Understanding the Arochukwu Development Fund (ADF)

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As part of efforts to enlighten Umu Aro on the Arochukwu Development Fund we are publishing excerpts from the Report which was adopted by the Central Executive Committee of Nzuko Arochukwu establishing the Fund at its meeting of 28th April, 2018 in Abuja

Background

The desire to set up Arochukwu Development Fund was motivated by the obvious weakness of current model for funding development projects in Aro Kingdom. Over the years, the cash flow of Nzuko Aro from various sources of funding as enshrined in the Constitution of the Nzuko has
proved incapable of supporting even routine administrative expenses of Nzuko Aro, let alone critical social and physical infrastructure projects and programmes needed to support development of the Kingdom on a sustainable basis. Consequently, the few community projects that were initiated were funded through donations. Though, desirable, but it was obvious that such a community development funding model were unsustainable as exemplified by the fitful nature of pledge redemption leading to poor cash flows. This has manifested in poor implementation of community projects and at times leading to embarrassing delays as witnessed in the completion of the Arochukwu Civic Centre.

At the maiden Nzuko Aro Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting under the regime of Mazi George Ezuma, held on 18th June, 2016 at Nenive Centre in Lagos, the idea of Arochukwu Development Fund (ADF) was mooted. Though it did not come explicitly as Arochukwu Development Fund, the broad philosophy and motivation for the Fund were outlined in a Paper titled “Securing Our Tomorrow” by Mazi Udo Chijioke . Consequently, a motion to adopt the paper as a working document for creating a development fund for the Kingdom was moved and unanimously adopted. Subsequently, at the 5th meeting of the 6th Central Executive Committee (CEC) held in Arochukwu on 23rd September 2017, Nzuko Aro formally constituted a three member committee to develop a Strategic and Implementation framework on the establishment and management of Arochukwu Development Fund chaired by Dr. Kanu Ohuche. Other
members are Sir Adindu Goddy Elekwa and Mrs Ivuoma Adi-Elekwa.

Rationale

The rationale for setting up of the Arochukwu Development Fund is as follows:

2.1.1 The Constitutional Provision for Financing Development Projects ( Utu Aro) is no longer fit for purpose

The Constitutional provision for Financing Development Projects as enshrined in Chapter 5 Article 18 of the Nzuko Arochukwu Constitution provided the following sources of fund for the central account:
(i) Individual Central Registration = N5.00
(ii) Individual monthly Registration = N 0.50k
(iii) Individual Membership Card = N5.00
(iv) Cost of Constitution per copy = N15.00
(v) Branch Registration fee = N 200.00
(vi) Annual “Utu Aro” levy = N20.00 for all Adult males and N10.00 for all Adult female citizens
(vii) Donations
(viii) Levies imposed by the General Assembly on individuals, Branches, Villages and the Men’s and women wings of Nzuko Arochukwu for the development, welfare and progress of Arochukwu
(ix) Penalties for violation of provisions of this constitution
(x) Branch “A” contribution at the General Assembly Meeting = N100.00
(xi) Branch “B” Contribution at the General Assembly meeting = N75.00
(xii) Branch “ C” Contribution at the General Assembly meeting = N50.00
(xiii) Category “A” Village contribution at the General Meeting = N50.00
(xiv) Category “ B” Village Contribution at the General Meeting = N40.00
(xv) Category “ C” Village Contribution at the General Meeting = N30.00
(xvi) Contribution by each wing in each General Assembly = N250.00

From the foregoing, it is obvious that the contribution from the above mentioned levies, though constitutional, is grossly inadequate and cannot fund the day – to – day management of the National Office of Nzuko Aro let alone investments in development projects in the community.

2.1.2 Contribution from branches is irregular and most times come with a lag (arrears)

Consequently, over the years, the quantum of financial resources from branch contributions has been declining because they are not regularly paid into the coffers of Nzuko Aro at the National level. A situation that has rendered project and programme implementation at the community level almost impossible as the cash flow of the Nzuko cannot stand any meaningful and timely project implementation time line. The implication is that Nzuko Aro National Body is starved of funds to effectively run the secretariat and fund other sundry activities of the Union.

