An Address by Commodore Amadi Ikwechegh (Rtd.) on the Occasion of the Igbere Progressive Association International Convention 2007 Held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on September 1 – 2, 2007.
I am honoured to be in you midst today for the IPAI’s Convention 2007 otherwise known as the Ezumezu 2007. I wish to congratulate you on the successful election of an Executive Committee to handle and pilot the affairs of the organization.
The Ezumezu offers a great opportunity for Igbere citizens in several parts of the world to come together to deliberate on the affairs, state, welfare and development of Igbere. It is also a time to reflect on how far IPAI has succeeded in pursuing its stated objectives and purpose.
Your Draft Constitution which was earlier ratified today has its objectives and purpose as follows:
- To promote charitable, educational and scientific activities, and to develop and operate community-based services for Igbere people. The Association will use methods consistent with the organization’s non-profit, charitable, educational and scientific purpose as the directors may advise from time to time, all for the purpose of securing for the people the same basic rights as all other citizens of the world.
- The Association pursues the stated purpose in compliance with the following statements of philosophy:
- To promote unity and solidarity among all members.
- To encourage and support development and progress of the community.
- To work towards better quality of life in Igbere and the community or residence by providing such amenities like healthcare, potable water, electricity, roads, scholarship and sports.
- To promote mutual cooperation, respect and unity amongst members of the Association.
- To promote the welfare of the members and support each other when conditions and events call for such support.
Most importantly, you want to be relevant and have a voice in the determination of the affairs of Igbere people.
Right from the founding of our town by our great fore father, Ebiri Okomoko, Igbere people have been known and acknowledged to possess certain traits which distinguish them from other neighbouring communities. These include openness, oneness, diligence, integrity and honesty of purpose.
The age grade system has from time immemorial formed the basis for the organization and regulation of our society. Based on the need to have a central body imbued with authority, the Igbere Welfare Union, (IWU) was formed in the early 1920s. In spite of the existence of these great institutions in Igbere, what went wrong?
IWU has performed creditably but was torn apart by its own contradictions, namely, its refusal to reform in the light of advancements in our society and the absence of men of quality to manage its affairs. The traditional institution which hitherto was not strong and relevant in the organization and governance of our society until recently, created schisms within the community. So, jointly and severally, these two factors, the IWU and the traditional institution in Igbere have in no small measure contributed to the divide in our society.
Without attempting to delve into the issues in contention, I would summarize the causes of the crises of confidence in our town as follow:
a) The misplacement of priorities and the struggle for relevance.
b) The abandonment of the age-old values of Igbere people.
In mitigating conflicts, it is assumed that parties in the conflict will subscribe to certain basic tenets of a civilized society as follows:
a) Respect for the identity of others.
b) Openness – Democratization of institutions.
c) Cooperative prosperity.
d) Mutual security.
e) Stewardship – service.
It is my contention that until and unless we imbibe these tenets in Igbere, which accord with the age-old values in our society in some respects, we may yet reach an accord on the way forward for our community.
The challenge before you now is how IPAI intends to pursue its objectives to deal with these problems that exist in our community today. I expect that there should be mutual respect for each other’s views and opinions as encapsulated in your Constitution. As stated also in your Constitution, Igbere expects you to contribute to its socio-economic development through the provision of infrastructure and quality education to its people.
The Igbo nation expects you to be relevant in its affairs and the Nigerian state expects you to be its worthy ambassadors.
I believe this Ezumezu marks yet another milestone in your desire to contribute to the welfare and development of Igbere and the Nigerian state. Once again, it is my great pleasure to be with you today on this occasion of your Convention.
His Excellency, Commodore Amadi Guy Ikwechegh (Rtd.)
Former Governor of Imo State, Nigeria,
Former Director of Naval Intelligence,
Former Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy,
Former Military Governor of old Imo State,
Former Member of the Provisional Ruling Council,
Former Board Member the Nigerian Maritime Authority,
Former Naval Commander ECOMOG forces Liberia.
Aguiyi-Owa-Mba of Igbere.