The Alaigbo Developent Foundation (ADF) is a child of the International Colloquium on The Igbo Question in Nigeria, Before, During and After Biafra. That Colloquium was conceived by a body of Igbo Intelligentsia, Clergy, Elders, Patriots, Women and Youth in the light of the persistent crises-ridden socio-political situation in the Nigerian Federation and the debate over her future; and in the light of the enormous challenges facing Alaigbo both in Nigeria
and in the contemporary world. The absence of internal cohesion within the Igbo nation and the weak national focus made the call for an International Colloquium to address the issues of the future and survival of the Igbos timely and urgent.
The Igbos in Nigeria
The Igbo nation is one of the three largest ethnic nationalities that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria which was created by the British Colonial Administration in 1914. The Igbo nation has an estimated population of about 150 million people world-wide. Her citizens are highly cosmopolitan and are found in every nook and cranny of the world. Within the Nigerian Federation, the Igbos are second in population after any native population. In Nigeria, the Igbo are found in the South-East, South-South and the Middle Belt, with strong cultural links with their neighbours in those areas. National Character.
Ndigbo are basically democratic and egalitarian in their socio-cultural philosophy; with a highly intellectual, religious, industrious and entrepreneurial spirit. There is more Igbo investment in the rest of Nigeria than inside Igbo-land. They are among the few, if not the only African society, that worshipped the Supreme God before the coming of Christianity.
At the present, she has over 90% Christian population.World-Class Citizens. The citizens of Igbo nation were in the forefront of African nationalism and led the struggle for Nigeria’s independence. She has produced world-renowned citizens in the various fields of human endeavour. Some of these include Olaudah Equiano, the great ex-slave writer and slave abolitionist crusader; Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, historically regarded as the doyen of African nationalism; Chinua Achebe, the author of the epic novel, Things Fall Apart, the father of African literature and one of the greatest writers in the contemporary world; Philip Emeagwali, one of the world-acclaimed pioneers in the development of the internet; Sir Akanu Ibiam, the one-time President of the World Council of Churches; Cardinal Arinze, one of the leading Catholic Cardinals in contemporary times.
• The British Amalgamation of 1914 And the Emergence of a Crisisridden Country.
The Federation which resulted from the British amalgamation in 1914 produced a highly crisis-and corruption-ridden country, endemic absence of basic human rights, with the Igbos being the major victims in the series of political, religious and ethnic riots that have be-devilled the Nigerian Federation since its formation.
• Incursion of the Military in Nigerian politics.
The high-point of the instability of the Nigerian Federation came in the wake of the military coups of 1966 and the series of massacre of Igbo civilians and
military officers in different parts of Nigeria. The initial coup was staged by young army officers with the aim of installing Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a
Yoruba chieftain, as Prime Minister of Nigeria. What followed after the failure of that coup was one of the worst cases of holocaust in human history. Finding lives unsafe in other parts of Nigeria, the Igbo returned to their territory to build a home of their own only to face the further annihilation and holocaust during the Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967-70.
• The Nigeria-Biafra War.
The Nigeria-Biafra War of 1970 claimed over 3 million Igbo lives in an unprecedented genocide in human history; the destruction of enormous material resources belonging to the Igbos in different parts of Nigeria, great devastation of Igbo-land and the rest of the former Eastern Nigeria. Apart from the genocidal experience, there was deliberate dismembering of the Igbo territory, with the core sectors of Igbo-land land-locked and economically made prostrate. There is an obvious conspiracy among the victorious parties in the war to continue to repress and hold down the Igbos and keep them politically
irrelevant in the affairs of the Nigeria Federation.
• Current pressures and challenges of physical and economicsurvival.
There has been problem of Igbo integration in Nigeria made more acute since the end of the war. With the emergence of Islamic insurgencies in Nigeria and the campaign to islamize Nigeria, the Igbos and Christians have been the major victims in the Boko Haram attacks on churches, markets motor parks
and other public institutions. The economic deprivations of Igbo citizens and region as well as officially undeclared war against Igbo businesses have given rise to kidnappings and other social vices which compound the economic and social problems in the region.
