the 20th National Council Meeting:

1. Can NNAUSA fund two new positions in its present financial position?
2. Is it feasible and cost effective for NNAUSA to create two new positions?
3. Did these proposals meet the constitutional process of submitting proposal?

I will suggest that the Council handle this issue with caution. While the President and Executive cannot vote in the National Council, I will advise the National Council to create only one position or merge the two positions into the office of Cultural Director. Above all, these proposals will require 2/3 majority of Chapters in attendance for them to pass.

It has been correctly stated that before solutions can be advanced, one must be fully aware of the history, nature and structure of the problems. A few years ago we created a political action committee (PAC) in NNAUSA. We all know that the said political action committee was a total failure since 98% of NNAUSA members or Chapters refused to pay $100.00 levy for political action or participate in PAC during the last regime of our Association. We are also living witness that many Chapters of NNAUSA made it clear during the National Council Meeting in Atlanta in April 1998 that they will not participate in any political levy. Above all, we had the worst experience with some chapters or National Council members during Chief Abaribe impeachment problems. What other alternative do we have after these unfavorable experiences and great disappointments?

In view of the above situation, it is absolutely clear that a new official initiatives or approaches are required. In addressing the problems, the starting point must be that someone should take the critical responsibility of initiating ideas, strategies or solutions to the problem. The leadership of NNAUSA, therefore, had no alternatives than to look for ways and means to respond to the political issues confronting Ndi Ngwa at home. So, after careful consideration of the current situation, and of course, analysis of the history of NNAUSA's defunct PAC, we were convinced beyond reasonable doubt that any attempt or action undertaken to maintain the old Political Action Committee of NNAUSA will be met with serious resistance from many Chapters that refused to participate. And, certainly such move will, eventually die in the bureaucratic process of NNAUSA. All said and done, it is absolutely necessary to have a proactive and specialized organization like NUCO, with less bureaucratic quagmire that provides avenue, forum and platform for people of ecopolitical interest and philosophy to speak with common voice against or in defense of public policy actions. The truth is that the people that are passionate for NUCO will continue to pursue its strategic goals and objectives.

Therefore, the establishment of NUCO as an enabling political action committee of NNAUSA was the only viable alternative for us. NUCO is a new strategic thinking and the political brain trust of NNAUSA. It is NNAUSA's own baby. If we had push further to recreate the old PAC that would lead to upheavals in NNAUSA since some Chapters did not want to participate in politics. I think, when it comes to issue of PAC, I can assure you with upper confidence that NNAUSA is safe and strong with the current system---NUCO. And we ought to be happy that we have an organization that is presently working for us. . I am calling on every Ngwa and Ukwa person to join NUCO in order to make a difference in the political environment of Abia State. I am appealing to members of the 20th National Council Meeting to encourage their members to join NUCO.

In line with the discussion of Ngwa unity and development, there is urgent need for our people to come together to redefine our goals and priorities. You see, from the look of the unfolding political, social and economic events at home, Ngwa community cannot successfully fight for their right and get a dignified place in Abia State without physical, financial, public relations, intellectual and organizational intervention from the Ngwa communities abroad. We must be part and parcel of the ongoing efforts to energize our people to become proactive in the socioeconomic and political development of Abia State. We must be part of this struggle in order to bring Ngwa land/ Ukwa land back on the move. Therefore, Ngwa and Ukwa people must not only be united in mutual respect and brotherly/sisterly love but must be glued together by effective economic, political and social agenda of empowerment in order to triumph in a rapidly changing economic, social and political landscape of Abia State.

My people, I am disturbed and worried that many Ngwa politicians are operating in alien world. They lack spirit of love, compromise, unity, vision and readiness. You can only observe division and hatred on their faces. Above all, they work against themselves, play and practice politics of vendetta and individual pockets. We have Senators, Representatives and Assembly men/women as well as Local Government Councilors that do not know their constituencies and the people they represent. The only constituency they know well or represent is their individual pocket and bank account. We have Ezes that do not know their functions in their communities. They are symbols of destruction, distraction and of course, agents of community underdevelopment. Can Ala-Ngwa survive?

The so called Ngwa leaders and politicians have not learned from their past experiences and previous political failures. It is painful that in every election that about twenty Ngwa people will be running for one position. It shows that they do not know what they are doing. Absolutely, economic, political and social development of Ala-Ngwa is not their strategic interest and objective of going to politics. It shows their political immaturity, selfishness and lack of readiness to deliver on their promises to the people. Umunna, shame on them!

It is established fact that anytime many Ngwa people contest for the same position against one candidate from the other side, they all lose. Is it not the time for Ngwa politicians to read the handwriting on the wall? The only way we can triumph in the political environment of Abia State is to play politics of common sense. Common sense politics means coming together, recognizing who has the highest probability of winning in order to yield to that person, maintaining and promoting an indivisible Ngwa community. Above all, show sense and spirit of forgiveness.

Furthermore, radio, TV and newspaper are powerful instruments of politics and there is need for our people to become media brokers. I am, therefore, calling on Ngwa businessmen and women to invest in radio/ TV Stations, magazines as well as Newspapers. Such investment will give our people unlimited voice in the controlled Nigerian press. It is for this reason that NNAUSA initiated the publication of Community Advocate (Quarterly Advocate International Newspaper) and we are happy that the said paper is presently owned, managed and funded by NUCO. We are asking everyone to support the Newspaper.

I am troubled by the fact that some Chapters of our Association still separate NNAUSA dues from the Chapter dues. I believe that NNAUSA membership should be a precondition or a requirement for joining the local Chapter. It is absolutely counter productive for chapters to make NNAUSA Membership optional to their members. Optional membership does not work and will eventually undermine the membership growth of Ngwa National Association. You and I know that there cannot be strong NNAUSA without strong Chapters of NNAUSA because they are indivisible. So, NNAUSA can only survive and remain viable only if the Chapters are viable and healthy. The bottom line of this issue is that strong Chapters of NNAUSA will certainly lead to unshakable NNAUSA. Therefore, NNAUSA membership should not be separated from the Chapter Membership, and must be one of the preconditions for joining the Chapter. In view of this situation, I am suggesting to the Chapters to make NNAUSA Membership a compulsory requirement for joining the local Chapter. Above all, we invite all Ngwa people in the United States and Canada to join NNAUSA and share the vision of making Ngwaland a better place for living.

We are meeting at a time of critical needs and difficulties. Ala-Ngwa is economically and politically ill. Ala-Ngwa is under fire. It is under economic, political and social attack. Ndikanyi, Ala-Ngwa needs all of us. The 20th National Council Meeting and 10th Annual National Convention offers great opportunity for us to deal with these difficulties. As the President, my ideas only are not adequate to move this Association and Ala-Ngwa to a high level of success. Neither the Executive nor the National Council ideas are enough to achieve our ultimate goals. Obviously, the best way to move NNAUSA forward is through collective strategy, ideas and energy, participatory leadership, openness, oneness and spirit of solidarity. We have the political and economic tenacity to deal with these issues. Talk is very cheap and let's talk less but go to work for the progress of Ngwa/Ukwa communities.

If the very best collection of leaders of our community in this room cannot work together in this meeting to finalize the Education Foundation Projects and the Soccer Program, I pause to ask who will? We have this weekend to make decision on these projects. Our goal is to move NNAUSA forward and the problems we are about to solve cannot be confronted with weak mentality and nonchalant attitude but may only be solved within the realm of respect, understanding, suggestions, reasonable compromise and openness. Let us work together for the progress of Ngwa community. Let us work with union of heart in order to pursue and promote economic development, relationship of understanding and appreciation of individual accomplishments as well as unique qualities and intelligence. We must promote and protect the endangered culture and tradition of Ndi Ngwa. It is disappearing very fast and churches are helping to kill them.

We ask for your support, understanding, cooperation and constructive criticisms. We must work together for continuous development of Ngwaland. Let us capitalize on the intellectual and informational benefits of this 10th Annual National Convention to help our community. On the other hand, and perhaps equally important, is that we all must be agents and symbols of change as we represent the forgotten generation of Nigeria. I challenge you to do your part in the current struggle for equity and empowerment of our people in Abia. If you act and fight for right, nobody will do it for you. The responsibility of changing the current political and economic stagnation of Ngwa land is in our own hand. I plead with you to call your papa, mama, dede, daa, and nwannegi Na nwannagi, Eze, etc at home to think Ala-Ngwa and join hand with other Ngwa hands for the development of Ngwa-land.

In our strategic effort to salvage and reclaim Alangwa, we must bear in mind that Ala-Ngwa is bigger than one single individual or us. In order to achieve peace, stability and unity, we must constructively engage every Ngwa person whether good or bad. Because the only way to change and recover lost souls of Ngwa-land/Ukwa-land is through an inclusive, constructive engagement. Since Ngwa/Ukwa is only a segment of Abia State, it is imperative that we strategically aligned with the good people of other parts of Abia State and Nigeria in order to triumph and avoid boxing ourselves. Furthermore, we must work with the Western and Northern parts of Nigeria as well as all of the eastern Nigeria. That is what they called common sense political strategy. We are delighted that Chief Bola Ige and Chief Ojo Maduekwe are part of the 10th Annual National Convention.

