The year was 1998. The month was July. The day was Sunday. Then it all started with a group of Igalas in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area gathered together at the house of Mr. A. Alhassan Ocheni and his family in Rockville, MD. The purpose of the meeting was to explore the possibility of establishing an association, and to reach out to one another, and to give social and moral support when the occasion arose. When the meeting was consummated, we decided to form an Association of Igalas. After a couple of meetings, it was decided that the name of the association should be “Igala Association, USA”.
The first members of the Executive were:
President: Jonathan Adejoh
Secretary: John Shaibu
Treasurer: Fatima Alfa
Public Relations Officer: Mary Shaibu
The Founding Trustees were:
Alhassan A. Ocheni
The aims and objectives of the Association, among others, shall be:
(1) To foster unity and understanding among members of the Association;
(2) To set good examples for the entire people of Nigeria in the USA
(3) To contribute all efforts possible, within the legal framework, to the progress of individual members of the Association, their families, and the community at large;
(4) To establish, promote and encourage charitable programs and/or activities that will assist the less privileged in the community, here in the United States and Nigeria;
(5) To establish, promote, and cooperate with other like-minded organizations in carrying out activities that will promote better understanding among peoples of all nations, particularly, between the peoples of the United States and Nigeria;
(6) Engage in and promote such activities that will further positive changes in the community;
(7) To cooperate and exchange ideas with other organizations whose aims and objectives are acceptable to the Association.
The Association was incorporated in the District of Columbia in December 1999.
It was registered with the Internal Revenue Service in 1999
By November 2000, it was granted a 501(c)(3) non-profit status.
In the year 2000, the Association made a pitch for a national meeting of all the Igalas in the United States of America. After much effort, the first national symposium was held on November 24 and 25, 2000. It attracted participants from New York, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, but it was a great meeting, full of energy, focus, vision, and common goal. The candor, civility and the spirit of oneness that pervaded the meeting were intoxicating. The meeting ended with the rolling of sleeves to get to work for the good of Igala in general, and Igala in the United States, in particular. The presentations from some of the participants set the tone for what we were going to do. At the first meeting it was agreed that we needed to hold this meeting on an annual basis, but that the timing had to be other than November to avoid cancellation due to inclement weather, and consequently, difficulty with travel. It was then resolved that we shift the meeting to Labor Day Weekend, even though it coincided with return to school. The Symposium has been held at that time since 2001. It was also resolved that the meeting should be held in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area until we have enough participants from other parts of the country who would be willing to host it. During the first symposium, some of the identified issues plaguing Igala were development and unity. On the issue of unity, the association, at that symposium, came up with the following essential ingredients for unity among Igalas, which are worth mentioning. They are:
Trust and open-mindedness
2. Avoid politics
3. Avoid self-centeredness
4. Promote selflessness / humility
5. Treat Igala issues as priorities
6. Have one-voice / common goals; design strategies for implementation
7. Be forgiving and tolerant
8. Avoid divisive attitude
9. Avoid discrimination
10. Love at the micro-level
11. Have enforceable rules and regulation
13. Continue to do what is reasonable
15. Endurance and patience
16. Avoid competition and uphold complement
17. Treat Igala first
18. Communication – the key
20. Set a legacy
21. Lay good foundation
22. Provide resources for continued building
It was also resolved at that meeting that for us in Igala Association (USA), our role is that of a catalyst for positive change. As we entered the new Millennium, it was our hope and desire to bring about a paradigm shift that will engender unity of purpose, cooperation, and understanding among our people, such that it will translate into better life for our people and generation to come.
During the 2001 symposium, a national body of executives comprising of participants from all over the United States was formed, but the participants were encouraged to form regional branches. The first national executive was spearheaded by Sam Alfa, as President, the position he held until 2007.
Some of the accomplishments thus far are:
1) Donations to the University
2) Collaboration with, and donation to, the Education Summit, for scholarship and awards
3) Improved Communication
4) Increased Awareness of the Association
5) Working with the State Government to make our issues known and voice heard
6) Annual National Conferences
7) Igala Association, USA Website
8) Collaboration with other Igala organizations around the world
9) Greater Participation in terms of number and structure
10) Establishment of new Regional branches and strengthening of existing ones
11) Welfare program to assist those in need, in both cash and kind
Additional accomplishments since 2007 include
1) Establishment of scholarship to entry level students to the university in Nigeria
2) Life Insurance program for members
3) Outreach program
4) Igala Cultural awareness for the children born in the Diaspora
5) Constitution of several committees to oversee developmental issues in Igala land, such as Health, Education, etc
In 2006, the Igala Association conference was graced by the presence and participation of His Excellency, the Ex-Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, accompanied by Honourable Isaac Onu. This became the formal launching of the collaborative efforts with the government, which has continued until today.
We have continued to work to make the Association blossom since it was planted, but it has continued to weather the storms of a new beginning, and is now getting out of the survival mode to a sustainability mode. If you are reading this, you have a role to play in making it blossom and sustainable.
Dr. Sam Alfa
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IGALA ASSOCIATION USA
P.O Box 28186
WASHINGTON, DC 20038
Please be part of the vision of Igala Association USA. let us unite as one from ONE Kingdom.
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