Communique of the 8th Annual Convention, Washington, DC
New Carrolton, Maryland - USA, Afenmai World Congress, USA held its 8th Annual convention at the prestigious Metro Points Hotel, Carrolton, MD on August 14-16, 2014. The conference brought together prominent sons and daughters of Afenmailand from every part of the United States and beyond to discuss the future of Afenmailand under the theme “Rekindling the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Afenmai People Through Private and Public Sector Initiatives”. The Chairman of the 8th Afenmai World Congress Convention, Otunba Usman Magaji, (Samali of Auchi Kingdom), declared the convention open, who was full of adulation to the founders of AWC being the first umbrella organization anywhere in the world bringing Afenmai people together for the promotion of Afenmai culture and development. He urged all Afenmai people to work assiduously keep the unity of Afenmailand as a priority in their lives. The Governor of the State of Maryland, Larry Hogan, issued a ctation and message of goodwill outlining Afenmai people’s contributions to the economy of Maryland. In the same light the Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bower who was represented by the Director of Affiars Mammadou Samba articulated the contributions of Africans to Washington, DC in a proclamation at the business session of the convention. Rushern Baker III Prince George’s County Executive congratulated Afenmai World Congress in fostering a relationship between the citizens of United States of America and Nigeria.
In his Presidential welcome address to the attendees of the convention, Dr. John Emale detailed the growth of the Congress and the uniqueness of the Congress with membership that cut across all the length and breath of Afenmailand, hence this is a great platform for Afenmai people to compare notes and be able to discuss the needs in our various communities and recommend action as one family. He emphasized that after careful study of the developmental challenges facing Afenmailand, the Congress voted to undertake the establishment of an Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development in Auchi in 2013. This project when completed is expected to provide an un-intimidating environment where artisans, farmers, local politician and political office holders, healthcare workers, market women, entreneurs and other related areas who contribute to the well being and economic development of Afenmai citizens can network with seasoned professionals in different fields through seminars, symposia, and practical trainings.
He solicited the support of all Afenmai peole towards bringing / making the Institute a reality and as a catalyst for the development of Afenmai land.
The keynote speaker Mr. Emmanuel Ikazoboh, chairman of the Board of Ecobank Transnational Inc., touched on several pertinent issues affecting the development and integration within Afenmailand. Dr. David Iyalomhe, who presented the paper on behalf of Mr. Emmanuel Ikazoboh began by emphasizing the variables that propel development including unity, social, economic, political and security. He made it known to Afenmai people that they must understand that development cannot come to Afenmai as a right, but must come with a fight and determination by all to make this happen. Ikazoboh noted that entrepreneurship plays a vital role in an economy and in the lives of a people; it also plays a role in creating significant numbers of new jobs. Entrepreneurs are individuals who create new businesses, products, or services. And they assume and manage the risks of their ventures. Ikazoboh pointed out that there are three keybarriers to rekindling the spirit of entrepreneurship and these are CAPITAL, CAPABILITY and CULTURE. On Capital, he stated that today’s small businesses exist in a new economic landscape that forces creativity and out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to financing. However, looking at capability, Ikazoboh affirmed that raising business capabilities through education and training should be a priority and these can be done in various ways through (1) The State or Local Government to Recruit or approach successful entrepreneurs to come over to Afenmai land to develop or replicate their businesses and in the process create a class of Afenmai people around their successful entrepreneurial experiences. This is part of the PPP by partnering with the government, whether state or local government with successful entrepreneurs to work with our people. (2) Incorporate a variety of innovative entrepreneurial strategies in school curricular to prepare the youth to be successful in whichever career they choose. (3) Give scholarship to only students who study mathematics, the sciences and technical courses. A science student thinks more out of the box and is more experimental in his approach to issues (4) With a young fearless mind, everything is possible; an experienced entrepreneurial mentor is perhaps what we need to ginger all our youths whether male or female to start developing relevant business skills (5) Don’t wait for university graduation.
Imagine if we could incorporate an innovative attitude into our secondary schools or high school setting and prizes given to the school with the best innovative student each year. It would spark a spirit of innovation in our young people and prepare them for the fast-paced and dynamic world we now live in.
