The 2002 edition of Ntum Oha Annual lecture took place at Akahaba General Hospital Auditorium on 28th December, 2002. the Lecture was a huge success, thanks to the preparations made by the Organising committee chaired by Dr. Bassey Ukiwo. over 4 thousand flyers were distributed, a total 50 interest groups were invited. The chairman of the occasion was Dr. C. Eni. the special guest of honour was Prof. N. K. Mpka and the master of ceremony was —– Two resource persons Dr. Mma Ogosi and Barrister Echeme Emole Delivered papers.
The program started by 12 noon prompt. Opening prayer was said by the Chairman of the occasion, after which the president Engr. Samuel Agwu Okoji read his opening speech. the first lecturer mounted the podium by 1pm and by 2pm the second lecturer delivered his paper. the Annual lecture program ended by 2:40pm after a concluding remark by the chairman.
below are details of the annual lecture program;
ABIRIBA IN THE YEAR 2003: REAPING THE DIVIDENDS OF DEMOCRACY
Background: Abiriba colonial and post colonial history can be summarised in one compact statement thus;
‘The Abiriba people are renowned for their communal self help efforts’
This has been our sustenance until recently when the Abiriba people for the first time in their history are no longer able to live up to that statement due to economic depression that has deprived them of the necessary resources to do so. A study of the economic situation for the past decade and extrapolating same to the next decade. we do not need an economist to analyse and inform us that if situation remains same the economic situation and the state of Abiriba land is bound to worsen.
A trip to our immediate neigbhours Igbere and Ohafia reveals tremendous development ( compared to Abiriba) in infrastructure to the extent that it becomes pertinent to ask;
Were all the schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, Telecom infrastructure, public utilities etc. built, renovated or maintained by communal effort?
The answer is a resounding no. the ohafia’s have always looked outwards for assistance and sustenance, the Igberes have recently woken up to that realisation that their are huge funds out their waiting to be harnessed. isn’t it time that the Abiriba’s did a major rethink?
A school of thought is of the opinion that if Abiriba is to resurrect from her developmental stagnation and economic and financial quagmire she must look outwards towards the biggest spenders. she must devise a means of grabbing at least their share of resource allocation from the three tiers of government.
The idea, alien as it may sound to the average traditional Abiriba, is working for our neigbhours. Is this also the way forward for Abiriba? This democratic government is about to end Abiriba ripped little or nothing. Another democratic government is about to begin come year 2003. shall we continue to task our selves and squeeze out our last Naira to re – roof our class rooms or do we come together to brain storm and arrive at a workable formula to reap from the next democratic dispensation. if the answer is yes, how do we go about reaping the dividends of democracy?
Aims: The lecture aims at enlightening the participants on:
Brief history of Abiriba’s political and socio economic life
Emergent political and socio economic realities.
Pros and cons of Repositioning Abiriba
Repositioning Abiriba to advantage
Target participants: Government officials of Abiriba origin, branch ACIU executives, Age Grade executives, Abiriba NGO executives, Abiriba Professionals, Intellectuals and Elites. Expected participants will total 400.
OPENING ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT.
AN ADDRESS PRESENTED BY ENG. AGWU ELEANYA OKOJI
(President of NTUM OHA – An Interest group based in Port Harcourt.)
ON THE OCCASION OF THE ANNUAL DISCUSSION OF THE GROUP
TITLED “FRANK TALK”. THIS DAY, SATURDAY 28TH DECEMBER 2002.
Mr. Chairman, and other invited guests.
Fellow members of Ntum Oha here present. I greet you all.
I feel greatly honored to be called upon to address you on this occasion.
Ntum Oha is an interest group based in Port Harcourt. Her members are indigenes of Abiriba, who are at least graduates of Universities or other Institutions of Learning of equivalent standard. As the name suggests, we in Ntum Oha are the NTUM (the sweetest substance in Abiriba mythology), for the rest of the people.
Our objective is to see to the emancipation and restoration of Abiriba in three major aspects of community development, which are EDUCATION, HEALTH, and POLITICS. Our mode of operation is Investigative Interview Technique. We ask questions to identify problem areas in those three aspects of community development. The problems so identified are then highlighted and showcased. We also proffer solutions to those problems and then alert appropriate agencies for implementation of the solutions proffered.
