well meaning Igbo pundits are critical of WIC’s
organization structure and operational agenda. How do
you assure these skeptics that you have what it would
take to bring about desired changes if elected?
have been the most vocal proponent of “opening up”
WIC in the Board - see my manifesto. I do not have the
“complex” that fears letting more people come
to the table. I plan to take WIC to the “retail”
level by making every Igbo person a card carrying member
of WIC whether one belongs to an affiliate or not. I have
already started work on ID card design. I am the only
candidate with the gravitaz to make the WIC Board accept
taking WIC to the retail level. I have a block of the
Board that is behind me, and they will support any well
meaning initiative from me. We plan to run things the
way it is done in the US Congress.
of funds appears to be the biggest headache for the organization
that you aspire to lead. Why is this so? Do you have any
specific plans to overcome this stumbling block?
has up till now relied on the $500 affiliates contribute.
This is a joke. I plan to make every Diaspora Igbo person
be part of WIC by contributing a certain amount per year
to renew their ID cards. Membership allows a Diaspora
Igbo person to access and make use of the services that
WIC plans to be providing for Diaspora Igbos here and
at home in Igboland. I have marketing experts in the WIC
coalition that support me and we plan to market WIC extensively.
I plan to set up service centers in seven Igbo states.
These service centers will generate money not only to
run themselves as a business venture, but money for the
WIC also. The Internet cafes and offices we plan to set
up can handle, for a fee, e-mail service, telephone services,
and money transfer services and various other services.
People are already working to fine-tune these plans. My
administration will not ask people for monetary donations.
We will rather initiate projects that will benefit WIC
and members of WIC in the Diaspora. We shall ask people
to invest in these ventures to their benefit and that
are many important issues that need to be addressed by
the next WIC Chairman. What are 3 principal issues that
you intend to target soon after your election?
(1) Establish a physical contact point between WIC and
Igbos at home by opening up offices in Igbo States. I
have completed preliminary research on this in April 2005.
(2) Make WIC financially viable by unleashing my economic
ideas which shall result in Diaspora Igbos investing in
the future of Igboland. I will lead the change with putting
my pennies where my mouth is.
(3) Open up WIC to the retail level. Any Igbo or friend
of Ndi Igbo can participate in the WIC. We have plans
to get this rolling without worrying about constitutional
WIC Chairmanship be rotated amongst states of the Southeast
and Igbo groups domiciled in the Southsouth so as to assure
adequate representation of all Igbo interest groups in
this Diaspora apex body?
WIC is unique. Anyday it degenerates to state “quotas”,
it will die a natural death. States already participate
the way the organization is structured. I am an Igbo man
and I personally do not place much priority on my state
you pleased with current methodology for choosing WIC
leadership? What specific changes would you like to be
made before the 2005 election of WIC officers?
The current method is not perfect, but it could be improved.
It has worked so far to keep the organization stable.
Imagine the chaos of having everyone who attended a convention
voting to elect a WIC chairman. The problem is that most
people do not participate until there is an election.
After the election, most go back to the “wood works”.
In my opinion, the greatest danger now is that people
who have no knowledge of the candidates being given the
authority to choose a candidate based on what they could
read from the e-groups. At this time, the members of the
Board and HOD should cast the votes on behalf of the people
they represent. This will ensure semblance of order and
avoid chaos and “mob effect”.
you content with level of participation of youths and
women in WIC affairs? What do you specifically intend
to do toward enhancing the profile of these groups in
operational agenda of the WIC?
My manifesto specifically has plans to integrate the Diaspora
Woman in WIC. I will go after their economic potential,
their ideas and their energy. I have already started a
model in Houston, which I intend to draw on. On May 21,
2005 my organization sponsored a convention of Igbo youths
18 years and those in college. Emeka Okafor of the NBA
was the events speaker. I used him to draw all the college
kids to the hall and they had a “ball”. They
will have another event on August 13, 2005. I have access
to Emeka Okafor because his dad is a member of the Ndi
Ichie Organization of which I am currently the President.
I plan to use all the resources I have in the Diaspora
to improve our youth and women in the Diaspora including
calling on Emeka Okafor from time to time.
say that Ndiigbo are a difficult bunch to lead. How can
that be? Do you have any specific ideas on how to mobilize
the Igbo and channel their energies to accomplish desired
Ndi Igbo do not have a patent on being difficult. I do
monitor the Yoruba and Hausa Organizations also. For Ndi
Igbo, our strength is in our diversity. The guide for
me is articulating common “interests”. We
can always address our common interests in the spirit
of “trust but verify”.
do you assess US Diaspora Igbo participation in their
host country’s economic and political system? What
role should WIC play in support of Igbo entrepreneurship
within Nigeria and the Diaspora?
Without establishing access here in USA, most of our pursuits
at home will remain hollow. I belong to one of the political
parties. I will use my contacts therein to foster WIC
agenda. Diaspora Igbos must wait and see how I plan to
re-shape our conventions. Most of us are now US citizens.
