By Chido Nwakanma
A significant initiative berthed in Enugu December 19, 2017, without much fuss. A group of professionals from the South East states came together to commence a long journey towards defining and enthroning better values and orientation as the underpinning of progress for the people.
The South East Society of Professionals (SESOP) launched on that day the NdiIgbo Values Initiative (NVI) at a ceremony at Universal Hotel, Independence Layout, Enugu.
The NdiIgbo Values Initiative is a philosophical framework encapsulated in graphic reminders to pass on critical messages drawn from Igbo cosmology and values.
NdiIgbo Values Initiative, according to SESOP Convener and Programme Coordinator Michael Orekyeh, is a clarion call on the Igbo to return to the values that distinguished them and set them on the path of progress and civilisation in the past. It is also a compass to values that would enable the Igbo to manage the challenges of living amid the complexities and the changing political and socio-economic realities of Nigeria.
Said Orekyeh on the rationale for the NdiIgbo Values Initiative (NVI), “There is an evident discard in the guiding values and ethics in Igboland. The internal guiding principles of Ndi-Igbo which we inherited as a culture from our forefathers have been eroded by our degenerating self-centred (not selfless) behaviours and aggressive love for money, which can be traced as a psychological after-effect of the Biafra War. And these values are sliding down an apparent slope and going from bad to worse, leaving a worrisome future for our future generations which must be corrected by efforts from as many quarters as possible”.
He added, “If we do not act, we are faced with the prospects of a society without any internal/individual controls where “anything goes” and people at all strata of social status will be laws unto themselves. It will gradually affect all of us. We have a duty, no, we have a responsibility to correct the way we behave, the way we act and make things better. Our generation may have gotten it wrong, we may be in the realm of wrong behaviours, we may have a reduced reputation, but do we leave the problem as a society, pretending that nothing can be done?”
The values are the work of a 14-person committee. Members include Obi Asika, Benedict Okafor, Dr Ifedi Okwenna, Anne Addeh, Mr Chineye Mba-Uzoukwu, Juliet Kego Ume-Onyido, Ngozi Nonyelu, Chika Omeje, Ifeoma Ngozi Malo, Apollonia Okuzu, Nneka Ezeugwa, Odinaka Ugwuozor, Obi Uruakpa.
Steering Committee member Juliet Kego Ume-Onyido stated that the NdiIgbo Values Initiative targets all Igbo, home and in the Diaspora as a borderless race and group not bounded by geography. “The core target is the 65% youth demographic but also post-war generation, most of whom never heard of or experienced the initial renaissance of Ndi Igbo in Nigeria”.
Ume-Onyido added, “Igbo professionals are driving the NVI based on an awareness that we have collectively failed to speak out on behalf of our under-served masses. It also draws from a generation of Ndi Igbo who are willing to embrace more comprehensive perspectives/explore solutions of pre/post-war issues that affect us as a people.”
SESOP said it would distribute NVI posters, handbills and flyers to reach Ndi Igbo through towns unions, clubs and associations. It would deploy online using all available platforms. It is also implementing with images of past and current Igbo icons drawn from various fields.
The NVI commences with ten values. They are Ezi Okwu Bu Ndu (Integrity), Ako na uche, na uchu (Creativity), Igwe bu ike anyi (Collaboration and unity), Aku Luo Uno (Service), Ome Mgbe Oji Ka Ohi Mma (Discipline), and Egbe Belu Ugo Belu (Empathy). Others are Onye Aghana Nwanne (Loyalty), Isi m na mmụọ mụ juru oyi (Humility), Onwe m juru m afọ (Contentment) and ndụ mmadụ niile dị mkpa (Sanctity of life).
Orekyeh said SESOP as a non-political platform would seek to create awareness and adoption of the values by groups and individuals in Igboland in the manner the old Igbo State Union initially mobilised the people in the pursuit of education and Western civilisation beginning in the 1930s.
SESOP has an affiliation to the think tank World Igbo Summit Group.
The NVI comes at a time of much concern in and about Ndigbo and their relationships with political authorities as well as other ethnic groups. There are internal and external issues, including oft-expressed angst among the young about the quality of leadership and political representation.
Will the NVI lead to a redefinition and rediscovery? It should at least jumpstart many conversations.