ATLANTA CONVENTION 2006
PROF. NDUBUEZE OKONKWO MD
Our guest speaker for this occasion was Dr. Ndubueze Okonkwo, a respectable Nnewi citizen who is an accomplished medical doctor in his own rights. He grew up at Nnewi and attended Okongwu Memorial Grammar School (OMGS). He specializes in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. He currently practices as the Medical Director of the Dialysis Cooperation Inc. of Eastern New Orleans and is also the CEO at the Medicine and Nephrology Clinic of New Orleans.
Dr. Okonkwo graduated with first class honors in 1982 from the University of Port Harcourt and also from University Central Del Este in 1986. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago. His specialty training in Nephrology was received from the well known residency training program at Tulane University in Louisiana.
Following the completion of his residency program, he worked in different professional capacities in the medical field, first as the Clinical Assistant professor of Tulane University and also the Director of the Tulane-Hutchinson Nephrology Clinic system. He also continues to serve as a medical consultant to many hospitals in South Eastern United States not to mention Nigeria where he not only serves as a medical consultant but also as the chairman of WECAN organization spearheading the development of tertiary hospitals in Nigeria.
In addition, Dr. Okonkwo has a passion for delivering inspirational talks that shows connections between biblical healing and medical technology. He also operates the SEARCH & RESCUE initiative which focuses primarily on transferring patients from one country to another for medical procedures not available in their country of residence. He has also been involved in the organization and execution of many medical missions especially within Latin America and Africa countries.
Health Care in Nnewi
Dr. Ndubueze Okonkwo focused his speech on the issue of quality health care in Nnewi posing this question: What do we need to ensure quality medical care at Nnewi for people who are ill and seeking medical care? Dr. Okonkwo recounted several incidents of people in Nigeria who were suffering from medical ailments that were treatable and/or even preventable who met their untimely death because there were no facilities available with basic screening equipment for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Okonkwo shared his own disheartening personal experiences about the death of his father to illustrate the deplorable and appalling condition of the health care delivery system in Nigeria. According to him, when his 83-year-old father visited the U.S a few years ago, he had noticed that he was having problems with his breathing. Follow-up test revealed very low hemoglobin which required blood transfusion of which his father agreed to receive once prior to his return to Nigeria.
A few months after he returned to Nigeria, he went to visit a doctor because he was not feeling well. The doctor examined him declaring no medical issues.
He nonetheless, offered Mr. Okonkwo (Ndubueze’s father) the option of staying over night if he so desired. Dr. Okonkwo reported that his father accepted the offer to spend the night in the hospital and in less than six hours after his father was seen, he passed away.
Dr. Okonkwo asked how do you render a diagnosis or determine the severity of one’s ailment if no tests were performed to identify the problem to begin with. Dr. Okonkwo reminds us that the lack of adequate medical facilities in Nigeria has not only affected those residing in Nigeria. He reminds us that it has also adversely impacted some of our friends and family members residing in the United States who have become ill during a visit to Nigeria. Some of these people have died during their visits to Nigeria because of inadequate medical services for conditions that could have been easily detected and treated in the United States were they to receive care in the U.S.
If you travel to Nigeria with a child who suffers from asthma and the child happens to have an asthmatic attack while there, you are out of luck because there is no oxygen not to mention the adulterated versions and/or expired medications issued to patients in Nigeria. Trauma centers needed to avert some serious potential medical complications are non-existent in the whole Eastern region of Nigeria. It is therefore this glaring problem of inappropriate and inadequate medical services in Nigeria that has necessitated access of medical care outside of the country for those who can actually afford to travel and pay the exorbitant cost for such medical services.
Dr. Okonkwo cited numerous incidents where Nigerians sought medical care in places such as Indian, South African, and China with outcomes they were not particularly favorable. The ones without the financial capabilities to seek proper care outside of Nigeria; they too have had to endure exacerbation of symptoms ultimately resulting in debilitating conditions and eventually their untimely death. Apparently, the Nigerian medical delivery system is an area deserving immediate and serious attention. It is therefore incumbent upon us as educated and enlightened citizens with so much expertise and resources to step up to the plate and take necessary measures to address this issue.