There is no reason why George Bush could not be invited
to our conventions. This topic is priority in my heart
and I will say just wait and see.
many WIC committees currently exist? Are they functioning
to your satisfaction? If elected chairman, do you intend
to run the organization with an executive director?
I plan to run WIC with an Executive Director. I also plan
to run the Board with committees. Appointment of Committees
in the past has been a sham, that’s why they could
not ever function. I will never appoint anyone a committee
chair that does not participate in local organizations.
Only elected organization Presidents/Chairmen can recommend
a committee chair to WIC Chairman.
USA-sponsored pan-Igbo annual conference was held in early
May in Dallas, TX. Don’t these conferences divert
focus from WIC’s own strategy for galvanizing Ndiigbo
under one formidable umbrella?
I do not know much about PNF. I have never attended their
events nor do I have plans to in the near future.
MASSOB members languish in Nigerian jails without option
of bail. Should WIC provide material and moral support
to this group and its mission of seeking sovereign autonomy
MASSOB and WIC must have a synergistic relationship. My
administration has developed a policy for MASSOB. After
all, Odua People’s Congress is currently providing
needed security to the Yoruba contingent at the on-going
National Conference in Nigeria.
a former Biafran combatant officer, you had a firsthand
knowledge of huge sacrifices of the Civil War. Why is
there no national holiday in Nigeria today to remember
those who paid the ultimate price during this national
The reason is that we lost the War. Let no one be fooled
by the “No Victor. No Vanquished” rhetoric.
Those who know why we really lost the war always hold
their Heads high. The leaders at that time were not thorough
in doing their homework. Nigerian Troops were never able
to beat Biafran Troop in any fair combat situation. The
economic blockade cut Biafra off from all ability to of
replenish her war materials. With time, this alone reduced
combat situations to using a “machete” against
someone with a machine-gun. If we had developed such agencies
like PRODA before we actually started the actual combat,
things would have been much different. By the time the
“Ogbunigwe” and other local war items made
it to the fronts, it was already too late.
you satisfied with what WIC has done so far to improve
the lives of handicapped Biafran veterans, particularly
those in Oji River settlement? Do you have any specific
plans for your fellow veterans if elected WIC chairman?
The Oji River issue is personal to me because there is
no other reason other than providence why I am not one
of those our brothers begging there. In fact, it could
even have been worse. Read my manifesto regarding my plans
for Oji River, even if I have to execute that plan by
just myself and a few friends.
you become the next WIC Chairman, how are you going to
address the matter of Igbo presidency project for 2007?
The 2007 Presidency Project must be addressed from a practical
perspective. I hosted the WIC Convention in Houston 2002
and was in the thick of things for the 2003 effort. We
learned a lot of lessons, and this time we must be truthful
to Ndiigbo and ourselves. We can’t let anyone use
us again for personal reasons. I am an Igbo partisan,
and any politics that addresses the interest of Ndiigbo
as a group will get my support.
effective has the Ohanaeze Ndiigbo been in shepherding
Igbo interests in today’s Nigeria? If elected WIC
chairman, how will you do bridge the perception gap between
supporters of Igbo National Assembly (INA) and those who
remain loyal to Ohanaeze?
Ohanaeze has problems. I know this firsthand because the
Secretary Col. Achuzie came to Houston to seek our support
when he was campaigning for election. We gave that support
and even pushed some buttons. He got elected, and now
we know that most of the time he and the Chairman, Dr.
Irukwu, cannot see eye to eye. A house cannot be divided
within itself and expect to stand. My administration will
boldly articulate, pursue and cater to the interests of
Ndiigbo in the Diaspora – that is my constituency.
In the past, it has been the policy of WIC to defer to
Ohanaeze in all things. My administration will partner
with Ohaneze in everything. Note the difference. Whenever
the policies of Ohanaeze conflict with the interests of
the Diaspora Igbos, my allegiance is clear and will be
well understood. I will implement the wishes of the Diaspora
Igbos – my constituency.
Many regard APGA as the Igbo party, but the
Igbo political elite are overwhelmingly supportive of
PDP. What will WIC do to support APGA political formation
in raising its profile if you become the elected chairman?
APGA, as I know it, may be referred to as the Igbo Party
in name, but I know that it has a long way to go in reforming
it’s modus operandi before anyone can really call
it the Igbo party. For one thing, it is now run as a private
cooperation, and that is not the way a national party
can be organized or run. WIC can help the current APGA
leaders streamline it’s policies, have standard
rules and conditions of participation that is understandable
to everyone, and above all, educate everyone about the
ultimate source of power….the people, instead of
an Igbo traditional title holder, what is you view about
the increasing incidence of iconoclasm and disdain for
our indigenous cultural artifacts by followers of new
rival faiths that have mushroomed throughout Alaigbo in
Our ancestors were right in the first place. I am of the
Anglican faith, and my Bishop at home is the Most Rev.
