Thursday, June 28, 2007

Igbo Diaspora, Leadership, and the Igbo Tragedy

June 09, 2005

Igbo Diaspora, Leadership, and the Igbo Tragedy

by Ambrose Ehirim

What is Igbo Diaspora leadership? Who are these Igbo leaders in Diaspora and how does one measure their leadership roles in Igbo nation? Where are they and where can they be found?

Let's take a look at this very long list: World Igbo Congress (Igbo umbrella, alpha and omega); "Igbo People’s Union"; Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo and its efulefu bunch; the wannabe town hall meeting format of the Dallas-Fort Worth Igbo Cultural Association of Nigeria; the ridiculous Igbo Forum handlers and moderators who could not distinguish between maintaining archives and memory loss; the ego-tripping Opuruiche pocket chiefs of Los Angeles; the sensational beyond imagination and "glamorized" fraternity-like Ada Ugo of Los Angeles; Mbaise Family Association; Jimmy Asiegbu’s-led Anambra State Association, USA; Acho Orabuchi and Charles Maduka's Pan Nd’Igbo Foundation; Anambra State Organization of New Orleans; Awka Union, Maryland; Onicha Igbo Cultural Association; Abagana Welfare Union in the Americas; Mbieri Community Association; Arondizuogu Patriotic Union; Nwobiko Odozi Obodo Society of Abakaliki; Nkwerre Association of America; the structureless Nd’House of Los Angeles; Awka Union, Dallas Fort Worth; "Nd’Ngwa in America and Europe;" "Nd’Okigwe" in America and Europe; "Nd’Mbano" in America and Europe; "Nd’Isu," wherever they are in the universe; "Nd’Owere" all over the globe; "Nd’Njaba" in the Americas and elsewhere; "Nd’Emekuku" and it's series of organizations; "Nd’Nnewi" and its list of money bags;" "Nd’Ikwerre" and its attempt to fit in within Igbo culture; Orlu Regional Assembly, USA; "Nd'Nsugbe" in America; "Nd'Ogbunike" in America; "Nd'Onitsha" in North America and Latin America; "Nd'Anioma;" "Nd'Ibuzo;" "Nd'Diobu" in America and Europe; "Nd'Aguata" scattered all around the universe; "Nd'Osina" in America; "Nd'Akokwa" wherever they are; "Nd'Umuaka" in Britain, South Africa, Bahamas, Canada, Denmark and America; Amazano Progressive Union, USA; "Nd'Amaigbo" all over; "Nd'Abriba" in the United Kingdom, Asia and America; "Nd'Oguta" in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia; "Nd'Asaba" in the far east, Middle East, Oceania, America and Europe; "Nd'Eziama-Obiato" in Finland, South Africa, Madagascar, United States, India, Uruguay, Brazil and Ireland; "Nd'Mbano" in Austria, Argentina, Peru, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, and Egypt; "Nd'Awkuzu" in Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, America and France; "Nd'Obosi" in London, Manitoba, Arkansas, Paris, Atlanta, Baltimore and Boston; "Nd'Nando" in the United States and Britain; on and on. What have they done to be called leaders, if at all they exist?

Igbo Diaspora—my humble self included—have been wrestling with these questions for years and they certainly haven’t figured it out, or they wouldn’t be asking questions about widespread problems that need to be apprehended. It is disturbing, however, that the very few who proclaim to be leaders have lost every sense of belonging and would do anything in the name of loyalty to feed from the crumbs of their alleged masters, being apologists to a corrupt and inept regime, caring less the plight of Nd’Igbo in its entirety. They found solace dabbling into a nasty political game and are yet to realize the dangers it has posed to its people.

Realistically, every Igbo organization that I know is doing its own thing and would like to show off from its camp as relevant; yet, all in all, "Igbo Diaspora leaders" are no where to be found despite claims of thousands of Igbo associations parading every now and then throwing lavish parties. These days, the Internet cowboys and bloggers found in every nook and cranny of Igbo related discussions groups are the latest that had been displaying local championships behind closed doors. It’s amazing what’s encountered in these forums. It has been an all out war. It is nasty and brutal. And the confusion is not ending anytime soon. Each day that passes by, there is a debate or discussion going on somewhere, from cyberspace to the cell phones among a variety of issues on what the Igbo wants and who should be blamed for Nd’Igbo ineffectiveness in getting things done.

