THE VISION AGENDA AND STRATEGIC CHALLENGE
National Presidents Report to the 11th Annual Convention
My fellow members of NNAUSA, members of the National Council, Honored Guests, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with sense of appreciation to God that Chinwe and I welcome you all to the 11th Annual Convention of NNAUSA in Long Beach, California.
On behalf of the Executive, National Council and myself, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to you all for attending this years convention. I am fully aware of the financial commitment you have made to be present in this convention and God will bless you.
For over 10 years the NNAUSA annual convention has served as a reunion for all our members and the Ngwa citizens in Diaspora. This year is no different. Above all, NNAUSA as an Association is the united organizations of Ndi-Ngwa in Diaspora. We all know that NNAUSA has made remarkable progress within the context of its mission as a non-profit organization with unpaid staff and limited resources. This observation is necessary because it is no secret that many similar organizations that started with NNAUSA have ceased to exist or are facing monumental crisis, as they cannot sustain their mission.
The above critical observation prompts me to emphasize that NNAUSA has continuously sustained its mission and goals through leadership vision agenda and membership commitments. Therefore, I wish to open the 11th Annual Convention by declaring that NNAUSA is very strong and that the future of our Association is also very bright. Our continuous progress and strength is the result of unprecedented effort and cooperation of members in fostering the articulated leadership visions agenda of the organization.
Our participatory leadership strategy and compelling initiatives of the future have helped to make remarkable progress and of course, propel success in Ngwa National Association USA, Inc. While the future of NNAUSA looks bright, it is, however, strategically imperative for all members to note that the survivability of the Association will depend on continuous development, participatory leadership, membership involvement, membership growth, funding and a compelling vision matched with strategic development plan.
As we begin the 11th Annual Convention in Long Beach, California, I regret to inform you about the recent death of Mr. Chukwuma Okeorji of South Jersey Chapter. He died in Nigeria as a result of injuries he sustained in a motor accident. He is survived by his wife and two children. He was a strong member of NNAUSA and a promoter of Ngwa culture. He will be missed by all of us. NNAUSA extends its sympathy and condolences to Chukwumas family and all members of South Jersey Chapter. NNAUSA has disbursed a check of $5,000.00 to his wife during our condolence visit to his family and the South Jersey Chapter.
We must also remember Dr. Ogunka, the President of All Ngwa Cultural Association (ANCO) who died a few weeks ago. As you all know Dr Ogunka was the founding President of ANCO and remained the President until his death. We extend our prayers and condolences to the family of Dr. Ogunka and members of ANCO. Also, let us remember the family of late Chief Nwankudu who departed late last year in Dallas, Texas and was led to rest in his village, Ovom 1, early this year. Chief Nwankudu was with us at 10th Annual Convention in New Jersey. Shall we rise for a moment of silence in honor of our departed----Mr. Chukwuma Okeosisi, Dr. Ogunka and Chief Nwankudu?
Eleven years ago, our people made history amongst Nigerian organizations within the African community in the United States. We converged in Los Angeles, California for the first major Annual Convention of NNAUSA, where we elected Mr. Levi Ogbulamiri as the first National President of Ngwa National Association and Dr. (Pastor) Roland Nwosu as the National Secretary. The two leaders are members of the Los Angeles Chapter of NNAUSA. Since then NNAUSA has grown in number and size.
Today, Los Angeles Chapter has reached another milestone in the history of NNAUSA by hosting the 11th Annual Convention of our Great Association. Los Angeles Chapter is always in the forefront of our Association. It has demonstrated the spirit of quality membership and participatory leadership in NNAUSA. I would like to acknowledge that the Los Angeles Chapter hosted the semi-annual National Council Meeting of NNAUSA in April 2000. On behalf of the National Council, and myself, I wish to thank our Los Angeles Chapter President, Mr. Mba Nwakanma, National Council Representative, Mr. Sike Irondi and all members of the Los Angeles Chapter for their leadership and vision to host the 11th annual convention here in Long Beach, California.
The planning and managing of a national convention or council meeting is not simple. It consumes time and money. In every national convention and national council meeting of our Association, the simple truth is that the chapter convention/council meeting planning committee is always in the trench and forefront of the action planning, implementation and execution process. May I therefore, on behalf of the National Council, express my sincere thanks to all members of the Los Angeles Chapter Convention Planning Committee; especially, the Chairman Mr. Okechukwu Nwachuku, his vice, Mr. Chinedu John-Wily Osuji and the Secretary, Mr. Ezihie O. Irondi for job well done.