What is referred to as The Igbo Question in Nigeria is about the cumulative horrendous experiences of the Igbo nation and the present second-class status of her membership of the Nigerian Federation since the amalgamation of 1914. The Igbo nation incurred the wrath of the British colonial authorities because her citizens led the struggle for the emancipation of Nigeria from colonial rule – from the resistance to British penetration of the territories t the
beginning of the last century, to the Aba Women’s Riot of 1929 and the leadership role of Igbo leaders in the struggle for the independence of the Nigerian Federation. Thus further punishment for her citizens for their role in the anti-colonial struggle, the British made sure that the Igbo were crippled politically and incited the other nationalities against them.
• Renewed Calls for Renegotiating the Basis of the Nigerian FederationWhere do the Igbos Stand?
There is acute feeling of loss of self-confidence and national pride among the Igbos, aggravated mainly by the Biafra experience and the continued peripheral status of the Igbo nation in the scheme of things in Nigeria. And this is nation that has contributed more than any other nationality in the economic and political development of Nigeria. Meanwhile, the volatile nature of the Nigerian political environment has continued to fuel demands for the renegotiation of the basis for the co-existence of the over 350 Ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. This call has been made by various segments and zones in the country in recent times. The Afenifere socio-cultural organization of the Yorubas, the South-South Forum, the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly, the Arewa Consultative Forum (when her citizens are not in control of political power), the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the highly respected organization of
The Patriots, many leading stakeholders in the Nigerian project, etc; all these have persistently called for a national Conference to renegotiate the basis of the Nigerian federal Union. As at the time of the 2014 Colloquium, Ndigbo were yet to clearly articulate what they want in the present circumstances, even though they are at the worst receiving-end in the Nigerian Federal project.
The need for the Igbos to put their house in order was strongly highlighted by the late worldrenowned African literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe in his recent book, There was a Country, A Personal History of Biafra. With the publication of the book, there has been renewed debate world-wide on The Igbo Question in Nigeria, with acute restlessness among the Igbo population over their peripheral status in Nigeria.
While some elders in Igbo–land continue to advocate for the continued membership of the Nigerian Federation, many others particularly the younger generation think otherwise. Under such circumstances, the need for a strategic International Forum of Igbo intelligentsia and patriots, women and youth, both at home and in the Diaspora to collectively identify the historical roots of their predicament, to define what they want in the Nigerian project and to
chart a course for their future both in Nigeria and in the world, becomes very imperative and urgent too.
• Aims and Objectives of the Colloquium
The Colloquium project was driven by the firm conviction that time has come when intellectuals, the clergy and statesmen within Igbo-land should get together and provide the compass for the survival of Ndigbo in the contemporary world. This was the rationale for the proposed International Colloquia on The Igbo Question in Nigeria.
The basic aims and objectives of the Colloquium could, therefore, besummarized as follows :-
• To provide a platform for Igbo intelligentsia, clergy, patriotic leaders, elders, women and youth, at home and in the Diaspora, to commune collectively
over the economic, political and socio-cultural challenges facing the Igbo nation both in Nigeria and in the world today.
• To examine the historical roots of contemporary Igbo predicament over which all and sundry in Igbo-land, youths and elders, men and women, at home and in the Diaspora, keep groaning day after day, month after month, year after year.
• To consider the impact of the Biafra experience on the Igbo nation today, and examine the issues raised by the African literary icon, Chinua Achebe, in his recent world-celebrated book, There was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra (TWAC).
• To examine ways and means of overcoming the contemporary Igbopredicament so that her citizens can live a life of dignity, co-exist and at peace
with their neighbors, capable of protecting their collective and individual interests, apply their God-given talents and endowments for the betterment
of themselves and the entire human race, do honor to the spirit of their ancestors, serve their God without let or hindrance.
• To produce a Blueprint/Charter for the Survival of the Igbo nation in both Nigeria and in the world at large. Such a Blue Print shall articulate not only
what is to be done but how to achieve them.
The International Colloquium had the endorsement of the following pan-Igbo organisations : -The Conference of Democratic Scholars (CODES), SouthEast Elders Council, Aka Ikenga, Izu-Umunna, Igbo Studies Association (ISAUSA), World Igbo Congress (WIC), Igbo World Assembly (IWA), Ndigbo Council for National Coordination (NCNC), Ofobuike Intellectual Union, Council for Intellectual Cooperation of Nigeria (COFICON). The
Renaissance Forum TRF-USA and the South-East Peoples Development Association (SEPDA).
• The Formation on ADF
It was at the end of this historic event that the well-over 2,500 participants at the International Colloquium took a decision to form the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) to work relentlessly for the rebirth and survival of the Igbo nation, her people, her culture and civilization.