Let’s place this talk about Aro News ban into perspective. And, as we do so, we shall endeavor to resolve some puzzles such as: who actually wants Aro News banned, was it a rumor or was it actually envisioned, who shall profit from the ban; in fact, is it actually possible to ban Aro News and under what circumstances can such action be contemplated? But before delving into above issues, I want to, in a special way, appreciate the numerous Umu-Aro that reached me in person and on phone when the news broke that Aro’s foremost quarterly, Aro News, was being considered for forced closure. For reasons that are obvious, not the least being the pioneering role I played in founding the medium, it has remained impossible to divorce myself from the venture in people’s minds several years after I had voluntarily relinquished the management to a succeeding team. For two consecutive monthly meetings of Nzuko Arochukwu, Abuja branch, each time I entered the hall and before I could sit down, people led me out to discuss the issue in order to get clarifications about the truth of the matter. Honestly, on a positive note, occasions like this reassures me that my decision in 1997 when the medium was founded was driven by rational considerations as well as the soundness of the objectives and the targets we set for the publication. Furthermore, it convinces me clearly about the incorrectness of my underestimation of the reach and impact of the tabloid and further lays bare the illogicalities in the thinking about banning it. Perhaps, a bit of history shall place things in proper focus even though am aware that the management board of Aro News Publications Ltd, the current publishers, has issued a public statement in response to this matter. Aro News was founded by Mazi Azubike Okoro far back in 1997 and as publisher/editor in-chief then, I ran it successfully with other pioneers, particularly the editor, Mazi Ben Ezumah, for a decade before it was handed over to Arochukwu Kingdom (not Nzuko Arochukwu) at no cost in December 2006. At the public event to celebrate these illustrious Aro sons, the monarch, Mazi Vincent Ogbonnaya Okoro, CFR, who personally presided, and in the presence of the two other kindred heads, prayed and blessed them and handed over the legal instruments of the medium to Nzuko Arochukwu with directives that it should manage and preserve it for the kingdom. Subsequently, Nzuko Arochukwu, in its wisdom, took a decision at the Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting that was held sometime in 2009 (am doing this piece from vacation so not close to my records) to privatize the venture and have it managed by an independent body in order to insulate it from the politics of governance. Thereafter, it remained a shareholder and unlike other shareholders, it appropriated dividends solely until separate bank accounts were created for the venture. Ever since, ownership rested on the individuals that bought shares in the business, including myself (I was equally allotted a special, golden share as founder), and it is being administered by a management board and editorial board approved by the shareholders. So Aro News is now run purely as a business and shareholders expect dividend each December 31st at the AGM that usually holds at Asaga, Arochukwu. As nwa-aro, I urge you to subscribe for a share no matter how little in order to partake in what belongs to you. This is because Aro News has become synonymous with Aro – remaining at the vanguard of the fight for the protection of its integrity and right; and the emancipation of the people from poverty, ignorance and disease.
Aro News, through its agenda setting roles, has placed Aro issues on the front burners of national and international discourse, throwing up issues of great importance to the public domain for discussions, information and education. Through its concern for the propagation of Aro culture and tradition grey areas have been illuminated and better understanding achieved especially by non-indigenes, including Aro in Diaspora. Just like the Omu Aro wrapper, the Amaikpe square, Omu Aro logo (insignia) and such other institutions, Aro News has become an integral property of Arochukwu; one of the things by which Aro is simply identified. That alone encapsulates my dream spurred by the determination of the founding team which I led. All that we were concerned with was to have the venture institutionalized for corporate Aro, so I salute the courage, vision and entrepreneurial insight of the Mazi Ivi- led Exco of Nzuko Arochukwu on the very strategic initiative they took in 2009. History will, no doubt, accord him and all shareholders due credit as Aro and Aro alone, stands to gain everything. Now let’s go back and proffer answers to the questions we posed at the beginning. First, talk about banning Aro News was not a rumor, so make no mistake about it because it was brought up at a particular forum, discussed and plans for actualizing it sustained over some time, including muting the idea at regular meetings of Nzuko Arochukwu. When it was obvious that the idea was not popular within the small group where it was initiated, the individuals pushing the ban agenda were requested to reduce it to writing for record purposes at what point they hesitated thus, momentarily halted the move. Next, who wants the publication dead? My inquiry reveals that it was envisioned and sustained by a section within the Central Executive Council of Nzuko Arochukwu and this is the aspect I consider unfortunate because as an Igbirra proverb says, “only people that have head will feel the pain of headache”. Unless a person goes through the rigors of establishing an institution, he or she won’t appreciate why contemplating its destruction is a sin against the community. I reliably learnt that some officers made several attempts to “control” the editors of the paper, to have them do their bidding and feed umu Aro with falsehood. However, this attempt was stoutly rejected by most members of the editorial board. Since then and not succeeding in their plans, these elements have been making attempts to “victimize and harass” some principal officers of the paper and reference was made to specific articles and photographs that were said to be disrespectful or allowed to be published without the approval of the leadership of Nzuko Aro. But consider this fact, should Aro News, a full member of the league of the national press, be a mouthpiece of any individual or group, doing things in unprofessional and unethical manners? Third, is it possible to ban Aro News? Sure, nothing is impossible but there is order even in madness.