We sincerely commend your chapter for your critical initiatives such as scholarship program to the final year students in the Nigerian Universities. We sincerely appreciate your strong support for a proactive NNAUSA. Your efforts both at local and national level represent unique accomplishments and great sacrifices for the continuous progress of NNAUSA and Ngwa community in general. We thank you all for your generosity, participatory leadership and commitment to the upper development of Ngwa National Association, USA. Together, we can make a great difference in NNAUSA.
VISION AGENDA & FOCUS
One year ago, I had the opportunity and privilege to address the 10th annual convention of NNAUSA in Newark, New Jersey. Since then we have witnessed improvements and progress in several aspects of the organization. In addition, I gave an in-depth account of the activities and current situation, success and failures of our Association in light of the future opportunities and threats in my state of the Association Address to the National Council during our meeting in Philadelphia
While we are under the rider of time constraint in strict compliance with the convention program, I wish to use this opportunity to highlight some of the things we have done together as an organization since January 1, 1999 to present. You will recall that I made promises to NNAUSA members in 1988 on what I will do if I become the President of this great organization. I also made it clear to members that we must diversify our program in order not to make NNAUSA a single product agenda organization. In view of the promises, we outlined the major priorities, vision and must do projects, which I presented to the National Council meeting in Baltimore in April 1999 for approval. Truly, we have done at least 98% of what we promised. Specifically, we have focused our energy in the following high priority projects since 1999:
First, the current leadership of NNAUSA believes in a participatory leadership. And in order to invoke the spirit of participatory leadership in our Association, we organized the first Ngwa National Leadership Think Tank Conference in Atlanta in 1999. The critical purpose of the Conference was to generate ideas from members in order to articulate and formulate a forward-looking agenda that is based on a compelling vision for NNAUSA. In fact, this conference was a way of encouraging membership involvement in the planning, management and decision making process of Ngwa National Association. This is because I have always believed that for NNAUSA to prosper, a strategy must be articulated based on the inputs, needs and concerns of the general membership of our Association. And that was the driving force and motive of the conference. The said Leadership Conference, therefore, provided critical foundation for articulating a five-year Development Plan for Ngwa National Association USA in 1999. It happened under my administration and the financial cost of the conference to NNAUSA was zero dollars.
Second, in line with the continuous development vision of this Administration, we articulated a five-year Development Plan for NNAUSA, which was presented and approved by the National Council as a working document in 1999. We took this bold step because it was clear that strategic vision without a long-term strategic planning is incapable of accomplishing the objectives of this organization. Today, we are seeing and reaping the dividends of the plan. As a result of the plan, NNAUSA has (a) 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, (b) five-year convention schedule, (c) five-year National Council schedule, (d) medical screening project at Conventions, (e) Church Service at the Conventions, (f) fund-raising agenda and (g) children/youth program. Also, the development plan helped tremendously to:
1. Sponsor the soccer cup tournament in Nigeria
2. Establish education and outreach Foundation,
3. Recruit more members
4. Promote Ngwa culture and tradition,
5. Institute the presidential dinner program at Conventions
6. Reorganize burial fund,
7. Develop the Ngwa web site/email group;
8. Establish exploratory committee for NNAUSAs Credit union,
9. Creation of NUCO.
Third, NNAUSA became a tax-exempt organization under my administration. Prior to 1999, NNAUSA was not a tax-exempt organization. But since tax-exempt is an indispensable instrument for internal and external fund raising for an organization of this magnitude with chapters all over United States, Udo Jacob, the Financial Secretary helped to achieve the objective of making NNAUSA a tax exempt organization. This was a most challenging task since NNAUSA had maintained non-tax-filing status during the prior administrations. Again, the tax exemption status offers NNAUSA tremendous opportunity to raise fund internally and externally since donors can deduct their donations to NNAUSA within limits allowed by the law.