Dr. Okonkwo feels that what prevents us from having a workable health care delivery system in Nnewi is not due to lack of finances. He believes that it is primarily due to “lack of conviction” “selfishness” and “Drum Major Syndrome”. After all, the few General Hospitals in the sixties with little or no equipment had better outcomes because of the unwavering commitment of the health care providers supported by the government at that time. It’s that same conviction that our parents had causing them to make great sacrifices to ensure that we had quality education even when some of them could not afford to go to school themselves. They collectively built elementary and secondary schools and embarked on other worthwhile projects paving the way for us to succeed.
Dr. Okonkwo continuing with his compelling speech states that he was profoundly impacted by the selfless and tireless work performed by Dr. Akanu Ibiam in the Eastern region of Nigeria. He also related a story that demonstrated the integrity and honor that was bestowed on Dr. Ibiam not just by the Igbos but also by the Yorubas for the exceptional services he rendered throughout his life. Dr. Ibiam was revered because he was a man of great humility who was not particularly concerned about material things or accolades but about what he can do for his people.
Dr.Okonkwo explained that it is this exceptional selfless and tireless characteristic that sets Dr. Ibiam apart from others and that’s why Dr. Ibiam has been and is continuing to be an inspiration and a mentor for him.
Dr. Okonkwo in his speech challenges us to glean not just from the life and work of Dr. Ibiam but also from the story of the Good Samaritan who showed great compassion and servitude against all odds exemplifying unconditional love for his fellow man. Dr. Okonkwo strongly believes that LOVE is the main ingredient that propels people to want to be their brother’s keeper and it is that same “Love” that ultimately allows us to cultivate a sense of collective responsibility --which would be needed to bring the proposed tertiary hospital project to fruition. Dr. Okonkwo asks, with all of our education and seemingly more affluence, what have we contributed to the development of Nnewi?
He ended by challenging us to be courageous like Dr. Ibiam and mother Teresa who exemplified heroic and compassionate qualities instrumental in bringing about monumental changes during their time. He discouraged us from focusing our energy on issues that are counterproductive such as the lingering Dallas issue. States that our energy should rather be positively directed to the completion of projects such as the hospital projects which would support and promote the development of Nnewi. Dr. Okonkwo’s speech was profoundly powerful, captivating, purposeful and riveting, especially as he alluded to and drew from biblical principles to support his conviction.
Questions for Dr. Okonkwo Question by Somnto Ubezuonu: Who will be running the hospital?
Answer: It is work in progress. Dr. Okonkwo and those involved are exploring several options: contributions from the Catholic Church, sale of the hospital shares, donations from people.
Question by Chinwe Enemchukwu: Do you have plans to upgrade Akwudo Hospital?
Answer: This project is an entirely new development
Question by Chris Anya: Are there plans for primary care?
Answer: The problem is not primary care. It is basic screening and testing designed to detect common treatable conditions such as cervical cancer.
Question by Rev. Ngozi Obi: Do we have water to back up this project?
Answer: Water and electricity will be pat of the project as surgery cannot be performed without both of these things.
TOWN HALL MEETING Dr. Ulasi announced that Governor Obi of Anambra State recently released the master plan for Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi and so no infrastructure changes or development can be undertaken without adhering to the terms of the aforementioned master plan. Dr. Ulasi stated that he had an opportunity to review this plan during his recent visit to Nnewi.
Dr. Ulasi posed the question: To what extent would this new master plan change our proposed plan for a library project at Nnewi? He further states that we need to think about the medical project as well and whether or not this master plan would have any impact on the execution of that project as well.
