IGALA ASSOCIATION USA 9th ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE HELD AT HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA, 29-31 AUGUST 2008
1. The 9th annual national conference of Igala Association, USA afforded us an opportunity to reflect on the question of leadership generally and, in particular, the leadership of Igala in the 21stCentury. The conference provided us an opportunity to reflect on the current economic, social, and political conditions of Igala, and directed our minds at the possibilities for change.
2. We are saddened and disappointed by the extremely slow pace of social and economic development in Igalaland, in spite of improved government finances in Kogi State and in the Federation of Nigeria.
3. We decry the worsening state of unemployment among youths and the proliferation of instruments of violence in private hands. We urge our political leaders to seek urgent solution to political thuggery and the imminent descent to lawlessness in Igalaland.
4. We acknowledge that the deepening poverty in Igalaland and the unbearably slow progress on the development of basic infrastructure, such as schools, roads, potable water, hospitals, etc., reflect a failure of leadership. Good leadership is accountable, ethical, marked by a spirit of selflessness, and responsive to the needs of the governed. We urge Igala political leaders to cultivate good leadership.
5. We also acknowledge that governance is a two-way street. We are deeply concerned about the culture of corruption and lack of engagement which is taking root among Igala political followership. Ethical followership means, among other things, exercising vigilance upon, and a readiness to demand accounting from, leaders. We urge Igala people to stop trading the future of their children for a pittance by their willingness to be corrupted, their complacency, and their complicity in the failure of their leaders.
6. We resolve to arrest the creeping loss of our identity through decreasing proficiency in the speaking of Igala language. Igala at home and abroad have a responsibility to strengthen the Igala identity through our language and our history. There is much that is valuable in our spiritual connection to our past; this connection may have salutary effects on our worldview into the future. To underscore the seriousness with which the conference viewed this development, Reverend Anthony Agbali, an anthropologist and avid researcher of Igala history, is appointed IgalaUSA official historian.
7. We acknowledge with special interest the growing participation of youths in the affairs of the Association, and encourage an intensification of this trend. To this end, more attention will be paid by the Association to youth integrative and educational initiatives, such as the establishment of an Igala history forum and chat room on the internet.
8. In view of our desire for improvement of the social and economic conditions of Igalaland, we identify the following matrix of issues and suggest that the issues be addressed aggressively:
8.1. Health: The health of Igala people continues to witness serious degradation; hospitals, where they exist, are poorly staffed and bereft of drugs for patients; hospitals and health centres are few and numerically inadequate for the population of Igala; diseases that were once thought to have been vanquished, such as tuberculosis, are currently making a resurgence; infant and maternal mortality is unbearably high. We call on the government of Kogi State to give the health sector urgent attention. In particular, we urge attention to prevention rather than cure. In this regard, we suggest massive health education, health screening, immunization, and the employment of traditional childbirth attendants.
8.2. Education and Youth Development: The educational system has all but broken down in Igalaland; truancy, cheating in examinations, and corruption of the system are widespread. Most teachers do not have the requisite qualifications to teach. There is need for a massive public enlightenment campaign, greater attention to the training and welfare of teachers, and the making of Igala language education mandatory through nursery and primary levels. Igala Association, USA is considering educational missions to Igalaland. Igala Association USA also establishes a scholarship program immediately, to help a limited number of Igala students pay their tuition in the first year of their education in tertiary institutions beginning from the 2008/9 academic year.
8.3. Women’s Empowerment: Cultural attitudes toward women exclude them from, and diminish their role in, Igala social and economic development. Culture is not a static phenomenon; it can be changed, especially where it stands in the way of socially beneficial change. The government of Kogi State must demonstrate leadership by abolishing discrimination against women through public appointments, the extension of development credit facilities, such as micro-credit, and embark on affirmative actions that increase equality for women. Igala Association USA will collaborate with government and non-governmental agencies in public education and enlightenment.
8.4. Economic Development: Lack of initiative, low exposure, and inadequate capital are the principal deterrents against business development in Igalaland. The government of Kogi Statemust take a leading role in changing this situation. Education in the successful running of business, and support by way of loans to a core group of entrepreneurs, will be essential. In addition, proactive action to attract investors to Igalaland will be necessary to lifting the veil from over the potential business opportunities and creating the critical mass of economic activity essential to broad-based prosperity. In this regard, both government and citizens need to take the idea of a public-private partnership seriously.
8.5. Igala Association USA will take on the role of advocate for these and other matters of development in Igalaland. To this end, it will open communication with all Igala leaders and political office leaders.
9. We thank The Honourable James J. Idachaba (Member, House of Representatives, representing Ibaji/Idah/Igalamela-Odolu/Ofu Federal Constituency, Nigerian National Assembly), for honouring our invitation to participate at this conference. We are grateful for his insightful presentation on the theme of “Igala Leadership in the 21st Century”. The Honourable Idachaba`s presence at the conference created a rare but unique opportunity for interaction and a sharing of vision by a political leader with Igala sons and daughters in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany, who gathered for this conference under the auspices of Igala Association USA.
10. We also thank Dr. Sam Alfa, immediate past president of the Association, whose brilliant presentation on the theory of leadership and its application to Igala circumstances galvanized the interest of participants and set the tone for the passionate discussion that followed.
11. We thank Mr. Paul Attah, Director of the Kogi State Agency for Rural Development, whose presentation educated all participants on the effort of the state government toward the development of rural infrastructure in Igalaland. He also helped to clarify issues relating to the gross misrepresentation of Igala census figures during the last census exercise in Nigeria, the ongoing federal constituency delineation exercise, the yearning for more local governments in Igalaland and, ultimately, the agitation for an Igala state.
12. We thank all speakers at the opening session of the conference and the leaders of the four break-out groups. The speakers are: the president of the Association, Mr. Alloysius A. Ocheni, Dr. Sule Ochai, Dr. Emmanuel Wada, Dr. Andrew Zekeri, Rev. Fr. Anthony Agbali, Mrs. Amina Osagie, Mr. Simon Ali, Mr. Paul Attah, Dr. Yahaya Abuh, Mrs. Augustina Idachaba, Mr. Yakubu Isah, and Dr. Paul Ocheje. The disciplined and intelligent dissection of the theme of the conference by these speakers ensured a productive session. The break-out groups were led by: Dr. Yahaya Abuh, Mr. Raphael Agbali, Mrs. Augustina Idachaba, and Mr. Ibrahim Idakoji/Mrs. Amina Osagie, respectively.
13. We express gratitude to the Houston Chapter of Igala Association USA, led by Dr. Momoh Yakubu, who also doubled as the moderator of the conference. The Houston Chapter hosted this conference and catered to the wellbeing of all participants with great enthusiasm and accomplishment.
14. The 10th annual conference of Igala Association, USA will hold at Washington, DC, USA, in August 2009.
Alloysius A. Ocheni Dr. Paul D. Ocheje
September 14 2008.
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