Fourth, my administration introduced new and exciting activities in the convention program. You will recall that the continuous improvement of the Annual Convention of NNAUSA was one of the major promises we made to NNAUSA members. In our commitment and effort to accomplish the convention objective, I am delighted to inform you that the Executive through its enabling convention strategy has focused its effort in the following specific areas of the Convention in order to make our convention very attractive:
(a) My administration crafted a five-year convention/council meeting schedule for NNAUSA because the planning of National Council Meeting or Annual Convention is complex and complicated. Prior to 1999, NNAUSA never had any long-term schedule for its National Council Meetings and Conventions. Our system then was to give a years notice to the host chapter of National Council Meetings and Conventions. In our effort to reorganize and improve the NNAUSA Annual Conventions and National Council Meetings, the beginning point was to draw a comprehensive long-term schedule. A schedule that gives a host chapter and National enough time to plan. The long-term schedule also allows for adjustments in the case of emergency
(b) My administration is committed to holding NNAUSA annual conventions in a decent facility with modern infrastructure and amenities. The goal of this Administration in the area of Convention venue is for NNAUSA to hold its Annual Conventions in decent environments. You will agree with us that we have worked hard to move our Convention from dilapidated motels to more dignified hotel facilities since we came to office in 1999. Our people work so hard in this country and deserve to do their conventions in clean and secured environment. It also improves our image. The obstacle to this progress is the problem of bringing our own food into the Convention. It is a serious hindrance to the continuity of having our convention in a decent environment. Above all, let it be on record that we are the first Nigerian cultural organization to hold our convention in a city convention center.
(c) My administration introduced the NNAUSA Presidential Dinner in 1999 as a speakers bureau for our association. This noble initiative translated into reality at the 8th Annual Convention in Durham, North Carolina. Above all, we were fortunate to have US Congressman as the Keynote Speaker of the Second Annual Presidential Dinner at the 2000 Annual Convention in Baltimore. Frankly, for a US Congressman to speak in our Convention is a big plus to the image of NNAUSA. Also the spirit of the Third Annual Presidential Dinner during the 10th Annual Convention was to honor our well-deserving women. It added flavor to the three-year-old tradition. With the spirit of continuous improvement, I am confident that the Presidential Dinner will continue to attract high profile speakers to our Conventions. I am pleased to inform you that attendance has been steadily increasing. Most importantly, two noted Ngwa women, City Council women from New Jersey and the Deputy Governor of Abia State were the keynote speakers at third Annual Presidential Dinner at the 10th Convention in Newark NJ in 2001.
(d) My administration initiated the convention medical screening in 1999 for our members and the larger community. The program remains one of the most successful programs in the history of NNAUSA. I would like to thank our Doctors, Nurses. Pharmacists, and many advocates of this program for making it a reality. It is open and free to members as well as nonmembers of NNAUSA at NNAUSA annual Conventions. By coming together for this Convention Medical Screening Program, Ngwa medical professionals have formed an independent organization- Ngwa health Foundation.
(e) My administration instituted convention church program. This was a compromised strategy, as the issue of church was becoming a problem to National convention. Hence people were leaving the convention site to the city for church worship on Saturday and Sunday of the convention. We took the risk and absolute responsibility of including church activities in convention programs. Today, church activities have become part and parcel of the annual convention and it is attracting more people to the Convention. Therefore, We can boldly state that the dividend of the convention church program is unmatched. I want to thank you for helping to make this initiative a reality
(f) The current leadership has made promotion of Ngwa culture a top priority, part and parcel of the NNAUSA annual convention. Culture is a critical asset that deserves respect and protection. You will also agree with me that a person without culture and tradition is alien. Even if we do not practice some of our traditions and culture, it will make sense if we can save or put them in a museum for our children to see and study in the future. It is imperative that we do this because our culture and traditions have moral, social, political, economic, historical and spiritual significance. You will agree with me that we have showcased more cultural activities in our annual convention since 1999 under this Administration than ever before. The credit for this cultural innovation should go to our chapters that have supported this initiative and Mrs. Nwangaji Ogbonna, the current chair of NNAUSA Cultural committee.
(g) We introduced and incorporated Ngwa children agenda in our convention program. There is no question that Ngwa children are our precious future and their precious interest cannot be compromised or neglected in our organization. The fact of the matter is that our youths for many years were left out in the convention program. They were the forgotten generation of NNAUSA Convention. The goal of the regime is to cultivate and integrate the children into NNAUSA. This is a necessary goal for the continuity of NNAUSA. The fact remains that NNAUSA cannot survive in the next 40 years if we fail to cultivate our children into this Association through programs that teach them our values, culture, tradition and what we do as an organization. Obviously, we will regret it if we fail to build cultural linkages with our children. Recruiting them into this Association and teaching them the importance of this gathering is still a challenge for all of us. So the children/youth forum is designed as a direct response to cultivate our children into NNAUSA. I am happy to inform you that a record number of our children have started to attend NNAUSA Convention since we launched the Children/Youth Forum at the Baltimore Convention. This is a way of insuring that NNAUSA will leave beyond our generation. In that way, children will take over the responsibility of moving this Association to centuries ahead when we are gone.