Nnaerika Okonkwo stated that about four years ago there were preliminary discussions about educational projects at Nnewi. This led to the discussion about the potential benefits of constructing a library at Nnewi. Subsequently, a committee was formed to look into the feasibility of this project. This committee spent time putting together a very comprehensive report which was submitted to and approved by the delegates and executive council. The report discussed the steps and the methodology for the execution of this project. He states that hearing the opposition raised in this convention makes him wonder if the library project is now turning into a questionable project.
Nnaerika feels that as the keynote speaker indicated; the ability to bring this project to fruition would require conviction. He is aware that it has been determined that the Nkwo Triangle location is not an appropriate site for the construction of the library. This however, should not negate the continuation of this project especially after so much time and effort has been put in not only by the library committee but also the fundraising committee. If NUSA executive council is having problems with the implementation of this project, they should present those issues to the governing body, the fundraising and the library committee to determine how this project ought to be completed so that all the efforts put into will not in vain.
NUSA president Nathan Momah responding to Nnaerika’s remarks noted that the library project is still a project that NUSA is interested in embarking on but the issue of constructing it at Nkwo Triangle is still a hotly debated issue and one that does not seem feasible at this time. The president agrees that the fundraising committee needs to get to work exploring potential funding sources not just for the library but also the medical services and possibly running water in Nnewi. Elias Okonkwo suggested that NUSA explore using the “Okpukpuite” (GRA) location as the new location for the construction of the library project. Secondly, he suggested that NUSA executive council contact Agu Onyeka, president of Nzuko-Ora Nnewi whom Elias describes as a progressive individual who can mobilize people to see our proposed projects to completion. Dr. Ulasi responding, states that the location in question has already been slated to be used for other projects (such as a new NEPA sub-station for Nnewi) and so cannot be used as the proposed site for the construction of the library at Nnewi.
Issue of Outstanding Pledges Elias Okonkwo is vehemently opposed to the idea of publicizing on the forum names of individuals with unpaid pledges. Elias believes that the publication of names of people owing on the forum is a form of public humiliation which is likely to offend people and cause them to withhold as opposed to honor their pledges. Elias deems this issue a matter to be solely handled in private.
Responding to Elias Okonkwo’s observation, Mrs. Arunne Momah informed this convention that she volunteered during the last administration to collect these pledges and that as she personally contacted people attempting to collect their pledges but those that were contacted had various reasons as to why they would not be able to pay their pledges. She reminded us that following the convention, there was an agreement which was followed by a letter from the Financial Secretary, Eddie Ukatu letting people know about they had a specific time frame to pay their pledges. In addition to the agreement that the names of the delinquent individuals would be posted on the NUSA forum after a certain period of time, everyone was also made aware that he/she had the option of making small installment payments until pledges were paid up. She discouraged people from making pledges that they would not be able to honor.
Lastly, Arunne volunteered to chair the collection committee if one is formed so that outstanding pledges can be collected. Arunne’s commitment towards this endeavor is evident in her willingness to not only chair this committee but also shoulder the phone expenses to be incurred in making phone calls to individuals with outstanding pledges.
Continuing with the discussion about the collection of pledges, Leo Okoli suggested possibly writing off those pledges as it is unlikely that if people have not been able to pay thus far, they would be able to pay now. If they could pay, they would have probably paid by now. Leo is of the impression that the Nnewi people who endeavor to attend these conventions with their families are sometimes overburdened considering the travel expenses they and their families have incurred compounded by the additional burden placed on them to dip into their pockets to make donations. He feels that the financial burden ought to be distributed equitably between the convention attendees and the non-convention attendees so that those families consistently attending the annual conventions are not saddled with shouldering all the financial responsibilities while the non-attendees abdicate their responsibilities to contribute toward the development of projects at Nnewi.
Uju Odobulu suggested that a member from each chapter be part of the collection committee charged with the responsibility of collecting outstanding pledges owed by their respective members or NUSA should consider writing off the pledges as previously suggested by Leo Okoli if people cannot pay.
Tony Ndum cautioned against writing off the pledges noting that we should rather endeavor to collect the outstanding pledges which he believes can still be collected if approached in the right manner. Nnamdi Agwuncha recommended that incentives be put in place as a way to encourage people to pay.
Susan Odunukwe in support of Mrs. Arunne Momah’s earlier suggestion recommended that a collection committee be set up to collect all outstanding pledges. Susan is opposed to the idea of having any of the outstanding pledges written off on the grounds that it sets a bad precedence and one that is likely to cause more problems with future donations. Dr. Afam Ikejani suggested that since attempts made to collect pledges have not been successful thus far, why can’t the committee go back to those owing to collect what can be collected and then any pledges that is past two years that has not been collected should be written off.
Dr. Ulasi called for motions to set up a collection committee primarily concerned with the collection of unpaid pledges. Nnabuenyi initially made a three- part motion:
1) Allow six months to communicate and to collect pledges from those owing and after 6 months, unpaid pledges should be written off
2) Going forward, pledges made and honored should be reflected in our budget.
3) Last part of the motion as initially presented by Mr. Nnabuenyi Momah states unpaid pledges to be recorded in the financial Secretary’s notebook as receivables and should not to be reflected in the budget until paid.
Following Nnabuenyi’s motion, Dr. Grace Odunukwe-Anosike presented a friendly amendment that pledges for 1997-2002 be written off as some of the people that made those pledges have since left the United States. Subsequently, Nnabuenyi motion was amended to have the pledges from 2003 to present be collected within a year. Nnabuenyi Momah accepted Grace’s friendly amendment to remove 1997-2002 from his original motion and focus on 2003 to the present as indicated above. He later withdrew his motion in support of the second motion.
Nnaerika Okonkwo asked the question: “Is the commitment for specific projects is part of the general pledges paid?” Answer was a resounding No.
After the withdrawal of Nnabuenyi motion, another motion was presented by Dr. Ebby Odunukwe for no cancellation of debt and to have the committee handle the issue of outstanding pledges after which a recommendation report is given to the governing council to make a determination regarding the debt. Ify Enendu supported Ebby’s motion but suggested a friendly amendment for the committee be given a time period of one-year for the collection of the outstanding pledges. This motion was supported by Dr. Grace Odunukwe-Anosike.
This motion was also supported by Tony Ndum.
Dr. Ebby Odunukwe’s motion for no cancellation of debt and the collection of outstanding pledges within a one-year period received 40 votes in support of this motion.
The second motion as introduced by Mr. Vincent Obi is to cancel the debt form 1997 2002 and then hand over the unpaid pledges to the committee to be collected within a period of one-year. Grace Anosike-Odunukwe supported this motion. This motion received 13 votes thereby making the first motion as introduced by Dr. Ebby Odunukwe the adopted motion.
Chioma Agwuncha expressed concerns about the lack of age-appropriate activities for our youths during the period of convention. She stated that our children need to be fully engaged in this meeting and have their own motivational speaker, someone who will address the issues that are of importance to them. She subsequently, recommended that the youths have representation at the executive level possibly that an elected position be created. The youth representative would ensure that age-appropriate activities are incorporated into the planning of the convention and that these activities are designed to not only spark our youths’ interest but also sustain it as well. Chioma argues that such endeavor would make our youths eager to participate in upcoming NUSA conventions.
Mrs. Chinwe Enemchukwu is in support of Chioma Agwuncha’s suggestion to have a youth representation at the executive level. She nominated two individuals for consideration for the Director of the Youth Program: Okey Ukachukwu or Nduka Enemchukwu. Chinwe feels that these two individuals would be able to handle this task based on their keen interest in activities pertaining to our youths. Chika Oraka suggested that an assistant ought to be considered for this position.
Ossy Okeke posed the question: Are we creating this as a new office? Reminded us that we need to reference our by-laws to check what it states pertaining to the creation of a new position. Ossy asked that Chinwe Enemchukwu clarify whether she is recommending that her nominations be part of the executive or should an elected officer be the primary person who will be supervising the individuals nominated to be in charge of the youth program. Chinwe’s response to Ossy is that a member of the executive council ought to supervise the nominated individuals.
