A Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Umu Enugu Ezike Oba in Diaspora has concluded plans to bring some amenities to their fatherland with a view to improving on the condition of those at home in the area of security of lives and property, poverty alleviation and economic progress.
The Umu Enugu Ezike Oba is an umbrella body of Igbo indigenes from Enugu Ezike town in Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State but resident overseas.
In this interview with the Oracle Today Correspondent, Theo Rays, the Secretary of the group, Innocent Olijo throws more light on what they are coming home to do on January 1, 2021 and the targets of the NGO in the nearest future. He also spoke on the need to improve on the standard of leadership in Nigeria among other things. Excerpts:
Tell us about the group known as Umu Enugu Ezike Oba In Diaspora and what you plan to do at home?
Let start by saying that we have a conservative estimate of about 2000 indigenes of Enugu Ezike who reside outside Nigeria. Among these folks are distinguished professionals in diverse sectors excelling in their respective fields of endeavour. Many of these people desire to impact positively on the socio economic development of Enugu Ezike but sometimes lack the channel to propel such desires.
This time, we took advantage of the global digitalization era and social network potential to connect with all sons and daughters of Enugu Ezike abroad, to synergize and collectively drive multi faceted developmental approach in the community. What we have decided to do on 1st January 2021 includes the followings: to unveil State of the Art directional signages in the town that will help people trace to simply trace location and destination. Second is to donate Emergency Vehicles to the community Vigilante outfit known as Neighbourhood Watch. Third is to open our liaison office officially and four to make donation for empowerment of the less privileged in our town.
What informed the decision to think home in such a great way; is it connected with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic?
Covid 19 played a significant role but inadvertent part in the growth of the association. Though formed in the early winter of 2019 as a personal charity of an individual, it quickly metamorphosed into a full blown NGO identified as Umu EzikeOba In Diaspora; and members modified the principles of the association to incorporate a standard and sustainable structure for enduring legacies and democratic ethos. Covid -19 became an unexpected partner as most members were on global lockdown and away from their businesses, work and studies. This made it possible for them to attend regular virtual meetings and contribute their ideas, resources and time which ensured the unity and formidable strength of the association.
Enugu Ezike as a very large town is faced with a lot of challenges that cut across insecurity, lack of infrastructure and unemployment. Which one does your NGO intend to give priority?
The challenges of the town are a microcosm of the current state of the Nigeria nation. However, we have the peculiarity of underdevelopment and infrastructural neglect. We’re adopting a multi faceted approach…ranging from security, human capital development, poverty alleviation through empowerment strategies, industrialization and cultural reawakening.
What are targets of the NGO in short and long terms? What would you r group like to achieve in the next five years or more?
We were initially horrified at the news of insecurity in our community and we recognized the limitations and initiatives of the government. Thus in 2019, we empowered the local neighbourhood watch with 72 patrol motorcycles and communications equipment to augment the effort of the Nigeria Police in securing lives and property in our villages.
Our community is currently under-policed and spread over a large geographical space. A ratio of over 150 citizens per police man is a generous estimate on the adequacy of police presence. The entire 36 villages that make up Enugu Ezike expects the central police station located at Ogrute to patrol and respond to emergencies with less than 3 vehicles. This is simply inadequate. This year, as we open our liaison office at Ogrute, we are donating two emergency response tactical vehicles to the central body of the neighbourhood watch. This will assist in rescuing accident victims as well as further assisting the police in area of logistics. When community people apprehend someone breaking the law, these local security outfits can use these vehicles to convey such suspects to the police station to ensure speedy dispensing of justice. These were our low hanging fruits or what you called short term targets.
We have always incorporated the charity aspects of helping the needy but the approach has so far been like giving fish to the hungry. On the long term, we re working on empowerment programs. Teaching the man to fish and buying him a net. We also plan to bring in foreign investors in the long term towards the industrialization of Enugu Ezike. We’re laying foundations at the moment. Standard road signs are going up on all strategic areas in the community. Strangers should be able to find their ways around the villages. We are looking at the derelict medical infrastructure and working out blueprints. Each year will witness our impact in various aspects of the socio economic map. The citing of a post secondary institution and robust banking systems are overdue necessities in the town. This is the beginning of a new era and we believe the community has interesting times ahead.
What is your advice to political leaders in Igboeze North and Enugu State in particular and Nigeria in general?
The world is evolving more rapidly than anyone anticipated. The need to build positive enduring legacies is becoming much more vital as global communication systems have become frighteningly sophisticated. Society now holds leaders accountable and hardly any symptom of map administration go unnoticed. So my advice to leaders at all levels in Nigeria is that they have to be accountable to the people and should be willing to reach out and partner with all progressive minded entities to drive the much needed development especially in communities like our own Ezike-Oba.