While we are unhappy about the current position of Ala-Ngwa, I would like to say to everyone that development of Ala-Ngwa cannot be accomplished from outside. So no matter how munch effort on the part of NNAUSA, and no matter how many dollars are committed, our efforts from the Western world to effect economic, political and social development in Ngwa land will not work without serious effort by Ngwa people at home to come together for the progress of Ala-Ngwa. I, therefore, contend that Ngwa unity is inevitable and an indispensable requirement of development of Ala-Ngwa.

What you have seen in NNAUSA since 1999 is a gradual process of planning but a symbolic way of building an organization of the future. So make no mistake about it, NNAUSA is on its way to upper heights. The visibility of NNAUSA is not in doubt and the road map of where the organization is going is not in question. For example, we have assembled the engine and instruments of strategic community empowerment. In everything we do, it is of special importance to develop closer communication between NNAUSA and home. Very soon, NNAUSA Institute for Development will open its office in Aba-Ngwa, NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation is on the move and the committee for the establishment of NNAUSA self-help Credit Union is working hard to make this engine of empowerment and wealth creation a reality. Since the lack of political education is a social disease and also impediment to democracy, NNAUSA Institute for Development (NID) will be responsible for providing grassroots political education in Ngwa/Ukwa areas of Abia State.

In addition, the poor and the underprivileged people of our villages need water, food, health and education. With NID on the ground, it is highly possible for us to coordinate and solve these problems. Above all, for us to be a responsible nonprofit organization, we must engage in a charitable and meaningful social justice work.

I have one more year to serve Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. and I plan to work hard day and night to complete my term. I know very well that my long-term commitment, record of community leadership and support for NNAUSA will remain unshakable. Our mission as a nonprofit organization is to build hope and self-help programs for our community. NNAUSA believes in and supports any comprehensive agenda and integrated strategy to community building and community holding together.

A critical and urgent task for us is to forge sustainable Ngwa unity. Therefore, the economic, political and social development of Ala-Ngwa is the primary responsibility of the Ndi-Ngwa. NO outsider will do it for us. . I would like to encourage those that want to attend the Annual Meeting of WIC to do so. It is a good thing to do and it is your right to control your agenda but NNAUSA members cannot be forced to give up this weekend for WIC. After all, the present structure and constitution of WIC cannot allow an organization like NNAUSA to become a member. If anybody is directly or indirectly suggesting that we cancel NNAUSA Convention for WIC, you need to rethink your position. This weekend, Umuahia/Ikwuanu Organization is meeting in Atlanta. Olu people are meeting in New Jersey and other groups are meeting in other cities this weekend. Why should Ngwa people be the first to mortgage their right?

I want to use this opportunity to thank you for signing the protest letter. It was published in the Nigerian newspapers. I am also grateful to you all for paying the emergency levy of $50.00 by the National Council. It is a way of showing our total commitment to the struggle. You showed brevity and sense of belonging by signing the protest letter. Umunna, our vision for a stronger NNAUSA, NUCO and of course, United Ngwa-Land is bigger than one individual.

There is no doubt that NNAUSA as a nonprofit cultural and educational organization remains a critical voice for the future, and any external or internal entities cannot compromise our bold vision in action. Ngwa Association has reached a point of no return and it will be unthinkable to make a U-turn from our current direction. Therefore, any attempt to reverse the current momentum will certainly lead to unimaginable circumstances or consequences.

Finally, let me use this opportunity to recognize my best friend and beautiful wife, Chinwenwa. I can confidently tell you that without her support all these would have been impossible. I look forward to seeing you at next year's 21st National Council Meeting in Philadelphia and 11th Annual National Convention in Los Angeles.

The 21st National Council meeting will, of course, be the last April Council meeting my Administration will conduct. It is also the election year and I encourage everyone to run for an office or volunteer to serve. And, also prepare to attend the 11th Annual Convention in California. I wish you all God's blessing; safe and pleasant journey home.

Once again, I thank you very much for your support and confidence.


THE 10TH ANNUAL CONVENTION OF NGWA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION USA, INC. BY DR. OBINNA UBANI-EBERE, PRESIDENT & CEO OF NNAUSA AT ROBERT TREAT HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 2,2001

His Excellency, Deputy Governor of Abia State, Honorable Nigerian Ministers, Commissioners, Distinguished Nigerian legislators, and Local Government Counselors, Platform Guests, Esteemed National Council and Executive Members of NNAUSA, Chapter Presidents, Committee Leaders, Traditional Rulers, Honored Guests, Community Leaders and Philanthropic, My Lord, Spiritual and Temporal, Fellow Members, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Umunnam na Umunnem, Amala, Oha Ngwa. Ndi Ewo NU.

On behalf of all NNAUSA members, Chinwe and I would like to welcome each and every one of you to the 10th Annual National Convention of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. (NNAUSA.) Also, we thank and congratulate the New Jersey Chapter of Ngwa National Association for hosting and providing excellent environment for our 10th annual convention. NNAUSA is very grateful to the President of New Jersey, Mr. Johnson Woko for his thoughtful and inspiring address, which I believe, has provided us a correct and positive setting for this Convention. The planning and execution of NNAUSA Annual Convention is stressful and time consuming. The responsibility of the Host Chapter Convention Planning Committee is particularly great in every NNAUSA Annual Convention. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Buoyant Enyiorji, the Honorable Chairman of New Jersey Chapter of Ngwa National Association for job well done and his leadership. I also join our members in recording appreciation to Dr. Paul Ogbonna, National Council Representatives, Mr. Chidi Wogwugwu and Mr. Obioma Oriji.

I must also thank members of our National Executive, Mrs. Nwokeocha; Vice President, Mr. Davidson Nwachukwu; General Secretary, Mr. Udo Jacob; Financial Secretary and Mrs. Joyce Onyenso; Treasurer for their time, efforts, hard works and support. We very much appreciate the presence and participation of all NNAUSA members as well as our guests-----politicians, community leaders, academicians, civic leaders, businessmen / women, etc. We are very happy and proud to have two Federal Ministers here in our midst; the Minister for Justice and attorney general of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige and the Federal Minister for Transport, Chief Ojo Maduekwe. You will recall that these two Ministers few months ago received NNAUSA's special recognition for honesty and transparency in public service. We are indeed honored by these distinguished Nigerians with us on this 10th Annual Convention of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. We give special thanks to the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Chief Enyi Abaribe for his presence in this convention. This is the second time he has squeezed time amidst his congested schedule to share these moments with us. We also welcome new chapters of NNAUSA, the North New York and Connecticut Chapters. Our strength lies in our number and unity of purpose. That is why we must continue to cultivate our people into NNAUSA.

As we begin the 10th Annual National Convention of NNAUSA, I regret to inform you about the death of our members this year. First, Ohio Chapter of Ngwa National Association lost one of her members--Mrs. Ngozi Charity Ohajuruka. She was 42 years old and survived by her husband and three children. Second, Mrs. Ochungwa attended NNAUSA Conventions while she was in Houston with her children. It has been brought to our knowledge that her life was suddenly taken during armed robbery operation in Nigeria few weeks ago Third, I also received a call that Ike Wachuku of Nbawasi died in Virginia. Few weeks ago. I humbly request that we stand up for a moment of silence for the falling umunna. Fourth, I am saddened to officially inform you that Acho Enwereji; the great Ngwa musician died this year. Enwereji was one of the most talented Ngwa traditional musicians. A man that made Ngwa people proud and happy through his music. Last year, Enwereji was to attend the 9th Annual Convention of NNAUSA but was not issued a visa by the American Consulate in Lagos. We have lost a legend. Let us rise and celebrate the life and accomplishments of Acho Enwereji with round of applause.

The Annual Convention of Ngwa National Association, USA serves as a reunion for us and some of our members use it for a vacation. Above all, the Annual Convention gives us all an opportunity to evaluate and observe the great achievements of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. I am proud to say that the past as well as the present progress in NNAUSA is visibly impressive. The purpose of NNAUSA Convention is to promote the welfare of NNAUSA. As we celebrate our 10th Annual National Convention, I would like to use this platform to congratulate all our members for job well done and for standing by NNAUSA for the past ten years. I am pleased to declare to you that we have had a tremendous, wonderful 10 years as an organization. I thank you all for your support and generosity.

The formation of Ngwa National Association, USA was initiated and spearheaded by the Chicago Chapter of Ngwa National Association 12 years ago. The first organizing meeting of NNAUSA was held at Chicago while its second meeting was in New York, followed by constitutional conferences in Huntsville, AL, Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, etc. Our membership continues to grow, from the 6 founding Chapters to 21 Chapters, with over six hundred members. It is important to note that the majority of the founding members of NNAUSA in the 1980s were students in US colleges and universities. They supported NNAUSA financially and morally. Over the years, however, the sociology of NNAUSA membership has changed and 99% of our current members are working professionals and business people. Still, we are encouraging our students and youngsters to join Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. and take active leadership in the up and running of the Association. NNAUSA has come a long way. It has evolved from when Chapters were completely responsible for all convention expense (accommodation, hall, food, entertainment, etc.) to a point when it became impossible for the host chapter alone to carry the burden of the Annual National Convention. Gone were the days when NNAUSA hosted its convention in apartment's clubhouses and dilapidated hotels. There is no doubt that NNAUSA is on a progress note and with continuous improvement, strategy and bold vision, Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is on its way to higher heights.

