Ibu anyi danda

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, PhD

During our days in school, prominent colleges and secondary schools  were known by their motto. The motto of the schools defined their vision and mission. It also represented the character, culture, teaching, knowledge which the school   sought  to impact on the students. The goal was to mould and shape the future of the students in such a way that the quality  of their products would stand out  from the rest in society  during and after graduation. As a result of the importance attached to  the school motto, the founders of those old schools mostly Christian missionaries developed  the motto  in either Latin, French, English and other foreign languages reflecting the original developed societies where they came from. I attended one of those very old old Catholic Missionary Schools ran by white Reverend Fathers . At St. John Boscos Secondary School, Ishiagu now Ishiagu High School located in the then Afikpo division our school motto was in latin.  The school was also fully catholic in every respect. I cannot forget ourschool motto carved in latin “Prudentia Diligentia  Et Soinetia”. I attest that many of us never cared what that meant.  Many other schools including non catholics were similar. For instance- Government College Umuahia – “In Unum Luceant”, our own Aggrey Memorial Secondary School, Arochukwu – “Fundamentum Omnis Cultusanimae”. Do not ask me what this means in either English, Igbo or both. But I add that the motto and the school anthem remained  a secret and binding force for the old boys and girls whenever they meet.

However, one school in the then Eastern Nigeria stood out in its motto. That was St. Augustines Grammar School, Nkwerre. The motto of the school was and I hope still remains “ibuanyidanda”. The Igbo interpretations of ibuanyidanda are simply many depending on who and what is involved. To some ibuanyidanda directly means, no matter how heavy the load is, the ant will carry it. To others it simply refers to the Igbo spirit of-united we stand, divided we fall. Ibuanyidanda could also meanunity is strength, igwebuike ,onyeaghananwanneya, anyukoommamirionuetc. From my close encounters of old students of St Augustines Grammar School Nkwerre and watching closely their believe, motivation and dependence on ‘ibuanyidanda spirit” to confront and overcome complex challenges in life. This is  the background of conversation.

While in Aro last Christmas, I was invited to a meeting of at the residence of Prof Okoro Ijoma. On arrival at Prof’s house, I met carefully selected high quality assembly of prominent sons and daughters of Aro descent drawn from all major professions. The major agenda at the meeting was Aro development question. The other agenda was how to bury and lay to eternal rest the era of complaints, blame game and lamentations. The rest revolved around the urgency for Aro elites to forge partnership and resources together to seize the future of Aro Kingdom and hold same firmly in our two hands. The need to embrace the ibuanyidanda spirit shaped the quality debate that went late into the night.  Discussions ranged from search for selfless leadership for the community, the fate of Aros settlements and others in the diaspora, reviving the Aro culture, social infrastructure, human capital development, conflict prevention, management and resolution and above all Aro unity. Other issues such as youth unemployment, peace and security also dominated.  Opinions, views and contributions were as diverse as the attendance. The meeting rose after several hours of deliberations with far reaching decisions.  Inventory of participants and clear definition of next steps to walk the talk were taken. One key take-away from that productive meeting was the establishment of an online WhatApp Platform called “Rebuilding the Aro Nation”. The platform began with the spirit of that meeting and how to advance the objectives.  As I write, the roll call of prominent Aro sons and daughters on that platform is intimidating. It is safer to say that everybody who is somebody in Aro at home and abroad have signed on to the platform. On the Rebuilding the Aro Nation Whatsapp Platform, no idea is stupid, no idea is ignored. For the platform, there is sense in every non-sense. Every suggestion has every chance to succeed through knowledge based interactive, constructive debates coordinated by established rules and standards.  The online initiative walks the talk given the profile and capacity  of the members to make things happen in the “spirit of ibuanyidanda’’. It is also govern by rules.

Under this spirit major projects have been initiated by the Rebuilding the Aro Nation online platform. The projects covered basic education, access to justice and social welfare. For instance on education, Amoba Primary in Arochukwu urban, one of the oldest primary schools in Eastern Nigeria was on its knees as  result of total collapse of the ancient school building,  poor learning facilities and environment. The reconstruction of the school is nearing completion in the spirit of ibuanyidanda. Millions of naira raised from individual but voluntary contributions by this forum are the only source of funding for the project. Please visit the school in Amoba and see things for yourself. As I write, the project is at painting stage.

