Acho Orabuchi, Sr., the founder and moderator of Igbo Forum,
is also the Chairman of Pan Ndiigbo Foundation USA (PNF USA).
As PNF USA gears up for its third annual Pan-Igbo Political
Conference scheduled for first weekend of May, 2005, Osondu
Interviews presents an exchange with its leader
on various issues of interest to our guests. Here are excerpts:
USA, which you lead, shall host its third annual Igbo summit
in Dallas, Texas in first weekend of May 2005. What is this
year’s conference going to be about?
This is going to be a monumental conclave for Ndiigbo; a confab
where the Igbo intelligentsia would deliberate serious issues
concerning the Igbo.It
is a conclave for the Igbo political rebirth. The theme of
the conference is “The Nigerian President of Igbo Ethnic
Extraction and Economic Empowerment”. As we advocate
for equity in the Nigerian body polity, it only fair for us
to advocate for and support the agitation for the Nigerian
President of Igbo Ethnic Extraction. It is our belief that
the Igbo have been marginalizes both in economic and political
realms in Nigeria. If you look at the history of Nigeria,
you would notice and agree that the Igbo have suffered a great
deal in the hands of various administrations; the
Igbo had virtually not led the country called Nigeria while
other members of the tripod have enjoyed a good number of
years of leadership of Nigeria. This does not mean that the
Igbo lacked quality crop of leaders. No, the Igbo have and
will continue to have abundance of quality leaders capable
of leading Nigeria into good times in terms of economic, social,
and political development. It is imperative that we encourage
and support the Igbo for the number one office. We are encouraging
quality Igbo leaders to aspire for Nigerian president. While
we are deliberating on how to make the goal feasible, we would
educate the entire nation to be receptive to the urgency of
having a Nigerian President of Igbo ethnic extraction.
President General, Professor Joe Irukwu said at
the WIC convention in New Jersey last year that
Ohanaeze is not a political organization. As a result,
the organization is handicapped from proffering
political solutions to issues of that magnitude.
It is left for us to come up with a consensus candidate
and have Ohanaeze to come up with social sanctions.As
you can see, it appears that Ohanaeze does not have
the tools to deliver this good. Ohanaeze has a role
as it relates to other tribal apex organizations
like Arewa, Oodua Peoples Congress, and others.
Getting these apex socio-cultural organizations
to agree to the quest is something Ohanaeze can
do better than any other organization. -
Dr. Acho Orabuchi
me say this, time for intellectualism is over; it is time
for action. PNF USA needs workers in every area to facilitate
some of the sessions during the Pan Igbo Political Conference,
especially during the day on Saturday, May 7, 2005. Volunteers
are needed. Please contact us immediately. For those of
you who have indicated interest in one area or another,
it has been noted. The program will be coming out sequentially.
It's for all of us!
How do you assess outcomes of the two previous
PNF USA-sponsored annual summits? How much involvement
do your group’s programs and activities get from
women and youths?
Sometimes, you may not be able to quantify
qualitative variables. The previous PNF USA-sponsored
events have tremendous impact in Nigeria. We have able
to reach some segments of the electorate who are now empowered
to carry out their constitutional obligations without
fear of intimidation or harm. We are still trying to reach
and educate a large segment of the masses. We’re
reaching the women and college students in our effort
to sanitize the Nigerian body polity.
Some of your critics suggest that PNF USA
summits could be conduits for featuring operatives from
the Aso Rock to sell the virtues of the Obasanjo administration
to the Igbo elite. How closely is your group related to
PNF USA is an independent organization without
any affiliation with any political party.
How is PNF USA funded? How can anyone interested
support your group’s efforts?
USA is funded by its members. Nigerian politicians do
not fund the organization. It is imperative that it remains
this way so that we can independently evaluate issues
and policies without any prejudice before supporting or
The inaugural Igbo political summit in 2003
issued a communiqué announcing, amongst other things,
the creation of an Agenda Committee. Has this committee
completed its task? If so, what are its recommendations
for building an Igbo consensus?
Okenwa Nwosu is the Chairman of this committee. He is
working tirelessly for the Igbo cause in midst of his
busy medical practice. He will unveil some components
this agenda in May. If anyone has information, he/her
should forward the information to Dr. Nwosu.
feel that PNF USA was primarily created to provide direct
competition to World Igbo Congress (WIC). Why do you feel
that there is need in the Igbo Diaspora for multiple major
pan-Igbo organizations instead of a single unifying umbrella
PNF USA is the only Igbo organization in
the Diaspora chartered as a political organization. WIC
is a socio-cultural and not a political organization.