The good news is that NNAUSA has remained one indivisible national cultural organization. The secret of our success lies in the commitment of our members and of course, the structure of NNAUSA Constitution, which makes it impossible for one single member or chapter to control the affairs of the Association. Also, unity, quality membership, openness and appreciation of differences of opinion amongst our members are attributes of our successes. There is no question that Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is very strong. There is no doubt that NNAUSA is on the right track. It is well known that there is strength in number. We have Ngwa people in the United States and Canada that are not members of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. While we cannot question their reasons for not joining NNAUSA, it is important to say that they need to join the organization in order for them to have the opportunity of making viable contributions for the development of NNAUSA and Ngwa/Ukwa communities in Abia State of Nigeria. When you join NNAUSA, you have a strong platform to bring new values and agenda as well as improving the entire structure of NNAUSA. We are encouraging you to join NNAUSA. NNAUSA is expanding to Canada and Europe.It is an impressive development.

Bringing people together and managing them is a complicated task. While we did encounter ups and downs during the initial years of NNAUSA, I am pleased to state that NNAUSA has triumphed over minor and major obstacles. I thank God that we have an organization that brings us together in the United States of America. There is no question that Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is the largest, most active and visible Ngwa organization in Diaspora. It is truly, the United Organizations of Ndi-Ngwa in North America. Collectively, we have provided the energy, resources, vision and strategic leadership that propelled Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. to success. The current outlook of NNAUSA is great but the road to the future is still bumpy. We must, therefore, be united in order to withstand pressure and overcome challenges from the external and internal environment of NNAUSA in a rapidly changing world. At this year's Annual Convention, we are focusing on ten recent strategic developments in Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. These are:

1. Launching of NEOF and Fund-Raising. Launching of the NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF), which was approved by the National Council meeting of April 2001 in Austin, TX. The Council also approved seed money of $10,000.00 for the Foundation and committed an additional $20,000.00 for its takeoff after this convention. The Foundation's goal is to support education and undermine ignorance as well as illiteracy in Ngwa/Ukwa areas of Abia State, Nigeria. Since Nigerian Education system is currently in bad shape, NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF) is a great promise for our people. In view of this situation, we expect to raise $40,000.00 in this Convention for this project and we are asking for your generous support

2. Honoring our Women. The 3rd Annual Presidential Dinner is designed to honor Ngwa women. Also, two prominent Nigerians---Chief Bola Ige; Minister for Justice and Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Minister of Transport will be honored in this year's NNASUSA Presidential Dinner. Senators and some members of House of Representatives will also be recognized for their various contributions.

3. Children/Youth Network Form. The Children and Youth Forum is generating a lot of interest in and support from children and youngsters. At least, they have reason now to attend NNAUSA Annual Convention. Saturday's night has been allocated to the youngsters and they are very excited about it. It is a way of cultivating them into NNAUSA.

4. Free Medical Screening Program. Our free Medical Screening Program will continue for the third year in the history of NNAUSA. Ngwa doctors, nurses and other health care professionals will be available to answer your health questions and undertake basic health screening. This program will take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

5. Convention Church Service Program. Our Convention Church Service Program will also continue for the third year in the history of NNAUSA. We initiated the Convention Church Service Program in order to give our members the opportunity of worshiping at the convention site while attending the Convention. The Convention Church Service Program will take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We strongly encourage you to participate in the church programs.

6. NNAUSA Soccer Cup Competition/Schedule. Information on NNAUSA Soccer Cup Competition under the leadership of Baba Okwandu will be shared with the audience during this Convention. The competition is scheduled for September 2001 to December 2001. We strongly challenge you to register a team in your village for this soccer competition.

7. NNAUSA Self-Help Credit Union. There is no question that we must develop strategies to empower people at home. While such goal cannot be compromised, we must remember that our children are born and raised in America like their counterparts whose parents come from Asia and other parts of the world. In view of this situation, the National Council setup a steering committee to look into the possibility of establishing NNAUSA Self-Help Credit Union for our Association. The committee shall present its preliminary report to this 10th Annual Convention.

8. NUCO Forum. The NUCO Forum is scheduled for Saturday night. We are asking everyone to participate in this important forum. Like any other organization, NUCO is the Political Action Committee (PAC) or arm of NNAUSA. It was founded by the current NNAUSA leadership and needs the support of every member of NNAUSA. Since there is strength in number, we are encouraging everyone to become a member of NUCO in order to stimulate discussions and dialogues, which will eventuate into programs and strategies for the up and running of NUCO. Our sentiments in this gathering must, therefore, evoke a new strategic thinking on how to confront political conditions of our people in Abia State. This is necessary in order to challenge political miscalculations of some young Ngwa politicians and Ezes in Ngwa/Ukwa areas of Abia State. Currently, NUCO is highly involved in helping to find solutions to many of the political problems of our people in Abia State.

9. Dialogues with Nigerian Delegates. We have the green light that many politicians and civic leaders will be attending the 10th Annual Convention of Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. The 10th Annual Convention offers window of opportunity for dialogue, questions and answers with the Nigerian delegates.

10. Convention Cultural Night. Finally, we will end the 10th Annual Convention with a cultural gala and festival night. The cultural gala night is open to both NNAUSA members and nonmembers. We encourage you to attend this cultural night that will promote our rich cultural heritage.

I believe in consent agenda when it comes to the up and running of an organization, such as NNAUSA. Therefore, the goal of this Administration is to provide a forum for participatory leadership. With participatory leadership, it is possible for us, as concerned members, to make a difference in our Association and Ngwa land. I am very optimistic that our meetings this weekend will be very productive and cordial for the benefit of all participants. NNAUSA is a non-profit, tax-exempt cultural organization. As a tax-exempt legal entity, we are proud to say that Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. is a law-abiding organization and we strictly undertake programs or projects that can pass IRS test and scrutiny. That is why we cannot venture to yield to any internal or external environmental pressure that will lead to any violation of NNAUSA Tax exempt status or misinterpretation of the facts of the law. Such temptations or agitation must be avoided and resisted at all times by the current and future leaders as well as all NNAUSA members in order to avert costly mistakes, penalty and unnecessary collusion with the Federal regulations as well as State tax laws. As your President, my job is also to make sure that NNAUSA is operating within the law.

Times have changed and NNAUSA as an organization must also change in order to remain a strong, viable and competitive Association in the 21st century. It is also vitally important that we change the ways we do business in NNAUSA in order to be accountable to members and legal authorities that oversee the operation of tax-exempt and not-for-profit organizations in the United States. Obviously, in times of strategic change of programs and ways of doing things in an organization such as NNAUSA, some members will have real problems abandoning old concepts to embrace and defend new ones. As the President, I know that people resist and oppose quality changes, even when it is for the good benefits of the organization. I believe, however, that it is our responsibility as leaders and stakeholders to educate people on these changes and show their validity and appropriateness. These we have tried to do in all the projects and issue that NNAUSA have been involved in since this Administration came to office.

In the beginning, NNAUSA was a single product agenda organization. We concentrated our energy in funding All Ngwa Cultural Organization (ANCO) Building in Aba-Ngwa. The paradigm of putting our eggs in one basket was sound then, considering our smaller number and limited information available to us about the building. Today, the current NNAUSA leadership has diversified the Association's agenda, programs and engagements in Ala-Ngwa. We have put these issues and projects on proper foundation. That is what they called continuous improvement and development of an organization. We know that with strong will and your support, ala Ngwa shall reap the rewards of these long-term investments and plans. Never again, will NNAUSA undertake capital projects without adequate feasibility studies, cost analysis and projections, as well as active supervision and accountability.

We all know that ignorance is like a demonic force, and common sense tells us that any organization that has no plan or do not plan for the future is planning for failure. That is why we have designed a five-year Development Plan for NNAUSA. Since we have completed our plan of action, it is imperative that we concentrate our energy on the implementation process. And the first thing on the implementation list is the NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF) while the second item is the Soccer program, which shall takeoff this September. The challenge is there, and there are plenty of opportunities for us to use this foundation to raise fund and materials for the support of education in Abia State. I therefore, challenge the Board of Trustees of NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF) to give scholarships to Ngwa/Ukwa sons and daughters and ship books and other educational materials to Ngwa/Ukwa schools this year with the money we have committed for the Foundation. Above all, they must design ways and means to raise more funds for the up and running of the Foundation.

As a non-political organization, we must praise progress but condemn any evidence of economic, political and social injustice in this era of hope for a sustainable democracy in the post Nigerian Military Government. Poverty is a fingerprint of unequal distribution of wealth. Therefore, our leaders must find ways and means to fight endemic and systematic poverty. There is urgent need to rescue the youngsters and graduates of secondary and institutions of higher learning, which are malingering on the streets without employment. This situation is a serious threat to the Nigerian National Security. If productive work force is unproductive, the country will experience high incidence of crimes. There is need to develop economic and political policy to establish enabling environment for full participation of youngsters and our graduates in development. Above all, Nigerian politicians and officials must learn how to leave Nigerian wealth in Nigeria. For democracy to survive there is need for prudence and leadership accountability of the National and State governments as well as the local public institutions. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am talking about the executive, legislative and judicial sectors of our government. I believe that strengthening the enabling environment for leadership accountability, development and the rule of law is a critical prerequisite for Nigerian new democracy. Above all, the challenge is for politicians to build connection and apathy for their constituencies. They should understand that they are elected to serve the people and not their pockets. They must strive to provide Nigerian citizens with clean water, rural Electric City, roads, jobs, quality education and medicine for aid and other debilitating diseases.