We intend to make this discussion a yearly affair. We have also titled it, FRANK TALK. Some of the synonyms of the word FRANK are OPEN, LIBERAL and TRUE. We intend to be telling ourselves the truth in these meetings and we would do so in the most frank way. We therefore implore every speaker in this meeting to be as FRANK as possible.
Our maiden edition of FRANK TALK, which took place in the year 2001, was well attended by eminent personalities in Abiriba. We investigated and enumerated causes of identified problems in EDUCATION, HEALTH and POLITICS in Abiriba. Discussants were unanimous in accepting that Abiriba has fallen into an eclipse and so needs an emergency rescue operation. Ntum Oha undertook some action in 2002 towards the solution of these problems. Our mission today, therefore, is to let you know what we have done so far. We also see it as another opportunity to rub minds together afresh for the problems identified and solutions proffered in 2001 may have metamorphosed into different problems that would demand different solutions.
At the end of this discussion, we all would be better informed on the current happenings in our community, Abiriba, as it concerns Education, Health and Politics. Also we would know the contributions we need to make, either as individuals or as a group, towards the betterment of Abiriba.
Long Live Ntum Oha!
Long Live Abiriba!!
Long Live Nigeria!!!
THE PROFESSIONALS IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT; THE ABIRIBA EXPERIENCE.
BEING THE TEXT OF A TALK DELIVERED BY DR NMA OGOZY AT THE “NTUM OHA” LECTURES/FRANK TALKS AT THE ERINMA HALL, ABIRIBA, ON 1ST JANUARY, 2004.
It is with the best compliments of this season that I salute the “NTUM OHA”, the organizers of these renaissant annual lectures/frank talk. I earnestly appreciate the unique privilege of your invitation to me to “touch base” with you on this year’s theme “The Professionals in Community Development: The Abiriba Experience”.
By way of a preamble, let me state in honesty that this presentation is in the genre of a talk and not a lecture, being deficient of a theoretical framework. Nevertheless it is my hope that some of the issues raised here will generate the expected materials for a robust interaction on; the way-forward for our community that is now passing through stagnation and decadence.
The choice of the theme is most appropriate today because, according to Plato, the establishment of what he termed “the good life” is the reason for all human endeavors. In other words, any endeavor, whether it is academic, economic, social, political or religious that does not add value to the quality of human and community existence is wasted endeavor. Again, for those of us who have been uncomfortable with the rate, depth and quantum of the commitment of contemporary Abiriba professionals in the advancement of community development, the time for this forum is long overdue.
Once again, I commend the NTUM OHA for accepting the gauntlet.
- A PROBLEM OF DEFINITION
I shall quickly dispose of all controversies in the definition of who is a professional by adopting two major paradigm of classification: namely:
(a) The Generic/Historical concept and
(b) The Contemporary/Technical concept.
I do this advisedly because human and social life is a continuum: one stage leading to another stage. If the movement is progressive, the human community undergoes development, but if the movement is retrogressive, society faces stagnation and decadence.
- THE GENERIC/HISTORICAL CONCEPT. By this concept of the professional I shall simply group together all Abiriba people who are gainfully engaged in any means of livelihood that requires an “entry point” whether in form of a formal training no matter how brief or through apprenticeship.
This classification would include our ancient “Okpu Uzu” who graduated into the blacksmith through a period of tutelage and internship “compradore” merchant who became the importer commission agent to foreign mercantile houses and industries through apprenticeship as “nwanta-uzu”.
The features of this class and its efficacy in Abiriba community development were two-fold: (1) The recruitment cut across kinship and community/village lines and built a united community engaged in all forms of production and value adding. (2) Its multiplier effect on all facets of community life and the elite rank was extensive and revolutionary. At its finest point, every family in Abiriba had an elite trader.
- THE GLORIOUS ERA
The finest point of that evolution was emergence, in the opening decades of this century of “UKE COMPANY” which produced such patriots as Chiefs Igwo Kalu Ogba, Ndukwo Kalu (a.k.a Ndukwo-nta), George Ezikpe Anagha, Oji Agwu (Oji Boko) who founded the ACIU, etc. Chief Anagha spearheaded the founding in 1954, of the Enuda College, Abiriba.