(h) We moved the convention gala from Saturday to Sunday night. First, we made this change in order to accommodate the children agenda on Saturday evening as well as the presidential dinner. Second, in our effort to improve the Convention, we noticed that our people have a habit of leaving the convention after the Saturday night party. Such habit affected the attendance of Sunday Convention activities. The reorganization of the convention activities has helped us to allocate the Saturday night to the Ngwa Children/Youth event. It is a way of encouraging our youth to become part and parcel of NNAUSA.
(i) NNAUSA Convention continues to attract distinguished and high profiled speakers under my administration. First, we were fortunate to have the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Chief Enyi Abarible, Chief Okezie Anyamele, Professor Solochidi Ahiarah and Eng., Uzoma Azuogu to address the 8th Annual Convention in Durham (NC) in 1999. Second, we were also lucky to have US Congressman, President of Ngwa Social Club, Chief Evulukwu and Chief Tony Okezie to address the 9th Annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland in 2000. Third, the 10th Annual Convention in Newark, New Jersey attracted the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Enyi Abaribe, Federal Minister of Transport, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Nigerian Senator, A. Wabara, a member of Nigerian House of Representatives, Hon Tony Enwereuzo, Chief Chuku wachukwu and the Council Lady from New Jersey. Participation of these distinguished individuals to our Annual Conventions is evidence of the place that NNAUSA has come to hold both in Nigeria and here in the United States. These people are not attending our Convention by chance but as a result of the strategic vision of this Administration that set the tone since 1999.
(j) My administration initiated convention badge for members/guests in 1999. The badge gives the convention a professional image and outlook. That is why we introduced convention badge in our annual convention in 1999. In addition to instant identification and affiliation, the badge also assists in convention administration and attendance accounting. Prior to 1999, we never had or seen any NNAUSA members with a badge at the convention. We decided to make this a priority since NNAUSA is now holding its convention in five star hotels and city convention centers. It is also a way of distinguishing our members from visitors to the Conventions.
(k) The present leadership of NNAUSA introduced an annual convention questionnaire in order to get necessary feedback from our members on their thoughts about the conventions. The credit and honor for this effort should go to Madam Vice President, Mrs. Pat Nwokocha who designed the survey or questionnaire on behalf of the national convention planning committee. The annual questionnaire is supposed to be an instrument for collecting information from members and their participation in the management and leadership development of NNAUSA. Nothing is more remarkable in the history of an organization than availability data to compare the events of today and yesterday as well as tomorrow in order to predict the future and make improvement. Such data is critical to NNAUSA.
Fifth, at the onset of my administration, it was absolutely clear that NNAUSA couldnt undertake any viable and meaningful project agenda without adequate finance. It was because of this observation that we launched the five-year $1 million fund raising campaign for NNAUSA during the 8th annual convention in North Carolina in 1999. It was the first Convention in the history of NNAUSA that raised a substantial amount of money outside dues and levy. It was also the first time an illustrious son of Ngwa made a donation of $5000.00 in our convention and paid it on the spot. But I have high hopes that with our 501(C)(3) tax-exempt status, the task of raising fund outside our membership will be a lot easier in NNAUSA. The Executive has designed and produced envelope for donations to this Association. Fund raising is important because NNAUSA cannot meet its internal and external obligations with the $25.00 annual dues per member. It is absolutely impossible and any right-thinking person will agree.
Sixth, it is clear that education is the critical foundation of development. That is why the current leadership of NNAUSA made the establishment of NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation (NEOF) a top priority. I am pleased that the NNAUSA Council agreed to the establishment of NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation during its meeting in Austin, TX in 2001. I am happy to report to members of NNAUSA that your Foundation is up and running. The Foundation has awarded 80 scholarship to high school students in Ngwa and Ukwa area of Abia State. The Foundation is strategizing on ways and means of raising fund as well as collecting books and computers, which will be shipped to our local schools in Ngwa and Ukwa communities. It is also investigating ways to award university scholarship to Ngwa-American children in the USA. The National Council has approved $10,000 for the seed money for instituting the Foundation and for the initial operating funds. $7,000 has been given to the Foundation out of the $20,000 that was approved for the Foundations scholarship project. I would like to thank Dr. Godson Obia and trustees of the foundation for job well done.