As a result, there is no competition. Remember that most
members of PNF USA are indirect members of WIC through
their local organizations. We are open to work collaboratively
with WIC to accomplish the Igbo agenda. Our overriding
interest should be Igbo cause. That should be the single
most important factor that would unify all of us.
is overwhelming popular criticism about indolence of WIC
leadership, particularly in addressing pressing matters
that are of great concern to Ndiigbo. How do you assess
the roles of Ohanaeze and WIC in ongoing political crisis
in Anambra state?
crisis is a mesh of politics and criminality. A non-political
organization will not be equipped to deal with the situation.
From a social point, the crisis is a menace. But from
political and legal points, it is lethal. It requires
both legal and political remedies to get a lasting solution.
None of the organizations could offer that. However, there
is role for each of these organizations in our quest to
enhance Igbo economic and political capacity. There is
a role for our elders to place in this quest. PNF USA
spoke very vociferously on the issue and laid blames where
they should be.
of Igbo groups appear to support the Igbo presidency project
in Nigeria’s 2007 general elections. What specific
role shall PNF USA play to ensure realization of this
agitation for the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction
is real! Based on the scheme of things on the ground,
coupled with efforts to level the playing field, it is
feasible to have a Nigerian president of Igbo ethnic extraction.
If every ethnic group should focus on the quality of the
candidates, the Igbo have a repertoire of highly qualified
candidates in both Nigeria and in the Diaspora. That is
why Ndiigbo are assembling in Dallas, Texas on May 6,
7, & 8, 2005 to discuss the project. The generality
of Igbo elite, intelligentsia and electorate are resolved
and committed to 2007 project.
USA will shortlist the names of qualified candidates.
At a point, we will narrow the list to only two-three
names. As soon as a candidate is selected, we will unleash
all machineries to get that person elected. It is going
to require hard work and sustained commitment.
do you feel that Ohanaeze Ndiigbo has what it takes to
deliver on the promise of producing Nigeria’s next
president from Alaigbo in 2007 when the apex group failed
to deliver on same pledge in 2003?
apex organization is apolitical. The President General,
Professor Joe Irukwu said at the WIC convention in New
Jersey last year that Ohanaeze is not a political organization.
As a result, the organization is handicapped from proffering
political solutions to issues of that magnitude. It is
left for us to come up with a consensus candidate and
have Ohanaeze to come up with social sanctions.As
you can see, it appears that Ohanaeze does not have the
tools to deliver this good. Ohanaeze has a role as it
relates to other tribal apex organizations like Arewa,
Oodua Peoples Congress, and others. Getting these apex
socio-cultural organizations to agree to the quest is
something Ohanaeze can do better than any other organization.
you have any partisan sympathies in the context of Nigerian
politics? Are you comfortable with Peoples Democratic
Party’s (PDP) dominance throughout the Southeast?
I’am a member of PDP, but I do not
subscribe to the activities of some individual members.
The constitution of the party is clear on what its activities
should be. PNF USA that I lead is independent of political
parties. I do believe that in Nigerian politics, where
parties are devoid of ideological principles, one has
to hold on to his/her valued principles to maintain his/her
is a relative term. However, if true elections were conducted,
PDP would not have dominant in the Southeast. This is
an opportunity for the party to show the masses that it
cares. The party should be reminded that whatever has
a beginning will ultimately have an end.
of regional solidarity is the Achilles heel of Ndiigbo
in Nigeria’s political equation. What must Ndiigbo
do to overcome this major handicap?
is part of the work PNF USA is embarking on. The 2005
Conference is a start and we are very hopeful.
USA and other pan-Igbo groups are strong advocates for
economic empowerment of Ndiigbo. Could you elaborate on
substantive results from this advocacy so far within the
US Igbo Diaspora?
takes time to educate. If it were easy, we would not have
organizations such as PNF USA. We are optimistic!
Is it necessary to seek political empowerment for US Diaspora
Igbo, for example, just as we clamor for ascendancy of
home-based Igbo political elite?
It is very important that we participate
in the political process here in the US to the extent
of penetrating into mainstream American politics and economy.
That would enhance our political leverage at home. The
advocacy for political empowerment in Nigeria is meant
for the underprivileged who are suffering immensely and
not necessarily for the elite some of who could be swimming
in ill-gotten money.
