The 2003 edition of Ntum Oha Annual lecture took place at Erinma Hall on 1st January, 2004. the Lecture was a huge success, thanks to the preparations made by the Organising committee chaired by Engr. Ejim Ijekpa. over 4 thousand flyers were distributed, giant size banners were mounted in strategic locations in Abiriba, a total 100 interest groups were invited via posted mails. the chairman of the occasion was Dr. Ezikpe Mma. the special guest of honour was Prof. N. K. Mpka and the master of ceremony was Mr. Chekwas Nkpa. Dr. Mma Ogosi, Dr. Chijioke Urum and Magistrate Onuma 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;
The suggested themes for 2003 annual lecture were;
Professionals in Community Development: the Abiriba Experience
Background: Professionals are those individuals or bodies whose vocations pertain to some branch of advanced learning or science – the medical, engineering, legal professions etc.
Professionalism is not alien to Abiriba culture. Indeed the history of Abiriba cannot be complete with out mention of the Blacksmiths profession one of the earliest professions in Abiriba history.
The early professionals and professional bodies in Abiriba made a lot of impact in the socio-cultural, economic and political sector of Abiriba. Indeed from the blacksmith profession emerged the Ikpu-Uzu adventurers that led to the present day trading prowess of the Abiriba people.
Sadly contemporary professionals especially professional bodies have made little or no impact in the development and or communal improvement of Abiriba. Sporadic attempts have been made by some bodies to make themselves relevant in the every day life of the Abiriba people but their efforts has been seen as grossly inadequate.
Furthermore participants in our last edition of Frank Talk were of the opinion that our elites more than any other have failed the Abiriba people. The elites constitutes the majority of the Abiriba professionals. Therefore, by inference our contemporary professionals and professional bodies have failed the Abiriba people.
There are over two thousand professionals in Abiriba and, if grouped according to professions over 50 professional bodies ought to be existing in Abiriba but as at now only the medical professionals have been able to organize themselves as a professional body. The inability of professionals to come together has contributed to the failure of the elites move the Abiriba forward and may be what the participants of the last Frank Talk termed as ‘failure of the Elites’
The recent calling by the Abiriba communal improvement Union (ACIU) on Abiriba people to participate actively in Abiriba affairs by belonging to at least one of four standing committees and or 12 Ad-hoc committees is a catalyst and challenge to the Abiriba Professionals. Since these committees are divided along professional lines, professional ought to enlist into these committees, form associations in line with their various professions and begin to make themselves relevant.
Aims: The lecture aims at enlightening the participants on:
The meaning of professionalism.
Who professionals are.
Instances of professional bodies.
History of professionalism in Abiriba.
The gains of professionalism; advantages of professionals/bodies participating in communal development.
Organizing professionals/bodies towards meaningful communal development.
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 250.
OPENING ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT.
AN ADDRESS PRESENTED BY AGWU E. OKOJI, PRESIDENT OF
NTUM OHA. ON THE OCCASION OF THE THIRD ANNUAL LECTURE
AND TALK-SHOP OF NTUM OHA. THIS DAY, JANUARY 1, 2004.
Mr. Chairman and other guests. Fellow members of Ntum Oha here present. I greet you all.
I feel highly elated to be called upon to address you on this occasion.
May I, formerly welcome us to this third edition of the Annual Lecture and Frank Talk organized by Ntum Oha. The second edition was held on 28th December 2002, at the multi-purpose hall of Akahaba School of Midwifery, Abiriba. The guest lecturer, Prof. M. A. Mkpa, talking on the theme, “Abiriba In The Year 2003: Reaping The Dividends Of Democracy”, enumerated the dividends of democracy and stressed on the need for us to sow the right seeds so as to reap the right dividends of democracy. During the Frank Talk session, participants mentioned some of the factors that hinder us from reaping the dividends of democracy. They include:
(i) Insensitivity of our people to political drum beats,
(ii) Our Ignorance of the workings of government.
(iii) We are highly disoriented towards government politics.
These issues bother on lack of awareness. It is the duty of Abiriba professionals and graduates to sensitize the populace so as to create in them the necessary awareness. It is therefore not surprising that the participants unanimously accused Abiriba professionals and graduates for our not reaping the dividends of democracy. Some professionals explained that their inactivity is due to lack of a register or directory of their members, which makes it difficult for them to come together.
For the issues that bother on lack of awareness, Ntum Oha planned to hold rallies and organize meetings with various bodies; The ACIU, The Age Grades, NGOs and Students. Ntum Oha has also started compiling relevant data of who is where among the Abiriba professionals and graduates.
In this 2003 edition, we have chosen for discussion, the theme: PROFESSIONALS IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: THE ABIRIBA EXPERIENCE.
NTUM OHA: MODE OF OPERATION
Ntum Oha is an interest group, acting as a universal catalyst, able to participate in all actions and reactions for positive change and improvements in Abiriba.