In view of the above, I wish to state categorically before this honorable assembly of the 10th National Convention that Abia State Government is a disgrace to the government of the people for the people by the people. The ability of the good people of Abia State to erase forever abuse of power and political hegemony of the Nigerian military is questionable under the current Government of Abia State. Freedom of association, speech and expressions are attributes and ingredients of participatory democracy. But, the fact remains that these attributes are missing in Abia State. For example, gross violations of human rights and politics of divide and rule or conquer will not serve Abians well. It is, rather, a serious roadblock to progressive democracy, unity and development of Abia State. Yet, Abia citizens have been brainwashed or made to believe that Abia is a progressive State by Abia Radio and paid newspaper publications. There is no question that Abia State under the leadership of Kalu and Abaribe is undergoing a period of development stagnation. If you disagree with my characterization of Abia State, please answer the following questions:

1. Where else in modern democracy will a State Government query the traditional rulers for paying courtesy visit to the President of the country?

2. Where else in Nigeria will the Governor unilaterally stamp his name on every state infrastructure, property and project?

3. Where else in the Federal Republic of Nigeria will state owned radio be used for propaganda machine of spreading rumors of development and accomplishments of a State Governor?

4. Where else will local government chairmen and councilmen divide and squander Federal Government allocations for rural development?

5. Where else in the world will the House of Assembly mortgage its power to the Executive as a result of bribery and kickbacks?

6. Where else in the Federation will a State Government propose a bill that would make a majority to become a minority through creation and redistribution of local government areas?

No one pretends that the task of leadership and governance is small. But there is no doubt that strengthening the responsiveness and effectiveness of legislature is a precondition for the successful transformation of Abia State. I also call on NUCO to participate effectively in remedying the on going political predicament and regression in Abia State. It is the blind political ambition of the current leadership of Abia State and its recklessness that leaves citizens disfigured and disfranchised from their own government. I ask everyone to pray for our leaders to use common sense and dignity in handling the affairs of the state. We urge our leaders to be honest, and have decency of telling the good people of Abia State the true fiscal condition of the State. Anything short of truth, openness and honesty in this matter is voodoo politics. Since Abia State Government is incapable of investigating and policing itself for allegations of bribery, corruption and conflicts of interest in Abia State Executive, legislative and judicial sectors, the Federal Government has a duty under the rule of law to intervene.

I know that we meet here today with high spirit and optimism but how will history treat us if all we do is to criticize the leadership or run our mouths, without offering any competing alternatives or fail to deliver on our promises and commitments? NNAUSA is blessed with men and women of high intelligence. Look around this room and you can see that we have the best collection of distinguished leaders of our community. With spirit of unity and strategic understanding, there is nothing we cannot accomplish at this point in time. If the quality of leaders in this room cannot work together during their deliberations to promote the Education Foundation Project, the Soccer Program, and the health care plan for the Ngwa community, I pause to ask who will? We have this weekend to raise fund for these projects. Our goal is to move NNAUSA forward and the problems we are about to solve cannot be confronted with weakened mentality but can only be solved within the realm of respect and wise planning.

Although individual priorities tend to differ, I contend that our collective interest in the development of Ngwa land is what counts. Therefore, if our common goal and duty is to help NNAUSA do better for the interest of Ngwa land, this is the time. As an organization, we are faced with many challenges. The need for unity is essential and cannot be compromised. Our job is to find ways and means to help our community. The actions and decisions we take during this convention will instill renewed confidence in our organization. To turn our vision into reality, we must reaffirm our financial and moral commitment to NNAUSA. I know that membership support is very essential for organizational development. I would like to commend all NNNAUSA members for their significant financial contributions and moral support.

I am aware that there is a proposal to change NNAUSA Convention from annually to biannually. While I congratulate the authors of this proposal for job well done, I urge that we tread lightly as we consider the issue. We must consider the pros and cons. We must allow time for debate on both sides of the aisle. I humbly suggest that we set up a committee to look carefully at this issue and tender a report to members. Ladies and Gentlemen, I look forward to seeing you at next year's Annual National Convention in Los Angeles, California. The 11th National Convention will, of course, be the last Convention under my strategic command. It is also the election year and I encourage everyone to run for an office or volunteer to serve. I wish you all God's blessing; safe and pleasant journey home.

May God bless Ala-Ngwa, Abia State, Nigeria and the United State of America.

Thank You.

Obinna Ubani-Ebere, Ph.D.


UMUNNA BU IKE NKWU
By H. Enyi Abaribe, Deputy Governor, Abia State.


PROTOCOLS

INTRODUCTION
Unity is an exciting and unique concept consisting of a matrix of perspectives having different vector characteristics. Unity is historical, cultural, social and political. There have always been circumstances that evoke the need for concerted effort and this even predates creation day as we can rightly infer from the divine invitation of the Godhead 'Let us make man in our own image...' An ethno-historical perspective of unity presents the setting where species of a common ancestry, faced with the reality of survival and progression, fashion out common strategies aimed at preserving their identity from extinction.

Over time, through a set of adaptive mechanisms, a natural resistance impulse is seen and more or less passed from generation to generation. Thus a Jewish child born outside Israel may not need much indoctrination before realising his 'Jewish ness' and confronting the limitations therein. This unity of identity gives birth to unity of destiny and naturally invokes a sense of unity of purpose amongst individuals whose personal idiosyncrasies may not necessarily be the same. This translates to territoriality, integrity and a reasonable sense of 'jealousy' - the purpose of which is the removal of all impediments that will hinder the individual or group of that extraction from fruitful existence and actualisation. It is unity of history that further expands into unity of culture which in turn determines the social behaviour of members of a select group. Thus the Binis, Yorubas, Izons Igbos and other distinct groups apart from sharing a common language also have certain modes of dressing, mannerisms and food. The end of this matrix is unity of purpose, which under normal circumstances translates to political unity. This identification with one's ethnicity and the need to preserve the integrity and peculiar interest of a people within the community is what gives rise to a spontaneous simulation of both energies and resources towards ensuring that amongst other competing groups, the peculiar interest of a particular distinct group is recognized, respected and preserved.

Ukwa-Ngwa land is unique, distinct and historically united. The evolution of our great community is not part of this discourse. I believe that our anthropology is well known to all of us present here today. I am here today, primarily to espouse my vision of what Ukwa-Ngwa Land ought to be, given the present politico-economic realities. Any discussion of Ukwa-Ngwa land today evokes a feeling of restiveness and anger amongst our people especially our youth ,as to how we have been short-changed in the scheme of things. Tracing our chain of woes in terms of how effectively and adequately we have competed with our neighbouring communities in economics and politics starting from Eastern Region to East Central State to Imo State and to Abia will border on a boring repetition of the obvious.

At the last Annual General Meeting of Ngwa Social Club in Lagos on 27th June 2001, the data was presented and dissected. While the data is shocking, I believe that what was more devastating is the "collective docility" and 'indolence' displayed by our people in the face of such setbacks. [O bu anyi n ji o nwe anyi.] Today, there is a debate sponsored by our competitors about the desirability or otherwise of Ukwa-Ngwa as opposed to Ngwa and Ukwa distinct communities. Our neighbours having appropriated the Umunneochi and Isuikwuato people of the old Okigwe zone and the Umuahia people into a now united entity known as Old Bende zone whose political arm is known as Old Bende Consultative Assembly, now work round the clock to throw carrots at our undiscerning sons and daughters. They fan the embers of discord with the sole aim of perpetuating the old tactics of "divide and rule" in Ukwa-Ngwa land. Political partisanship and opportunistic self- aggrandisement are exploited to divide us and makes unity a word that is an anathema to our people. We are being told today that there is nothing like Ukwa- Ngwa and that the Ngwa's appropriate all political positions that come to Ukwa Ngwa while the Ukwa's are left in the lurch. Yet, it is appropriate to note here that one of the senators representing us today is from Ukwa land. If we did not feel that he was one of us, he would not have been elected. I want to use this opportunity to call on our Ukwa brothers not to buy this dummy being sold to them as to their separateness. If they do so and in the process lose their affinity to their Ngwa brothers, they will discover to their chagrin that in the game of numbers of politics, their loss of a sense of history will also translate to a loss of their collective destiny. [Ngwere n ha ukwu osisi aka a kpa la ya.]

Another way that our unity has been severely assaulted is that our sons and daughters in Ukwa-Ngwa who aspire to compete in the political and economic fields, are denigrated and their inadequacies magnified to mind blowing proportions and efforts made to prevent any attempt at presenting a collective front. Our land is converted into a huge shopping mall where a high sense of individualism is fostered and heightened. Every effort is made to prevent our unity yet our competitors eliminate and reduce any negative attributes or inadequacies of their own sons and daughters who aspire to political office to enhance their chances of making it. This situation is not helped by our moderate and conciliatory disposition each time there is a golden opportunity in the horizon. We do not shout when we are short-changed. We do not complain or agitate when we are passed over. We tend to be susceptible to being used against our brothers, who are better positioned and recognised to play critical roles in our society especially our emancipation.