Okpa II, an Igbo American mayoral candidate for city of
Dallas, came 3rd out of a field of 5 candidates in last
contest for the City Hall. How would you characterize
Igbo support for that electoral contest?
failed as a people for lack of enthusiastic support for
Mr. Ejike Okpa when he ran for the Mayor of Dallas. We’ve
learned from that experience. We did not have a cohesive
and coordinated organization for that campaign. We did
not maximize our resources for a maximum impact. In any
case, I commend Ejike for the courage to embark on that
bold venture. His attempt was a good thing for Ndiigbo
and Nigeria as a whole. It shows that the door is open
for us here too.
for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB)
seeks self-governance for Ndiigbo. How much assistance
has PNF USA and other pan-Igbo groups offered so far toward
of our members do not subscribe to sovereign Biafra, we
believe in one Nigeria that is united, equitable, and
fair to all.
one appears to be willing or capable of alleviating the
misery of handicapped Biafran war veterans since end of
the Civil War. Why is this? What can be done by Igbo groups
like yours to assist them?
believe that the Southeastern states have a role to play
here. They should include veterans’ affairs in their
budgets. They should also lobby for federal funding for
these veterans through the members of the National Assembly.
write regularly for Champion newspapers. What motivates
you to give so much of your valuable time for this service;
or you in the newspaper’s payroll?
gives us different gifts to use to uplift others. I am
blessed that I am doing my best with a supportive family.
you satisfied with current representation of Igbo interests
in the Nigerian mass media? What can Igbo Diaspora do
to enhance the status quo?
we have now is better than what we had 20 years ago. We
still need media outlets for our local markets. I would
like to see new Igbo owners of media houses to publish
Igbo language versions. It will go a long way in educating
the people in the rural areas.
yahoogroups e-list that you own, Igbo Forum, has become
the dominant arena for discussion of Igbo affairs. Are
original goals for founding this forum being fulfilled?
What word do you have for other Internet forum owners
who censor participants whose ideas they find offensive?
am happy that Igbo Forum e-group is functioning. Subscribers
are joining every day and that speaks well of the group.
Censorship should be discouraged as much as possible.
Truly, freedom of speech is a wide-open arena and one
must have thick skin as a moderator to stomach the garbage
that runs through from time to time.
Onitsha and Aba are key economic nerve centers
of Alaigbo. Dilapidated infrastructure and unsanitary
surroundings stifle socioeconomic advancement and livelihood
of their residents. How do we begin to address these serious
issues without further delay?
will start with individual responsibility. People are
responsible for keeping their environment clean. We have
to educate the residents on the importance of keeping
their environment clean. We cannot always depend on the
government to do what we can do by ourselves.
is being devastated by combined menace of gully and floodwater
erosion. What can the average Igbo do to help himself
since the government is unwilling or incapable of tackling
problems of erosion and other ecological devastation is
humongous for individuals other than the government to
handle. It is pertinent to form partnership with the government
and international agencies to start addressing these problems.
It is pathetic that the government has allowed the problem
should start taking some corrective measures to check
erosion by adjusting farming methods.
marvel at how you manage to attend to all your many tasks
while maintaining a full-time regular employment. What’s
your regular job description?
priority is my teaching job. I derive joy in teaching
people. My job has strengthened me mentally and socio-emotionally
because I constantly learn how to do my job better. I
have been able to do certain things well because of my
ability to compartmentalize my activities. Again, commitment
is a key ingredient for accomplishing tasks.
your spouse have political inclinations or sympathies?
What takes up most of your free time?
wife hates politics. She has learned to cope with my activities.
I thank God for her. Do I have a free time? In any case,
I create time to watch world news on television and read
some columns in the newspapers.
metropolis has ample supple of home foodstuffs. What is
your favorite Igbo food?
really do not crave for home food. I try to stay away
from carbs. However, I enjoy licking “egwusi soup”
with stockfish and goat meat. It tends to remind me of
my mom’s home cooking. Well, my wife is equal to
the task, too.
see you as someone with a bright political future, either
here in the US or in Nigeria. Do you hope to take a plunge
and if so, how soon?
you so much for the compliments. I’m really flattered…
Well, my actions are guided and directed by God Almighty.
I owe everything to God and I trust Him to show me the
way to serve my people. It is all about service.
you for sharing this valuable time with our guests.
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo