Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PROJECT IGALA 2025: A Vision for A Brighter Future


INTRODUCTION
Just like other climes in sub-Saharan Africa, our beloved Igala land has long been enmeshed in a seemingly endless quest for a VISION that will amongst several others:
  • Point a way forward for the race
  • Set Igala land in a specific direction
  • Direct the actions and workings of Igala people.
  • Articulate a definitive stance on where and how Igala land should be in a decade, century and a millennium.
  • Marshal strategies that will manifestly translate the peoples’ hopes and aspirations in to tangible realities.
  • Lay a rock-solid foundation for the much-awaited Igala Renaissance.
  • Advocate and inspire confidence in the viability and sustainability of the Project Igala
  • Encourage and foster the ideals of Unity, Peace and Love as worthy basis for individual development and continued corporate existence
  • Evolve sustainable political and intellectual structures that will train and equip the generation-next to take over from the fading generation
The quest for this all-encompassing vision, which has now metamorphosed into what is now known today as the IGALA QUESTION (A book entitled “The Igala Question” will soon be published), has no doubt been tortuous, painstaking and expensive as it has taken us through several years of political experimentation, economic docility, cultural dislocation, social inertia, and absolute impotence and irrelevance in the scheme of things nationally. All these have contributed, in no small measure, to the present socio-economic and political realities of widespread poverty, disease and colossal illiteracy garnished with low Boy-Child Education that are rudely staring us in the face today.
However, it is pertinent at this point, to recognise and applaud the indefatigable efforts of public spirited and genial Igala Leaders of yore and Pan-Igala bodies who through the limitless use of their time, treasure and talent, advanced the frontiers of Igala nationalism and selfless service to one’s homeland. Through their individual and combined efforts, Leaders like Ebulejonu, Attah Ayegba Om’idoko, Attah Onoja Oboni, Attah Ameh Oboni, Dr. Steven Makoji Achema, Chief Urah Ajibili, Prof. Francis Idachaba, Prof. Gabriel Oyibo, Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka, Dr. Jacob Abdullahi and groups like Igala Cultural Development Association (ICDA), Igala National Solidarity Association (INSA) Igala Education Foundation, Igala Associations (UK & US), Frontiers Club, Club 582, Ufedo Club, www.igalaland.com and www.aneigala.com, have established, beyond every credible doubt, the innate capacity of the Igala Spirit to cater for one another, lead the world, stand out in every crowd, and to triumph over challenges.
These gallant men and women of our race realised early in life that it is from the fusion of ideas with passion, and by acting with integrity, serving with love and working for communal peace and progress that their contributions and relevance to igala land will achieve immortality. These icons, through the instrumentality of intellect, focal commitment to shared values, and unwavering abhorrence of individual success in the midst of communal failure, raised the intellectual tone of the igala society, cultivated the public mind, purified the igala taste while supplying true principles to popular enthusiasms and fixed aims to popular aspirations as well as giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideals of igala renaissance.
Let me also make bold to assert here that these online groups (igalaproject@yahoogroups.com/igala@yahoogroups.com) are no less important as ideas and strategies generated here continue to form essential milestones in our collective march to destined greatness as a people. Hence it has become a catalyst for sustainable People-Development as well as an everlasting resource for generations unborn! The significance of this forum will not be lost on the generation-next of Igalas as the ideas-house, which the forum’s archives, has become, will facilitate and shape the exercise of political and socio-economic power and as well as refine the intercourse of private life in the nearest future.
DIALECTICS OF AN IGALA VISION
In September 2000, world leaders agreed upon the Millennium Declaration, which distills the key goals and targets agreed to at international conferences and world summits during the 1990s. Drawing on the Declaration, the UN System, World Bank and OECD drew up a set of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with associated targets and indicators. By the year 2015, all 191 United Nations Member States have pledged to meet the MDGs. 191 Heads of State and Presidents at the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the Millennium Declaration which established what is now known as the Millennium Development Goals. They pledged to adopt new measures and join efforts in the fight against poverty, illiteracy, hunger, lack of education, gender inequality, infant and maternal mortality, disease and environmental degradation.
The foregoing presupposes that no ethnic group, nation or comity of nations can move forward or remain relevant on a global scale without a properly defined vision, setting goals and targets to be achieved within a time frame as well as stating in clear terms, the direction and destination of her people within a given time. With the 2015 target year almost half gone, a penetrative gaze at Igala land today will underscore the imperatives of an Igala vision that will find its true expression within larger framework of the MDGs.
Let’s state the fact in unmistakable terms. Igala land today has become a perfect picture of underdevelopment with neglect, poverty, disease, thuggery and illiteracy as totemic icons of fluctuating existentialism. Blessed with one of the biggest coal reserves on the planet (Okaba, Ogboyaga) and with over 12 natural and solid minerals such as iron ore (Egeneji), Marble (Itobe, Ankpa), Crude oil (Ibaji/Alade), Kaolin, hydo-power capacities (Ofu/Itobe) tucked under its pregnant belly, the region still shamefacedly flaunts itself as the habitation of some of Africa’s poorest people and probably the region with the worst case of neglect.
There is no denying the fact that there is an urgent need to objectively address these socio-economic and political problems that are currently rampaging igala land. A key step to achieving that objective is the conceptualisation and implementation of a People-Centred Vision that will set in motion, the machinery for the translation of the peoples’ dreams and aspirations in to barefaced realities. Such a vision must encompass a complex whole of strategies and steps that when implemented fully, will assuredly address the decades of neglect, underdevelopment and deterioration experienced by igala people and at the same time restore hope and impart a sense of collective fulfilment.
For an ethnic group that wears the toga of poverty and neglect like vestigial crowns, a clearly defined and people-oriented, multi-stakeholder development vision that is evidently meant to raise the people’s standard of living above the poverty line, and go beyond that to create favourable conditions for social stability, greater productivity and economic prosperity in the nooks and crannies of the land can be said to be a right step towards reclaiming a people’s lost glory and redeeming years of squandered opportunities.
The need to arrest the present rising wave of violence, thuggery, crime and prostitution in the land further accentuates the need for a vision that will discourage the ascendance of the twin evils of prostitution and armed robbery through pragmatic means. It is no longer strange or shameful to see Igala Parents flaunt the ill-gotten wealth of the children acquired through crime and prostitution as they (parents) now see it as partaking in the sharing of the national cake. Campaigning against and eliminating disdainful acts such as the glorification of armed robbery, prostitution and the mad rush to cities by our Daughters and Sisters through the instrumentality of a vision that will activate affirmative and decisive actions aimed at providing amenities and schemes that will keep them gainfully employed and busy at home remains a viable panacea. Thuggery, for all it has come to represent, must not be allowed to continue, as we cannot afford a sustained bonfire of our hopes and aspirations to greatness on the altar of youth recklessness and Governmental insensitivity.
Igala women still disproportionately suffer the burden of poverty, reeling heavily under the pangs of hunger with majority of them living on less than one dollar per day! As primary agents of child welfare, they are victims of widespread and persistent discrimination in all areas of life, and put their lives at risk every time they become pregnant. They are still increasingly susceptible to HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases. As unschooled adults, they have less to say socially and politically and to be able to support themselves.
Also, Igala women’s rights and access to land, credit and education are still limited not only due to legal discrimination, but because more subtle barriers such as their workload, mobility and low bargaining position in the household and community prevent them from taking advantage of their legal rights. These problems affect their children and households without a male head (Oya Akpoko) are at special risk of impoverishment with no capacity to immunise their children or know how to help them survive. The imperatives of a vision that will pragmatically curtail this state of affairs cannot be overstated
Igala land today, yearns earnestly for prompt actions aimed at directing the energies of our youths to worthy and scholarly ventures, continuity and youth participation in leadership, credible and responsive leadership, better deals for her sons and daughters in the Nigerian project, and full integration in to the global village through the provision of current technological inventions, limitless access to super information highway and world-class systems of mobile communication.
It is in the light of the above concerns that PROJECT IGALA 2050: A Vision For A Brighter Future, is hereby introduced into the public arena for the purpose of stimulating thoughts, fresh ideas, incisive analyses and corrections where necessary with a view to building consensus on its adoption and implementation for the greater good of our people.
PROJECT IGALA 2050 TARGETS
This vision aspires to achieve orderly and accelerated socio-economic transformation of Igala land. With an implementation timeframe of 30 years (2010-2040) in the first instance, the vision is divided into areas like economic growth, under which wealth is expected to be generated in order to reduce poverty, support better living standards, diffuse social tension, and regenerate rural areas; Human and community needs will address the welfare of individuals; the natural environment aspect aims to conserve bio-diversity resources, remediate and restore environmentally impacted sites and degraded resources, and set standards for regulation and control.
