“Where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverb: 29: 18).
I thank you very much my honorable and distinguished brethren. I thank you for being interested in this agenda. This is a self-selecting group of very comfortable and yet worried sons of Igbo land. Hopefully, it is a group of like-minded compatriots who are frustrated enough to seek lasting solutions to Igbo problems.
First, we want to be Ukwu Aziza– unbreakable in unity. We must break the jinx of disunity among the Igbo. Hence, we must see this as a fraternity with a code of conduct spelling out our totems and taboos. Our oath of allegiance is on unity of purpose and trustworthiness. This was why I asked for some intimate knowledge of ourselves. We are trying to establish a bond of friendship which can sustain us in this great task and journey.
Past strategies have failed and must be abandoned. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. So we must do something different. Our agenda is unique essentially because we are seeking new ways to solve perennial Igbo problems. The Igbo situation in Nigeria is unique and required unique solutions. Anu gbaa ajo oso a agbaa ya ajo egbe!
I am privileged to be your compatriot because you are very special and highly accomplished persons. Perhaps, the only thing I have that qualifies me to be addressing you now is age and experience, and from my little education they compel me to respect you all immensely because you are among the best, no one has monopoly of wisdom. Many good heads are better than one. I am both humbled and honored that you are answering this clarion call.
So why are we here?
We are here because Ndigbo are in a mess and need redemption. Ndigbo have been through hell and are still in hell for no fault of theirs. Their only crime is being Igbo, and nothing can change that within the context of Nigeria. No degree of appeasement will make the Igbo likeable in Nigeria. This we must bear in mind as we seek lasting solutions to our problems.
Individually, you have nothing to lose. You are very comfortable. That is the beauty of this group. There is no hungry person here. We may not be millionaires, but we are what Aristotle called the middle people, or what we now call the middle class, the backbone of any good society. Yes, we are individually comfortable, but as a people we are collectively in a mess within the context of Nigeria.
Some say we caused it, but I beg to differ. Ndigbo are like a step child who is blamed for everything. We are not worse than other people. My father used to say that a coward always blames his brother. In fact, on any scale we are perhaps better than most and that is why we are envied.
For now, I would like to pledge to you that the main goal of this group is unity of purpose and unflinching passion about our survival as Ndigbo. If these do not appeal to you, you might be better off with another group. If I am sounding somehow uncomfortable to you here, please excuse me, at least, because of my age. It comes with a lot of memories the good, the bad and the ugly. For instance, I survived the Biafra genocide. Besides, age is a privilege from God and honored by our Ndichie.
So what I am saying is that our motto here is unity. We are Ukwu Aziza, that cannot be broken together. This group must be the epitome of like-mindedness. I want each and everyone of you to complete my thoughts and vice versa in this enterprise. As I earlier said to some of us, I would like to be a replica of you and you of me in this journey, to ensure absolute trust in one another. Let us fulfill the Igbo vision of love as Ihunanya, which is seeing me in you and you in me. I reiterate, let us consciously break the jinx of disunity among the Igbo.
So our goal is Igbo development. We have the vision so we must take the leadership. Other people are proposing different things in different parts of Igbo land. That is good. The more the merrier. However, let us not hurriedly join any of these groups. The only group I trust now to bring this agenda to fruition is you. If you want something to be well done you do it yourself.
Once we establish implicit trust in one another, then we must pull the bull by the horn. We are going for the juggler. The truth is that capital drives development. We need capital; and we have to build it. I want us to raise the first $1 million by enlisting 1000 Igbo like us and tasking ourselves to invest a thousand dollars ($1000) each in shares. With that $1 million, let us start a Development Bank IDI whose main goal is investment in Igbo land. We can then ask all Igbo everywhere to invest in this bank for the development of Alaigbo, for the future of our children and grandchildren. We can do this without much anxiety, because I believe a thousand dollars ($1000) is disposable to most of us; and is a minimum risk to jumpstart the future of our land.
What we need now are experts to guide us in this venture. If this is not what you want, we can call it a day and stay with our miserable status quo and wait for the Fulani to come and give us development.
If I have offended anyone with this vision, I apologize. Otherwise, let our Igbo ingenuity kick in as we come up with ideas to bring this project to fruition in the shortest possible time.
Once again, I thank you for listening. God bless you all and God Bless Igbo land.
Professor Chiekezi Ihejirika
Lincoln University, Pennsylvania