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The 2003 Labor Holiday weekend annual outing of World Igbo Congress (WIC) has just concluded in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. As many recoup from the event and hectic preparations that preceded it, some are beginning to weigh in their take on the significance, or lack of it, of this year’s outing. Home-based politicians have, as usual, used the gathering in Nashville to air their personal views on shepherding Igbo interests. Barring minimal change of personnel, the incumbent WIC leadership has obtained a fresh mandate to oversee the group’s affairs for next 2 years. From all indications, the Nashville confab was business as usual for all concerned. Well, that may actually be the unique feature of the Diaspora premier Igbo body and why it has reliably functioned as a magnet for political operatives of all shades. The economics of hosting such annual conventions may be nothing to write home about. But based on response of invitees and delegates, WIC conventions have secured a niche in the annual calendar of Igbo political elite based in Nigeria and the Diaspora.

Many have glibly talked about the need for change in structure and operational modalities of the WIC. In some circles, the Nashville convention was billed as the watershed in evolutionary history of WIC when power of control would be restored to the House of Delegates (HOD), which was deemed as actual “owners” of the organization. Those who spearheaded the HOD takeover bid either ran out of gas as soon as they arrived Nashville or where simply shocked and awed by what they encountered at the convention venue. The HOD takeover “crusaders” had their eyes on taking control of the election process with the objective of minimizing the domineering influence of the Board of Directors (BOD) which had the exclusive right to elect WIC leadership. This election cycle was still restricted to the BOD while the HOD watched in awe. Less than 40 wise men in the BOD have once more set the benchmark for the Diaspora Igbo and of course, they expect all and sundry to fall in line. Accolades and messages of goodwill have begun to pour in to the re-elected incumbents, even from the very ranks of would-be HOD “mutineers”. All eyes are already being focused on the 2004 outing to be hosted in New Jersey.

It requires no sophisticated reasoning to deduce that no tangible change is imminent in the WIC for the foreseeable future. There was substantial noise, even within the loyal core, for a change in the run-up to the just-concluded WIC elections. It is now clear that the will of those who like the status quo prevailed. Whatever abracadabra that took place in the BOD quickly convinced even the progressive elements in its ranks to circle the wagon so as to disabuse any minds of the notion of a leadership crisis within the WIC. The basic design of WIC structure and bylaws by its founders was intended to put the organization on an even keel with little chance of rocking the boat even by the most determined non-insider. The WIC may have failed to meet people’s expectation but it must not be shown to also have failed in the eyes of its loyalists who, of course, make up the majority of the BOD. The outcome of “Nashville 2003”, if nothing else, has reaffirmed entrenched opinions on prospects for actualizing an effective pan-Igbo umbrella organization for Igbo Diaspora. The WIC has repeatedly demonstrated that it was not originally designed to be everything to everyone. The fraud, if any exists, may actually lie in selling it as such.

Many do share the belief that Ndiigbo indeed need an organization that is cast in the mode of the WIC. Whether the existing formation can meet that expectation is another matter altogether. We all need to be realistic in addressing this issue if any durable workable solution shall ever emerge out of present confusion in Igbo leadership. One extreme position insists that the WIC already exists and is widely acknowledged as the premier organization for Igbo Diaspora. All that is required now is for individuals and groups to appreciate its import and pitch in their bit to make it become what its founders originally intended. A contradicting position sees the very structure and operational agenda of present WIC as the greatest impediment to actualizing the popular expectation for a potent and relevant pan-Igbo Diaspora umbrella organization. Holders of this viewpoint see no virtue in involving their time, resources and sweat within an organization whose leadership appears unwilling or unable to move it in the direction for needed changes that can broaden its appeal and enhance its effectiveness. The just-concluded outing in Nashville sprung no surprises. Not too many expected such anyway.

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