2.1.3 Weak Enforcement of the Levy collection at the Branch and National levels
The Constitution addressed the issue of enforcement in the following provisions:
a. The amounts indicated in (i) to (vi) shall be collected by Branches quarterly and remitted to the Central Financial secretary General of the Men’s wing who shall be responsible for all monies meant for the central Account
b. The amounts indicated in (vii) to (xvi) shall be collected at each meeting of the General Assembly

The provisions for the enforcement of the contributions are also weak as the Constitution did not provide for any extant sanctions for branches that are not up to date in their contribution. The categorization according to branches and villages are more observed in the breach as they are
routinely ignored during meetings.

2.1.4 Reliance on “Launchings” and “Donations”, though desirable, has yielded suboptimal results over the years

The greatest challenge to project funding in Aro Kingdom is the reliance on “launchings” and “donations”. Though explicitly provided for in the Constitution, the twin problem of poor pledge redemption and donation fatigue on the few elites that are regularly asked to donate every time
has weakened its effectiveness. A case in point is that the Civic Centre project, which was conceptualized to be funded through the aforementioned model, lasted for more than 40 years without completion until Dr. Alex Otti took it up as a personal challenge to deliver the project
leveraging on his personal contacts and good will.

2.1.5. Branches pay more attention to their welfare and projects than contributing to Nzuko Aro Development Projects at home.

Branches of Nzuko Aro all over the Federation have initiated great development projects such as acquiring land in choice locations and building Halls for their meetings and are making great sacrifices to ensure they have robust welfare packages for their members. While this is desirable, the challenge is that it takes away commitment to the development of the Arochukwu community at home.

2.1.6. Lack of Inclusiveness of all eligible Aro Sons and Daughters in funding CommunityDevelopment Projects in Aro Kingdom.

The reliance on voluntary donations through project launching has alienated most eligible Aro Sons and Daughters from making meaningful contributions to funding community Development projects in Aro Kingdom. This model makes it possible for a large number of eligible contributors to free- ride on a few identified elites who are often called upon to lead such
launching programmes. This model has two implications for sustainability of project funding in the Kingdom, (a) It does not promote commitment and ownership of development projects across all the strata of the society, and (b) since it is voluntary, its enforcement is not backed by any known regime of sanctions, if people decide not to be part of the project launching.

The afore mentioned reasons makes it imperative that the current project funding arrangements as enshrined in the Constitution is not sustainable and therefore cannot be relied upon for sustainable development of Aro kingdom. Therefore, there is urgent need to initiate Arochukwu Development Fund ( ADF) which will address the above identified shortcomings of the present funding model and ensure sustainability that will share the burden and benefits of community development across the entire spectrum of Arochukwu Society.

Objectives and Purpose of Arochukwu Development Fund

The overarching Objectives of the Arochukwu Development Fund are:

a. Review the current community development funding arrangements in Nzuko Aro Constitution and make suggestions on how to improve upon them in a framework that will deliver a sustainable Community Development Fund (ADF).

b. Identify the various stakeholders in the Arochukwu Community and design scaled and statutory contributions from each segment in the ADF within a time frame of either annually or bi-annually

c. Develop an Organizational Structure for the Management of the Fund

d. Articulate a functional implementation framework that will ensure smooth management and accountability of the Community Development Fund through the creation of appropriate institutional frameworks

3.1 The Purpose of Arochukwu Development Fund

The purpose of Arochukwu Development Fund ( ADF) are to fund the community project in the following areas:

  1. Infrastructural Development – Special development projects; rural roads, rehabilitation and maintenance of ancestral buildings , bridges and culverts etc
  2. Social Infrastructure- Educational and social services maintenance such as School and health institutions rehabilitation
  3. Emergency Intervention Funds – Disasters such as fire, flooding and internal security challenges
  4. Administration of Nzuko Aro : Reserve 25 percent of raised funds for the administration of Nzuko Aro National Offices
  5. Any other relevant project as determined by the Projects Committee and approved by the Board of Trustee

3.2 The Vision and Mission of Arochukwu Development Fund

3.2.1 VISION:
The vision of Arochukwu Development Fund is as follows: “Ensure that no community development project and programme initiated in Aro Kingdom will be constrained by lack of adequate and sustainable funding”

“To make Arochukwu a model or pace-setter in community development infrastructure in Igbo nation by 2025”

3.2.2 MISSION:
The mission of Arochukwu Development Fund will be “ To embark on socially and economically relevant projects and programmes that will enhance the welfare and security of Arochukwu citizens and make Aro Kingdom first among equals in Community Development in Abia State”

“To mobilize resources from within and without and secure the socio-economic development of the kingdom, including kith and kin in diaspora on a sustainable basis”