Sylvan Odobulu called for a resolution for the Director of the Youth Program to be a cabinet level position to be solely managed by the youth themselves. He suggests the appointment of a standing committee to select about two or three youths to spearhead the youth program until next year convention when this issue can be introduced, amended and incorporated into our constitution.
Nduka Enemchukwu commenting on the issue of the youth involvement indicated that there are two separate issues under discussion. The first issue the way he understood it has to do with exposing our youths to our culture and putting activities in place to help to promote our culture. The second issue relates to the planning and involvement of our youths in the convention. Nduka feels that involvement of the youths at the convention does not require a national effort. He rather suggests that the youths at the local chapter level collaborate with the convention planning committee to arrange for age-appropriate activities to be included as part of the program for the convention.
Bessie Okoye-Okafor pointed out that when we started the children’s program, we introduced our children as relatives and as they have grown older they perceive each other as blood relatives making it impossible to date each other let alone ask for their hand in marriage.
At this juncture, Dr. Ulasi pointed out that we are deviating from the issue being discussed which is: Should the position for the youth program be a cabinet level position? Bessie suggested that the position be a cabinet level position and the nominees acting as assistants.
Thereafter a first motion was introduced by Mrs. Lizzy Nwosu to have a member of the existing cabinet oversee the youth program supported by someone on the floor. This was supported by Elias Okonkwo. The first motion carried with 37 votes over the second motion introduced by Ossy Okeke which received only16 votes.
The second motion relating to the youth program was introduced by Ossy who supports Sylvan Odobulu’s position to have a standing committee that would be involved in the youth program probably with an executive officer’s oversight. The proposed committee should have a-two-year tenure subject to approval by the governing council. Nnaerika pointed out that there are three existing standing committees already and therefore, if a new committee will be introduced, it ought to be an Ad Hoc committee subject to approval before becoming a standing committee. It was agreed during this convention that our youth involvement is an area of utmost importance requiring the supervision of a cabinet level officer to be decided by the NUSA president.
Dr. Afam Ikejani suggested that the president ought to have the option of appointing a person other than a member of the executive to oversee the youth program. He explains that there might be other members who have expertise in this area and can contribute immensely in the development of this area. Nathan Momah, the president of NUSA welcomed Dr. Ikejani’s comments noting that feedback is going to be provided during our next convention as to our progress with this endeavor.
Dr. Chris Ulasi posed the question: Given the recent announcement of the new master plan for Nnewi, how do we approach the library project and does it remain a feasible project to be embarked on? Isaac Emefo, NUSA’s immediate last president cautioned that we proceed carefully with the issue of the library project bearing in mind that money has already be donated and allocated towards this project. Isaac stated that he went with some of executive members during his tenure to see his Royal Highness Igwe Kenneth Orizu III about moving the library from the Nkwo Triangle but he refused. Igwe designated the Nkwo Triangle as the official site for the construction of the library which was witnessed by the Obis and the Nnewi people who gathered (those residing in Nnewi and those from abroad) during the ground breaking ceremony so anything to the contrary would require consultation and approval from Igwe Orizu. Isaac recommended that President Nathan Momah communicate with Igwe on this issue if he has not already done so.
Dr. Ulasi clarified that by introducing the library project for discussion, he did not intend to imply that Nkwo triangle was an inappropriate site. He just wanted to apprise this general body that we need to begin to think about where and how the library project fits into this new master plan considering the fact that any new projects at Nnewi must adhere to the terms of this master plan.
President Nathan Momah informed us that Ike Mbelu in presently in Nigeria. He has however, obtained a copy of the new master plan which he is reviewing. Upon return to the US, he would be providing feedback as to whether this master plan impacts the proposed library project or not. Discussion with Cocharis and Ozi-uzo indicates possible changes with the new master plan.