The Igbo brouhaha has boiled down to something like this: the egghead blames the wise guy on the basis of manipulating authority with his acclaimed magnitude, while the wise guys and rude boys accuses the eggheads for being too bookish, thus could not have anything done with his ego and a haul of academia. On the other hand, the pundits and political animals blame a bunch of societal nouveau riche for destroying a nascent union by way of buying out vulnerable politicians and brokering deals to keep a business faith in order as a done deal. And as it happens, the political animals and eggheads who for some reason lost a sense of purpose becoming fragile and gullible would kowtow to these wise guys, "money-baggers" and societal nouveau riche in all aspects of life endeavors including the dangerous game of partisan politics. That has being a norm as a result of pocket leaks.

So the question remains, what went wrong? This takes one back to the days when everything was well organized and in form.

The days of the Igbo Union said to be as solid as the "Rock of Gibraltar," her adversaries and "enemies" could not figure out or knew what to make of its foundation.

The strong Igbo that took care of its own and did what was required as a tradition in building community for Igbo common good.

The Igbo of utopia arrived through collectivity. The Igbo well-known for its trademark in commerce and industry.

The Igbo, symbol of academia—philosophy, history, science and technology. The Igbo who thrived in all aspects of civil society emerging with a sound democratic fabric and republican ideals, Igbo enwe eze, a no title of nobility became its trademark.

The Igbo, her unique traditional and cultural heritage. The routine cultural festivals and folklore. The costumes. The make-ups. The masquerades and invocation of our ancestors magically praised as a matter of pride.

The value of ngborogwu, shrubs, herbs, spices, roots, stems and leaves in Igbo folk medicine for helping its own stay well from the common cold, headache, stomach ache, arthritis, high fever, tuberculosis, cystic mass and many other ailments.

The market days--Orie, Afor, Nkwo and Eke.

The political elites. The public intellectuals. The thoughtful laymen. The Council of Elders. The Council of Chiefs. The successful merchants and realization there is no substitute for hard work.

The Igbo who strictly adhered to moral values and maintained the status quo.

Igbo customary courts--of legends, names, sayings, proverbs and religious and cultural prescription--Agwuisi and Amadioha.

The Igbo had it going on. But ironic and sad is the Igbo who had no parallel and once known as the "Jews of Africa" is now dismissed as a hopeless hellhole.

Meanwhile, this hot-button issue simmered to a point "Ijemere Oh'uzo," a teacher who lives at University Village of California State University, Los Angeles, drove from his East Los Angeles home to my West Los Angeles residence with a draft of literature he said was a "fictional biography" about himself, "our leaders" and life in Diaspora. He had just whisked his parents from his native Mbano to avoid a tragedy he wasn’t in a position to handle at that particular moment based on the extreme hardship engineered previously by a deadly gang of military juntas and presently by Olusegun Obasanjo’s outrageous regime. On arrival to my home, Oh'uzo handed me a typewritten manuscript requesting my counsel, what should be done and how to get it published. I perused the said draft while we sat over some drinks and precise talks on the advancement of the Western Hemisphere, United States in particular with a system that is thorough and why we should emulate that as a model. He actually meant Nd’Igbo Diaspora leadership to effect change back home. It was another evening worth telling.

To begin with, he was seriously perturbed that the "elite Diaspora just lost it" and had betrayed the profound principles laid by Igbo leaders of thought in pre and post independence era. He was specifically concerned about Nd’Igbo of post-Civil War era and how rapidly they destroyed a unique Igbo Union once a symbol of pride. He had asked between intervals during the course of our conversation "what would really happen to Igbo people if the present generation expires"—who seemingly are the last generation of Igbo with ample knowledge and care for the plight of a people who are about to disappear from the face of the planet.

Then we talked about Igbo cultural heritage, for instance, the exceptional traditional and cultural phenoms, the pride of our forebears and how it swiftly vanished without records, "scribbled," written, orally told and passed on. We also gambled on assessing the newer generation, precisely first generation immigrants, if at all they learned that Igbo ever since the scramble for Africa, had been persecuted from place to place for who they are based on its republican ideals. That Igbo had believed from long time ago the principle that human endeavor and enterprise with regards to hard work should be based on merit. That as Americans would say, "no such thing as free lunch."