The key targets of the goals are as follows:
1. ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION = Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger
(a) Provision of Micro/Macro-credit facilities to indigent Traders and Farmers
(b) Establishment of Skills Acquisition/Vocational Training centres in each of the 9 LGAs
(c) Establishment of an International Yam Market
(d) Establishment of Wine/Fruit Juice Processing Factory
(e) Establishment of Itboe/Ajaokuta Export Free Trade Zone
(f) Establishment of Rice Mills in each of the 9 LGAs
(g) Revival and consolidation of Idah Sanitary Ware Company
(h) Establishment of a Coal Exploration and Development Company at Okaba
(i) Full exploration of Marble deposits at Itobe and Ankpa (Ceramic and Building industries)
(j) Full exploration of crude oil deposits at Ibaji and Alade
(k) Establishment of Soap-making, Margarine and Vegetable oil processing industries to exploit oil palm opportunities at Okura, Alade and Ankpa
(l) Establishment of Fish canning industries to tap the extensive fish farming activities at Idah, Ibaji, Itobe and Obale.
(m) Provision of mechanised farming equipment to farmers on lease/turnkey bases
(n) Establishment of Farmers’ Cooperative Societies in each of the 9 LGAs
(o) Provision of Ferry Services at Idah, Itobe, Ibaji and Egabada.
2. EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT = Self-reliance and communal edification
(a) Adoption of Free Universal Primary Education in each of the 9 LGAs
(b) Constant Training and Re-training of Teachers
(c) Establishment of a University of Technology
(d) Establishment of an Igala National Library
(e) Provision of Mini-computerised libraries in the 9 LGAs
(f) Establishment of ICT Training and Development centres in each of the 9 LGAs
(g) Establishment of LG Education Foundations in the 9 LGAs
(h) Provision Scholarships and overseas internship programmes.
3. HEALTH = Unfettered Access to Standard Health Services and collective fulfillment
(a) Establishment of a Specialist/Referral Hospital with up-to-date facilities such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Central Nervous System (CNS) e.t.c
(b) Establishment of fully equipped Primary Health Centres in each Ward in the 9 LGAs
(c) Provision of Pipe borne water and boreholes
(d) Establishment of community health outreach programmes with focus on sensitisation and advocacy efforts on the prevention and risk reduction of deadly infections such as HIV/AIDS, STDs, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Cancer, River Blindness and Cholera.
4. INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT = Pathway to a future secured
(a) Establishment of an International Airport
(b) Establishment of a Stock and Commodity Exchange
(c) Construction of a six-lane Idah – Anyigba Expressway
(d) Construction of an International Conference Centre
(e) Establishment of a Nigerian Naval Base
(f) Dualisation of Odolu – Nsukka Bridge
(g) Construction of Idah – Agenabode Mainland Bridge
(h) Construction of Dekina Metro rail
5. YOUTH DEVELOPMENT = Empowering the future
(a) The full implementation of an effective and efficient Youth Policy Framework will foster and create avenues for worthy interactions, vocational training, skills/knowledge acquisition, gainful empowerment and recreational activities as a bulwark against illiteracy and thuggery.
(b) Establishment and Mobilisation of Youth Development Groups to benefit from the UN’s World Programme of Action for Youths in the 21st century.
(c) Transformation of the Steven Achema Stadium to host international competitions.
(d) Establishment of an Igala Film Village
(e) Establishment of Cinemas and Amphitheatres in each of the 9 LGAs
6. Tourism Development = Attaining National and Global Relevance
(a) Establishment of Olamoboro Resort
(b) Development of Ugwalawo Hills to world-class status
(c) Transformation of Ofejiji Falls in Okura-Lafia to world-class tourist attraction.
(d) Development of the Awo Tunnel (A tunnel of about one kilometer long dug during the reign of Attah Onoja Oboni to serve as a hiding place for members of the royal family during the wars in Idah)
(e) Transformation of Ojuwo Atogwu to global standards (Ojuwo Atogwu, is an ancient earthwork at Idah, declared a national monument in 1963 by the Federal Government)
(f) Erection and transformation of the Inikpi Cenotaph at Idah
(g) Establishment of a Television station for the region
(h) Establishment of an FM Station for the region.