Mr. Nnabuenyi Momah as the chairperson of the library committee and a seasoned librarian himself stated that during the discussion regarding the library project, he asked Ike Mbelu whether the Nkwo Triangle was a proper venue for the construction of the library considering the noise disturbance and dust in the locality. Reports that Ike Mbelu gave a “professional assurance” that the structure would be erected in such a way that noise and dust would not be an issue. Nnabuenyi noted that during a visit last December to Nnewi with his wife, Mrs. Arunne Momah, they both visited the current library at Nkwo which had notable distractions within the vicinity making it extremely difficult for those using the library to concentrate.
Further reports that while there, they had a meeting with the divisional librarian as well as Mr. Onyebunde, the director of the state library board with a recommendation to consider another site for the construction of the library on the grounds that the Nkwo Triangle is not a suitable site for the reasons already stated above. Alphonso Okwummo a fellow experienced librarian who has worked in Nnewi for several years was also consulted and he too is opposed to having the library built at the Nkwo Triangle. Nnabuenyi recommends that Alphonso Okwummo be involved in an advisory capacity helping NUSA as the go-to-contact person in Nnewi when this project begins as he has years of experience to offer in this regard.
Continuing with the library discussion, Nnabuenyi also reported that the library board members took them to see potential areas where the library could be built. The state library board suggested that NUSA look into securing an area around the local government building where a small children’s library (built by the ministry of education) currently sits or an area around the court house. The library board feels that it would be very difficult to secure the land around the court house which is reportedly being negotiated for by the justice department. Following the meeting with the library board members, a recommendation to reconsider Nkwo Triangle as the site for the construction of the library was made.
This recommendation was presented to Igwe Nnewi in a separate visit with the director of the state library board and divisional librarian as well as with Mr. and Mrs. Nnabuenyi Momah in attendance. Nnabuenyi wants the record to reflect that although Igwe did not give a written authorization and indicated that he would like the library to be built at the Nkwo Triangle he however, “gave an indication that if another location is found, he will support it.” Nnabuenyi stated that upon return to the U.S., he communicated the outcome of this meeting with Mr. Isaac Emefo NUSA’s immediate past president and to Nathan Momah, the current president. Nnabuenyi also noted that ever before he became a librarian for 36 years, he was once a land officer and therefore is aware that “no master plan can stand without any amendments.” States “we cannot be a slave to a master plan if it is not workable for any reason”.
Arunne Momah added that upon the completion of the library project, it is understood that NUSA would not be the managing entity. The library would be managed entirely by the divisional library board. Ossy responding to Nnabuenyi’s report stated that the issue of the appropriateness of using Nkwo Triangle as the site for construction of the proposed library at Nnewi has been discussed extensively in his chapter (the NY/NJ tri-state chapter) during one of their meetings. States that the members of his chapter resolved that they would advise that NUSA remove itself from the Nkwo Triangle project and focus on the building of the library for which some funds has already been received.
The reason that NUSA needs to remove itself from the Nkwo Triangle project includes but is not limited to the complexities of issues as so stated: issues of politics, compensation and the eminent domain issue. Ossy also reports that while Igwe was visiting the Tri-State last year, he personally engaged him in discussion about the Nkwo Triangle project and Igwe himself confirms that it is a complex project because of the politics involved. Ossy noted that based on Nnabuenyi’s report, no problems have been presented as to why the library project site cannot be changed. Afam Ikejiani suggested that we hold unto the Nkwo Triangle if Igwe has already designated this site for the library project. It can be sold and the revenue realized from it used for other Nnewi projects if it is determined that Nkwo Triangle is unsuitable for the library project.
