TranscriptCNN International interview with Nigeria's President Obasanjo andUSAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu on Democracyand Security Issues

                      
Special to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.com,and TheBlack Business Journal


"PNF-USA will eliminate shortcomingsof the World Igbo Congress (whose) mantra is organizing largeconventions and little else. Once the party is over, everyone goeshome till next outing...."says Dr. Acho Orabuchi inUSAfricaonline.com interview


PROLOGUE: Thousands of Igbos in the north American continent andinside Nigeria have been debating the issues of how their folks wereelbowed aside during and after the controversial and rigged April2003 elections in Nigeria. Second, many are pushing towardsfine-tuning the Igbo agenda, or shall I say, the remnants of the Igboagenda. Politics is one of many critical items for the Igbo, arepublicanist, and business-oriented people in the south east ofNigeria. They number in excess of 32 million.

One of those who havestayed active on this quest is Dallas-based Dr. Iheanacho 'Acho'Orabuchi, chairman of the controversial but eloquent PNF-USA group.He is also the moderator and founder of the Igbo Forum on the yahoonews group. He competed with Bernard Nwaiwu, a frontline and dynamicDallas attorney, in a very heated election for the leadership of theIgbo Community in the area. In a nutshell, Nwaiwu's group overwhelmedOrabuchi's group. Shortly after, Orabuchi led the establishing of thePNF-USA which some have characterized as being in competition withthe umbrella World Igbo Congress - regardless of any denials by itsleader, Dr. Orabuchi.

Hedoes not mince words to, specifically, separate the two organizationsby arguing that "World Igbo Congress' mantra is organizing largeconventions and little else. Once the party is over, everyone goeshome till next outing...." PNF-USA he says is "agenda driven." Hetouches on many other issues in the USAfricaonline.com interview withhim.

The man has clarifieda number of things and raised new debates which will certainly beparts of the All-Igbo summit his group is holding in Dallas, andafterwards. Those who disagree with him, to put it politely, takeboth personal and communal angst at him. His face rarely betrays whathe has in his mind but the PNF has, and will continue to put him inboth the good books of many and in the most disliked list of some. Hehas had his say, here.

As always, USAfricawelcomes the response of persons and groups cited in any of ourinterviews. Brief responses from our readers are welcome. Here aremain excerpts from the USAfrica Q&A with Dr. Orabuchi:


 

The US-chapter of the'Pan-Ndiigbo Foundation' (PNF-USA), Inc. will be principal host fromJuly 11-13, 2003 in Dallas, Texas, of an Igbo summit. What motivatedthe PNF All-Igbo summit?

Ndi Igbo, including PNFUSA believe that either the Igbo do not have a clear agenda or theyhave one that lacks the collective vision and purpose of thepeople. The events of the last Nigerian generalelections provide clear evidence that we do not have a road map ordirection of where we are heading. As a result, the urgent call forthe summit 'All Igbo Political Summit' becomes a clarion call for allwell-meaning Igbo indigenes to participate as much as they can.

Ndi Igbo did not achieveany significant outcome from Nigeria's April 2003 general elections.Hence, the morale of the average Igbo has sagged tremendously.PNF-USA initiated consultations with leading opinion molders amongstour people, residing at home and in the Diaspora, to seek practicalmeans to pull ourselves out of present depressed state of things. Theconsensus seems that a face-to-face meeting of Igbo political andintellectual elite must be convened soon to develop a road map toguide the affairs of Ndi Igbo at this critical juncture in ourhistory. A consensus Igbo agenda, focused on strategic aspects of ourcontemporary existence, shall offer Ndi Igbo a meaningful platform tomake a new beginning.

How would you assessthe Dr. Kalu Diogu-led WIC's handling or (as some chose to say),mishandling) of the opportunities and challenges of the controversial2003 elections and politics in Nigeria - then and now? Especiallyfollowing the crest of the politically-heavily attended WIC 2002convention in Houston.

Dr. Kalu Diogu is a finegentleman with a good heart. Dr. Diogu is as good as those whosurround him. Perhaps, you are aware that there will be electionsduring the 2003 WIC convention in September. Four candidates havealready officially declared to run for the WIC Chairman. As a result,it is not our role to influence the elections or determine whobecomes the Chairman of WIC.


What are the differences between this PNF Igbo summit and theWorld Igbo Congress conventions?
Remember that we're a political organization. Our activities areagenda driven. PNF-USA is not in the business of organizingconventions. We decided on hosting this summit to enable the entiretyof Igbo political and intellectual elite to come together under oneroof to deliberate on the key issue of deriving a consensus agendafor Ndi Igbo. We've no plan, in the foreseeable future, for aconvention because we don't see the need for such. For the near andintermediate terms, derivation of a consensus Igbo agenda shallconsume all we can muster, in time and energy, until the finalproduct is delivered.

