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Ika National Association, USA, Inc, held its
biennial national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, between July 1-3,
2010. The event was graced by Ika sons and daughters resident in different
parts of the United States, and other countries, including Nigeria.


Some of the personalities who were at the highly
attended convention include the member representing Ika North east local
government area in the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Prince Sam Obi, who
presented an address, which he titled “The Role of the Legislature in Budgeting
and National Development: Ika Nation As a Case Study.”


Hon. Obi who described Budget, or Appropriation Act,
as it is sometimes called, as legal instruments deployed to manage revenue and
expenditure profiles of firms and governments averred that, “one of the litmus
test of a responsible government is the indices by which it has pursued
infrastructural development via the process of funding of major projects that
touch the lives of its stakeholders and people.”


He explained that “the draft budget presented to
Parliament should specify fiscal policy objectives, the macro economic
framework and the policy basis for the budget, and identify major fiscal risks.
It should provide a clear and comprehensive plan for all public spending.
Parliament is the appropriate locus of overall financial accountability. Its
role should be to approve future actions rather than to rubber-stamp decisions
effectively taken already” adding that “strong and capable parliamentary
committees are required to enable parliament to develop its expertise and play
an active role in budget decision making. This requires a clear and efficient
division of labour between different committees, notably the finance and
appropriation committees, and the sectoral committees. The legislature and its
committees should have access to independent expertise for proper budgetary
scrutiny. But in Nigeria, the application of all these have been said to pose a
daunting challenge to the presenter and his colleagues of Ika nation extraction
in the Delta State House of Assembly.”


Hon. Obi who gave a historical perspective on
parliamentary control and budgeting, however, maintained that “the governor Uduaghan
administration, in the past three years, has made giant strides to uplift the
status of our people socio-economically in the very crucial areas. From the
beginning, His Excellency made it clear, with a visionary declaration of the
now very popular 3-point Agenda, which he conceived to stimulate economic
growth and development-he indeed promised to carry every one and every section
of the state along.”


The state legislator posited that Ika nation has
benefitted immensely from the state budget, within the context of the vision
and 3-point agenda of governor Uduaghan, adding that “within the context of the
vision, one can situate a rightful place for infrastructural development of Ika
nation. But the question is, what has been our role as parliamentarians in
making sure that governmental efforts are channeled to achieving meaningful
socio-economic development of Ika nation?


“As with other sectors and clans within Delta State,
Ika nation is not without its own fair share of the state budget. Indeed, Ika
nation presently enjoys a commendable measure of budgeted fund for the
development of its infrastructure and people. It is not out of place to posit
that the Ika nation is close to the heart of His Excellency, Governor Emmanuel  Uduaghan, judging by the enormity of projects
begging for attention and level of budgeted 
fund already released so far to Ika nation.”


Prince Obi who noted that “across the several
spectrum of Ika nation, several projects have been either concluded or are
on-going,” maintained that because the Uduaghan government is a responsible
government that listens to the yearning of the people, many of the projects in
Ikland are receiving increased government attention and funding, which he
stressed can be traced to the quality of representation with which elected
members of Ika extraction have piloted the interest of Ika nation adding that
Ika nation was grateful for their relentless service delivery of electioneering
promises and dividends for democracy.


In her speech, a House of Representatives aspirant
Dr. (Mrs.) Isioma Okobah who addressed the audience on “The Concept of Quality
Representation” noted that what was required in improving the well-being of Ika
people was giving them quality and result-yielding representation at every level
of government.


Dr. (Mrs.) Okobah, who is a licensed family
physician and board Certified Family Physician in the State of Georgia,
USA  stressed that quality representation
is all about the abiding ability to articulate, relevant and cogent issues
which have direct and meaningful impact on the well-being and benefits of the
citizens within a constituency.


She explained that in the past 5 years, I have
collaborated with the Delta State Government, through Delta Doctors in
Diaspora, in providing  free medical
healthcare, free medications and free medical equipment to rural communities in
Delta State. She listed the benefiting communities to include Owa-Alero,
Igbodo, Abavo, Onicha-Ugbo, Ezi, Asaba, Ibusa among others, adding that she was
willing to do more through giving effective representation to Ika federal
constituency at Abuja.