Anikwenwa, the Bishop of Awka. I sought the Bishop’s
advice in 1990 when I took the Ozo title after completing
my father’s burial rites. The Bishop told me that
so long as I did not sacrifice animals on the
“NwaOmaku and “Oji Ozo” there was nothing
wrong with getting initiated into the Ozo title. I have
some Reverend Fathers who are my friends, who also took
the Ozo title. I am a lay chaplain in the Episcopal Church
here in Houston. From my church training, I can tell you
that our ancestors were right on the money in their religious
practices. Those who condemn anything Igbo culturally,
do so out of ignorance. I am happy to pray the traditional
Igbo way in the mornings, with kolanut and sometimes a
shot of good Cognac. I prepared a write up for the Ichie
Organization in Houston here regarding Igbo traditional
way of praying and last year, I was instrumental in inducting
a sitting member of the USA Congress into the Ichie Organization.
I have the tapes if you care to publish such. The Hon.
Judge Al Green is always proud of his red cap just the
same way as I am.
What can be done by WIC, if you become the
Chairman, to promote authentic Igbo values and culture
within the Igbo Diaspora?
We already have some models we are developing in Houston
to look at. As the President of Ndi Ichie Organization
and an avid supporter of Igbo culture, it is obvious that
my position as WIC Chair can only help advance and promote
of regional solidarity in the former East is a major impediment
in Igbo political ascendancy on the national scene. How
can a group like the WIC help to build links with our
neighbors to the Nigeria Delta and southeast coastline?
We are reaching out to the areas you mentioned here. We
no longer talk about 5 Igbo states but 7. One of the first
acts of our administration will be to send a reach out
package to all governors that have Igbo speaking people
in their states, such as Delta State Governor Ibori and
the Governor of Rivers State - Dr. Odili. It can be done,
and we will make it happen because without broadening
our base we may not create the kind of impact we all want.
often do you visit Alaigbo? What is your assessment of
the dual menace of poor environmental sanitation and uncontrolled
flood erosion? If elected WIC Chairman, what role will
you play in tackling this problem?
Brothers, I visit home at least twice every year. I was
in Nigeria this April, and will be home again with my
entire family this Christmas. If any of you will be in
Nigeria this December, join me for the Ama Iyi Masquerade
Festival December 31 & January 2. Next year, December
24, 2006 is our Ofala. The Igwe of my hometown has given
me advance notification for the event. I have been informed
that I will be conferred with another title at the next
Ofala. If any of you can come I will be honored the more.
Ugorji, Mr. Joe Eto and others are your rivals for WIC
chairmanship. Do you think that popular support for candidates
amongst the non-voting Igbo Diaspora community can play
a decisive role in the ultimate outcome of this contest?
WIC is destined to be opened up to make it much more inclusive.
This is the crux of my campaign. If we have more good
heads at the table, better things are bound to happen.
With this policy, it is clear that I cannot ignore popular
support, even if they are “non-voting” Igbo
us a bit about your nuclear family. Do you have any preferred
Igbo foods that you wish to share with us?
I came from a traditional Igbo family. I pride myself
as "onye Igbo" period. I do not emphasize the
Igbo village I was born in. My parents had six of us,
three boys and three girls. I have three girls and a son.
I also have two grand children a son and a daughter. As
for favorite foods, I come from the part of Igboland where
the man of the house must have his bitter leaf soup with
pounded yam. Here in my house in Texas, my backyard is
lined with luxuriant bitter leaf plants, as I like it
fresh. When I am in my house in the village, I like to
start the morning with kolanut and palm wine. To break
fast, I prefer roasted yam with fresh red palm oil with
“ukpaka” and I usually have these washed down
with more palm wine before I call my drive, if I had anywhere
to go that day.
You must be a very busy person. Tell us what
you do with your spare time?
Come to think of it, most of my spare time are spent in
more meetings. I play tennis sometimes. I also play golf
but have not had time to do so this year. I will try to
go out to the green this weekend and practice on my swings.
parting words for our Igbo readers who may not be part
Tell Ndiigbo that there is a reason why we all left our
father’s compounds and came to this foreign land.
Tell everyone to get ready to act on those various individual
reasons. I will give everyone an opportunity to do so.
I talk about an opportunity to invest in ourselves, an
opportunity to take the good things in America back to
our compounds in Igboland. Tell Ndiigbo that I will challenge
their Igboness and bring out that magic that has made
the Igboman the envy of other tribes. I will do it with
honesty and integrity. I have a track record and all that
anyone has to do is to give me a chance one time. To me,
this is a “calling” and I will be true to
that “calling”. My campaign theme is “Igbo
ekunnie”. Tell everyone not to take this theme lightly.
It is from my heart as "Onye Igbo".
Onwuchekwa, thank you for sharing this valuable time with
Thanks. I am glad you guys gave me this