Publicity Secretary of Igbos For A Progressive Nigeria, IPAN, Arinze Odiari is a keen observer of trends in Igbo land.
An educationist and legal practitioner, human rights campaigner and youth development enthusiast from Onitsha Ado N’ Idu in Anambra State in this exclusive interview, talks about all the challenges the group have been facing and how they source for finance.
Enjoy the interview…
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Arinze Odiari – an educationist and legal practitioner, human rights campaigner and youth development enthusiast. I am from Onitsha Ado N’ Idu in Anambra State.
How would you describe and differentiate IPAN from other Igbo socio-cultural groups?
IPAN is a group with the sole purpose of strengthening the bond between the Igbos and using same to ensure a stronger, indivisible, one Nigeria. IPAN sets agenda for the development of the South East through concerted efforts. I understand that other socio – cultural organisations can claim to have the same vision, however the difference I see between IPAN and others is that IPAN have continued to demand accountability from Igbo leaders and political office holders simultaneously with making same demand at the Federal Level.
Most other Igbo Socio – Cultural organisations seem more interested in asking for accountability only from the Federal Government while leaving those saddled with the responsibility to improve our lot in the South East to feed fat on us. IPAN believes in the Igbo adage that one’s beauty starts from home before outsiders start seeing same.
Why do you share the vision behind IPAN?
Proper message and awareness is key to development. IPAN’s message resonates so well with me because it forms part of what I believe in. It wasn’t a hard sell for me to buy into it. What more does anyone want other than development for his community and country at large. In my own eyes, between growing up and attending higher institution in Enugu State, I saw things deteriorate. Ranging from the fact that I could turn my tap in my house in Onitsha and I will get water from water corporation but now the tap is dry and source of water has become borehole which is always a private initiative.
As a student, when I am short of money or provisions, it will take me one hour to get to Onitsha after my last lecture on a Friday using TRACAS or ENTRACO and return on Monday just on time for my first lecture on Monday.
I need not tell you the state of the roads in recent years. Although I will admit that effort is being made to get it back in shape.
IPAN’s idea and message to continue to demand accountability in this area warmed them to me and I happily joined the struggle.
How can we have all the political juggernauts and world known technocrats from the South East and developing our region is a problem. We have abundant resources and human capacity to be what we want to be. As the Igbo adage goes, we cannot live beside the river and we are washing our hands with spit. Mba!
How would you rate and what would you say are the achievements of IPAN in the past one year?
The greatest thing IPAN has done this past one year is to get Nigerians from other ethnicity to understand and appreciate that the Igbo man is a great thinker, a developer, a builder, an ally to trust and have, and one capable of ensuring the sustained growth and development of our nation Nigeria.
Patriotic message by IPAN in defending the unity of the country speaks volume. Their sensitization efforts to send and instill in the citizens this message across all parts of the country has not been equaled. In fact, I recommend that the orientation agency take a cue from IPAN.
What were some of the challenges the group has faced in the past one year?
The greatest challenge is the threat to life of members. Politicians and non-state actors see IPAN messages and demand for accountability as stumbling block to their personal, selfish agenda.
The fact that we are sending the right message to people about what questions to ask elected representatives and those who are bent on destroying the developmental gains we have achieved as a people is setting these people against us. However, we are not worried. Not at all, like the great one said, we have to emancipate our people from mental slavery and we will continue to push.
The other challenges are expected especially in the area of financing our projects. We would love to do more but we are limited.
How are you financing the group?
Our members have been making personal sacrifices and that is what it is. If I invite you to our meeting, you will see them, they are regular people. Some are bending over backwards to ensure we have the funding needed to execute our projects. It’s not enough but we are happy with where we are.
How do you recruit members?
Igbo sons and daughters who share the same ideology see our messages and projects and willingly join us.
We have members all over the States of the Federation and outside the country. Membership is open to all Igbo sons and daughters irrespective of your political and religious linings, economic or social status. Everyone is welcome because you cannot drive anyone away from his father’s house.
Let me point out here that the fact we are all from one ethnic group does not mean we encourage tribalism. No! Not at all not in a million years! Rather we encourage unity and understanding of other ethnic groups and at the same time extend our hands of fellowship to other ethnic group for unity, peace, progress and development of our nation.
What are your plans for the upcoming years?
We have a lot lined up as you can deduce however our mainstream activity remains awareness and sensitization of the Igbos. We want them to ask questions and demand accountability. We want them to understand that we ought not to hype government for providing basic expectations but rather for making efforts in achieving giant strides in line with the manifesto or agenda.
We will also massively sensitize citizens particularly our Igbo brothers on what is expected of a good citizen. The role of a responsible citizen in a nation’s development, how a citizen can lead by example where he finds him or herself.
For IPAN the project is a continuum.