A united Ukwa Ngwa will better benefit economic stability and political power in Abia. Within us we might then fashion out our own internal mechanism and modalities for accommodation and fairness. We have to sow the seed of love and enhance our feeling of brotherhood for the house of Ukwa-Ngwa. We must prevent this invasion of our rudimentary sense of ancestry and integrity of our eminent sons and daughters. We need visionary leaders in Ukwa Ngwa land to carry the task of integration and re-awakening forward. In this wise may I use this opportunity to salute NNAUSA for the role they have been playing to bring all Ngwa in diaspora together. This has also impacted on us at home. Your role when I was going through the wilderness will ever remain in my mind. My family and I, and indeed all well meaning Abians and Nigerians owe you a debt of gratitude. Your continuing role in affecting the pace of events presently in Abia State in commendable. Mr President, thank you for your service to Ukwa Ngwa land. May I also commend NUCO who have carried the banner of Unity in Ukwa Ngwa land forward.

Your reward will surely come. Today in Aba, the California Branch of Ngwa Union is having a ceremony where scholarships are being given to deserving sons and daughters of Ngwa land in memory of our late political icons such as Jaja Wachukwu, Ubani Ukoma, Ururuka, Mary Okezie etc. This is a very commendable programme. I wish to specially acknowledge the California branch for this wonderful initiative. We also acknowledge and thank an Ukwa son, Dr Emeka Ekeke who through his medical NGO, African-American Friendship Society, has annually been providing medical services to communities in Ukwa-Ngwa land. America presents an opportunity to assist our people at home in providing better medical services, educational facilities etc. We need more of such initiatives to supplement government efforts in education and health services. [Ndewoonu !!] We need to make the point clear that we cannot have unity in Ukwa Ngwa land without the concomitant unity between our peoples in Abia State i.e. between Ukwa Ngwa and Bende people.

Bende people have been our brothers and neighbours from time immemorial. That is why we have Igberre quarters in Umuoba. Ditto for our other cities such as Mbawsi. For over a hundred years, Bende people have inhabited Ukwa-Ngwa land and made their fortune in places such as Aba without let or hindrance. As we seek political and economic emancipation, we must not do so with a view to excluding our Bende brothers. We must work with our brothers in Bende to build a better Abia State. Abia State belongs to all of us. We must compete with a view to making Abia better for us all. What is important is to transform the state to a land that is full of economic opportunities for each and every one of us. Another issue that borders my mind is the absence of an Economic council in Ukwa Ngwa land that integrates our quest for infrastructural development, serve as a clearing house for the economic emancipation of Ukwa Ngwa land and beyond. Our economic capital, Aba still expands without an Ukwa Ngwa vision of how best to transform the surrounding towns, villages and hamlets into potential economic centres. We must prevent the frustration that had yielded area boys in Lagos and determine to prevent urban blight from contaminating our cherished cultural values.

I place before you a proposal to set up a committee of NNAUSA to liase with a similar committee based at home who will be able to draw on the existing synergies to fashion an economic blueprint for the benefit of our people. For example, from Aba to Port Harcourt is a stretch of land that can be transformed into an economic zone for employment, industries, agriculture and modern housing. We need to think about how to harness the opportunities staring us in the face in Abia State. Ndikanyi, we need today to take meticulous and sustainable steps to enable us make this historic investment in our collective destiny. We need to put an end to the prevailing season of dispossession and disorientation of Ukwa Ngwa land.

We need to affirm that we are a historically united entity with the ability to translate our potentials into the required and profitable end for all our people. Resolving to act now will certainly, have far reaching implications for our collective future, for if visions do not flourish, our hope of rejuvenating the political pride and collective integrity of our land may be forlorn after all. God Forbid. We must have hope. The hope is in all of us gathered here today. The evidence is overwhelming.
Thank you NNAUSA for bringing all of us together to "keep hope alive" .
Thank you and may God bless you all.



ECHI DI ANYA

AN ADDRESS BY EZIUCHE UBANI, SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO THE 10TH CONVENTION OF NGWA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2001


May I begin by thanking the executive and members of the Ngwa National Association in United States (NNAUSA) for the opportunity to address this convention. I had tried thrice in the past to be part of this annual ritual. When I was editor of THISDAY Newspapers in Lagos, I thought of how I could use the newspaper to connect your activities to the grid of power and politics at home. Several telephone conferences between your president, Mr Ubani-Ebere, Dr Dennis Anyamele and myself did not yield results. An opportunity for collaboration presented itself during Governor Orji Uzor Kalu's machinations against Chief Enyinnaya Abaribe. A small cell of sympathetic and conscientious reporters I set up became a conduit for some of your organisation's campaigns against the impeachments. If Chief Abaribe has gone down in history as the only person who survived two impeachment actions, NAUSA's contribution was very critical in that regard. Permit me to say, Mr Chairman, that this association indicated through its fastidiousness in that struggle that it can do for Ngwa land, what Egbe Omo Oduduwa, formed by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others in London did for the Yoruba. I wish there is another way to say this but I am glad for this rare opportunity.

This year's convention coincides with the imminent arrival of Ngwa people at the defining moment in our log- drawn struggle for space in the choking politics of Nigeria. Those involved in the battle to redeem the future of the Ngwa man, would understand that at no time in the past, have we raised our voices about our exclusion from participation in government and access to resources of the country as loud and trenchant as now.It may be hasty to conclude ,but more than before the demands of Ngwa people is being viewed with the seriousness it deserves. If you look around this gathering today, you will see that a faint echo has been heard in the power centres critical to the redress of the uncountable injustices of the Ngwa man

. That is the import of the presence here today of trusted friends of Ngwa land, like Chief Ojo Maduekwe, the Transport Minister and Chief Bola Ige, the Attorney- General of the Federation. On its face value, their presence may look like some tokenism, but from the momentum our agitation has generated at home,we can say that this signifies a breakthrough in our effort to externalize our discontent. I only hope that the outcome of this year's convention will give our struggle at home, a great leap forward.

OUR JOURNEY IN THE WILDERNESS
It is an understatement to say that we are still in the political wilderness. Our ordeal, no doubt, was brought about by the long years of military rule. In all the 16 years of dictatorship, Nigeria had over 300 ministers. Of this number, no Ngwa man was considered qualified to be appointed governor or minister. In a polity driven by equity, it would not matter, but in Nigeria's political system where cronyism is the defining philosophy, government does not remember a community or decide to cite projects in a place because people deserve them. Such decisions are made because there is a top government functionary that comes from there. The weaker the connections of a group to the powers-that-be, the better for them. Since Ndi Ngwa produced neither governor nor minister, in these period, nothing in terms of projects-roads, housing, hospitals, schools, etc-was built in Ngwa land.This is significant because beside the Nbawsi telephone exchange that was commissioned in 1978, no Federal infrastructure has been built in Ngwa land. Interestingly, that exchange was burnt about five years ago, and has not been rebuilt. Naturally, this type of scenario would not be acceptable to a people who have such spread of sophisticated manpower, occupy a strategic spot in the affairs of the South-East. The reason is that it created three situations: ·

Our structured exclusion from governance at the state and federal levels; · The perception and reality of discrimination against them in the allocation of resources by the state and federal authorities, · the replication of such impunity at the state level. These created all manner of artificial barriers to the advancement of the Ngwa man. The return of democracy at a point held for him an immense promise as it seemed likely that the allocation of resources would be based on merit. Even though an Ngwa man could not become governor in 1999, it was presumed that there will be remarkable change in the condition of the Ngwa man. But two years after, it is necessary to ask whether democracy has rewarded our people with dividends or deepened our misery. . For many at home, the answer is that, in a general sense, democracy has not improved the fortunes of the Ngwa man. We remain excluded from power at the state and federal levels.

I am sure you are familiar with the unnerving statistics, which boils down to the fact that, nearly 35 years after, no Ngwa man has been minister. None has been governor. None occupies a command position in the army and police. None is even employed at the policy level, at the Presidency. At the state level, out of 21 commissioners six are from Ukwa- Ngwa area. Of the 99 directors in the bureaucracy, only 16 are from our area. In relation to the power structure at home, the implication of this, as I wrote in 'NGWA RONU', published in THISDAY of March 25, is that nobody from a group whose population is nearly two-thirds of Abia state sees the President or Vice-President of the country. And because no Ngwa man sits in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the Nationa Security Council (NSC), the National Economic Council (NEC), we have been left as spectators to the huge resource dispensed so far by the Government. If we want anything, we have to find friends, who are friends of ministers from other parts of the country.

In recent times, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and Chief Onyema Ugochukwu who are from Ohafia and Umuahia respectively, have cut down the legs of the relay. Their determination to work with Ngwa people to reverse the impunity in Abia State, has given us an access to the president in some way. It is through this connection that Chief Maduekwe deserves profound praise for convincing the government to cite the proposed dry port in Isiala Ngwa. If we were to look for the rewards of democracy in Ngwa land, that, to me, is the only thing to point to. Ojo has confirmed through his honesty and fastdiouness that he is a true friend of Ngwa people. I wish to say that he is walking in lonely road by supporting Ndi Ngwa. It is a lonely fight, which has pitched him against even his own people. While some of our people have been cowed by the governor, and tremble at the sound of his name, Ojo, who has nothing to lose, has stood up, and looked every evil in the state, and damning the consequences.