Also from that renaissance sprang zealots who built, through their respective Age Grades; the Old Okezie Town Hall (1953), the Akahaba General Hospital (1960), Egwuena Girls Secondary
School (1963), Onarubi Technical Secondary School (1970), the Akanu Library, the Akahaba Stadium, etc.
Also from the following generations arose men, who because they had acquired primary school education, took the town to its highest point of glory. These included, among others: Chief Echeme Emole, the first Abiriba graduate and lawyer, Chief Nnanna Kalu, under whose leadership of the ACIU Abiriba saw a “glorious era” in community development; Chief Okafor Mang who electrified parts of the Amogudu community up to Usumani-Amogudu so that farmers returning late could find their way home; still a younger generation arose who advanced the course of community development such as: Chiefs; Ifegwu Chukwu, Michael Okocha (a.k.a Noko), Igara Nmecha who built infrastructures in existing secondary schools and enriched the commercial landscape of Abiriba by building Guest Houses and petrol stations; Dike Udensi and Onwuka Kalu who led this community into the banking era and also produced an impressive list of Abiriba bankers.
The intention here is not to produce a comprehensive “Hall of Fame” list but to showcase the impressive score card of these pioneer genre of mercantile professionals in community development. Then community problem was the problem of its elites. This era ended in the 1980s.
- THE DECADENCE:
From the middle 1980s bedlam broke loose! Community resources in the hands of age grades came under the control of visionless and self-serving leadership. An example or two would suffice to summaries this era: Though Abiriba had an already dying Akahaba Hospital that badly needed rehabilitation, the Onyiba Age Grade insisted against the grain of good advice to sink colossal amount of resources in building a school of Nursing without Government commitment and approval to site same. The ruins of that misallocation of funds are a communal reproach. Also the Ojighirendu Age Grade built a High court where the Magistrate court was non-functional. To cap this period, the new Akahaba Age Grade, arising from a political crisis of its age grade duplicated the building of stadia at a time that fund would have been better allocated elsewhere.
- THE ERA OF THE “BOREHOLE MENTALITY” The crescendo of the era arrived with the emergence of what I call the “bore-hole mentality”. In place of elite concern for the advancement of community interests came the spirit which now says; “why worry about good old Abiriba? If you lack water, sink a borehole for your family. If you need light install an electrical transformer inside your palace and buy two stand-by generators; one for the day and another for the night. The devil can take the poor for all I care”. Family good and not community good became the end of all individual prosperity. Community leadership went into extinction.
- THE CONTEMPORARY/ TECHNICAL PROFESSIONALS.
In this group, I have classified all Abiriba sons and daughters who were trained at home and abroad with the mercantile generic professionals resources. These also went through specialized tertiary institutions, qualifying as lawyers, doctors, engineers, social scientists, educationalists etc, of which Chief Echeme Emole was the first graduate and lawyer. Chief Echeme Emole was followed by” the group of four”, who were trained at home and abroad by the Abiriba Communal Improvement Union (ACIU) to equip them to serve the community as pioneer teachers of Enuda college, Abiriba founded in 1954. These were Chief Odu, Elder Agwu Okeke Uche, Otisi Omoji and Prof. Ogba Agba. Behind them followed the great legal luminary Chief K.K. Ogba, Pro. Anya O. Anya, late Chief Agwu Anya, Dr Anagha Ezikpe, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe. Did these accomplish the desires of our community? The answer is largely, “yes”.
Chief Echeme Emole not only rose to become the Minister of Finance in Old Eastern Region but also recruited Chief Nnanna Kalu into the political class. He also brought pipe-borne water and electricity to Abiriba, to the envy of all her neighbour in the 1960s. Those trained to start Enuda College did a great job, producing the likes of Commodore Oko Ebitu Ukiwo, who not only rose to the position of the Chief of General Staff (through the Nigerian Navy) but drew Federal funds into the Abiriba erosion project in 1984/85. Chief K.K. Ogba as Attorney General of defunct East Central and Old Imo States caused the road leading to Amogudu from the Abiriba junction to be tarred, etc. Yet a much younger generation including Prof. M.A. Mkpa, Dr. Kalu Ebitu Ukiwe, Chief Omoji Ogbusuo, Dr Nma Ogozy (this humble writer) have made great imprints in the development of our professional human resources and in job placements of our graduates. But in totality this group of professionals which includes the hundreds of graduates trained abroad by the first group of professionals in the 1970s have fallen below expectation in advancing the pace, rate and depth of community development. WHY?