As we talked into the night, we recalled how our fathers were able to survive every hostile environment in a nation that was meant for all of us according to a British mandate. We reflected on a widespread discrimination and marginalization of the Igbo who after Yakubu Gowon’s-led genocidal campaign would never be the same again. But nevertheless, we had hope a whole lot could be done for Igbo to reclaim her old glory, dating back to the profound days of our fathers and their fathers when the schools ran very well; when visiting a brother or an uncle for a jar of nkwu enu, palm wine, did not pose a threat; and when the meetings and every gatherings climaxed without a shouting match and exchanging blows. That hope wasn’t lost when Oh'uzo, showing an expression of disgust over what has been going on with Igbo Diaspora, attempted at convincing and persuading me to attend one of Igbo related conventions in the Los Angles area, so one may figure things out.

It was not about figuring or sorting issues out even if I may have had the desire to see Nd’Igbo meet on a usual picnic noted for its trademark—peppersoup, isi ewu, nkwobi, ugba and nibbled steamed rice with varieties of "bush meat." It was specifically about the sorry state of the Igbo nation. It was all about a people who felt they have been conquered and had been left with one of two choices, to either perish or feed from the leftovers of their masters who had ultimately succeeded in dividing and demolishing them.

Oh'Uzo, who noticed I wasn’t comfortable with the Igbo situation wanted something to be done. Of course, who doesn’t want to get things done? But the fact of the matter is that it pains me to see a lousy and passive Igbo lacking the ability to get things done. It pains me that after all these years and after all that has happened to us, Nd’Igbo, many do not know and many still have no clue the Igbo nation rose like a phoenix. It pains me that a united Igbo nation is looking more like a mirage now that our "foes" have succeeded in their handouts for us to sell and sell out. It pains me that our behavior has the same resemblance of a hopeless and finished people when we succumb to the diatribes and anti-Igbo sentiments by minds full of bigotry and hatred.

Oh'Uzo, who is now in law school just for the heck of it told me it would perhaps take another two generations of Igbos to rise above the limitations that had hindered the Igbo nation from maintaining the status quo, the way things use to be, from a profound cultural heritage to a magnificent Igbo union well established by our forebears. I could read a mentally distressed Oh'Uzo pounding on a ridiculous Igbo Diaspora leadership, and blaming a bunch of infallible "intellectual elites" for lacking a sense of direction towards taking up initiatives to walk the walk and talk the talk as in all symbols of great leadership.

A mark of radical change and symbolic leadership as in Oh'Uzo's quest to effect change would presumably start from himself and notably when it's time to drag the bull by the horn. But obviously, when it's time to take up the initiative, a sudden 180-degrees turn becomes the order:

"Oh, no! Do not mention my name. Do not drag me into the mess. I don't want to be part of it. I love my family and I would love to be with them till eternity. They will blow my entire family apart if I get involved. I am not the one to solve Igbo people problems. Leave me out of it and let me know when you are done, Ok?"

And why am I putting the above into perspective? It was the same Oh'Uzo who had been crying the blues that tipped off on Imo State "Governor" Achike Udenwa's real estate investments in California's Southland (Southern California). He spoke from a very confidential and reliable source that Udenwa had acquired properties in the Southland and had used his in-laws, the Olumba family, as principal homeowners. We brokered a deal agreeing he would show me the piece of property where Udenwa is said to have invested with public funds. Oh'Uzo, who sensed I may write critically positing I may be seeking out secrets to uncover and publish about Udenwa's money laundering schemes, reneged, told me in my face he never discussed anything with me, and that it was a case of mistaken identity. Imagine!

And we say Igbo Diaspora is not part of a persistent problem which has subjected the Igbo to a laughing stock in a nation begun by Igbo intellectuals, successful merchants, thoughtful laymen and industrialists who condemned imperialism ordained by a British empire? How would Oh'Uzo expect miracles of change after singing the blues, when for reasons best known to him decided he would not be the one to be labeled a whistle blower in a case that concerns the well being of us all? How would Oh'Uzo expect teachers and civil servants to be paid salaries when Udenwa and his gang of Diaspora money laundering conduits have raped the entire treasury of Imo State? How would Oh'Uzo whose parents came close to death because of a horrible medical service in Imo expect getting things done by way of providing better health care programs in Imo, when he is tongue-tied, encouraging the way Udenwa's-like are ruining the people? I don't get it!