Nnaerika Okonkwo pointed out that it is obvious that the idea of using the Nkwo Triangle is no longer a viable option based on the complexities of issues involved. He further noted that the library committee had a meeting prior to this convention and discussed the mitigating factors that make it apparent that building of the library at Nkwo Triangle is no longer a viable option. Further reports that the library committee had agreed to make their presentation to this body marshaling out their concerns pertaining to the proposed library project site and recommendations needed to move forward. Furthermore, Nnaerika states that during Nnabuenyi report, he made mention of two other possibilities where the library can be erected. It was never the intention of NUSA to dapple into the Nkwo Triangle. The library project came about from discussion about educational projects at Nnewi. He further stated that the library committee was clear that they did not want the “library project to be confused with the Nkwo Triangle project.” To ensure that we move forward with the proposed library project, Nnaerika recommends that we either accept or reject the recommendations made by the library committee.
Isaac Emefo made it abundantly clear that NUSA is not part of the Nkwo Triangle project. Isaac reports that Igwe has already appointed a committee to handle the Nkwo Triangle project. He however, stated that there was a reason why Nkwo Triangle was attached to the library project. Chris Anya commended Nnabuenyi on the report that he presented asking if an engineer is affiliated with this project and what arrangements are being made to handle electricity and plumbing needs for the project. Chris Anya also wanted to find out if NUSA will be taking on the responsibility of furnishing the library upon completion and if they will also be responsible for the maintenance as well.
Continuing with the library project discussion, Sylvan Odobulu made it known that we cannot abdicate our responsibility to build a library. We have to respect the donor’s wishes because they already donated money toward this endeavor. He suggests that if the present executive is having difficulties implementing this project, they should consult with the library committee as to how to move forward.
It was resolved that the library committee look into all the concerns raised during this convention then make recommendations to NUSA as to how we ought to proceed with the proposed library project. Nnabuenyi Momah as the chairman of the library committee made it known that his committee will be providing a written set of recommendations to be presented to NUSA.
Convention Modality Ossy Okeke raised the issue of the modality for hosting the convention noting that there appears to be financial difficulties encountered by each chapter after hosting the convention which subsequently ushers it a different set of issues for the hosting chapter. He noted the Boston, Washington/Maryland DC, Dallas and now his chapter, the NY/NJ tri-state chapter are prime examples of chapters who are have had problems following the conclusion of the convention. Furthermore, Ossy Okeke noted that prior to Dallas convention; there was no modality for hosting the convention. He explained that after hosting the convention, Tri-State incurred a lot of expenses which has bankrupted their chapter. Going forward, he recommends as was the case in Florida convention, that NUSA bears the total financial responsibility for hosting the convention. Conversely, if there are gains realized from the convention, it also goes into NUSA’s pocket.
Ifeyinwa Momah pointed out that windows and doors were sold for the library project leaving the tri-state without any profits from the convention due to the fact that the modality was not properly applied to her chapter. Arunne Momah noted that tri-state had also over budgeted for food which added to the chapter’s financial hardship. She suggested that we form a habit of attending other people’s functions so that when we have functions other people can reciprocate making it a well-attended function proper for solicitation of funds.
Isaac Emefo speaking out of experience supports Ossy Okeke’s recommendation that NUSA take on the sole responsibility for financially hosting the convention. He supports this recommendation by pointing out that when NUSA single-handedly funded the Michigan and Florida convention, it raised money contrary to the reports from chapters who actually lost money after hosting the convention. Arunne Momah supports Isaac suggestion to have national host the conventions. Isaac strongly encouraged that going forward, Nathan Momah follow up on this recommendation to avoid future potential difficulties following the conclusion of the NUSA yearly convention.
Leo Enendu suggested that the financial status of NUSA be made known to all chapter presidents prior to the convention not just during the convention. Also, that the hosting chapter is made aware of how much they will be receiving for the hosting of the convention. Leo Enendu questions the feasibility of hosting the convention every year if it poses such financial hardship as already indicated during this convention. He suggests that we consider possibly hosting the convention every other year instead of every year. Alex Nweji likes the spirit of the meeting but rather suggests a bi-annual convention beginning in 2012. Leo Okoli supports the proposal that NUSA take on the financial responsibility for hosting NUSA. He is also of the opinion that NUSA will be able to ease its financial burden by taking away the registration fees and increasing the annual chapter registration.