Seventh, the formation of Ngwa Health Foundation by the Ngwa healthcare professional, which happened under this administration, is highly commendable. It is a step in the right direction. When we came to office in 1999, we attracted many Ngwa physicians and heath care professionals into the Association. We also created a healthcare committee for the first time in the history of NNAUSA in response to the information we gathered at the First Leadership Ngwa Thinktank Conference in Atlanta in 1999. The good news is that many of these healthcare professionals we attracted into NNAUSA agreed to serve in the Health Care Committee, which we created in 1999 and which has now metamorphosized into the Ngwa Health Foundation. I strongly encourage our medical professionals to join the Ngwa Health Foundation in fulfilling this noble objective. Also, please join me to thank Dr. Achilihu and Dr. Chike Onyenso for their recent medical mission to Ngwa land.
Eighth, we regret that many socio-cultural activities (ekpee, ikoro immamoo, etc) that bring villagers or communities together at home have gone underground or displaced by religion. But there is one social activity that has not been extinguished by the religion or environment change at home. That is soccer. I am proud to announce that NNAUSA sponsored soccer cup tournament in Nigeria under the current administration. We are pleased to inform the National Council that the first year of the tournament was highly successful and we are also hopeful that the second year program will be better organized with adequate publicity for the games. The championship match was played in December 2001. The National Council must be mindful that whatever project we plan to do at home will cost us more than estimated because no one does any thing for free for anybody at home especially if there is American connection. It is the price we must be willing to pay in order to achieve our objectives.
Ninth, you will agree with me that there is strength in number. The goal of my administration since 1999 is to increase NNAUSA membership by 10%. We have accomplished this objective through an aggressive global marketing of NNAUSA, web site, person-to-person contact, and other necessary as well as possible means that led to registration of six new chapters during the four year period of this administration. Consequently, the chapter membership has increased from 16 to 21 chapters while individual membership has gone from 400 to more than 700 members. There is also a high possibility that Florida will join before or after the convention. Membership committee has done extremely well in this regard. The Administration through its membership committee has engaged in an aggressive membership drive. Above all, quality membership count and of course, is very strategic in the up and running of an organization. For NNAUSA to succeed, we must think quality membership. Simply, quality membership means paying your dues as at when due, obeying the Constitution; giving financial and moral support for the organizations strategic vision, mission and goals. We thank Dr. Nwabuisi Elele for his leadership as the chairman of Membership Recruitment and Reconciliation Committee.
Tenth, we reorganized and simplified NNAUSA burial fund scheme (BFS). Burial Fund Scheme is not new in NNAUSA. For example, $10, 000 burial fund benefit was originally in NNAUSA Constitution. The problem of Burial Fund Scheme then was collectivity. What we have done since 1999 is to improve upon collectivity and effectiveness of responding promptly to the bereaved family. But I am happy to inform you that the redesigning of burial scheme by the National Council is now beginning to show its positive impact on collectivity of the central fund
So far, the fund is growing and we are making sure that there is integrity in management and disbursement of the fund. What we have now is not a perfect system since it takes a member 200 years to contribute $5000 burial fund. Therefore, there is room for continuous improvement of the Burial Fund Scheme (BFS). Above all, the deadline imposed by the National Council for the payment of the National dues and burial funds is helping the Chapter memberships. Those who choose their own deadline and select when to join know that they have no alternative than to pay their dues and burial fund before the deadline. Trying to pay the burial money through the back door after deadlines or when someone is at the point of death has now become a thing of the past.
Eleventh, my administration believes strongly in culture of financial accountability. As you all know that open financial record keeping and accountability is an indispensable means of building an organization. Accountability cultivates confidence, trust, faith and strong support from members and donors. Financial record keeping and accountability plays two functions in any organization. First, a good record keeping of finances of an Association builds confidence and helps an organization to raise more money. Second, poor record keeping of finance of an Association can adversely affect membership and fund-raising effort of an organization. I am pleased to inform you that NNAUSA financial record keeping is impeccable and transparent. Our Financial Secretary, Mr. E. Udo Jacob and Treasurer, Mrs. Joyce Onyenso have provided quality leadership in the area of finance. Above all, let it be on record that we are the first NNAUSA Administration to submit itself to audit while in office. For the first time in ten years, NNAUSA has a tax file with IRS.
Twelfth, the truth about NNAUSA leadership and governance is that no one is being paid to serve. It is a voluntary service and as a matter of fact, it is a thankless service that requires time and financial scarifies. Since the only sources of fund to NNAUSA are membership dues and donations, leaders are directly or indirectly bound to make time and financial scarifies. In recognition of this situation, I promised Ndingwa that I would take 50% responsibility of the approved Presidents budget expenditure for hotel accommodation and travel during my first year in the office. Record will show that this is promise kept.