However, Oh'Uzo started well when he sought my advice for his manuscript which is yet to be published, and when he engaged me with a better understanding the Igbo nation needs to be fixed with an insight of a Diaspora leadership. Oh'Uzo was good when he voiced out his desperation to get things done for a better Igbo nation; when he, I would imagine, expressed his anger and dissatisfaction regarding the way a financial oligarchy class has ruined the Igbo nation from a political sponsor program. For instance, the Anambra State drama and a sad reality case of armed gangs and hoodlums fighting one another on the streets, torching government buildings and ruled haphazardly by competing pocket warlords, rival factions and political clans who found themselves engulfed in power struggles and turf battles that had destroyed a sound Igbo democratic fabric. Most institutions of state are now in shambles, in part from a hoodlum Chris Ubah and a missing leadership in "Governor" Chris Ngige whose tale of bad business deals has continued to throw the state of Anambra into a state of empire and anarchy.

In the meantime, the debacle in Anambra was a subject of extensive and exhaustive debates in Igbo-related forums and discussion groups. Yet as much as I could not stay away from old habits visiting these forums from time to time, I continue to be puzzled by the bloggers who concluded nothing was wrong with the fracas in Anambra, and who would pretend not to know what happened in Anambra is an Igbo tragedy. Before the nsogbu, or problems in Anambra, Mbadinuju's previous administration and his so-called political-sponsor-godfather Emeka Offor had nothing like a gang banging episode of Ubah's-led hoodlums. Everywhere in Anambra is now divided. Villages, kindreds, hamlets, businesses, the streets, the churches and traditional rulers are now playing different vibes. So, too, are other Igbo states, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia and Enugu. The villages, the local governments and its revenue sharing formulas; the courts and police posts; the markets and you name it, are all divided. Everyone is agitating because there is no political and cultural will. There is no political and cultural leadership.

The above-mentioned and among other complicated issues in Igbo-related states was where Oh'Uzo slipped badly when he thought of his life and what could or may happen to him in the event he becomes the one to be held responsible for a telltale. Initially, by carefully explaining how he'd been disturbed regarding a sorry Igbo nation since the post civil war era, he was completely sure about himself that he would not be taking in any prisoners when called upon to give a detailed account of what he may have known or seen; for instance, the case of Udenwa's real estate adventure and money laundering enterprise in the Southland.

Which brings us to a Diaspora leadership when Oh’Uzo wanted both of us to take our grievances to an appropriate channel: Imo State Association of Southern California? I was there. Prior to "D-Day," I had demanded from Oh'Uzo the purpose of such a gathering and what the agenda was. He insisted I could make a difference by attending meetings on a regular basis. The meeting as it happened was held at St Cecilia's Catholic Church on Normandie Blvd. in South Central Los Angeles. It was the same spot Igbo religious and cultural groups entertained His Eminence, Cardinal Francis Arinze during his august visit in 2003.

Meanwhile, I did not make the call. Oh'Uzo did. For the first time, I was excited to attend a business related meeting, not a picnic, I would imagine, when it comes to the affairs of state in Imo. It was opposite, of all my expectations. Upon arrival, I looked for Oh'Uzo and located him at the back bench sitting quietly and listening with interest. We sat on the same row as he seemed to have a whole lot of issues he couldn't wait to get off his chest. He had also wondered why I was tardy as if I had missed much in the "state of the union address" presented by the Southland's Imo "commander-in-chief."

Nevertheless, I looked forward to what the gathering was up to, especially with its bookkeeping, policies, if at all there's any, and progressive ideas to help keep we of Imo origin afloat. The outcome did not look good. As a new member, or should I say observer, the protocol for registration included a questionnaire. First, it was my full name, my father's name, my town of origin in Imo State, my business locale and address in Los Angeles. Next, was my religious and political affiliation perhaps to identify what particular order I belonged to. Then, they demanded my family background to see if I was entitled to the prefix "nze," "ichie," "ezeoha," "ezegburugburu," "iyi," "oshimiri," "odoziobodo," "ugwumagala," "omeiheukwu," "ebubedike," "ezego," "onwanaetirioha," and things like that to my name and the transmission of these titles before my application for membership could be reviewed and approved. I gave them all that I had. No title, though.

