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The US chapter of Pan Ndiigbo Foundation (PNF-USA) has offered to host a get-together for Ndiigbo in Dallas, Texas on the weekend of July 11-13, 2003 “to build a framework for the articulation of a constructive, dynamic, and collective Igbo Agenda”. A release from the chapter leader, Dr. Acho Orabuchi, sees its group’s decision as a timely move to address a widespread feeling amongst Ndiigbo that “the Igbo and her political survival in the mainstream Nigerian body polity are in danger”, particularly since the debacle of the last general elections. The proposed all-Igbo confab “is a clarion call for all concerned Igbo indigenes regardless of one’s ideological persuasion or political party affiliation”. The summit’s program schedule allows for multifaceted input into charting a new practical course of action for Ndiigbo in this democratic dispensation. Outcome of the two-day parley in Dallas is expected to establish a new roadmap that shall help “the Igbo to actively participate in the national/mainstream politics in an equitable fashion in Nigeria”.

This is the first time that an all-Igbo get-together has been convened to address the all-important subject of deriving a consensus agenda to guide Igbo groups of all persuasions as we navigate the intricate maze of Nigerian political terrain. The bewilderment that has taken over the mindset of the average Igbo makes it mandatory that Ndiigbo, especially the political and intellectual elite, should put their heads together to make sense out of the ongoing quandary that has tormented the Igbo since onset of the new democratic dispensation in Nigeria. Through most of the later part of military rule, the Ohanaeze Ndiigbo was looked up to as the leadership epicenter for the Igbo political class. But the emergency of political parties has complicated the task for the Ohanaeze leadership to the extent that the apex Igbo body has finally exposed itself as unprepared and incompetent to spearhead the strategic interests of Ndiigbo in today’s Nigeria. Its former respected status in Igbo affairs is now being frontally challenged by the emergence of the Igbo National Assembly whose founders have sworn to bring the leadership era of the Ohanaeze in Igbo affairs to and end.

The Igbo Diaspora is basically rudderless. Almost a decade ago, some illustrious sons and daughters of Igbo heritage resident overseas founded the World Igbo Congress (WIC) as an umbrella organization for harnessing and channeling input from the Diaspora population into the overall development strategy for Ndiigbo within Nigeria. The WIC, since its inception, functioned basically as an Ohanaeze outpost in the Diaspora and ended up just performing the role of a mouthpiece for home-based Igbo political elite. The imminent downfall of the present Ohanaeze leadership is destined to send its shockwaves through the rank and file of the WIC in the near and intermediate terms. There is thus a yawning leadership void in the Igbo Diaspora just as is the case at home. A get-together, like the one being organized by PNF-USA next month in Dallas, provides a unique opportunity for all concerned Igbo groups and individuals to seek fresh alternative solutions to the many confounding leadership crises that have overtaken the Igbo elite. Solution to the Igbo dilemma may actually lie in the derivation of a consensus agenda that shall guide everyone rather than in blind pursuit of an elusive unity amongst competing Igbo interest groups. With established and well-understood consensus Igbo agenda list of priorities, all potential leadership groups can then proceed, in their own fashion and pace, to direct their effort toward the actualization of a common goal.

Organizers of the Dallas confab must resist the temptation to deviate from the main focus of the proposed summit. The gathering must not be used as a forum for setting political scores or for fanning ambers of an emergent vendetta between the winners and losers of the last April general elections. Rather than expand the theme of the summit to encompass a long list of issues, the main task of unfurling the Igbo agenda should get most attention of participants. It is unlikely that the short duration of the weekend event shall allow for detailed deliberations that ought to precede derivation of what can be termed a practical consensus Igbo agenda. If nothing else is accomplished, the Dallas summit should be made to mark the beginning of a conscientious search for a uniform platform for streamlining of the Igbo cause in contemporary Nigeria, Africa and world. A committee, formed out of all principal groups committed to the summit’s objectives, should be empowered to complete the task of producing a carefully vetted itemized list of priority issues that shall comprise a consensus Igbo agenda. As the PNF-USA leadership has opined in its release, the product of this committee shall be presented at a future plenary session in Nigeria for final review and ratification by an all-inclusive assembly of Ndiigbo.

In a previous Osondu Editorial titled “Ndiigbo in Post-election Era” (http://www.osondu.com/postelectionera.htm), it was opined that, for Ndiigbo to make any headway “in a timely manner, everyone concerned should be made to understand what has to be done and how we shall proceed. More than anytime in recent history, there is a need for a clear agenda for Ndiigbo now.” PNF-USA has boldly stepped forward to take the bull by the horns in providing the platform to initiate the self-redemptive task of evolving the consensus Igbo agenda which shall catalyze the realization of a unity of purpose in ranks of the Igbo political and intellectual elite. The leadership of PNF-USA should be commended and supported in its bid to play a vital role in charting the future course of action that can enable Ndiigbo to better articulate and represent their strategic interests in contemporary Nigeria. We urge everyone, particularly pan-Igbo groups based at home and Diaspora, to prepare themselves well to make good use of the opportunity that the Dallas All-Igbo Summit shall offer for all, who are genuinely interested in the speedy advancement of the Igbo cause, to make their valuable input when and where it really counts.

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