In Ntum Oha, we identify areas of problem. We investigate the problem to gain enough knowledge about the problem and then discuss our findings to proffer solutions to the problem. These solutions are communicated to responsible bodies for implementation. As an illustration, we sensitized Enuda College Old Students to regroup and give the school a face-lift in 2002. This action saved Enuda College from being closed down in 2002. Also, Ntum Oha worked with the Abiriba Communal Improvement Union, ACIU to relocate Onarubi Secondary Technical School to the Model Primary School Ugwuezi – an action that also saved Onarubi Technical College from being closed down. We were able to catalyse these actions without serious financial involvement on Ntum Oha. This is our mode of operation.
UNITED WE STAND
There is a lot of strength in unity. Hence the saying, “United we Stand, Divided we Fall”. We need to be united as Abiriba people so as to able to make reasonable impact in society. It is gratifying to note that Abiriba is tending towards organized unity. Organized unity is a unity with composite members understanding the relevance of others in the union. As a people, we have had our problems with some of the problems still lingering till today. But, let no one be discouraged. These problems are mere challenges, which we must encounter on our path to achieving organized unity. Our ability to surmount these problems is a measure of our willingness to sustain the unity.
Let us consider the giant Achi tree – Okpu Achi. Okpu Achi is a unique historical tree with three branches right at the base. Please permit me to philosophize that Okpu Achi represents the three communities, Ameke, Amogudu and Agboji, which make up Abiriba. Okpu Achi is as old as Abiriba. Some weeks back, Okpu Achi shed two of her three branches leaving only one strong stem at the base. This is therefore an indication that we shall no more see ourselves as three communities but rather as one large community, ABIRIBA. We must therefore start to see ourselves as components of one strong community ABIRIBA and should therefore think, talk, act and work together as one.
Membership of Ntum Oha is open to all Abiriba graduates who are willing to:
(i) Sacrifice their time talking Abiriba welfare;
(ii) Participate in the development of Abiriba without expecting anything in return.
There is no age or sex barrier to membership of Ntum Oha. If you meet any of the above requirements, talk to us, we would welcome you into Ntum Oha.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER BODIES
THE ACIU: Ntum Oha supports the existence of Abiriba Communal Improvement Union (ACIU). All members of NTUM OHA are members of the ACIU. Infact, it is in recognition of the importance of the ACIU that Ntum Oha in the year 2001, resuscitated the Port Harcourt branch of the ACIU.
THE AGE GRADES: Ntum Oha is not an age grade. Ntum Oha believes in the principle of Age Grade system, as it exists in Abiriba. Most members of Ntum Oha belong to their various age grades.
THE ENACHUOKEN: Ntum Oha would support and work with the Enachuoken of Abiriba and his cabinet for the development of the community.
OTHER GROUPS: Ntum Oha is aware of the existence of other groups such as the Abiriba Christians Fellowship (ACF), GROUP 1, etc. We will work with all the progressive groups towards the development of Abiriba community. We are also calling for the formation of more groups and associations along clearly defined ideologies. There can be Associations of Abiriba: Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors, Carpenters, Bricklayers, Traders (textiles), Traders (shoes), Traders (leader), Students, Nurses and Midwifes, and so on. To move Abiriba forward, we need the participation of all. Everybody is useful.
At the end of this lecture and discussion forum, we all would be better informed on the part professionals need to play in community development. We are optimistic that the Abiriba professionals will take up the challenge so that by December 2004, Abiriba would have regained her lost glory and once more start setting the pace in various aspect of good living for other communities to emulate.
Long Live Ntum Oha!
Long Live Abiriba!!
Long Live Nigeria!!!
Thank You and God Bless.
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!.
NTUM OHA ANNUAL
LECTURE AND FRANK TALK
YOU ARE SPECIALLY INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2003 EDITION OF
NTUM OHA END OF YEAR LECTURE AND FRANK TALK
PROFESSIONALS IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:
THE ABIRIBA EXPERIENCE
DATE: THURSDAY, JANUARY 1, 2004
TIME: 12:00 NOON TO 3:00PM PROMPT (NTUM OHA TIME)
VENUE: ERINMA HALL – ABIRIBA
ENGR. E. N. IJEKPA
NTUM OHA ANNUAL LECTURE AND FRANK TALK-YEAR 2003 EDITION
Introduction Of The Master Of Ceremony
Introduction Of Members of the High Table
Opening Speech By President
Project Review – Directory Of Professionals / Graduates
Report – Health, Education, Politics In Abiriba
Summary Of Lectures By Guest Speaker
Special Lecture on Health – HIV (AIDS) by Dr. C. Urum
Frank Talk! Frank Talk!
Summary Of Talks By Guest Speaker
Closing remarks by President