So far, I thought that was all. The big shots of this very Imo State meeting were "flashy" enough to be noticed in a color riot costumes and traditional regalia sitting on the "high table" ready to give orders. While the meeting was being dragged to hell, which it did, by two notable hagglers, Mike Ohia and Chuka "Ideato" Okoli, over whose record keeping is funny, I did not hesitate to pop up the question on the purpose of the meeting and what it has achieved since its founding. I was curious because the meeting as usual was a replica of a park picnic. It turned out the organizers were up to something. Time and time again, history from every aspect of my observations has repeated itself in anything Igbo-related.

As the entire episode goes, I took permission to make a comment, and typical of a confused and infallible bunch, the provost, another Islamic Jihad flowing gown wearing freak and ego-tripping chief who seemed to have "constitutional authority" on who should be allowed to speak yelled I sit down and keep quiet if I do not have a solution to a messy Imo State. He knows the problem and they all know the problem. Do you see what I mean?

But in an organization that has a host of problems, real problems no one could ever imagine, the theme of the meeting was "we know the problem, let's focus on the solution," as if they read my mind on what I was going to say regardless of the state's accumulated social and political problems, both home and abroad. I had also thought the format of the meeting was suppose to have been an egoless process towards focusing on the economic and political ills caused by a whole lot of crisis in our communities that desperation has turned to brothers turning against their own brothers and greed turning to a deadly duel.

Ohia, who had his file of records ready to prove beyond reasonable doubt his profound account of bookkeeping, argued at length to convince and persuade a gullible and vulnerable audience that he had no intension whatsoever to defraud the people of Imo State residing in Southern California. As it happened, Ohia was part of a delegation to convey and distribute drugs and other related medical devices donated by charities and philanthropists who stood for worthy causes in providing proper healthcare programs to the disabled and needy. That, however, did not matter. The twisted stories of Ohia and Okoli who kept fabricated paperwork and funny books were what mattered. Ohia, in the course of his presentation sounded more like an ambitious politician who had visions of programs designed to aid the poor and protect people against unemployment should he hold an elected or selected office in Imo State. Ohia proffered that while giving account of his errands in distributing expired drugs to Imo State, that he and his dubious colleagues set precedent for a better for Imo State and the Igbo nation.

To those whose knowledge of the delegates consists, essentially, of the fact that Ohia and his colleagues were honest in their transactions of a hyped-up "ambassadorial team" to save Imo State from an epidemic, let it be no surprise to learn that these roving ambassadors were up to no good. They were greedy, deceitful and had no agenda for the welfare of Imo indigenes. I lost my money in that gamble and with all that I know, Ohia and his colleagues as crooked as they were, deliberately established a scheme to collect money on behalf of running errands for Imo people.

Greed, money and corruption as we know it is nothing new in our society of potential Igbo leaders. In all the dealings, there was no shred of patriotism which should involve civic duties and responsibilities to the people Ohia and his colleagues were representing. Ohia who practiced law in Los Angeles before he made his way for a shot at one of the local government bureau in Imo, would be well situated from graft, catapulting himself to the top at the expense of an entire local government federal statutory revenue allocation formula supposedly meant to provide services, keep and maintain infrastructures and effect democracy giving a detailed account of his stewardship.

"Ideato" Okoli, on the other hand, was not as flamboyant as Ohia in his presentations to determine his contribution to a better Imo State. In his argument, he noted a whole lot of issues could have been in order had it not been for those he called okenye, elders, he accused of not living up to their responsibilities by addressing in appropriate and adequate terms the economic and social ills of the state. Indeed, Okoli meant business when he demanded immediate dissolution of any Imo Association in the Los Angeles area for lack of organizational effectiveness. He also called for other Imo factions elsewhere to disband for ineptitude. He had a platform for Imo Southland indigenes, a guideline he said he would write as a remedy for a better Imo in Diaspora. Certainly he staked a great deal on the notion that Nd'Igbo will be well off if Nd'okenye were made to put their acts together and provide a good leadership or a radical step is chosen.

