Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Special Report: Alaigbo Devolopment Foundation (ADF) Is A Boost To Igbo Leadership

Ala-Igbo Development Foundation (ADF) is a body corporate established after the 2014 International Colloquium on the Igbo Question in Nigeria, by intellectuals, clergy, traditional rulers, business men, public figures, women leaders and youth. Its objective is to work towards the rebuilding and development of Alaigbo and the restoration of the spirit of her culture and civilization. Since its establishment, ADF has demonstrated an unusual capacity for courageous and patriotic initiative in galvanizing public opinion towards a paradigm shift in the way Ndigbo approach their collective interests and solution of the problems they face both in Nigeria and in the global system.

Since its creation, ADF has taken on critical issues and embarked on core projects that affect development and progress of Alaigbo. The Invest-At-Home Movement (Aku Ruo Ulo) which it launched in 2015 has caught the patriotic zeal of both the Governors and Business Community in the region; many of whom have already been actively involved in development initiatives that are fast transforming Alaigbo economically and socially. What the ADF Aku Ruo Ruo Movement has done is to provide the ideological impetus that is helping to link the Aku Ruo Ulo movement with the social and developmental spirit of the Zik and Okpara era in Eastern Nigeria.

To kick-start this movement, the fruits of ADF initiative in the International Colloquium was harvested in a two-volume publication – IGBO NATION: History & Challenges of Rebirth and Development. This publication has been described by one of the most outstanding Igbo scholars in the US, Holden Anele, in the following words

I have never seen any publication on Igbo people that compares with those two volumes. They address all aspects of Igbo life ranging from historical perspective, cultural, commerce, academia, to every other thing. There's nothing that can be said or written about Igbo that the two volumes do not address. It is the Q.E.D. of all Igbo discourses. In Mathematics, Q.E.D. (duod erat demonstrandum) is placed at the end of a mathematical proof signalling its conclusion. The two-volume book is a conclusion of past, present and future discussions, seminars, symposia, and conferences on Igbo. Any other discussions, seminars, symposia, and conferences on Igbo should be implementation or activity stage for Igbo Nation.

ADF Aku Ruo Ulo movement took off with ADF organising two consultative forums with Igbo business men; one in Lagos, the other in Abuja. The two were followed by the First Business Conference of Igbo Leaders in Enugu. The event was chaired by Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe OFR, Agbogidi, the Obi of Onitsha. The occasion was graced with the presence of His Majesty,  Eze Obidiegwu O. Onyesoh MFR Eze Nri Enwelani II, Eze Nri; His Majesty Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, Eze Aro of  Arochukwu Kingdom; His Majesty, Amb. L. O. C. Agubuzu, Chairman of Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers;  His Majesty Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, the Igwe of EnuguUkwu; His Majesty Igwe of Igbo Ukwu, Obi Igwe (Dr) Martha Dunkwu, the Omu of Anioma,  etc.

Several outstanding Igbo business men were not only present, they delivered motivational and academically incisive papers on the challenges of investment in Alaigbo. Among these were Mr Frank Nneji OON, the MD/CEO of ABC Transport, Mr Cosmas Maduka of Chikason, Prof. Barth Nnaji, Chairman of  Geometrics, etc.

ADF has organised Conferences on the contentious issues of Igbo Culture, Tradition and Christianity. The Keynote Speaker was His Grace Dr Anthony J. V. Obinna, Archbishop  of the Catholic Diocese of Owerri under the Distinguished Chairmanshp of His Grace, Most Rev Maxwell Anikwenwa OFR Archbishop Emeritus of the Province of the Niger, Anglican Communion. In addition, the language and Culture Committee of ADF is engaged in the translation and republishing of classical books in Igbo language such as Omenuko and Things Fall Apart.

ADF Committees on Federal Character, Census, Good Governance in Alaigbo, Diaspora Affairs and the International System, etc. are busy with their various assignments.  ADF has made several representations to the National Assembly on issues that affect Development and Security in Alaigbo, just as efforts to combat misrepresentations and labelling which distort Igbo history and national character orchestrated by those who desire to antagonize Ndigbo and their neighbours in Nigeria.

Inauguration and Launching of ADF Trust Fund/Management Board:
On the 4th of January, 2017, the ADF organized an important event at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka. The event was the launching of ADF Trust Fund and the Inauguration of the Fund Management Board. The event attracted a galaxy of prominent Igbo Leaders from all walks of life. Before we delve further into what transpired at the ceremony, let us refresh our minds again what has been stated above about the ADF mandate and what it has been doing since 2014 when it came into existence.

ADF is a child of necessity, which came into being in the wake of the crises of the Nigerian Federation. The debate over the future of Nigeria reached its crescendo from 2009 to date, manifesting in increased agitation for the restructuring of the Federation and a return to genuine federalism in the face of Islamic insurgences in parts of Northern Nigeria, militant reverberations in the Niger-Delta and the quest for self-determination by pro-Biafra groups in the Southern-East.

A group of Igbo elders, clergy, patriots, scholars, women, youths, professionals and organizations organized an International Colloquium on the Igbo Question in Nigeria, Before, During and After Biafra. It was the first of its kind in Igbo land. Over 3000 delegates attended the colloquium in Enugu from 10th –14th March 2014. The historic Colloquium was to x-ray the Igbo condition in the Nigeria State as stated above.

The Igbo elites also wanted to build a cohesive Igbo platform and to find a lasting solution to Igbo marginalization and other socio-economic challenges facing the Igbo nationality in Nigeria. They felt the need to galvanize Ndigbo to protect their collective and individual interests so that her citizens can live a life of dignity and co-exist peacefully with their neighbours in Nigeria.

