Harnessing Diaspora Funds As Part of Local Developmental Solutions in Arochukwu

Mazi Ben Ezumah

Israel has always been a shining example of how diaspora funding can been effectively and judiciously harnessed as solutions to local challenges and problems. Prior to 1948, Israel was not a nation state, had no territory or infrastructure that could be called their own. Most of Israelis were scattered in Europe and North America.But through effective deployment of resources, soon after it was granted statehood by the United Nations’ proclamation of May 14, 1948, Israel’s dreams were rapidly transformed to realities-as patches of scorched, desert earth and bush borders became sprawling metropolis and arable agricultural lands in a matter of time.

The Israeli experience teaches us all that:there is no problem on earth that the human spirit cannot surmount,once there is determination-and human beings working with one heart and one soul.

It goes without saying that the greater number of Aro’s population has always domiciled outside Arochukwu at any given time. Right from the great dispersal of the 18th century leading up to the expedition of 1902, Aro people as traders then have always been migratory. That is the only way to explain the establishment of scores of settlements made up of people of Aro extraction all over Igboland. From Arondizogu to Aro Ajalli and elsewhere, Aro’s intense migratory footprints are self -evident and without question.

However, ancient Aro’s major weakness if any was in their gross inability at harnessing the immense resources found in the areas they settled, and repatriating part of those resources home for the overall development of main land Arochukwu. That never happened in any meaningful scale. Hence the obvious internal depletions, exhaustions and fatigue arising from the huge human and material resources taken away from Arochukwu at every given time especially in the critical stages of its socio-economic development in the past two hundred years. That alone, created huge gaps in the rapid development of the town.Wisdom suggests that a rolling stone gathers on moss.

Question: What royalty or tribute has ever accrued to Arochukwu from Arondizogu, Aro Ajalli, Aro Atta, Aro Agbaja, Aro Amaokwe, Aro Isuochi, Aro Okporoenyi, and so on? Absolutely nothing!

Question and back to modern times:what is the amount of diaspora funding that flows directly into developmental efforts in Arochukwu from Aro USA, Aro Canada, Aro United Kingdom, Aro Ireland, Aro South Africa, Aro Germany, Aro China and Japan, Aro Spain, Aro France, Aro India, Aro Abuja, Aro Lagos, Aro Port Harcourt, etc., on annual basis?

Apart from Aro USA that had in the past carried out medical missions to Aro, which other Aro based Club, Society, Forum, Association, Fraternity, Union, etc. can say without equivocation, that it has in any way invested  up to five hundred thousand(N500,000) naira in Arochukwu in the past twelve months? Can Nzuko Aro World-wide state unequivocally that it attracted in concrete terms up to one million (N1,000,000) only towards developmental efforts in Arochukwu in the past twelve months? Not at all!

Put in another perspective, how much accrues to Arochukwu directly from activities of Nzuko Aro year in year out from all the cities and towns across Nigeria and overseas, wherever Aro indigenes reside and hold regular meetings? How much does each of such platforms religiously remit and/or repatriate home, to Arochukwu as funds meant for mitigating the acute infrastructural deficits which beset Arochukwu? I dare state without fear of contradiction,absolutely nothing in most cases! Only noises and community-wide empty posturing!

How can years of long hours of all manners of meetings not translate to rapid development in all the nineteen villages?

Going by the forgone expose’ therefore, it goes without saying that Arochukwu has always suffered the fate of a poor goat belonging to everybody, and to nobody. Hence, the deplorable conditions of social amenities and gross lack of functional educational, sporting and recreational facilities.

Thus, bearing in mind that governments at all level are not interested in assisting in the rapid development of rural communities such as ours, we need to change forthwith the entrenched culture of poor attitude to self-help efforts in all the nineteen villages that make up Arochukwu. This is the bane of the asphyxiating gross lack of social amenities, absence of opportunities consciously created and made available for young people who choose to reside in Aro to be happy and excel in their chosen vocations and careers. The business environment in Aro must be carefully nurtured by the elites, business managers, and entrepreneurs so as to become viable and engage the teeming number of people -more especially youth, who are unemployed.

