Welcome Address by Ike Orji

Honourable Chairman, our Chief Launcher, members of the high table, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the IGBO UNION, I welcome you all to the great city of San Francisco, the host city of this historic event today. As the Convener of this historic experiment, and as the elected coordinator of Igbo Union, let me give you a brief overview of why the idea of an organization like IGBO UNION is very vital in fostering unity among us as Ndigbo and to nudge us to speak with one voice as a people on major issues that concern our existence. IGBO UNION is the place where we can begin a collective discussion
and dialogue in an honest way about the why the how and the so-what about Ndigbo. Ndigbo have individually and as families done so well in the diaspora but what we lack is how to speak with one voice & replicate our individual and family successes in an aggregate manner that can benefit us as a group and pull our strengths, intelligence and resources together to solve NDIGBO problems. This is what inspired us to begin this project. During the formative stage, we organized outreaches, town hall meetings and seminars in different cities here in Northern California looking for ideas and listening to you on how we could form the IGBO UNION. We also developed 10-point sample opinion questionnaire after examining the reasons and causes why
many Igbo associations were never sustained… We came up with the idea of introducing a delegate-based approach for the Igbo Union as we did not want to
be seen to be competing with local/town/cultural and states meetings that have had some measures of success. We did visit many States/ cultural/ local meetings here in the Bay Area and beyond canvassing for delegates and were successful! Permit me to publicly use
this medium and opportunity to thank all the states and local associations which believed in us and responded to our requests and sent in delegates!!
Ndigbo, we are at a crossroads at this moment in history with our current state of existence! we have to decide now, whether we turn our backs on our motherland and perish as a people or remain in exile in perpetuity. These are the questions we as the last generation between our ancestors and posterity to
answer since we have a unique responsibility to reset the Igbo trajectory for the future. This IGBO UNION is modelled after the premier Igbo Union which was
founded in the 1940s and held sway until the 1970s; folks who are familiar with the accomplishments of the famed Igbo Union back then will agree with us
that this current IGBO UNION which was dreamed about in 2017 has not come at a moment too soon.

What we are doing today is a baby step, foundational, and it’s a precursor to future Igbo cultural events and a lot more. We intend to raise funds at this
event and through other means to build a multipurpose cultural centre for Ndigbo that will serve as a neutral rallying symbol that can help to unite us, a place where we can showcase our artefacts, monuments, and our heroes to the world; this will
also, help with the psychic of our youths and others. We have short-term and long-term goals; our short-term goal includes some of the things we have already done since the formation of the IGBO Union, such as the formation of the IGBO Union, various CMTEs etc. are at this point at the beginning
of the phase of the long-term goal which I will summarize thus; establishing a cultural center, build a strong Igbo identity and explore ways to build numerical strength and leverage on it to encourage our youths to participate in US politics and run for public offices, create a sustained campaign to encourage Ndigbo to invest more in Igbo land. There are many more ideas in our long-term goal which are inexhaustible. As I conclude, I want to give a shout-out to the various Igbo Union committees who have worked so hard in various projects we carried out in the past few years both here in the USA and Nigeria; the planning CMTE team of this historic cultural extravaganza, some individuals in Igbo Union for their unflinching support, time and money; our special guests and speakers who flew in from Texas, and other places notable among them, State Rep. Jarvis Johnson, Atty. Attorney James Okorafor and Mrs Adanma Ukah Brown. You save the best for last…finally, my beautiful wife, Chief, Mrs Ogechi Orji, Ugo Diya 1 & KpaKpando Chinyere 1, of Ulakwo, I can’t thank you enough for your understating and support and your encouraging words that are so uplifting, thank you and I love you. I also thank our great children.
Chief Ike Fidelis Orji, Dike Di Na Mba 1, of Ulakwo, Coordinator, IGBO UNION