Just think about it, can you ban what you don’t have control over or can you ban what belongs to yourself? Does is not sound absurd, like accusing a man of stealing what belongs to him? Aro News has acquired its own existence, assumed a life of its own and as a common wealth of all umu-aro sits in every one’s consciousness. It has grown to become a credible source of identity, a pride and a significant institution which distinguishes Arochukwu kingdom from the rest of Igbo nations. Equally, it has an online version which is being red by umu-aro world-wide. So how do you ban what you cannot ban? But as a legal business entity, if it infringes on the rights of people beyond what the law permits, there are laid down procedures for redressing and resolving such issues and proponents of ban are not denied such avenues if they feel that any of the editors have done something that warrants such move, short of clandestine meetings. Moreover, it makes sense to build institutions that will advance the cause of Arochukwu heritage and ensure its preservation for posterity. I was fascinated by the fact that many umu-aro has bequeathed legacies which has endured beyond their generations (think of Mazi T K Uchay and Omu Aro logo) so concerned about etching a mark in the annals of our history and civilization before founding Aro News and devoted every effort and finance available to me to sustain it until it was donated to umu-aro. It is in the sense of the aforementioned argument that any one that ever contemplates proscribing Aro News should see himself or herself as the number one enemy of the kingdom and he or she shall be so credited. In essence, no person stands to gain anything, rather it shall be an unfortunate loss for the entire kingdom. For the benefit of those that may have forgotten, I have reproduced hereunder, unedited, the editorial opinion that was published to commemorate Aro News one decade of existence which captures what propelled me to initiate it … see insert box.
Historic Bow-out Beckons
Christmas 2006 edition will mark our tenth year of publishing Aro News Newspaper. Ten years of unbroken appearance on the newsstand. Aro News came as a child of circumstance. It hit the newsstand on the heels of a kingship tussle that polarized Arochukwu. Then dissension, mistrust, hatred, enmity and acrimony were propelled to the fore as norm. Aro News came as a soothing balm on the frayed nerves of our common heritage and community. It provided the veritable platform for discourse and through that set agenda for meaningful development. It fostered the atmosphere of love, trust, service and understanding. Instead of dissipating much needed capacities in exercises bordering on futility, Aro News directed our people’s attention to our genuine problems and genuine need: provision of infrastructure; roads, health care delivery, water supply, education, service delivery and accountability at our Local Government Secretariat, food production and supply, peace and security, tourism and so on. Aro News sparked off the reawakening of interest and learning in Aro history and civilization to a near renaissance level. It encourages the networking of Aro Diaspora by reporting news and development from such places. For once, there was a dialectical framework and premise for the articulation of our common problem and its solutions.
When the pioneer team of Aro News withdrew from its management so as to give way to another team; it did so with deep sense of responsibility and belief that it is in Aro’s greater interest. The change of baton was simply to allow us time, energy and other vital resources to run Aro News international. We believe that having raised the standard to where it was locally, it was only worthy that we take Aro to the world stage- via the internet. Aro deserves to be known, seen and heard internationally. This can’t happen unless we take our views to where they ought to be taken. Instead of severance of service, it’s actually a continuation; as responsible leaders, we have done all that is necessary to make sure that Aro News print edition survives and continues to serve our local and national audience through the hard work of Mazi Emma kanu Ivi, erstwhile President-General, Nzuko Aro, and all stakeholders who worked tirelessly in concert with me to sustain the project. Indeed, we are continuing to make history as Aro News book series are now being republished and made available to readers and researchers via global bibliographical data bases both in hard copy and ebook formats (check out amazon.com, Lulu.com, Barnes and Nobles, and numerous other global distribution networks). The project cost which is in hard currency is enormous yet it is being privately financed because of my interest and faith in legacies and service to fatherland.
Indeed, a new era, re-charged and emboldened by its illustrious past has emerged and is now flourishing to the glory of God and Aro kingdom for all eternity. In the light of above, the role played by lack of or refusal to acknowledge facts in the talk about banning of Aro News becomes obvious as it’s not expected from any son and daughter, least being those entrusted with governance. This should not be as we of a common stock, with a single purpose of ensuring the existence and survival of our fatherland. And, lest we forget, leadership is transient and no kingdom that is divided amongst itself ever survives. The reality about the judgment of history is that it can be cruel, so we should not consign ourselves to the wrong side of it. Osita di nama.. odi wara gboo..