On access to justice, rehabilitation work on the magistrate court located at the Barracks  is another project. This intervention became necessary as a result of real threats to relocate the magistrate court out of Aro to other communities with better infrastructure. While it is convenient and legitimate to wait for government, the platform thinks otherwise. They believe that no law would be broken by their intervention. Again, a large pool of funds have been flowing into the project account to ensure early and timely completion with a view to laying to rest fears of possible relocation. Our brothers, Prof Gibson Okorafor and Barrister Ndionyenma Nwankwo are coordinating the fund raising with encouraging progress so far.  There is little space to narrate direct other life –saving interventions by the group since its inception a year ago.

On the relationship between the Rebuilding Aro Nation Platform and Nzuko Aro? Amaikpe is aware of the concerns in some quarters. Many have asked are the two in conflict or competition? Which is superior or more relevant? Does this not amount to duplication of efforts?   As genuine as these concerns may be, the fears are unfounded. Nzuko Aro is and remains supreme to all other initiatives, associations and service arms in Aro. Members of the platform are all members of Nzuko Aro. Some are even Nzuko Aro patrons. The reality is that the platform is a service arm offering complimentary support to lessen  the burden that Nzuko Aro has to contend with both at home in the diaspora. The intervention of the Rebuilding Aro Nation platform should be located and viewed from this prism. A point of convergence will soon be found once the Arochukwu Development Fund recently established by Nzuko Aro fully takes off.

However, if the “ibuanyidanda spirit” so far demonstrated by members of Rebuilding the Aro Nation Platform is directed at key social services in our Kingdom,  the culture of lamentations, blame game and  waiting for government for even projects that we can confront through self help will diminish. Amaikpe therefore salutes the courage, sacrifice, selflessness and valuable contributions of the under-listed prominent Aro sons and daughters who have contributed funds and are still contributing  to fix, reconstruct and rebuild Amoba Primary School in the spirit of to “ibuanyidanda”.  The roll call is long but their committed to the project is stoic. I have deliberately listed the names of these patriotic, exceptional Aro sons and daughters behind the Amoba school project without the amounts they contributed because I do not have their permission. They are: 

Prof OkoroIjoma(Chair)

Prof KanuNkaginieme

Bar. NdionyenmaNwankwo


Mazi Ike Onu



Mazi Alex E. Ikwuagwu

Sir AnichoOkoro


Mazi P C Okoro

Justice Onwuchekwa

MaziNwankwo J Okoro

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa


Mazi Alex Eze

Mazi Frank Agodi  (USA)

Bar Joy Chiori

Mazi Emma Okoronkwo O. (USA)

Mazi Emma KanuIvi

Mazi Dave Imoko

Bar Oscar Okoro

Dr JK Onwuchekwa

Justice (Mrs) IfeomaJombo-Ofo


Bar AchoOchonma

Mazi Sunny Allison

Mazi Ike Okoronkwo

Dr Emma Nwadeyi

Mazi Ernie Onwuere

Mazi Obi Chijioke

Mazi Godwin Nwachukwu

DrOkeyIjomanta (USA)


Mazi Marquis Onyeador

(DIG) Uche Ivy Okoronkwo

Mazi Solomon Okoronkwo (solo black)


Dr Friday KanuOhuche

Mazi Hubert Nwokoro

Sir, ChikweUdensi

DrOkoroUkpabi (USA)


Bar OnyemucheElekwa

Mazi Chinese Okoroafor



Mrs UCC Elekwa.