Thirteenth, as you all know that prior to 1999 that NNAUSA has operated with two different logos. Considering that logo is the emblem of an organization, my administration proposed the new logo, which was approved by the national Council in 2000 at the LA National council Meeting. We are grateful to Mrs. Nwangaji Ogbonna, Chairperson of the Cultural Committee for designing the new logo of Association. Today NNAUSA is an organization under one logo and flag due to our vision and also, the hard work of Mrs. Nwangaji Ogbonna and the National Secretary Mr. Nwachukwu.
Fourteenth, NNAUSA Channels of communication have significantly improved under my administration. The improvement of communication between NNAUSA and members was one of the promises I made to you during my campaign for NNAUSA Presidency. In view of this need, I promised to establish Ngwanet for NNAUSA as a way of improving communication, disseminate information, improve membership drive and fund raising for the Association if I am elected. I am delighted to report to the National Council that NNAUSA has now established the Ngwa website (1 ngwanational.org, and (2) National Council e-forum [email protected] Also with the help of Dr. Alwell Nwankwoala, the Ngwa community has [email protected] which is open to all Ngwas all over the world. Also, In line with our effort to improve communication in NNAUSA, the National Publicity Committee under the leadership of Dr. Okechukwu Anyamele established Quarterly Advocate International which produced our regular convention newspaper. Last year, the President requested National Council to donate the paper to NUCO, and the request was granted. It was made clear that ownership; funding and directorship will be the responsibility of the new owner. Presently, the newspaper is being published by NUCO with a new name----Community Advocate.
Fifteenth, since membership is growing, there is critical need to take a positive advantage of our number to form economic power like Asians and other ethnic groups in this country. My administration believes that formation of credit union by NNAUSA as an Association is a serious engine of empowerment for the Ngwa community. Since the inception of NNAUSA, our thought and focus has been home. In my own opinion time has come for us to think economics and business for Ngwa children in United States while pursuing home interest. For example, our current membership number constitutes a big economic force if properly utilized. One of the benefits we can derive from our 501(C)(3) status is to form a NNAUSA Credit Union and we have the membership number and fulfill other eligibility criteria for this. I want to thank the National Council from the bottom of my heart for accepting the Executives proposal at the Austin, Texas National Council Meeting in April 2001 to institute an Exploratory Committee for the establishment of NNAUSA Credit Union. This Committee under the leadership of Mr. Ishmael Nwangwa has made extensive progress in its feasibility studies for the establishment of the Credit Union. Our own Credit Union would no doubt create ownership and economic opportunities for NNAUSA members.
Sixteenth, my administration has internationalized NNAUSA by forming a strategic linkage with other Ngwa Organizations around the Globe. I am sure we all know the positive implications of forming a worldwide linkage with other Ngwa organizations. The good news is that our effort to connect Ngwa organizations in Europe, Canada and Nigeria is yielding positive results. For example, NNAUSA is in touch with Ngwa organizations in Europe, Canada and Nigeria. Above all, no effort or measure undertaken by NNAUSA directly to execute projects at home will work or survive without strategic alliance with any reliable Ngwa organizations in Nigeria. Because any attempt to bypass these local organizations and institutions to execute social and economic agenda for the benefit of the local people will fail. That is why we registered a branch of NNAUSA at Aba and the institute or center will take off as soon as we locate an appropriate facility for it at Aba.
Seventeenth, we have registered our presence in Nigeria through Newspaper publications in the area of external commitment; since 1999. NNAUSA has carefully undertaken some simple activities. For example, NNAUSA made some impacting publications in the Nigerian dailies during the Deputy Governors impeachment process. We also established contacts and lobbied key politicians to vote against the impeachment. Also, we made some financial expenses in response to the situation. In addition, we also published the petition against the Governor Orji Kalus proposed creation of more local government areas in Abia State that would have put the Aba zone in a politically minority position over the former Bende zone.