Entrepreneurship is born out of need and as our communities are becoming more densely populated, entrepreneurship becomes more critical to survivability. We must address our cultural setting. Our people rarely work as a team “The world’s greatest entrepreneurs all concede that their most valuable asset is not what they can achieve individually - but how much more they can as a team. As a senatorial district of Edo-North we should plan projects that cut across the district to take advantage of economies of scale. An entrepreneur is more likely to be financed if the project is considered scalable. This is a concept that has not really succeeded in this part of the world in terms of how it is conceptualized and defined globally. In particular, PPP opportunities abound in Afenmailand in the following industry sectors:
- Agro-allied Industries were the rice growing fields of Agenebode are a prime example.
- Solid minerals & construction material inputs such as limestone, marble, clay, kaolin, calcite and granite. These exist in commercially viable quantities in Etsako East, West and Central, Akoko-Edo as well as Owan East and West.
- Tourism & Culture with Ise Lake in Agenebode and Somorika Hills in Akoko Edo as viable tourist sites within Afenmai land.
- Healthcare access and provision to the people of Afenmai land can be broadened and deepened through the design and implementation of fit-for-purpose healthcare facilities in Afenmai land.
Examples of PPP are; Gbagada Renal & Cardiac Centre, Lagos State, Lagos State Bus Rapid Transit scheme (BRT), Akute Power Project (12.15MW), Lagos State and Management of the Diagnostic Services in General Hospitals, Cross River State.
Also at the convention, the Edo State Governor, who was represented by Otunba Usman Mogaji, Deputy Chairman of All Progressive Party (APC), detailed the achievement of the state government under the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He cited the construction of roads in Edo North, establishment of a new state university in Uzairue and upgrade of classrooms. In addition, Otunba Mogaji commended the effort of AWC leadership in the promotion of Afenmai in the Diaspora and establishment of the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development in Auchi. Otunba Mogaji reiterated the pledge of the Comrade Oshiomhole that once the foundation of the Institute is laid; the state will commit to supporting it with her counter-part funding.
In his message to the Congress the Senator representing Edo North and Deputy Chief Whip of Nigeria Senate, Senator Francis Alimikhena (Represented by Dr. Marcel Ikhakhu) underscored the importance of Afenmai people collaborating to achieve development in Afenmailand. He called on Afenmai people in the Diaspora and those at home to work together as a team. According to Senator Alimikhena, the era of government providing all services in our monolithic economy based on oil has taken a great bashing in the international marketplace. The implication is that government is not able to meet many obligations. The senator urged Afenmai people be aggressive in the pursuit of opportunities that our people can tap into and benefit. For instance, we should ensure that our people benefit from the Ecological Fund that helps areas with minerals and mining opportunities to develop quickly. He charged the Congress to be incubator of ideas, and he would find the enabling environment for actualizing these ideas. He gave examples of projects that can easily impact our people like; the Books for Africa project in the US, which would be beneficial to our children, he assured that his office can arrange for Duty Exemption and possibly help ship such consignments. Medical missions and hospital equipment can also be treated in the same way. Senator Alimikhina lauded the effort of the Congress to build an Entrepreneurial Center at Auchi with the assurance of his support and the support of the Senate President, His Excellency, Senator Bukola Saraki,
In conclusion, Senator Alimikhena called the Congress and members for inputs into his legislative agenda to help move Edo North forward. He stated “I shall appreciate whatever ideas you can contribute so that together, we can build the Afenmai of our dream.”
Key resolutions of the convention are;
- Appeal to the Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to spend the rest of his tenure working for Afenmai people in the light of low infractural development in the region when compared with the pace of development in the other regions of the state. It is almost clear to us that after this current dispensation, given the political mapping of Edo State, Edo North may have to queue for the next sixteen years, before the governance of the state can come to the region again. Although we cannot play God, this appears to be the reality staring us in the face. It is palpable that there is an urgent need to look at Akoko Edo, Owan and Etsako very closely in the remaining part of his tenure for so much needs to be done, hence the Governor must do everything possible now to deliberately skew development to our area. Our people at the convention were unanimous in calling for more attention to be devoted to the area in the next 18 months by the Governor.
