Arochukwu Development Fund Issues & Facts

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Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, PhD

The idea of Arochukwu development Fund was informed by the urgency to put in place a basket of funds ready and available for use to finance key development projects in the Kingdom in the short, medium and long term. These  projects  are visibly required today  in the areas of equipment of the civic center,  primary health care, basic education, rural-urban access road,  peace and security of the community.

Others are development of  sports, culture,  entertainment, youth empowerment and  support to Aro traditional institutions among others. Aro is currently lacking in all these basic social services. The initiative also became necessary as a result of  the  fact that the era in Nigeria when  communities fold their hands and  wait for government is certainly over.  Many communities  have realized  the urgent need  to take their destiny in their own hands through self-help. The Arochukwu Development Fund is our  own  timely response to this unfolding approach to community development  now  common in Igbo land .

In  establishing the Fund therefore,  the current leadership of Nzuko Aro were fully  aware of the cynicism, lack of public confidence and community trust deficit that may confront the implementation. The zero -confidence  that  management of such a community development  fund would  be characterized by corruption, abuses, poor judgement, inefficiency,  lack of transparency and accountability has a long history here in Aro. Those who share this concern  have several examples of failure, blame game and passing -the -bulk syndrome  in this direction  to drive home their fears. They ask questions and seek answers: What  has changed? Any lessons learnt?  How will the fund be managed? Are there consequences for abuses? What about utlilisation, monitoring, evaluation and measurement of impact? 

However, all those who are skeptical over this initiative seem to agree on one thing.  They all  believe that Aro has more than  enough men and women with character, contentment, resources, competence and integrity to handle this kind of assignment successfully if given a chance.  And this is the crux of the matter. It is gratifying to state that such men and women have been identified and deployed. While the fears and concerns are genuine, the robust governance  structure put in place to administer the newly floated Arochukwu Development is as strong, effective, dynamic and functional as that of any of  the world best development financial institutions.  

A comparative analysis and case study of  the  governance  structure  of  World  Bank Projects,   the IMF,  African Development Bank, African Finance Corporation and that of the Central Bank of Nigeria were used as models to design the Arochukwu Development Fund. And this is a fact.  Again, those who either  designed  the  Fund  or  carefully  chosen to management same or both;  are fellow Aros that any  one can take their reputation to any bank as collateral. These are Aros that  have  made  huge  successes  of  their respective  career and vocation. In summary, the fears and concerns no longer exist. This fund  is  different  both  in concept, design  and management and will be so visible in impact assessments. Things have changed.  A  lot  of  lessons have been learnt. The time to rebuild the public confidence and trust is now.

The governance structure put in  place  makes it “easier for one to go to heaven” than for any individual or group to abuse  or steal from the fund. Besides, management will follow a work plan developed with time-lines and targets built on carefully conducted need assessment.  We therefore urge all Aros at home and in the diaspora to embrace this initiative with every passion and commitment. While responses to donate to the fund since it was publicly unveiled on December 26th last year have  been encouraging, the expectation is quite high that this year will be phenomenally different. As we converge on the Aro Civic Center to mark the Dec 26th 2019 Aro Day Celebration, please  book your  name in the Development Fund donors list.  This  is  a  civic  responsibility  to  every  taxable  Aro son or daughter. The  moral  right  to ask how the fund is managed begins with your donation no matter how token. The journey to make Aro great again, has just begun.  Please, don’t sit on the fence.

Merry Xmas & a happy new year.   

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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