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USAfricaonlineSPECIALREPORT

What late Dr. M.I. Okpara told me to tell Igboleaders

By Ojay M. Grace
USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston

Okpara: If Awo and Sarduana's kids are living up to expectation, and my own are failing to do their part, I am unhappy. I, Michael Okpara hereby decree as follows: Whereas it is established that every Igbo man wants to be known as a president or chairman of one or more organizations; Whereas those presidents and chairmen will want to justify their existence by launching one thing or another; in recognition of the foregoing rights, IT is hereby mandated and ordained that every Igbo person is now a president or chairman of any organization or association of his/her choice. Each chairman or president can sub-divide the organization and make him or herself the president or chairman of the subdivided organization, without limit to number. In recognition of this new dispensation, all Igbo organizations formed pursuant to villages, divisions, local governments and states are hereby dissolved. All organizations must be geared to finding ways to make governments perform their duties. All funds raised must be targeted to an Igbo Preservation Fund (IPF). All Igbos are hereby banned from contributing to any launching that is designed to perform governmental functions. These are my commandments. Tell all of them to hear and carry forth. You may now leave. This discussion is over. I have a prayer meeting with Awo. I think I really need it.


The other day I "visited" with late Dr. M. I. Okpara through a "channel." Apparently, he was very glad to see me. Evidently, he has not lost his renowned intellectual power and love of politics. My intention was to find out how the non-physical world is and how he is interacting with the angels.

As I was about to start, he requested that I allow him the privilege of asking one question. I said "sure sir." I never had the chance to ask my questions because he turned the table on me. Here's what transpired:

Okpara: At the fellowship meeting last night, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was bragging about how he has taken over Nigeria. He showed me an email from the president of the Egbe Omo Yoruba, USA, who referred to Awo as "Uncle Pontifex Maximus." A footnote in the email caught my attention. It states "Thank you for your guidance. As you advised, we did not fall for the SCD (State Creation Diversion) strategy conceived by the Hausa leadership. The Igbos did, and they are paying dearly for it. We are organized around our tribal group. Igbos organize around any potential geographic boundaries they can imagine.

They have so many states and local governments, and they are taking full advantage of them. We are advising President Obasanjo to triple the number of states and local governments in the Ibo areas. With any luck, the Igbos will start to organize around their streets, avenues and roads. For example, they could have Asa Road Residents Association and have fund raising to fix the potholes and paint street signs. Igbos are now acting like minorities. That allows us to concentrate and solve the Hausa problem once and for all, with your help, of course." Is it true that state creation has become a curse instead of a blessing for the Igbos or are the Yorubas bragging as usual?

Grace: I think the President of Egbe Omo Yoruba intentionally underestimated the situation of the Igbos. He failed to mention that SCD caused a new disease known as MOFS ˆ Multiple Organization Forming Syndrome. Those afflicted by MOFS have an unending need to create and head new organizations even though they are unable to run the ones they already have.

Okpara: Explain that to me.

Grace: Imagine a little boy and his brothers being thrown into a room full of toy cars and trucks while some grown-ups stayed in the main room discussing the division of the "bush meat" they had just purchased. Each grown-up wanting the choice part of the animal. The boys stay in the room with the cars, running around with them, making car noises, dividing the car-washing and fueling responsibilities, using the cars to climb hills and even get involved in accidents. Of course all that is fake. At the end, the cars are still fake, and when they are through playing, they come out to eat the leftover, if any.

Okpara: I know I am not on earth with you. I don't get it.

Grace: I am sorry about that. I am trying not to depress you.

Okpara: Please do not insult me. I have seen tougher circumstances both on earth and here in heaven than you have or will ever confront. So be straight with me. I'm waiting.