In Abia State, the prolongation of the misery of the Ngwa, is a cardinal policy of the Orji Uzor Kalu Administration. It is difficult to describe the sort of madness going on in Umuahia. In a sense, it may appear that Kalu's government represents the interest of the Bende people. It may seem so, in so far as Kalu comes from Bende. But in reality, Kalu's personalised rule represents his interest, his mother's, his wife's and a few relations from Igbere. The mafia in Abia includes, Chuka Odum, who hails from Imo State, but is governor's deputy Chief of Staff, and man-Friday Mr. Emeka Onuoha, Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Chuzzy Iboko, DG of BCA, Mr. A.U. Ogwo, Head of Service, Mr. Ogwo A. Ogwo, Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Mr. Ifeanyi Iboko, Special Adviser, Legal, Mr. Solo Akuma, Adviser, Inter- Governmental Affairs, Dr. C. Ogwo, Director, Health Scheme, Mrs Umezie, Director of Tourism, Emma Omokwe, Special Assistant, Assembly Liaison, and Mrs Nnenna Onwusogh, Chairman State Primary Education Board (SPEB).

The above staff are relations of the governor, among whom the fate of the state is decided inspite of the State Executive Council. Support is given by an outer core made up of Chief M.D. Offor, Professor Emejuaiwe, Chairman of the State Independent Electoral Commission, Chief A.B. Meregini, Awa Kalu, Elder K.E. Kalu, Onyekwere Ogba, Mrs Okoronkwo, Eme Okoro etc. The constriction is made complete at two other levels. There is a corrosive phenomenon, invented by Kalu and his mother. It is a fallacy of the court of Mother Excellency. Here, there is a cult where the governor's mother presides. Operating from her house in Nwekeh Street in Aba, she decides who joins the party, who is appointed into which position, or who retains his seat either as councillor or speaker or even in the civil service. Without occupying an elected position, Mrs Eunice Uzor Kalu is the most powerful person in the state. She can overrule, and has indeed overruled the State Executive Council many times in the past. Her grip on the party, Ndi Eze, and council chairmen, means that the door is shut to those who wish to join the party or participate in government except she approves. Mrs Kalu can summon most of the traditional rulers in the state. Indeed, she appointed most of them, which was why she refers to them as Umunkiri nki Eze Ndi Ngwa.

These include the types of Eze Isaac Ikonne, Eze Nwabiaraije, Enogwe, Eze Eberechi Dick, and other quislings, whose conduct bring shame on our proud ancestors. The governor himself, completes the structure by intense personal marketing. I must admit that his pedigree in PR is legendary. That is why, until recently, Kalu was able to beguile the country into believing that he had achieved a thing. Indeed, some of our people who are deceived to believe these lies say he has done well. The trouble is that when you ask them, to show proof, they cite the rehabilitation of roads in Aba and Umuahia. This matter has been blown out of proportions. The rehabilitation of roads is not driven by any policy. Kalu's criminal mind, and his commercial interest determines this. At the inception of this administration, he imposed infrastructure levy. Every landlord must pay a minimum of three thousand naira (N3,000) to the treasury. This and the improved allocation to states from the Federation Account is said to be devoted to the rehabilitation of roads. He boasts that he has spent seven billion (N7 billion) naira on roads. Now see how Kalu's interests come in. He reportedly rehabilitated roads like Ukaegbu and Omoba Road, with a minimum of one hundred and fifty million naira. With his Lebanese business partners, they ensure that low quality materials are used, so as to ensure a huge profit margin, which is poured into the oiling of the governor's machine of terror.

This penchant for lies, has even been taken further. Even projects that were not executed by the government is being claimed as things he achieved. Everybody is familiar with Ukwu-Mango in Aba. This project was constructed by Strabag and awarded by the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF). The project was completed shortly after the governor was sworn in. Today, not only does Kalu claim credit for it, he had invited Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, when he was Senate President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, former President, Dr. Umaru Dikko, former Transport Minister, and others to commission same road. Our government at home is driven by folly surpassed only by the theatre and violence the world witnessed when Master Sergeant Samuel Doe (Liberia), Papa Doc Buvalier (Haiti), Jean Bedel Bokassa (Central African Republic), Joseph Mobutu Sese Sekou (Zaire) were in power.

The governor appears to be in a race to immortalise his name. I do not know precisely how psycho-analysts may interprete this lunatic pursuit of vanity. It would appear that he wants us to forget his antecedents in such a clinical way. So, eveything in the state must bear his name. In Aba, there is a Specialist Hospital, built by the previous military regime. What remained to be done before the return of democracy in 1999, was to equip the hospital. By its conception, it was supposed to be the medical school of Abia State University (ABSU). This has been changed to Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu Specialist Hospital. In Umuahia, the Greater Umuahia Water Scheme was built by the Mbakwe Administration. Now that has been renamed, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu Water Scheme. The State's mass transit scheme is called Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu Transit Scheme. Everywhere, Kalu in on a desperate dash to pin his name on anything. The governor himself justified this type of personalised rule. As he told The Post Express newspaper recently, if he does not put his name on the projects, the Federal Government will claim credit for it. This narration may sound simplistic, but it gives us an insight into the mindset and value of the man who presides where you come from. Let me ask a question :

Are there still people here who feel Kalu has achieved anything ? For their benefit, I give this answer without equivocation. Kalu has done nothing in Abia State. A few roads have been rehabilitated in Aba and Umuahia, but these will not last beyond two seasons. Indeed the roads are being eroded. Outside that nothing in term of roads have been done. The Umuomai-Ukwu-Nbawsi-Umuala Road is unpassable. The Okpuala-Ngwa-Umuene-Aba road is in very terrible state of disrepair. The Isi Afara-Umunkpeyi-Aba Road (Ururuka Road) is a death trap. The Umuaro-Amapu-Amuha Road is in same condition. If, for instance, you are travelling to Umunkpeyi from Waterside, you have to go all the way to Ohanze, and drive through farmlands to avoid the immensely terrible portions of the road. Now, this pattern replicates itself in other parts of the state. The Bende-Ohafia-Arochukwu road is so bad motorists do not go there. The only roads that connect the state are all federal roads. The Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road, and the Port Harcourt Road, and the Umuahia-Item- Abiriba-Ohafia-Arochukwu Road was built by PTF. As an aftermath of his confrontation with Chief Maduekwe, Kalu hurriedly awarded a contract for the Amaekpu-Asaga-Ndibe- Okon road. But the contract is not meant to be executed. The Lebanese contractors have no equipment. The last time I passed there, they were using wheel barrows to carry granite chippings, and brushes to spread coal tar. Chief Ojo Maduekwe can testify to that. Now if he has spent N7 billion on roads and he neither built in Ukwa- Ngwa nor in Bende, where did he build ?

In the area of education, the story is not different. There is no education policy. School buildings are run down. The state polytechnic in Aba is a glorified technical school. The same is true of the Abia State University in Uturu. The only visible impact of the Administration on the school is the donation of school bus, satellite dish and for which the students show gratitude by obeying the call to sack the building of the Abia State House of Assembly. The attention of the governor is focused on what he calls an adult literacy programme. Inspite of the fact that Abia pupils pay one of the highest tuition fees, teachers are still owed arrears of salaries. The state of education in Abia state is so sordid that pupils fall prey to all kinds of scams. A few months ago, about 40 pupils died on the way from Edo state, where they had gone to sit for University Matriculation Examination. Except a politically-driven memorial service by the Abia State Govenment, the House of Assembly is yet to begin a hearing on the matter. What we see in Abia is a government that is anti-scholarship. If things continue the way they are, we are likely to have acutely reduced enrolment and reduced literacy rate with its usually grave consequences. Not even the matter of health has captured Kalu's gubernational attention.

We acknowledge that sometimes social policy may be driven by politics. But nowhere is this dispropationately titled in favour of politics than in the area of health care. The only thing that could pass for policy is the Dr Orji Uzor Kalu Free Medical Scheme. This is everything but a health policy. It would appear that the government is more interested in the PR pay-off of the programme than health delivery. The content of the Scheme is that nurses and paramedcs periodically show up in some villages to distribute analgesics. The mileage the government gets in coerced praise is dispropationate to the relief the tours bring the people. What has suffered is the entire health structure. The state capital, Umuahia has no modern general hospital. The ones at Aba, Okpuala Ngwa, Uzuakoli, Umunnato, and elsewhere are in terrible disrepair. No new ones are conceived, and none will be built. The reason is that a functional health system will not likely bring the governor direct political capital, equivalent to what a purportedly free medical system can bring. Not much accolade will, perhaps, accrue from a preventive care policy to match what the governor will get from sinking three hundred millions on Enyimba Football Club and rewarding the players with 27cars for winning a league trophy which amounts to nothing on the continent.

