Ika National, USA Convention, Chicago 2008 Revisited

All of us from Ika in particular, and Nigeria in general at home and in the Diaspora owe some obligations to the motherland. That much I hope we agree on. We are well aware of the sorry state of the infrastructures or lack thereof, as well as the general conditions of our people back home. The needs are enormous, and almost seem insurmountable even though Nigeria has been blessed with incredible bounties from the sale of crude oil in recent times. The fact that our people are very impoverished despite the considerable subvention our State receives from the Federal coffers is not in dispute. The fact that the Nation?s wealth is concentrated in a very few hands is not in dispute. The fact that the dividends of democracy have not filtered down to the vast majority of our people after almost six years of democratic rule is not in dispute.  What is in dispute is how to remedy the situation. How do we ensure a more equitable distribution of the Nation?s blessing How can we make the political elites understand that a rising tide lifts all boats? This is the crux of the matter, and the reason I am revisiting the idea of the recently concluded Ika National, USA Convention in Chicago

One of the major shortcomings of Nigerians is our inability to speak with one voice on any issue of political importance in the larger interest of our people. This lack of unity is the reason we Nigerians are unable to leverage our population advantage to seek a place at the political table here in America. On the contrary, it is this unity of purpose that allows smaller communities like the Cuban-Americans to wield the huge political influence that is vastly disproportional to their population here in the US. Why am I dwelling this much on the unity theme? It is because I do not see any other way to advance the cause of any Community either politically or economically. I am open to be convinced otherwise by anybody with alternative theory.

Government?s main responsibility is to ensure the welfare of its citizens, and it can best achieve by good governance. The very act of governance – the process of decision making and implementation usually involves varying stakeholders. We as Ika people,  are stakeholders in this process, but the question then is how best to present ourselves in this process for the most effective outcome  for our people? Are we best served as a cacophony of voices with divergent interests, or as a unified voice with common interests? I believe we are best served by the later, and I stand corrected. We are very fortunate for once to be so represented at the State Government level as we are today. The challenge now is to seize this opportunity by working with our Representatives to deliver the long-awaited dividends to our people. There is no individual or group of individuals that can ever substitute for Government. We only need to help the Government live up to its responsibilities. We can best achieve this by constantly reminding our Representatives of their responsibilities to their constituents ? Ika people. It is more likely that these Representatives will respond to us as a group than as thousands of individuals. They (our Representatives) know that there is strength in number, and that is why they respond to group gatherings such as the recently concluded Chicago Convention. The Convention at the very least brought us together as stakeholders to strategize on how best we can relieve our peoples? plight. The dialog has begun, and the communication channel now exists to monitor the progress

Yes, buying chairs, digging boreholes, or shipping outdated books and computers home may not constitute ?Community Development? for some, but what does? What are the alternatives? I am sure our people will forever bless any individual(s) that can provide them steady power supply, good roads, potable water supply, as well as  protection from the bandits who make hell of their  daily existence. Until anybody can do that, we have to keep working with Government whose responsibility it is in the first place to provide these services, and we can best do that as a united group.

We all have different experiences and reasons that may justify our decision not to participate in some groups, or even associate with some individuals. I believe however that the need for all of us to come together in the larger interest of our people more than trumps all such tendencies. Our people need relief from their sufferings, and we have an opportunity at this point in time to make some difference in their lives. Let us put our individual differences and excuses aside and work with everyone to achieve something for Ika. Let us join hands with the Organizers of the Chicago Convention as well as all Ika sons and daughter at home and in the Diaspora to deliver for our folks back home. Organizations or Associations are best reformed from within, so I sincerely invite all of us to come together, and build on the successes of Ika Association. We must find ways to be the best advocates for our people.  Throwing bombs from outside will never get us anywhere.


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