Grace: Sir, during your time, you butted head with such eminent Nigerians as Awolowo and Saduana of Sokoto. While your preoccupation was the interest of the Igbos, Awo was concerned with the Yoruba interest and Saduana with the Hausa interest. Each of you passed on the bantam to the next generation to carry on the good work. The descendants of Awo and Saduana are making them proud. The Hausas set up a trap, and the Igbos fail for it. They created so many states and local governments, just like the room full of toys. Your descendants are busy enjoying these governmental toys while the Yorubas and the Hausas are busy negotiating the division of national assets and power. They are passing the control of the national government between each other, while your descendants are spending all their time plotting how to become the president or chairman of one local government association or another. There are many more local governments in non-Igbo areas, but I have never seen any other group wasting the energy of their intellectuals infinitely organizing local government meetings. The terrible thing about it is that they are spending all this time outside of Nigeria. They are so consumed by it that they have no time to adequately participate in meaningful dialogue at the national level. The funny thing is that they are too nostalgic. They form associations for every local government creation that has ever existed starting from 1960. There is no rhyme or rhythm to their thinking. Even when a governmental structure has been abolished, they hang on to it. For example, there is and associations formed along Bende and Owerri Divisions. The members of the organizations formed along old political divisions are also members of associations formed along the new local governments given to them by the central government. Sir, should I continue.

Okpara: Hmmmm. I don't want to talk down to you, but why should organizing people be a curse? I must be missing something.

Grace: Sir, the problem is that your Igbo descendants are spending too much time organizing along any new structure created for them. As each state or local government is created, a mental boundary immediately erupts. I have never heard of a Yoruba man being asked to leave a newly created Yoruba state. Once a new state is created, any Igbo whose father was not a native of the new state will be required to leave his/her governmental job. In Canada, the USA and Europe, all Igbos will immediately think it is their duty to form a new association to reflects the new creation. They start to discriminate against other Igbos for no logical reason.

Okpara: Are these organizations functional?

Grace: Practically, all office-seeking Igbos are afflicted with MOFS. Functionality is one thing MOFS sufferers are averse to. They will talk great talks about things they will do, but they somehow finds "good" excuses why those things were not done during their leadership. For instance, in Houston, Texas, Igbos have hundreds of organizations created by the same group of persons. Funny enough, practically none of them has an office for the organization where you can meet and discuss organization matters. Nor is any one of them listed in the telephone directory. Most, if not all, these organizations have no computers, no desks, no chairs, no tables or anything in their name. The president of most of them acts as the defacto secretary, treasurer and PRO. The phone number and address of the organization is dependant on who the president is at any one time. When a president's term is up, he or she has nothing to hand over to the next group. Every reasonable contact with the organization must be through the president. So if the president is out of town, indisposed or just busy, the organization's activities are frozen.

Okpara: Are you saying that self-sufficient and educated Igbos overseas are not applying the knowledge they have acquired? Are you saying that they are that shallow and crazy?

Grace: Sir, it is worse than that. There are more associations formed by Igbos overseas than in Nigeria. It is possible that they are feeling guilty or not being physically present in Igboland. It is possible that leadership was thrust on them, but they have no clue what direction to lead so they do whatever for the sake of doing something. It is possible that they learnt nothing from you and need re-education.. Each one of them thinks that he or she is a born leader and deserves to be president or chairman of an organization. Their appetite for new organization is insatiable. They will even create two associations for the same local government to serve the same purpose. In order to justify their existence, they will spend time and money trying to perform functions more suitably done by state and central governments. They want to provide light, water, hospital, schools, road, you name it, for their respective local governments.

Okpara: Wait! Wait!! Wait!!! You are kidding, right? What does the government then do?

Grace: Good question. Because the governors know that each Igbo community will assume governmental functions, they embezzle the money that would have been assigned for those governmental duties and functions. It is now expected that those in government will steal money instead of fixing roads and supplying water to the populace. They expect some launching by some Igbo organization sooner or latter in their hope to avoid performing their duties. Of course, no one challenges them. One thing is that these so-called leaders learnt the wrong lessons from the first Nigerian civil war. As you know, after the war, Igbos rebounded and got back on their feet through self-help. That proved that the Igbos will do what it takes to survive afer going through hard times. Now, the new Igbo leaders think that self-help efforts and the assumption of governmental duties has to be a permanent feature of the Igbo life and culture.