Governance Principles and Organizational Structure

4.1 Governance Principles of ADF:
The Organizational Structure of Arochukwu Development Fund will be guided by the following governance principles for effective implementation:
a. Synergy- to ensure that Nzuko Arochukwu objectives are aligned with the objectives of the Fund to avoid overlapping functions that could undermine its implementation
b. Transparency: The management of the Fund will be made transparent by ensuring that there are adequate checks and balances among the implementation committees and clearly established financial reporting lines
c. Accountability: The revenue collection procedures have been adequately structured to ensure that all monies collected are remitted to the accounts specially designated as Arochukwu Development Fund Accounts. Project conceptualization, budgeting and expenditure approval
have been properly highlighted and documented. The most critical element of accountability is the Audit Committee which will audit all financial transactions and report to the Project Technical Committee for transmission to the Board of Trustees after which the CWEC will approve and ratify.
d. Responsibility: All functions have been clearly defined for each of the created institutions for effective supervision. The responsibilities for implementing the ADF are based on assigned roles for each institution, which will serve as bench mark for monitoring and evaluation.

4.2 Organizational Structure
The organizational structure of Arochukwu Development Fund is as follows:
A. Central Working Executive Committee of Nzuko Aro ( CWEC): The Central Working Executive Committee of Nzuko will be the apex controlling body for Arochukwu Development Fund. The essence is to:
(a) Obtain the approval of the entire central Executive working committee on the management of the fund;
(b) Synergize programmes and projects of Nzuko Aro to the purpose of the Fund. The Committee sets agenda for community development of the community and therefore decisions approved by CWEC is binding on all Arochukwu citizens. Functions of the CWEC on Arochukwu Development Fund are as follows:

  • Approve the constitution of the Board of Trustees
  • Approve the constitution of the Development Project Technical Committee
  • Approve the constitution of the Project Implementation Committee
  • Approve any other relevant body necessary for the effective running of the Fund

B. Arochukwu Development Fund Board of Trustees

The Arochukwu Development Fund Board of Trustees is designed to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the Fund. The overarching functions of the Board of Trustees will be to engender confidence of the public in the FUND and also serve as a mobilization tool for all to contribute to the fund.

The Terms of Reference of Arochukwu Development Board of Trustees are as follows:

  • Act as Trustees to the Fund
  • Advice the Technical Committee on Project and Programme selection
  • Advice the Project Technical Committee on Budgets for Project and Programme implementation
  • Advice the Project Technical Committee on Special Fund Raising Strategies

Membership of Board of Trustees

Dr. Alex Oti – Chairman

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa – Alternate Chairman

Engr. Alex Ezuma – Secretary

Prof. Okoro Ijoma – member

Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi – member

Mazi Dave Imoko – member

Mazi Ike Okoronkwo – member

Mazi Bank Anthony- member

Mazi Emma Nwadeyi – member

Prof. Nnennaya Kanno

Prof. Oluokwukwe Nwanna

DIG Ivy Okoronkwo

The Board was inaugurated at the 2017 Aro Day.

Arochukwu Development Fund Projects Technical Committee Membership

President General Nzuko Arochukwu – Chairman

Secretary General, Nzuko Arochukwu – Secretary

Legal Adviser Nzuko Aro – Member

President General, Womens Wing – Member

Engr. Otumchere Oti – member

Engr. Augustine Onyeador – member

Engr. Chinedu Oti = Member

Engr. Goddy Ijoma– member

Barrister Joy Choiri = Member

Terms of Reference

  • Identify projects and programmes to be financed by the Fund
  • Prepare Implementation Budget for the projects and programmes
  • Advertise and Hire Consultants for Project and projects Implementation
  • Constitute a monitoring Team for the projects/programmes
  • Constitute a special projects fund raising committee
  • Prepare Annual Reports and Accounts of the Fund to be presented to the BoT and CWEC.

C. Arochukwu Development Fund Implementation Committee

The Arochukwu Development Fund implementation committee is an adhoc committee that will oversee the implementation of the recommendations of this report. Their tenure will be 2 calendar months.

Terms of Reference

  • Enforce the recommendations of the Arochukwu Development Fund Strategy document
  • Set up Branch and Village Associations implementation committee and guidelines
  • Set up the guidelines for projects and programmes special fund raising strategies
  • Implement the accountability protocol as recommended by this Report
  • Liaise with village Development Associations and Branch presidents to Identity and compile eligible contributors to the fund.
  • Prepare an Implementation Report to be submitted to Central Executive of Nzuko Aro for Approval
  • Review the implementation framework regularly for the approval of the Central Executive Committee

Membership

Mazi Ik Onu – Chairman

Financial Secretary Nzuko Aro – Secretary

Legal Adviser Nzuko Aro – member

Treasurer General Nzuko Aro – Member

All Branch presidents – Members.