Eighteenth, Ngwa and Ukwa Coalition Inc (NUCO) is the vision and product of my administration. Though NUCO has gone through changes and challenges, the mission and objectives of its formation remain unchallenged. I am happy to inform you that most of the disagreement within the NUCO body is now resolved and that the Ukwa community has joined the Organization. In addition, new leaders have been elected to pilot the affairs of the Association. I am encouraging the new leadership to extend hands to everyone to be part of the organization. I am very optimistic that the current leadership of NUCO will quickly pursue the general and specific goals of the organization. If NUCO is ever needed, now is the time. For whatever we plan to do money is highly needed. I do also know that talk is very cheap while action is scarce. May be, because of the risk of participatory democracy and the intricacy of leadership by consent. I had the opportunity to attend the executive meeting of Ukwa-Ngwa Congress in Nigeria with Dr. Nwabuisi Elele. It is a formidable and action oriented pressure group. We should support them. A few years ago we had a political Action Committee (PAC) in NNAUSA that collapsed due to the refusal of some Chapters of Ngwa National Association to participate. The second predicament of the PAC was that our people refused to pay $100.00 PAC levy except a few members in Houston. The Chapters that refused to participate had both personal and organizational reasons for their stance. This does not mean that the work of Political Action Committee is impossibility for us in NNAUSA or that political development of ala-Ngwa is of less important to NNAUSA. But let me say it again that the formation of NUCO does not mean that the work of Political Action Committee is not needed for us in NNAUSA or that political development of ala-Ngwa is of less important to NNAUSA.
Abia Political Development
I was in Nigeria a month ago. I regret to inform you that Abia State is an emblem of economic and political failure. It is a state of socio-moral disaster. Let me make it clear that cleaver thieves and people of moral delinquency are in the steering wheel of Abia State political system. Again people of tinted behavior are in charge of the political corridor of Abia State and they have completely destroyed the political integrity of Abia as law and order have completely been dismantled and extinguished by the political hooligans of Abia State government.
I attended various meetings and also visited local government areas in Ukwa-Ngwa zones. I saw grim picture of human suffering, dilapidated road infrastructure, and failed public institutions such as education and health. Abia State is a symbol of breakdown of law and order. Malice, hatred and killing of innocent citizens by Bakassi have become acceptable behaviors in Abia State. Reincarnation of the 10th century human ritual and dehumanization of people by the Bakassi cannot be tolerated. Violation of human rights is on the rise in Abia. Mutilated dead bodies or human parts were scattered on streets in Aba. In addition, I saw people including villagers dying of social hand grenade called Aid.
Let me use this platform to inform you that the collective financial responsibility of Ngwas in America toward political education and actualization of Ngwa Governor is $1million. This message was clearly given to us when I attended a political fund raising meeting in Nigeria with Peter Ebere, Udo Nwachuku and Nwaeze Nwachuku. After careful consultation with the National Council, a fund raising committee will be constituted to carry on this specific task. I am encouraging everyone to participate.
2002 NNAUSA ELECTION
First of all, I want to thank every candidate that is contesting NNAUSA general election for offering to serve. In the same token, let me advise all candidates that personal attack, vendetta, name calling, eye for eye and head for head will only leave us blind and disfigured as a community. I have watched with dismay and dissatisfaction the reckless behavior of some of the candidates and their operatives regarding the NNAUSA campaign.
Our constitution is clear about election and no single person has any authority to election. You can only become officer of NNAUSA if you receive the highest votes. Our people will use their judgement and common sense to elect individuals that will lead NNAUSA in 2003. Therefore, if you rubbish someones good name or destroy yourself in the name of NNAUSA by entangling yourself with federal or state law, you have yourself to blame and you should be willing to face the responsible legal authorities in order to resolve your problem. Obviously, NNAUSA as legal entity and a law-abiding organization will neither aid nor enable any crime. I strongly condemn those leaders of paranoia that are instigating division in our community in the name of NNAUSA election.
We recommend the following steps for the continuous development of NNAUSA:
1. Annual Dues: Increase annual dues from $25.00 to $60.00 within two years. This is necessary to keep the Association afloat.
2. Burial Fund: Increase burial fund from $25 to $100 per annum within two years and increase burial benefit to $10,000. This is in view of high cost of funeral provisions here and burial costs at home.
3. Annual Convention: Remove Nigerian food from the Convention within two years. This is a result of the difficulties in getting decent venues that are disposable to our indigenous food. Strictly enforce payment of approved convention fees by non-members. Identify three costs effective, accessible and central locations for NNAUSA annual conventions within three years. Also make convention registration for all participants a top priority within one year
4. Children/Youth Program: Strengthen children/youth connection program within one year. Develop database of Ngwa children in America within one year:
5. Reorganization NNAUSA Organs: Replace the National Council system with a Board of trustees that will have Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, etc. within five years. Replace the executive system (President, vice president, Secretary, Treasurer, Cultural Secretary and Financial Secretary) with an Executive director position with office staff within five years. The Executive director and office staff should be paid positions. In this case, the executive director and his staff will have the responsibility of fund raising. The new system will require a central office or location for all NNAUSA affairs.