“In the course of the numerous health fairs, I came
in contact with the grassroots in Ika land. I have come to appreciate their
unique problems and peculiar challenges, many of which are beyond the
capabilities of local and state government to address, hence the need for
quality Representation at the Federal House of Representatives. Within this
premise, one has to first recognize the problems and challenges facing Ika
community, research the solutions and propagate polices to rectify and remedy
those challenges. While there are numerous unique challenges besetting our
people, I have distilled them into 3 major areas requiring urgent action, which
I call my 3 point agenda, which are, quality and affordable health care,
quality education, youth and women empowerment.


“My mission therefore is to represent and represent
well, to achieve and achieve much. I beg you from the bottom of my heart to
support me with your prayers, advice, suggestions, criticisms, for that is the
only way that I can grow and learn. I promise you transparency, equitable and
collective representation at the Federal House of Representatives.”                                                  


In his closing address, the National President of
Ika National Association, USA, Inc., Mr. Michael Ndidi Ebie said he was highly
elated over the outcome of the convention and was appreciative of the
immeasurable roles and contributions of members of the association. He especially
commended the North Carolina Chapter of the Association, for the remarkable
efforts made in giving a befitting hosting to members and other dignitaries at
the 3-day event, and the National Planning Committee members, under the
leadership of the immediate past National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ezekiel
Odum, and challenged all members to brace up to the enormous task of uplifting
Ika land.


The national president also expressed his
appreciation to Hon. Prince Sam Obi and Dr. (Mrs.) Isioma Okobah for their
presentations and all those who took time out to attend the convention. He
promised that the National Executive will “continue to pursue a 501c-(3) Exempt
Status from the Internal Revenue Service. We need this as a national body. Make
our website (Ikausa.org) a good venue for information. In the long tem, we will
continue in our efforts to help improve the health and well-being of our
fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters at home, by pursing capital projects
such as the construction of diagnostic clinic in Ikaland. As mandated by the
Board of Directors, we will continue to offer limited number of academic
scholarships to students admitted into institutions of higher learning in
Nigeria. Beyond these, we will continue to work on strengthening the National
Association, by encouraging full participation by local –chapters. As National
President, I will remain in constant communication with all local chapters. Let
us remember that without local chapters, there is no national organization.
There will be open lines of communication between local chapters and the
National Executive body.


Mr. Ebie promised that “additionally and in
coordination with our brothers and sisters at home, we will continue to embark
on projects of benefits to our people in Ika land. Let us recognize the fact
that those of us here in the United States of America cannot do it alone; but
working together with our brothers and sisters at home, I am sure we can
accomplish a great deal for our people. Again, the key is open line of communication  and honesty amongst us. Honesty will remain
the key of this administration.”               


Part of the highlight of the 3-day event was the
2010 Award, giving to  some Ika indigenes
in the different chapters of the Association, across the United States of
America. They including Miss Edwina Kaliku Smith of Albany, New York chapter,
who was praised for the Essay competition she organized for Ika students and
the bicycle she donated for the competition. She was also commended for
organizing literacy programme for elementary schools in Ikaland and
distributing writing materials. Food, copy books and money to orphans, Mr.
Michael Efeyini, Atlanta, Georgia Chapter, Mr. Kingsley  Agboje, Chicago, Illinois, and Mr. Emmanuel
Anene, Dattas/Forth Worth, Texas.


Others who- received awards were Dr. Thomas Alika of
Houston, Texas Chapter, Mr. Eugene Nkem Odega, Los Angeles, California, Mr.
Charles Morgini, North Carolina, Mr. Reuben Young of Tennessee chapter, for his
outstanding contributions to the Tennessee Chapter of Ika Association, USA,
Inc., and Mr. Christian Mbulu, Washington/Baltimore.


Those who received plaques award in recognition of
their commitment and generosity to the cause of Ika National Association, for
the development of Ikaland are Mr. and Mrs. Ifeanyi Ehiobu, Mr. and Mrs. Simmy
Aghaulor, Chief/Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Hon. Prince Sam Obi, Mr. and Mrs. Benson
Momah and Chief/Dr and Chief/Mrs. Sunny Uzuh, all of who were recognized for
their many years of financial support to the association.


Mr. Cliff Afam and Mrs. Doris Afam received
outstanding Host Award, while Mr. Ezekiel Odum and Mr. Peter Bandele received
Award of Public Relation Officer (2006-2010) and longest service award
(2002-present) respectively. Mr. Ezekiel Odum also received the President’s
Star Award-Outstanding Citizen for services rendered as PRO and chairman -2008
and 2010 Ika National Convention Planning Committee.            

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