Interestingly, manypeople believe that the WIC has been lethargic in its handling ofissues that are of great import to our people. The group's (WIC)mantra is organizing large conventions and little else. Once theparty is over, everyone goes home till next outing. It is importantthat people know that WIC is neither structured nor operated in waysthat can enable it to deliver on everything, talk less of electoralpolitics. WIC is basically a socio-cultural association which is notdesigned for dealing with complex and fast-evolving political matterslike one encounters during electioneering campaigns. PNF-USA iskeenly aware of this and has chosen an approach that eliminates theshortcomings of the WIC.

Willthe WIC send any delegation to your summit; is the WIC'sleadership/representative(s)
invited?

WIC has been invited toparticipate in the All Igbo Political Summit. The letter ofinvitation was hand-delivered to Dr. Kalu Diogu. I have personallyfollowed it up with phone calls to him. WIC has been invited as agroup, and some of its present and past leaders have been invited asindividuals.

What are the keyissues, and where have the Igbo leadership and followership gonewrong? What is the way forward?

We do not want to wasteour energy complaining or blaming others.... The key issue that hasinhibited Igbo progress for decades is the lack of consensus agendathat is derived after a thorough review of survival needs of theaverage Igbo in today's world. Currently, Igbo groups and individualsoperate in a vacuum, which makes it easy for deviant behavior to takeover too often for our own good. Groups and individuals set theirrespective agenda as they see fit from time to time. There is lack ofcohesion and focus in the Igbo leadership cadre as manifested in thecrisis-torn Ohanaeze Ndiigbo. The disenchanted followership classultimately becomes disillusioned and thus tends to succumb toinducements that often end up hurting the Igbo collectiveinterests.

Assess the 2003elections in Nigeria; the performance in office of President Obasanjoand the Governors in the Igbo States.

The 2003 generalelections were marred by gross irregularities. We denounced itpublicly in the mass media. Both Obasanjo and the Southeast governorsscored failing marks in their first term in office and everyone,including these chief executives, know this as a fact. That they wereswept back in power is partly due to the corrupt nature of Nigerianpolitics and lack of cohesion in the opposition camp that lacked thewisdom to pull resources together to enable it to dislodge theincumbents who had the apparatus of state machinery at theirfingertips.

Who is sensitizing theIgbos better as regards political and social issues, the WIC or thePNF you lead?

One may fairly concludethat the WIC leadership has invested some of its resources andgoodwill in cozying up with home-based political elite instead offunctioning as a channel for funneling the input of the averageDiaspora Igbo into optimizing the development of Alaigbo and Nigeria.PNF-USA is not in competition with the WIC. Both groups can actuallycoalesce their efforts and collaborate on key projects that can helpto achieve a speedy improvement in the quality of life of the averageIgbo.

What is the relationship between the Dallas ICAN and the PNF as
regards the summit
?

In the same token, ICANhas been invited to participate in any capacity in the summit. ManyICAN members belong to PNF USA. They are working very hard for thesummit's success. Many other parochial organizations have beeninvited as well. PNF prides itself as a partner for progress of Igbocause. We are in partnership with groups that want to workunselfishly for Igbo agenda.

What should be seen asthe measure of the success of the Dallas summit?

Success could be measuredin so many ways, but the best would be to see Ndi Igbo start talkingabout the solution to what they see as problems for Ndi Igbo Usingthis summit to usher in a new beginning for Ndi Igbo is what mattersmost to all engaged in this endeavor. We realize that a weekend maybe too short to do justice to a complex matter like forging consensuson some potentially divisive issues that have persistentlydestabilized Alaigbo for decades. We intend to constitute an AgendaCommittee, comprised of interested parties, to conclude the workcommenced at the Dallas summit. The product of this committee shalllikely be compiled and published in a document for presentation at aplenary session of Ndi Igbo at a time and place that will bedetermined at a later date.


ChidoNwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), isFounder and Publisher of first African-owned U.S.-based professionalnewspaper to be published on the internet, USAfricaonline.com.He appears as an analyst on CNN International and CNN's InsideAfrica, VOA, NPR, South African Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC.Also, he publishes Houston-based USAfrica The Newspaper,CLASSmagazine andTheBlack Business Journal.Nwangwu has served as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston oninternational business (Africa) and the board of the NAACP (Houston).

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Index of Founder's Notes (2)

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