- A call on the Governor to honor our people with is presence and rollout his achievements in the region at our next convention in Atlanta in 2016 because this will be the perfect opportunity to physically connect with Afenmai people (his key constituency) and possibly set the tone of an Afenmai engagement with the in-coming administration that will succeed him.
- Creation of Afenmai Economic Empowerment Group to formulate strategies to lift and empower Afenmai sons and daughters arising from our commitment of Afenmai World Congress to build a Leadership and Entrepreneural Center at Auchi to facilitate growth and development on several fronts for our people. At this juncture, we plead with the Governor to set in motion the process of implement his pledge at our convention in Atlanta in 2010 that Edo State Government will provide 50% funding of any project our Congress and member organizations embark on in Afenmailland. The Congress is pround to announce that all is set to commence the project now and are pleased with pledges made with logistic and financial support coming from Afenmai sons and daughters in the last two years in order to actualize this dream.
- For specific attention pertinent issues that bother us include: (a) The provision of a road network between, Ivioghe- Ivianokpodi-Iviukhua-Iviegbepui to Iviukwe. There is also the need to link Okpella-Okpekpe to Agenebode, the headquarter of Estakor East local government. Okpe -Igarra-Somirika Road and dualization of Igarra township road in Akoko Edo Local Government (b) We encourage the state government and all statekholders to help spear-head the splitting of Akoko Edo local government into 3 local government/LCD areas, to be at par with others in the state (c) Schools in Afenmai land lack teachers at post-primary levels. This worrisome situation must be addressed, so that our children will be adequately prepared for the challenges of the future. (d) Expansion of tertiary institutions/campuses into Akoko Edo, other parts of Etsako and Owan areas because intitutions can stimulate permanent economic development of the towns and neighboring villages where they are situated.
- A mentorship program for the compilation of database of Afenmai professionals and individuals as a resource to be used for effective coordination and mobilization of Afenmai intellectuals for development.
- Creation of a common Afenmai World Congress anthem/pledge to further create a sense of unity and bond across Afenmailand.
- Children and youths should be proactively encouraged to participate in Afenmai activities to foster Afenmai unity and culture. Youth convention will simultaneously be planned at the same time from 2016 convention.
- The Congress will open an administrative office in Afenmailand with the key employees to help coordinate and further the Congress activities and mission within Afenmailand.
At the convention, the Congress renewed their support for the current executive team led by Dr. John Emale as they began the second year of their two years tenure. Other officials are; Fatimo Dankano (Vice President), Dr. Charles Jagun (Secretary General), Ilu Ozekhome ( Deputy Sec-Gen.), Stella Oleita (Treasuer), Abdul-Lecky (Financial Secretary), Columbus Inuwanu (Publicity Secretary II), Mrs Hillary Abu (House Leader) and Mustafa Arasa (Deputy House Leader).
Other distinguished guests at the convention were HRH, Alhaji A. Y. Idrisu (Okuokpellagbe of Okepella), HRH, Alhaji Omonikhe Kadiri Omogbai IV, The (Ogieneni of Uzaure), Royal High Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Chief Dr. S.K. Ilugbekhai, Senior High Chief Kennedy Izuagbe, Dr. Mommadu Sadiq, Professor John Ikimalo, Dr. Mercel Okakhu, Dr. Mamudu Dako, Comrade Rabi Eguije, Promise King, Dr. and Mrs. Osilama Osime, Alhaji and Mrs. Anehru Hamadu, Madam Fatima DanKano, Mrs Nana Musa, Dr. David Iyalomhe, Mrs. Hilary Abu, Mayor of the City of Washinton, DC representated by Mammadou Samba, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Osigwe , Chief Dr. and Mrs, John Emale, Dr. and Mrs. Tony Akande, Mr. and Mrs. Mustafa Arasa, Chief Dada, Mr. and Mrs. Lawal Salami, Mr. Ayo Peter Suru, Ms Jemilat Ahmed, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Abdul-Suleiman, Mr. and Mrs. Momoh Sanni Yesufu, Mr. and Mrs. Ilugbekhai Ozekomhe and many more.
The convention, as much as it was well attended, also showcased a cultural presentation by our dynamic Afenmai women.
Chief (Dr.) John Emale Dr. Charles Jagun
President Secretary General