Today, after all the blah, blah, blah to move mountains, Okoli is back to his native Akokwa championing nasty local politics and haggling for his share of the "golden goose" and "national cake" in alliance with the fraudulent PDP that decides the beneficiaries in statutory revenue allocations. Ironically, Okoli, the self-acclaimed doer abandoned his principles and never practiced what he preached. He now hangs out with Rochas Okorocha. He is a fat cat and "anybody can go to hell. It's a done deal and my hard work has paid off, in the long run." You see what I mean again?

The case of Owere Association of Southern California is worth mentioning too. Sometime ago, I was invited as an observer on how this "elite club" runs its show, and honestly it was nothing to talk or brag about. It was a Shakespearean-like act full of tell flaws and telltale of bitterness, embezzlement, moral outrage and obloguy, approached with verbal confrontations and a haul of complaints. The opening act was begun by by a cast's narration of emotional instability, that one of the actors in the drama "has been sleeping" with his wife, and that he'd be pushed to cause bodily harm if the said subject in the drama does not cease and desist. Then, surfaced the real melodrama of an executive who coerced and stole from the union's treasury. The said union account was projected to purchase a franchise in the Los Angeles area as part of the organization's quest for enterprise and growth.

As the entire story goes, years of alleged fraud, keeping funny books and questionable business deals left Owere Association of Southern California totally in shambles, prompting most of the members to lose interest in any of the organization's activities. One major problem in the said drama was that some of the complainants have been connected to helping the accused defraud the association. With all these, this "elite club" fell into pieces from struggling financially at terrible cost.

Enter the Islamic-Jihad-like flowing gowns annual picnic of a confused bunch that calls its do-nothing fraternity World Igbo Congress whose gang of infallible members believe they are the chosen ones, that God has called upon them to save the Igbo nation from collapse. Now after years of supposedly progressively Igbo ideals, what would one say these Igbo chiefs and pocket warlords whose duty was among others, to keep the Igbo nation viable and intact, have done? After all these years of ineptitude and waste, there is--what? A firm Igbo community in Diaspora and homeland morally sound based on the ideals of Igbo cultural heritage and a cornerstone of social-justice? That Igbo has begun building bridges and has unshackled itself from the limitations imposed on her since the post-civil war era? That Igbo has apprehended the bias and liberal ngbati-ngbati press establishing its own media chain to take charge of its own destiny? That Igbo based on the so-called "marginalization theory" and political impotence has realized there were no "enemies" and adversaries that had hindered her progress and well-being but the Igbo? That Igbo has come to grips with bigotry and hatred towards her should have served as her source of strength and unity? And that Igbo know what amounts to utopia is collectivity?

The idea to this is very clear and when WIC organizers and managers declines to accept the fact that it's been a waste of time all these years they've been holding a picnic of "who is who" in Igboland, something is wrong and I must honestly admit it is an Igbo tragedy. We must bear in mind that no great community was ever founded by means of a social contract the way WIC has been parading in its fanfare over the years. It's also true in that entrapment we all call "our country," and God forbid, it's only the Igbo that has grown industrially and academically without government patronage. So why is Igbo and WIC encountering difficulties to undertake establishment of a well organized community on the basis of growth in all aspects of society, incurring obligations to do so by nature of enterprise in which they are engaged? Just like we parents who bring children into the world, undertake an obligation to raise them, and not only those whom we favor; and just like a teacher in setting foot in the classroom, undertakes an obligation to his or her students, and not only those who excel. So, too, should be WIC, by virtue of the "exclusive" powers it claims, should undertake the obligation to care for its entire people on which it establishes itself. Such obligations are not contractual; they do not come to existence by consent and they cannot be discarded by choice.

The first week of September will mark yet another picnic at the Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. There is talk about a new president and the potential candidates are already known. Ugorji Ugorji of New Jersey has been on top of the list until recently when his shenanigan seems to have backfired creating loopholes, agitation and more lobbying. So controversial he may not get the mandate as his critics notes his weaknesses, past failures (administratively) and dubious ways. A whole lot of organizations have popped up campaigning to stop Ugorji from taking up remnants of a ruined leadership on the ground his cocky and fraudulent ways might take the fledgling organization to hell. Yet, despite what these folks are saying, I do like the selection of Ugorji as president of WIC to materialize, come the Labor Day Weekend picnic at the Hilton in Los Angeles. I like it first of all, like WIC; Ugorji will help the organization sell out whatever is left. I mean, the errand boy that he would be to the northern Islamic caliphates kowtowing and feeding from the crumbs of the generals and fat cats in Abuja, he would position the organization to its normal footing of Aso Rock apologists, which is why the struggle for the presidency is very competitive and highly priced.