6. NNAUSA Building Complex NNAUSA should buy land in Ngwa land to erect its own Auditorium with offices, hotel and library. Funding for NNAUSA building project should not be by contributions or levy but by investment venture/shares with ownership right for the investors. 7. NNAUSA Credit Union For NNAUSA to be active at home, it must be economically and financially strong, viable and relevant here in the United States. In view of this fact, NNAUSA must, therefore, take advantage of its nonprofit tax-exempt status to legally establish business ventures such as the credit union, which the Committee is already at work. Let me repeat, unless members of NNAUSA are empowered through a community economic engine such as credit union, our collective financial viability and impact at home as an organization shall remain very limited.
8. Strengthening NEOF and NHCF Continue the financial support for NNAUSA Education and Outreach Foundation. Extend financial support to Ngwa Healthcare Foundation for its free medical mission in Ngwa.
9. NNAUSA Institute for Development Provide fund in the annual budget for the takeoff of the NNAUSA Institute for Development at Aba. The money will be used for renting office, office expenditure, and staff salaries.
10. Promotion of Ngwa culture Make promotion of Ngwa cultures a top priority. Develop strategies and projects to recover and preserve the endangered Ngwa cultural music.
11. Societal Laws and Regulations NNSUSA as a legal entity must continue to be a law-abiding organization. NNAUSA must continue to operate within the laws and regulations that guide nonprofit taxes exempt organizations.
Let me conclude by thanking my executive, members of the National Council and leaders of our strategic committees. The president is one person and him alone cannot drive NNAUSA to point of our present success. Meaningful and open-minded members of NNAUSA community have aided my administration. Obviously, my administration has enjoyed and benefited from the diversified intellectual infrastructure of Ngwa community and I am very grateful to all. Above all, I have high respect for members of the executive and their families for the amount of time and energy they put in NNAUSA work. I thank Mrs. Nwokocha, Mr. Nwachukwu, Mr. Jacob and Mrs. Onyenso for their leadership and support. They are the true leaders of this organization.
Whatever we do, we must remember that NNAUSA was founded on a great tradition and value of brotherly/sisterly love and common understanding, which helps to unite us as a community. One thing is obvious. We can influence positive economic and social changes in our community through the convention meetings and also, if we strongly commit to work together; support NNAUSA financially and intellectually. The future of NNAUSA is in our hands. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to join hands with fellow members to make a strategic difference in NNAUSA and in the larger community
Finally, I know that we meet here today with high spirit of optimism but how will history treat us if we only criticize the leadership without offering any competing alternative or if we fail to deliver on our promises and commitments? NNAUSA is blessed with men and women of intellectual property. I therefore, ask you to look around this room and you can see that we have the very collection of the distinguished leaders of our community but when it comes to financial commitments for various projects including investment, the powerful voices and those who always take offense if the are not recognized or allowed to be at platform becomes mute.
While the fact remains that NNAUSA is strong and on the move today, the bottom line is that the future progress of our Association is in all our hands as members and citizens of NNAUSA. With your strategic support and participation, I am well convinced that we will continue to provide strong and quality leadership to move Ngwa National Association to greater heights. Our people must learn how to be patience and must understand the dividends of long-term planning for any project we are undertaking either for here or at home because any project build under a faulty or fragile foundation is bound to collapse.
The simple truth is that time has come when members of our community must match powerful rhetoric with collectable financial commitments for solving some socioeconomic predicaments of the Ngwa land in a rapidly changing economic, political and social environment of Abia State, Nigeria.
With good health and Gods guidance, I will remain very effective and a strong supporter of NNAUSA. And the next administration should count on my support and that of all the members of the outgoing executive.
Chinwe and I wish to thank you all for your continued commitment and support for NNAUSA. We must continue the current momentum through participatory leadership and accountability for continuous progress of Ngwa National Association. Finally, Let brotherly love and sisterly love continue amongst us. I have an abiding faith in members that they will give the same support I have enjoyed to the next administration.
Thank you for your support and help in moving NNAUSA to a higher height through a new leadership thinking, compelling vision agenda, participatory leadership and continuous development strategy. Together, we can make a difference.
May God bless you all.