I have provided a graphical detail of the government's non-performance because Kalu's spin-machine had almost succeeded in hoodwinking the public to believe that Abia has been transformed. From investigation, we say here today that it is all spin and no substance. We acknowledege that it was unreasonable to expect the governor to have reversed all the consequences of the over three decades of neglect. We concede that is an irrational position. Still, there ought to have by now, emerged a direction that indicates how the governor is articulating a structured change. But that is not the case. Rather than do so, the governor prefers to rule arbitrarily. When it suits government officials they argue that nothing much have changed because of the low receipts from the Federation Account. That excuse is lame and deceptive. For instance, in two years, the government has received not less than N40 billion from the Federation Account. With proper management, a focused government could have made a significant impact in the lives of the people in two years. But that is not the case. Our government has over-reached itself through commitments that are not easily perceptible. There is talk that Abia is owning over N5 billion from obligations whose impact are not clear. The implication is that if the trend continues, the state may continue to reel under indebtedness, which could have been avoided through prudent management.

Indeed after posturing for sometime, the governor admitted last week that the state was broke. In my view, we are in for a long winter under Kalu. If we compare our fortunes with other states, you get the real picture. In Enugu state for instance, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, the governor, has demonstrated what can happen when a government is led by a person committed to the improvement of welfare of the people. Akwa Ibom State, has managed its resources so well, that it has surplus to invest. For instance, Akwa Ibom owns part of ECONET, one of the GSM networks in Nigeria. Our people wonder then, where our governor who never stops talking of his N16 billion empire, left his magic wand before he came to government ? The simple truth is that we remain in the wilderness. Ndi Ngwa are scorched by the divisive polices of the Kalu's Administration. The state is generally worse-off, because his personalized rule has failed to pull people together to develop the state. People are beguiled, and narcotized. I am sure there are people here who wonder how it is possible for one man to overwhelm the state and totally dominate it in such a profound way as has been painted above.

In Abia, these scrnario are not fiction. This is the objective situation brought about through bribery, intimidation of opponents, emasculation of the judiciary and legislature, murder, propaganda, divide-and-rule tactics, and distortion. · What these boil down to is that we have a very serious problem to contend with at home. Those who underestimate the governor's ambition and commitment to self are making a big mistake. Indeed, we face, transparency problem, human rights marginalization, judicial, value and ethical, law and order problem, and unity problems. These, I must disappoint you is not pecular to Ngwa- Ukwa. Our protests is energizing the voice of the old Isiukwuato District. They too are beginning to amplify their frustrations with the government of Kalu. Some people in Umuahia are rising. In Ohafia, Abiriba and sections of Abam, the people are uniting with our people because of the realization that the division of many years have only existed to the benefit of the likes of Orji Kalu. Not the poor people of Bende and never their neighbours of Ukwa-Ngwa. The common purpose that is creeping is fertilized by the realization that the actualization of the Abia Dream is being held back by the advent of Kalu and the corrossive politics that he suscribes to.

RISING DISCONTENT WITHIN
Let us not make any mistake about this : the governor and his storm troopers are very formidable. In control of the party,bureaucracy, media and treasury, Kalu's domination of the structure is total. His enforcers and henchmen ensure that dissent is crushed. With the judiciary, the police, the House of Assembly, and other institutions critical to the democratic process compromised or emasculated, what exists is a virtual dictatorship. This scenario existed until a few months ago. Gradually, people began to search for the truth beyond the layers of statistics and spin.The lies they discovered have emboldened the opposition. That not all Abia people are willing to swing with Kalu's ample folly, has been established. More groups are rallying more than at any point in the life of this administration. Around the Ukwa-Ngwa axis, there is an unusual rush of courage and boldness. As more of their kins are dismissed from the bureaucracy or denied entry, as they survey the dias and find none of thier own, as they continue to ply the bad roads, more are learning to show thier anger.

Emboldened by the hubris of those who are in power in Umuahia, and the manifest consequences of thier exclusion from participating in governance, our people are taking matters into their own hands. Unlike before, there is a rash of associations agitating for the emancipation of Ngwa land. Because people have blamed our prolonged stay in the wilderness on our seeming lack of seriousness, these associations have resolved that the quest for our reintegration into national politics will be approached in a radical sort of way. A few of these associations include Ngwa 2000, Ikpeghiebegh,Ukwa-Ngwa Liberation Movement, Oha Ukwa-Ngwa Congress, Ngwa Clergy, Ngwa Bu Otu, Akanwanna, The Abuja Collective, Ngwa Committee of Friends, Ngwa Circle, Anya Ngwa, Ukwa-Ngwa National Solidarity and Protective Alliance,Ukwa-Ngwa Ministers Forum, Ukwa-Ngwa Women Front, United Ngwa Daughters Association, etc. A notable departure from the past challenges for leadership in Abia, is that these are neither welfare, thrift or social clubs. Unlike in the past when we expected social clubs to play political roles, these associations are truly political, and their common goal ; how to restore the dignity of the Ngwa man. A section of traditional rulers has shown unmatched courage and sagacity.

Eze Bernard Enweremadu, Eze Love Wogu, Eze H.M.J. Wachukwu, among others have refused to sell their heritage. A forthnight ago, they convened the Ngwa-Ukwa General Assembly. The turn-out was unprecedented. The high point of the resolutions is that Ngwa-Ukwa will present a single candidate for the 2003 governorship elections. The orbit of the opposition has somewhat been expanded by the activities of some people from Bende who have been tenacious in their campaign for justice for Ukwa- Ngwa and good governance in Abia State. For the first time, meetings are being held by notable Bende and Ukwa- Ngwa sons to produce the next governor. Aware of the need to broaden the spectrum of opposition, a platform has been set up. Likely to be called the Abia Democratic Alliance (ADA), this platform has two points as its main goals : · Institutionalisation of the Abia Charter of Equity as basis for future governance in the state, · the election of the next governor from Ngwa land. The group is also committed to good governance, transparency, fairness, justice, the unity and rapid development of Abia State.The ADA is irreversibly committed to the production of a new governor in 2003. Its tool will be moral and ethical; a radical campaign to educate our people on the evils of the Kalu Administration.

In terms of its structure, all political groups in Abia that share the ideals of ADA are expected to affliate to the platform.Already, something has developed : we can say that in terms of attitude, things are changing. A lot of respectable Bende people are getting used to anticipating the imminence of a governor from the unusual part of the state.It is that platform that has yielded a few positions at the Federal Level to the Ngwa area lately. This may appear some kind of tokenism to some people, but it is no doubt, encouraging. What is more significant is that it is no longer strange to see respectable people from all parts of the state gather to discuss the future, which they indeed, know they share together.If we continue on this tempo, and hold the unity that exists in the group, we can hope that the task of ousting Orji Kalu will be made easier.

WHAT DO NGWA PEOPLE WANT
In almost all political circles,people ask : what do Ngwa people want? There are many answers to that question. There is also no end to the sort of embellishment anybody can give to any chosen answer.But it is neccesary for us to lay the broad outline of the answer.What the Ngwa man wants is what every group wants.
What we want is what the Yoruba, Hausa, Tiv ,Ogoni ,Ikwerre, or Annnang want.We want the good life.We want opportunities for our people to actualise themselves.We want to pull down all artificial barrierst to our progress .We want to be sure that we live in a state where we can aspire to the highest position . As free citizens ,we want the promise of a country and statehood to have real positive consequences in our lives and the lives of our children now and in the future. We want an Abia State that guarantees for every group, equal access to resources and one that rewards every citizen according to his abilities.

As democrats, Ngwa people want good governance, accontability equity and social justice. We insist that democracy means nothing if what translates to is that the governor and his mother will preside over who breathes the air and by what quantity. As the largest group in Abia State, we are disappointed that the Abia Dream remains in the incubator. Those who have sought for and had given the opportunity to grow them have failed.Because the consequences of that failure affects Ngwa people more than any other gruop, we have decided to take that responsibility in our hands. There are people who oppose our stand because the impunity has gone for too long that they are not sure of what an Ngwa governor will do with power.

Some allege we people plan to do to Bende in Aba, what Robert Mugabe is doing to whites in Zimbabwe. Such fears are not necesssary. We do not seek power to replace the existing Bende impunity with an Ngwa dictatorship.Far from that , Ngwa people are convinced that dirty power politics of the past has erected artificial divisions which affect the growth of the state.

HOW DO WE ACHIEVE THESE We have managed to put the Ngwa problem on the platform of national discourse.It is no longer strange to see issues concerning the Ngwa man on the pages of national newspapers .Yet there are people even here who insist that Orji Kalu is the best thing that happened to us. Unfortunately, it is only in Ngwaland that people make such statements. We therefore, have a very daunting responsibility to : · dismantle Kalu's propaganda · prove that all that pass for governance in Abia is political 419 · convince the political parties that we are capable of protecting their interests in Abia · convince the world that we are determined, unlike before to challenge for power.