5.0 Arochukwu Development Fund Implementation Framework

5.1 Scaled Categorizations of Contributors to Arochukwu Development Fund

As earlier stated, the constitutional provision for Utu Aro as enshrined in Nzuko Aro Constitution is no longer fit for purpose and therefore reviewed to reflect current realities and the need to use it as a platform to raise funds for community development.In the light of the foregoing, the Development levies has been further classified to include the following categories:

  • Business Men and Women
  • Political office holders
  • Diaspora Communities
  • Civil Servants
  • Clubs
  • Youth Organizations
  • Branches
  • Village Development Associations

Furthermore, some of the categories have also been further sub – categorized using income levels, positions especially in cases of elected political office holders and appointees, Branches and Villages Development Associations, Civil Servants, youths and students. The Categorizations also featured the use of platinum ( prime) Gold, Bronze and Silver Grades.

The details will be worked out after due consideration by the ADF Implementation Committee.

5.2 RECOMMENDATIONS ON METHODS OF COLLECTIONS OF MONIES INTO THE FUND

  • Create a Special Account for Arochukwu Development Fund with Dignitaries as the Chairman Board of Trustees, Chairman Project Technical Committee and President, Nzuko Aro Body of Patrons
  • Monies from Business men, Political office holders, Clubs, women and Youth organizations will be collected by the Project Technical Committee secretariat and remitted into the ADF account
  • Monies from Village and Branches will be collected by Village and Branch implementation sub-Committees and remitted into the ADF Accounts
  • Monies from Diaspora will be collected by the President, All Aro USA and remitted into the ADF Domiciliary Accounts to be opened in a Nigerian Bank
  • Upon the approval of these recommendations, a stakeholder meeting of all contributors shall be held to intimate them on the reasons and modalities of the categorization after which letters will be sent to identified individuals to make their contributions to the funds.
  • All monies realized from Special Project Fund raising Activities will be remitted into the ADF Accounts
  • There should be a special section on Nzuko Aro Web Site dedicated to updates on Arochukwu Development Fund activities.

A veritable source of funding will be using the contact of Umuaro in various government agencies with CSR votes; also those in private sector whose firms support similar objectives. Moreover, the AAUSA could designate an officer who shall be responsible for applying for international grants from agencies with such budgets, and they are many.


5.3 RECOMMENDATIONS ON ACCOUNTABILITY PROCEDURES

Projects and programmes for implementation shall be prepared by the Project Technical Committee and presented to Board of Trustees for their Advice.

Budgets for approved projects and Programmes by the PTC and BoT shall be presented to the Central Executive Working Committee for ratification

The Project Technical Committee shall advertise and Award Contracts on approved projects and Programmes

Payments for projects and programmes shall be authorized according to work done by the Project Technical Committee and communicated to the board of trustees.

All monies to be drawn from the Accounts shall be authorized by the Project Technical Committee with the consent of the Board of Trustees.

The Audit Committee shall review all expenditures and authorizations at the end of each project cycle.

The 2018 Aro Day chaired by Hon. Justice Lewechi Onwuchekwa witnessed the first formal launching of the Fund and a total of six million two hundred and ninety thousand naira was realized in donations and pledges. Cash of two million four hundred and ninety naira was deposited in an account opened by the Board.The next stage is the review and operationalization of the implementation framework down the line by the Fund Implementation Committee.

Also, a WhatsApp/ Messenger/Telegram platform would be opened to regularly updatevAros and share information on developments in the kingdom, projects being implemented and the growth of the Fund.

About author

Anicho Okoro

Anicho Sunny Okoro, is a political scientist,political administrator, outstanding journalist and community development catalyst. An alumnus of Abia State University where he studied Government and Public Administration, he also has training in Law and Mass Communication. The focus of his post-graduate studies is Conflict Management. For more than two decades, he served in the Imo/Abia Broadcasting Services, winning several awards and playing key roles in information management of Abia State as Press Secretary. He has also served Nigeria at the Presidency and member of several Federal Boards. He is currently the Publicity Secretary General of Nzuko Aro worldwide. Anicho is a recipient of several awards for community service including Ezinwa Obinkita.

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