- AN UNBROKEN UMBILICAL CORD The tragedy of this generation of professionals (my generation) is the tragedy of the “unbroken umbilical cord”. They returned largely from foreign universities when the corporate houses that sent them abroad were in their ascendancy. But whereas the pioneer groups of contemporary professional fund employment in the public services in their areas of competence, this large repertoire of professionals got lost in transit. The family businesses and industries they entered soon crumbled and this generation, my generation, almost became the wasted generation.
- REASONS FOR THEIR FAILURE. The reasons for the failure of the Abiriba professionals in public service and hence part of their handicap in making the required impact in community development include the following.
i. The age-long unwillingness of the older Abiriba professional in positions of high responsibilities to take any “risks” for the young Abiriba graduates. The typical Abiriba professional placed in policy making position in the public services always “plays safe” and exhibits no understanding of the power configurations that shape the destiny of various ethnic groups in their nation. We all need a lesson or two from the Yoruba professionals placed in high positions in the private and public services.ii. The Abiriba professional returning with her high credentials became victim of new class envy by his successful brothers in business and commerce who often openly boasted that he had made it without the so-called university education. Indeed a few Abiriba business tycoons actually had Bank MDs, Customs CGs and other MDs of corporate Nigeria interlay “in their pockets” but refused to use these to place the new graduates into job openings. iii. Those who had sent their brothers, sons and daughters abroad for specialized training even in business administration were unwilling to surrender their hold on their companies to the returning graduates. Also, unfortunately, the few who were opportune to be entrusted with the management of these big companies were a disappointment as they actually lacked the experience for such high offices. Late Chief Fajemirokun sent his son into corporate tutelage in another company from where he took over his father’s estate when the latter suddenly died. iv. The refusal of the young graduates to move out to seek a job outside community circles. The writer simply came to Aba, joined a friend and did not know that his name had been published by customs service to start training in 1980.v. Finally, let me decry the new practice of privileged Abiriba politicians and administrators to hand over political offices given to them to non-Abiriba professionals. I know several instances when this has happened.</code></pre></li>RECOMMENDATIONS: i. Abiriba professionals must aggressively seek placement, after graduation, into the public services in order to fast track community development in the nearest future, salvage community prestige, and be in positions to recruit future graduates.ii. By a massive programme of scholarship Awards, both the ACIU and prosperous individual’s young people should be encouraged to return to the school and to go to seek university education. iii. All Abiriba players in corporate Nigeria must work out a programme of placing Abiriba graduates into the Banks, the Customs, the Nigerian Port Authority and the Civil services and the Armed Forces. At this juncture I wish to commend Chief Dike Udensi (Dubic) and Dr Jonah Ndukwe for their great efforts in this line. Also the efforts of late Chief Emole, Nnanna Kalu, Okon, Obewu Onwuka to recruit into the political class desires commendation. iv. Abiriba professionals who occupy high public service positions must make available to the ACIU, NTUM OHA etc privileged information on available public service vacancies and school admissions so as enhance possibilities of placements in these departments.v. The ACIU needs to empanel standing committees of say highly placed public officers of Abiriba origin and annual foray for them to brief the community on their efforts to advance community development through recruitment of Abiriba professionals. vi. Laudable establishments such as the ABIRIBA TODAY newsmagazine and the Abiriba students Foundation (ASAF) need to be resuscitated by the ACIU, NTUM OHA etc. vii. The efforts of the Abiriba Professionals in the USA in medical assistance and school scholarships need to be publicly commended and multiplied by other groups and associations. Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, thank you for patiently listening to me. HAPPY NEW YEAR!.
FRANK TALK! FRANK TALK!!
YOU ARE SPECIALLY INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2002 EDITION OF
NTUM OHA ANNUAL YEAR LECTURE
ABIRIBA IN THE YEAR 2003: REAPING THE DIVIDENDS OF DEMOCRACY
DATE: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2002
TIME: 12:00NOON TO 2:00PM PROMPT (NTUM OHA TIME)
VENUE: AKAHABA GENERAL HOSPITAL AUDITORIUM – ABIRIBA
Text Box: SIGNED:
DR. BASSEY UKIWO
Chairman Organizing Committee