How we achieve these depends on our two major goals. We want an Ngwa man to be governor in 2003. That has been established. But our problem is not the governorship. We lack an enduring political structure that will take care of Ngwa interests, no matter who is in power. It looks to me that it is the absence of this, that is responsible for our repeated failures to achieve power. The value of this kind of structure is that regardless of whether we live under dictatorship or democracy, this structure should ensure that Ngwa interests are protected. If you study Nigeria's political system, it is easy to see that it is such umbrella body that protects the interest of groups, more than political parties. If you look at our neighbours, they all have them. The Ikwerre have the Ogbakor-Ikwerre. Its president is a university professor. The Ijaw National Congress (INC), is the umbrella body of all Ijaw nationals. There are others like the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni Peoples (MOSOP), for the Ogoni, the Afenifere for the Yoruba, the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), for the Urhobo, Mezie Owerri for the Owerri people. Ladies and Gentlemen, I propose that we set up one immediately. This is the structure that will energize our quest to reconnect to the power structure in Nigeria. All the existing associations will subsequently affiliate to this umbrella body, which will have a world headquarters in Aba. With the benefit of information technologies, we can communicate with all Ngwa groups, and mobilize accordingly, should the need arise. It will also be possible for us to mobilize funds for political activities and select candidates that are capable of representing our interest at every level. My view is that even if we manage to produce an Ngwa governor, he may not be able to serve the larger interests of the state and the Ngwa, without a strong political structure. This, to me, is the only way to insure that we do not replace the Orji Kalu impunity with another.

We need to recreate a political class in Ngwa land. We used to have a very vibrant political class. Some of our traditional rulers have tried, but it is time to move our politics out of the palaces. Let those who desire power join the political parties and make themselves useful. Relying on the traditional rulers is dangerous. There are just a few honest rulers right now. Call them to a meeting, and the next minute they are reporting to Mother Excellency. They have become agents of intimidation. We will need traditional rulers, but let them remain in their traditional roles. Since they cannot belong to political parties, their political value is limited. Let me mention a few specific responsibilities, which this project demands of us. The first is finance. If we want power, we need to invest in it. Our supporters in Bende have done well. Most of the things we have done were financed by them. Like they say, we need to put our money where our gubernatorial mouth is.

It is time for us to organize to raise funds. Sometimes, I read protests that trail your association's calls for donations. With due respect, I am shocked that people protest calls to donate $50 dollars. Many of us down here are doing a great deal. Hon. Enwereuzor hosts Ngwa meetings every month and spends not less than N100,000. I will not tell you what others commit. We need money, no matter how little. We have to start our activities before we ask our friends to join. Also, we think that this is the time to do the work. If you invest on candidates directly without creating the environment for them to win, then you invite their failure. I will like to invite those who always like to protest. If you do not like to part with your money, do not discourage others. Forget home, because nostalgia for home is not enough.

We want committed Ngwa sons who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, if necessary. The activities that require financing are: mobilization of people for voter registration, propaganda, publication of newsletters, financing of rallies, newspaper adverts, litigation, establishment of the secretariat of the proposed Ngwa umbrella organisation among others. Contacts Many of us here have contacts outside the state. Every contact is necessary. We need to build ourselves, synergies with groups sympathetic to our cause. Most of you were in school with many Bende and Umuahia people. Talk to them, convince them, allay their fears, but also remind them of the consequences of extending this domination. THINK ABOUT HOME There are some of us here who have lost serious contact with their families at home, for fear they will continue to bother them about money. The truth is that they have a right to bother you. Your coming to America was their hope of redemption. They had reason to feel that way. Afterall, Zik came here as a stow away and brought back home, a huge dream that conferred dignity and respect on the Igbo man. Begin to visit home. See what you can set up.

There are business opportunities at home. Even if it is a cybercafe, a prints shop or whatever, try to set up one at Aba, so that you can empower a few cousins. It is necessary for us to begin to make deliberate sacrifices to tackle the poverty question. Except war, no positive idea has qerminated in the empty stomach of hungry people. It is necessary for us to see new visions of empowerment. Let us not leave every thing to the process any more. The schools at home are not worth the land on which they are built. It is appalling that Ngwa girls leave secondary schools and mary palm cutters (ndi opuga). We need to do something about this. PRESENT SERIOUS CANDIDATES Everybody has come to the conclusion that Orji Kalu has no business to be governor or our state. It was resoundingly concluded by the Department of State Security (SSS) that the governor was not fit to hold public office. That is why we need to present serious candidates. It is important that we begin from now on, to determine who should be our councillor, council chairman, state legislator and those who represent us at the National level. If we leave it to common criminals, what we get is gabbage. The example of Obingwa and Isiala Ngwa North Local Government councils should advise us.

The role played by people like Hon. Achor Nwakanma, Hon. Ochieze, and Hon. Mgbeahuru to undermine Ndi Ngwa should help us make up our mind about the sort of people Ngwa require to speak for them. As for the governorship, we need to present serious candidates, even if they are young or new on the scene. We should not repeat the disaster of 1999, in which Chief Dan Nwankwo, through his naivety gave away a great chance for us to produce the governor. I hear he has declared his interest again. I recognise his rights and wish him luck. My view is that Chief Nwankwo and others like him who see politics as an occasional sport, have no place in the serious business we are pursuing. This is the truth and he knows it. The same goes for others like Chief Chukwu Nwachukwu, who though is highly qualified, has refused to take direct responsibility to lead the fight for Ngwa emancipation. They need to hear the truth. Their inaction weighs on us as heavily as the deliberate policy of Orji Kalu to exclude Ndi Ngwa from the affairs of the state. RALLY, SHOUT, AND SCREAM We need to borrow the advice by Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, former Senate president, to Ndi Igbo at the first Igbo Summit in Enugu on January 29, 2001, which says, if you are denied, scream. If you are beaten scream. Let us learn to shout and scream, because, Nigerian politics is about appeasement. If you do not complain, nobody bothers about you.

Beyond that we need to borrow the strategy of the Yoruba. In their quest for the presidency, the Yoruba deliberately made themselves obnoxious. They kept at it for 39 years and worked the conscience of the country to a point where, for the first time, two Yoruba men ran against each other as the only candidates in a Presidential election. They were consistent, they were determined and they invested. Today they cannot complain again. We, as Ngwa people need to make ourselves very obnoxious, to such a point that if anybody is sitting at a table in Abuja or elsewhere he will take the interest of Ndingwa into consideration, whether an Ngwa man or woman is there or not. This takes a lot of determination. It will cost money, limbs, and possibly life. But it is a duty we owe Ngwa land. It is a duty we owe our children. If we fail now, they will become second class citizens even in their own state.

If in a state that has 99 directors in the ministry only 16 are Ngwa people, what will be the guarantee that in future they will be admitted in schools, or that they will graduate and be employed in the civil service ? If the governor has refused to build any road in Ngwa land, then this prospect is not too far away. EDUCATE OUR PEOPLE We need a very serious campaign of education and enlightenment. We need to tell our people that they do not need to have money to be interested in politics. Our people do not still know why we oppose the government of Kalu. The quislings of Ngwa land - Eze Isaac Ikonne, Eze Nwabiaraije, Eze Eberechi Dick, Isaac Ogbonna, Friday Onukwue, Ezeji Nwangburuka, John-Reagan Ufomba, Damian Ozurumba, Allen Nwachukwu, Acho Nwakanma, Barrister Ochieze, Chief Chris Esiaba and others do not see what we see. They ask us to wait for 2007.

They tell our people that Kalu will begin to address our problems after we have given him another four-year-term. Our job is to neutralise the propaganda of these quislings who mislead our people. We have to find a way to let every child, man and woman understand the issues at stake and pass on the information to others. THE NGWA SUMMIT We need, to as, a matter of urgency, organise the first Ngwa Summit. We need to gather to talk to ourselves and answer the questions that border on who we are, where we are coming from, where we are and where we are going. A Summit is the only forum that will articulate an Ngwa Agenda. DATA BANK The need for a data bank is long over due. A data bank will provide, a directory of Ngwa people who are skilled in various areas, i.e. how many doctors, where are they, how many engineers, where are they ? The value of this is that it will be easy to put our people into positions if we know who they are and where to reach them.
CONCLUSION
This has indeed, been a long address. It was deliberate. I wanted to take you through the basics of the battle for our future at home. That is necessary because there are many, among us, who do not see the need for us to engage the present Administration. There are also people who think that what we have embarked on is an impossible task. I hope that I have been able to address them adequately. We have engaged in the battle and fought to a point where, we can no longer retreat. Our future depends on how we end the battle. There is only one way : we have to win. We have to defeat the governor and clean up the Orji Kalu virus, which is teaching youths that you can be a conman and a political leader ; that the only qualification you need in life is to be a first class, conman, a liar, and fraudster. We have also decided that we can no longer remain second class citizens in a state where we are majority. We can no longer accept ridicule. We say, we have decided to make a new beginning. Time is running out. We have to get right back into reckoning. We need to begin to scream about it, because when you scream Nigeria hears.

For those who urge unnecessary caution, I say to them : only slaves stand by while the brigand destroys his father's ovu. We who are not slaves, will fight the brigand because that is where honour lies. To those whose hearts are faint, I recommend the words of Venus Williams, the Winbledon Tennis champion. "It's easy to stand back. Going forward means a risk, a bit more courage." We have chosen to go forward, and God will give us the strength, the courage and the perseverance to stay the course. It has been a long night. We have been long in the wilderness. We hear faint echoes of help to end our ordeals. We have to reach inside us, one and all, and find the courage to ensure a permanent end to our ordeal. This battle may drain but we have a responsibility to restore the dignity of the Ngwa man. Let those who want to go forward, step out.
Thank you and God bless.

 

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