PROJECT IGALA 2050: VEHICLES OF DELIVERY
q PUBLIC - PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS/PUBLIC SPIRITED INDIVIDUALS
q PRIVATE INITIATIVES/NGOS/ASSOCIATIONS/INVESTMENT FORA
q INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS/DONOR AGENCIES
(UN/WORLDBANK/FAO/ILO//IMF/ROTARY/WHO INTERNATIONAL/UNAIDS/USAIDS/DFID/CIDA/UNICEF/UNESCO/UNFPA)
q FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA
q KOGI STATE GOVERNMENT
q KOGI EAST SENATORIAL CONSTITUENCY
DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (PROPOSED)
q NINE IGALA LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILS
q IGALA TRADITIONAL RULERS COUNCIL

ARE WE READY??????
Every mission must have a vision. Every vision must be a foresight. Every foresight must target an objective goal to achieve. If our collective mission is to restore the lost greatness, regain and retain our present consciousness and working hard to build a future identification keeping our nation, language, intelligence, competence, culture and creative idealism on world map then our thought, action and seed must reflect the dream and qualifications. The lapses of the past gave birth to what we have today and whatever we do now will greatly affect and influence the future. The past is important because it will help us know who we are and where to lay our foundation but the future is more necessary.
Who said we cannot? Are human beings not animals with sense of reasoning that react accordingly to every action as it touches their minds and conscience? Whatsoever made by man can be destroyed or renewed by another. Our land can be redeemed; we can break the bones of all the demons and vulture sucking our blood, resources, progress and ambitions. We must purge them of their diseases of self-centeredness, scientifically and diplomatically kill, burn, and evaporate their breath of individualism, greed, unmerited wealth, unnecessary pride including all their beautiful act of devilish and demonic ceremonies in the name of tradition and witchcraft/occultism.
We must stop dreaming if not ready to actualise, stop singing if not ready to harmonise, stop laying foundations if not ready to build, stop talking if not ready to listen, stop fighting if not ready to win, stop reading if not ready to understand, stop crying if not ready to smile. We either begin yesterday or leave it go forever. Igala land must be redeemed, igalas must be redeemed, but the choice is yours and mine. All we need is the mind, will, consciousness, sacrifices, dedication, accountability, transparency and the killer spirit of anti-corruption and contamination.
This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Dangerous passions of pride, hatred and selfishness are enthroned in our land; truth lies prostrate on the rugged hills of nameless Cavalries. Just as Martin Luther King posited in 1963 while speaking on “Non-conformity”, the yanking of Igala land from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.
The least amongst us could live a maximum of 70 or 80 years while the earth remains for another more than 2000 years including Igala land. What we see in the west today is what was collectively laid down in the past having today as their foresight. Our seed must reflect what we work and cares to be, our names must reflect our language, our thoughts must reflect our consciousness, our shortcomings must be tolerated, our ideal must be our flag, our land must be cultivated by us, our politics must be dominated by us, our economy must be empowered by us, our technology must be constructed by us, our colour must be painted by us, our history must be written by us, our culture must be designed by us, our destiny must be fought and achieved by us.
Let the strong strengthen the weak, if you have 10 naira and 5 naira could provide your necessities then why not give the other 5 naira to save your land as you can?. The extent we want to go determines what we need to give. Our deserted and underdeveloped villages that need be transformed by our collective actions are our promise land. Are we ready?
CALL TO ACTION
A swift glance at the imperatives of an Igala Vision above will unearth a string of action words like ‘point’, ‘set’, ‘marshal’, ‘direct’, ‘articulate’, ‘lay’, ‘advocate’, ‘encourage’ and ‘evolve’. These go a long way to proving that the whole essence of a vision is to DO! It is a call to ACTION, not a leeway to flatulent postulations, academic flamboyance, arrogance, unrealistic projections, unfulfilled promises or mere sloganeering.
It is hoped that a shared understanding of the plan would go a long way to securing and sustaining public faith and participation throughout the vision’s implementation period as well as help all stakeholders in the Igala Project to make informed contributions that will enrich the vision.
Atayi Babs
MODERATOR, Project IGALA
2005
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