Mazi Leo OkoronkwoAsonta



Prof OC Nwana
Ada MaziNgwanma Lancaster Okoro

Sen Mao Ohuabunwa

Ada MaziNnennayaEzuma

Mazi Bank-Anthony Okoroafor


Dr/Mrs Henry Onyeador  (USA)

Mazi Emma ChijiokeOdinaka

Mazi Sam Offor

MaziUkwuKanuOkoroji (USA)

MaziIjoma O Ijoma (ochi war)

Prof SO Nworu

Prof Arthur Onwuchekwa

Arch ChimaChijioke

MaziOmeremba Jas Okoroafor

MaziChima Ume

Mazi Lawson Obasi (Sobaz Ltd)

MaziGoddyIykeIjoma (Alpha Plus)

Dr Emmanuel Nwamara (USA)

Prof Michael N. Oti.

Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

This list was as at the time of this publication. A close look shows that while the list cuts across all professions, class and status. The donors are strongly held together by the spirit ofibuanyidanda driven by a common passion for Aro and community service. . Amaikpe salutes their valued contributions and intervention.

It is our hope that “ibuanyidanda” spirit will be brought to bear in the  Aro development question.   Given  the quality of people, wealth in knowledge, resources and affluence within the kingdom, ibuanyidanda can make the difference. But that is   if and only if we come together as is the case with the Amoba project.  Each time we complain about condition of port-holes on our urban roads, condition of health clinics, hospital and internal security, youth unemployment, we put a huge moral burden on what we  can do but failed to do to help ourselves.

Thanks for being part of Ikeji 2019

About author

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, a well-known Nigerian broadcaster, journalist, political economist and development communication specialist sits on the Editorial Board of Aro News, a leading community news channel of the Aros, south east Nigeria. Orji writes its popular column “Amaikpe”.  
He is currently the Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Presidency, Abuja. NEITI is the Nigerian chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international organization with 53 member countries which leads the global campaign for transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources in resource-rich countries around the world. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji was named NEITI's acting Executive Secretary/ceo in 2015, a position he held briefly until 2016.  
Dr. Orji represents NEITI on Nigeria’s National Steering Committee of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and chairs the extractive sector thematic group in the country’s OGP.  
Prior to his current job at NEITI, Dr. Orji was a special adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication on Strategic Development Communication. Between 2004 and 2006, he worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a national consultant on public procurement reforms. At the UNDP, he worked with other development partners such as the World Bank and USAID on institutionalizing public procurement processes in Nigeria, by articulating a bill on public procurement for consideration and passage into law by the National Assembly. Following the passage of the Bill into law and establishment of the Bureau of Public Procurement on the June 4, 2007, Orji headed the media and public affairs department of the Bureau.
He served as Special Adviser to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. During this period, he provided technical support to develop the institutional framework on strategic media/civil society relations and engagements with the country’s legislature emerging from years of military rule.
His career in the media industry began at Radio Nigeria where he was groomed and worked in various capacities, rising through the ranks to the position of Deputy Director at the headquarters. The highest point of his career at Radio Nigeria was his posting to the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power) as the Chief State-House Correspondent, attached to Nigeria’s presidents. Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji served with courage and distinction during five different regimes, part of which were under the military from 1993 to 2000, when Nigeria returned to civil rule. The job at the Presidential villa took Orji on regular entourages of Nigerian Presidents to many countries of the world for the media-coverage of key global events, including several sessions of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji began his early life and education in 1970 at the Presbyterian School, Amanator Isu, Ohaozara in the then Afikpo Division. He attended Ishiagu High School Okigwe for his secondary education from 1975 and obtained his West African School Certificate from the school in 1980. He later proceeded to the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu where he graduated with a certificate in Mass communication in 1987. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Abuja, Nigeria in 1999, a master’s degree in political economy and development studies in 2004 and a PhD in the same discipline and from the same University in 2012.
He attended the Senior Executive Fellows program on public policy and communication at J.F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also an alumnus of Blatvanik School of Government, University of Oxford, England, Thompson Foundation Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff, United Kingdom, the International Law Institute, George Town University Washington DC, the Institute for Public and Private Partnership, Arlington Virginia, the World Bank Institute, the African Development Bank Institute, and the Lagos Business School. Furthermore, he is a recipient of professional fellowships from the US State Department and from the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Esther Ogbonnaya with three children: Nnenna, Orji (Jr), and Chinatu.

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