Otherwise, what's the need for WIC's annual summit which in its totality should be protecting the interest of Nd'Igbo wherever they may be on this planet, and yet this "umbrella" organization has done nothing, absolutely nothing to defend Igbo worthy causes in decades? Otherwise, why are these sellouts congregating every year in babariga, agbada, flowing gowns and outfits of that nature, showing off, throwing loud parties and after party that has become an assembly from around which the efulefu Diaspora bunch has used as an opportunity for a chain of money laundering conduits? How has WIC engaged Igbo public leaders on responsibilities to adhere to a relatively open market economy, and the aspiration toward equality of opportunity? Since when has WIC become an umbrella organization when Igbo-related organizations in Diaspora too numerous to mention are falling apart, maliciously assassinating each other's characters leaving a clueless bunch of these riff raffs without a creed and without a country? When was the last time WIC, as umbrella organization sent out press releases (even though Igbo lacks a powerful media), to top newspapers, examining and condemning acts perpetrated on Igbo by Obasanjo's Gestapo and killer squads? Why should anyone be paying attention to WIC's annual picnic when these efulefu bunch has continuously engaged governors, assemblymen, councilmen and local government bureau chiefs in a disturbingly, massive money laundering schemes?

There are things not to be forgotten. As one is weary of pointing out, how soon do we forget, by the way? From Kano to Minna; and from Bonny to Port Harcourt. From Lagos to Benin; and from Jos to Onitsha. It was unbelievable. The pogrom. The mutilation of civilians. The long walk home. The stalled peace talks (Aburi Accord) and continuation of misery, starvation and genocide. At the height of Yakubu Gowon's-led genocidal campaign against the Igbo nation in which an estimated two hundred thousand infants and children were starved to death, the bigot, Obafemi Awolowo told the press starvation was a normal procedure as part of his strategic weapons of war.

I was then a little kid and learning slowly and painfully what many had learned before. The horrible stories and grief that occupied the center stage of many mothers' lives; the grief that won't let many fathers move on with their lives and the frightening moments of children who had been abandoned when their parents and guardians had been kidnapped, buried alive, hacked to death or murdered in the most brutal of circumstances. But despite all the atrocities as Biafra struggled for survival, Almighty God was alive and well when the Igbo nation, at His mercy, could not be entirely wiped out from the face of this earth. And despite what had been the most blood soaked event in Africa, many Igbos, intellectuals included, sees what happened as myth. Probably a myth to myself who did not witness what happened. To be sure, it was no myth--there was genocide.

On the other point, it is dangerous when WIC and other mushroom Igbo organizations have not been able to figure out the best way to deal with the Igbo situation for now that we happened to be entrapped which borders to the way Igbo may go about things when the entrapment dissolves. As we may be taking the recent US intelligence report lightly or perhaps dismissed as US interest propaganda, the question remains: would Igbo be ready and well prepared assuming Nigeria disbands? Afenifere is intact with a written constitution ready to declare a "United Yoruba Socialist Republic" tracing back its steps from Awoism, Egbe Omo Oduduwa. Arewa may not be organized but to split would not pose a problem between the northern ruling elites and the almajiris who had no problems from day one for servitude. The "Niger-Delta Republic" has more of a cause and had been fighting the system since Ken Saro Wiwa got what he deserved for, and since Obasanjo's vow of "no sacred cows" started from the demolition of Odi and Choba massacre. They probably have a viable and intact document to declare statehood when the time comes as predicted by Washington's intelligence report.

Now on Nd'Igbo, there are too many pundits roving around behind closed door forums, too many neocons, strong and paleoconservatives who wants to maintain the status quo, too many communatarians and nouveau riche hawks not even to mention the most powerful women in our households whose assimilation into mainstream American popular culture have caused more havoc than produce a normal Igbo traditional family; making the Diaspora Igbo man a wimp as time passes by. If you read much political commentary, you will be amazed at how these pundits have sorted themselves out without an agenda but a pattern to display "intellectual ignorance." They have destroyed Igbo ideals and they bear no resemblance of a serious people who wants to get things done.

To be continued....

Ambrose Ehirim,

Los Angeles, CA

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