Okpara: I suppose all these efforts means that Igboland is like heaven, right?

Grace: Sorry to disappoint you. No other group in Nigeria raises as much money through community effort as Igbos do. The devil is in how it is used. My guess is that Igbos raise over 10 times as much money as any other group. However, the money is in the hands of 10,000 organizations. The share of each community is just enough to buy one or two computers for a school. No one community has enough to buy software, train the teacher, repair classrooms, pave the road to the schools, buy uniform for the students, pay staff salary and buy books. The computer itself becomes useless. The same can be said for their efforts to improve hospitals, build roods and supply electricity and water. It is a mess. On the other hand, other groups raise very little money, but they leverage it very well. They figure out a way to capture at least one significant ministry of the federal government. It pays well. One good minister can direct several millions of Naira to solve a problem that requires several years of launching by Igbos and yet the problem remains as it was before the launching. In fact, most of the launchings do not make money, and those that do cost at least half the money realized. To make matters worse, these people claim to be community conscious. The evidence proves the opposite. Item: In Houston, Texas, USA, Igbos refuse to patronize Ndichie Hall, an Igbo establishment for parties and functions. Instead, they give their money to Asians by renting their halls. In fact, Asian halls are springing up all over Houston to accommodate the numerous launching by Igbos. Item: After all these years of organizing and helping Igbos in Nigeria, the Igbo areas have the highest unemployment rate, massive refusal by their male adults to attend school, the worst roads, schools, hospitals, supply of electricity and water. It is pathetic.

Okpara: God almighty! Who are your leaders? Are they crazy? Are they educated?

Grace: Well, there is a saying that only a crazy person will do the same thing over and over and expects different results. They are very educated. All of them possess university degrees, from the first degree to doctorates in all fields. It is possible that there is a cause on them. With your contact up there, you may assist in removing the curse.

Okpara: How can this problem be resolved? Is there some how that we can satisfy the individual need for power and the needs of Igbos? Let me be blunt: can we make all Igbos leaders of something?

Grace: Sir, you got me. As you know, I am a lawyer and am trained to anticipate all questions and plan for them. I did not plan for this question. If you allow me time, I will give you adequate answer.

Okpara: If Awo and Sarduana's kids are living up to expectation, and my own are failing to do their part, I am unhappy. I, Michael Okpara, hereby decree as follows: Whereas it is established that every Igbo man wants to be known as a president or chairman of one or more organizations; Whereas those presidents and chairmen will want to justify their existence by launching one thing or another; in recognition of the foregoing rights, IT is hereby mandated and ordained that every Igbo person is now a president or chairman of any organization or association of his/her choice. Each chairman or president can sub-divide the organization and make him or herself the president or chairman of the subdivided organization, without limit to number. In recognition of this new dispensation, all Igbo organizations formed pursuant to villages, divisions, local governments and states are hereby dissolved. All organizations must be geared to finding ways to make governments perform their duties. All funds raised must be targeted to an Igbo Preservation Fund (IPF). All Igbos are hereby banned from contributing to any launching that is designed to perform governmental functions. These are my commandments. Tell all of them to hear and carry forth. You may now leave. This discussion is over. I have a prayer meeting with Awo. I think I really need it.

Grace: May I ask you one question? Stop, don't go, please. Sir, can you get me an interview with Chief Awo? Please, don't go yet!!

That was how the Honorable M. I Okpara dismissed me. In the end, I concluded that he served Igbos well and any Igbo organization that solely emphasized the political boundaries created for Igbos is not serving the memory of Dr. Okpara. As the NRA (National Rifle Association) says, "Guns do not kill people; people do." I say, "Organizations do not destroy a racial group, their alleged leaders do."
Grace, an attorney, serves as a contributing editor and columnist for USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper. September 2, 1999.He appears in the picture, above.


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