The colloquium was endorsed and sponsored by several pan-Igbo organizations: Conference of Democratic Scholars (CODES); South-East Elders Council, Aka-Ikenga, Izu Umunna, Igbo Studies Association (ISA-USA); World Igbo Congress (WIC), Igbo World Assembly (IWA), Ndigbo Council for National Co-ordination (NCNC); Oforbuike Intellectual Union, Council for Intellectual Cooperation of Nigeria (COFICON); The Renaissance Forum (TRF-USA), the Igbo Women Assembly and the South-East Peoples Development Association (SEPDA). The Colloquium was coordinated by Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, who later unanimously emerged as the President of ADF, following the formation of ADF at the end of the colloquium in March, 2014.

ADF emerged as a result of the unanimous decision of the participants to bond themselves together in order to effectively pursues the Agenda of The Rebuilding  and development of Igbo Nation, and the Rebirth and Advancement o the Spirit of her Culture and Civilization.   The later became the motto of ADF.

The launch of ADF Trust Fund and inauguration of its Management Board is a continuation of the consolidation of the vision and principles adopted by the thousands of Igbo delegates, who attended the 2014 colloquium. The ADF believes that the South-East geopolitical zone should no longer degenerate into social paralysis. Effort must be made to follow a new pathway of the rebirth of the core values/spirit of the Igbo nation, namely, self reliance, regional integration infrastructural re-construction, creativity, genius, industry and economic viability Igbo. The Igbo nation should go back to its original ways as captured by Olauda Equiano, the famous writer of the slave chronicles, who described the Igbo society in the 18th century as “a nation of happy clean people, without unemployment, without prostitution, without drunkards and without beggars”.

As stated above, In December 2015, the ADF organized the First Business Conference of Igbo leaders, corporate icons and industrialists at Enugu during which participants endorsed ADF Aku Ruo Ulo - Invest At Home Movement. A strong case was made for a return to invest-at-home orientation/movement. This must also involve the rebuilding of economic and social infrastructure in Igbo land. If the Igbos can repatriate 40% of their total investments outside Igbo land, it would lead to a more balanced development and tackle the scourge of unemployment and rural-urban migration which has retarded the development of the South-East, since the end of the civil war in 1970. Many Igbos forced out of Northern Nigeria as a result of religious riots and terrorism could easily relocate to their home land and begin life afresh. This requires opening up the zone with massive investment, which her citizens possess in abundance. Before the Business Conference, ADF had organised two consultative Fora involving Igbo Business men in Lagos and later in Abuja. The ADF initiative has kick-started what has now become a strong movement patriotically embraced by all and sundry including the Governments in Alaigbo and tagged as Aku Ruo Ulo.

The overall focus is anchored on the three elements of economic development, namely education IT, agriculture, solid mineral exploitation and manufacturing. These will require massive infrastructural investment and build-up – sea and airports, railway, road network, industrial parks, etc

It is the fervent belief of ADF that Nigerian political leaders would see reason to put the proper mechanisms on ground to return the country to a genuine federal system where the federating units would take their destiny into their hands. Igbo land cannot be found wanting in planning, strategy and development. This indeed is the raison-detre for the setting up of ADF as a strategic Think-Thank and facilitator for the development and transformation of Alaigbo.

 In his address on the occasion, the Chairmen of the event, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, former Minister of the Interior said that Ndigbo “must not give outsiders and their detractors the room to divide and weaken the resolve of the people to have a respectable place in the world.” In his welcome speech, the President of ADF, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, the irrepressible intellectual icon and activist, disclosed that the organization has created some strategic committees to take charge of specific problems confronting the Igbo nation, such as Business promotion, Federal Character, Census, Language and Culture, Self Reliance/Self Determination, Public Accountability, etc.

Those who have elected to serve on the Management Board of the Trust Fund include eminent Igbo Spiritual and Traditional leaders as well as patriotic Igbo Business men and public figures. Among them are His Grace, Archbishop Emeritus, Maxwell Anikwenwa OON (Chairman), Igwe Amb. L.O.C Agubuzu, Chief Inncent Nwoga OON, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, OON, Hon Mrs. Maria Okwo, Mr Frank Nneji OON, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, Igwe Ralph Ekpe, Dr. Ume Eleazu and Prof. Bath Nnaji OON, and Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa CFR. The Board is charged with the Management and growth of the Trust Fund in a way that will inspire public confidence as well as bring their influence to bear on ensuring that the activities of ADF are not hampered by lack financial support.

Some leading industrialists of Igbo extraction who have done a lot to open up the development of Alaigbo were honoured as PATHFINDETS during the occasion for their pioneering role in the invest-at-home movement (Aku Ruo Ulo). Many of them were already patriotically investing and developing Alaigbo prior to ADF galvanised the present movement. They have been enthusiastically been partnering with ADF in pushing the movement of Aku Ruo Ulo. These leading industrialists include Chief Cosmass Maduka (Coscharis), Mr Frank Nneji (ABC Transport), Chief Clements Ibeto, Chief Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson), Barr. Allen Onyema (Air Peace), Chief Sonny Odogwu, Chief Alexander Okafor (Chikason), Mr. Uche Ogah, Prof. Bath Nnaji (Geometrics), Mr Peter Obi (former Governor of Anambra State), Dr. Gregory Ibeh, Dr. Ernest Azudialu, Dr Godwin Maduka, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Edeh, Dr. Eric Ifeanyi Okoye, Chief Anthony Enukeme, etc.

ADF draws so much inspiration from other nations who faced similar daunting historical challenges as Ndigbo and who were able to surmount them and are today playing important roles in shaping contemporary global agenda.

Hon. Abia Onyike
ADF Publicity Bureau

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