Simply put, there is a pervasive retardation in most areas including the provision of common services in all the villages in Arochukwu.This has gone on for decades and it is a collective failure on all of us, rich or poor, young or old, prominent or obscure; living overseas or within Nigeria. We neglected Arochukwu as years turned to decades-now presenting us with the stagnation that stares us all in the face.

We have all failed to develop our hometown and make it a great place to live in. We may build our mansions, but those mansions cannot stand exclusively outside the village or town. Those mansions are linked by communal goodwill, roads, public power supply, water supply, and prevailing security challenges which make life in a mansion either hospitable or a living hell. There is really nothing like life outside of society. It does not exist, as it is an abstraction unknown to experience.We are a community of people and must truly strive towards one goal:peace and collective progress in our hometown.

The way forward:

*We must change the way and manner we conduct Aro business and communal affairs as regards the provision of social amenities and common services.

*Most of the Aro elites must change their selfish and lip service attitude towards Arochukwu; and work as a group to enhance the quality of life in Arochukwu through the provision of much needed infrastructure.

*Zillions of hours of meetings are held all over the world each year under the umbrella of Arochukwu. But, tragic enough not much of that translates to visionary leadership, viable results and mitigating the dire socio-economic challenges plaguing our home town –a situation that has not changed pretty much since after the civil war in 1970.

*Aro meetings spear-headed by NzukoAro must be made viable as a rallying point and veritable platform for rapid socio-economic development of Arochukwu. Nobody, not governments can take up that challenge other than Aro people themselves.

*Furthermore, it’s instructive to note that the present Nzuko Aro executive committee has the opportunity to transform Arochukwu because they preside over a platform; that with visionary leadership can become a veritable vehicle to raise funds, attract funds trapped in the hands of thousands of Umu aro worldwide, who are eager to contribute to the development of Arochukwu, but do not know how to do so or who to trust.

*Nzuko Aro should go beyond our laid back ways of doing things – of doing business as usual to become a vehicle through which the huge infrastructural deficits in Arochukwu could be reduced through self-help driven efforts.

Finally, primary health facilities, construction of inter-village roads, poverty alleviation, upgrading of physical facilities in publicly owned primary and secondary schools,provision of primary health care facilities in all the villages, provision of dependable internal security system,opening of businesses in other to create meaningful jobs; upgrading of common services such as markets, abattoirs,sports facilities,and so on are challenges faces Umuaro at home and abroad.The earlier these issues are addressed and surmounted, the better for all of us who hope for an improved quality of life in the town that we love so much.-

About author

Ben Ezumah

Ben Ezumah was born in Arochukwu, Abia state, Nigeria. He attended Holy Ghost College, Owerri (1983). His first degree was at University of Jos (1990) where he obtained BA (Hons.) in English and Linguistics combined honors. He obtained Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism, Abuja. (2003) Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from the University of Abuja (2005), Master of Science (MS) Adult Learning in English as a Second Language (2015) from Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.(2015). As a result of his inter-disciplinary works and specializations, he can rightly be described as a Journalist, Educationist, Playwright, Essayist, Creative Writer, Linguist, Biographer and Poet. Some of his publications include though not limited to: Meditations of an Old Prostitute-a Collection of Poems (2002), co-author: Perspectives on Aro History and Civilization-the Splendor of a Great Past-Volumes 1,2&3(2001),2003)&(2007)respectively. Wedding-Bells that Never Rang (2013). Ben Ezumah was the pioneer Editor, Aronews for about ten years. He is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors,(ANA) Nigerian Environmental Society(NES) among several others.

1 comment

  1. Checkers Oti 13 February, 2018 at 16:24 Reply

    Same pattern, criticise , blame everyone else but not yourself . Offered all sorts of solutions but never takes the lead. You definitely are not the first to highlight our problem and never takes on it head on to lead the charge. As long as we adopt this attitude of leading by sitting back, the spiral will continue . Next article might be shifting from the ills of diaspora to that of home breed.

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