Dr. Ulasi confirms that Houston will be hosting the 2010 convention and that his chapter wants him to let us know that they are looking forward to welcoming us in Houston in 2010.
Eddie Ukatu interjecting reminded us that NUSA has a modality in place for hosting the convention. That modality he explains has a formula that has been established as to how to divvy the funds generated from the convention be it expenses or profits. He however, also acknowledges that due to the economic hardship faced by the nation as a whole, cost of living has increased significant necessitating the reconsideration of the current modality for hosting the convention. Eddie expresses support for NUSA bearing the financial responsibility for hosting the convention but noted that no convention would be successful without the backing of a dedicated chapter. He made an observation that the numbers of attendees at the convention has been steadily dwindling probably due to increase in travel expenses making it difficult for people to afford. He therefore suggests that we discuss and explore a variety of incentives to be offered to the hosting chapter. Susan Odunukwe asked for clarification on the kinds of incentives that will make chapters want to be involved in planning the convention if no revenue would be realized for them.
Dr. Chris Ulasi indicated that the local chapters are the ones that are typically positioned to generate money because they have connections in their areas and also know people who can purchase brochure advertisements which are another good source to generate funds. If the local chapter hosting the convention cannot generate funds then NUSA will not be able to realize any profits and soon it would become bankrupt. Nnabuenyi Momah wants to remind us that donations made during a convention cannot be shared by any of chapters. That donation all goes to NUSA for the project that the donation was made. He proposes that any change in the modality for hosting the convention begin in 2011 after the Houston convention is held. Nathan announces that people should provide him with the names and contact information of all Nnewi people so that he can personally invite them to be involved.
Isaac Emefo proposed a motion that beginning in 2009, NUSA take over the sole responsibility of hosting the convention with 100% of the profit going to NUSA. A committee should be set up to study the issue of the modality. Dr. Chukwukadibia Odunukwe supported this motion. This motion when voted on received 18 votes.
The second motion as proposed by Dr. Ebby Odunukwe is that NUSA take over the financial responsibility for hosting NUSA beginning 2011 but that the local chapters be involved by having two default centers possibly one in the East and the other in West coast in case a chapter decide that they are unable to host the convention. NUSA will be receiving 80% and the chapter 20% after expenses. This motion received 15 votes. Nnabuenyi Momah wanted to make it known modality would not apply to donations made towards NUSA project.
Third motion as proposed by Arunne Momah is support for Isaac Emefo’s motion to stand but to have it begin in 2011. This motion was later withdrawn.
The fourth motion as proposed by Eddie Ukatu is to suspend all changes to be made to the modality until after Houston’s convention next year to determine if Houston came up with new ideas that can help NUSA determine the best way to modify this issue of modality. Eddie motion carried with 27 votes.
It was decided during this convention that LA would be the hosting chapter for 2011 convention.
The motion to have a national convention bi-annually beginning in 2013 as proposed by Alex Nweji was not considered because Leo Okoli objected to it on the grounds that it is not permissible by our constitution.
NUSA Benefits/Membership Drive Incentives
The issue of how and what NUSA needs to do to support bereaved families was discussed. Elias Okonkwo suggested that members of NUSA donate money to give the bereaved family. Bessie Okafor-Okoye suggests that a ticket be purchased for the member to travel home for the funeral. Susan Odunukwe raises the problems that can result if careful attention is not given to this issue prior to implementation noting that we ought to define when to give donation: should it be given when one loses a spouse, a child or a parent? Susan recommended that a membership drive committee be appointed to explore membership benefits for NUSA’s consideration.
Ossy Okeke suggested that each chapter aggressively pursue life insurance for its members and that Nathan as the president make himself available to attend local chapter meetings at some point. Ebby Odunukwe noted that issue of membership benefit is best handled by the local chapters. Afam Ikejiani warned that we proceed cautiously with the pursuit of life insurance because after two claims, the insurance company tends to cancel your policy. Chioma Okeke on the issue of condolence gift to the bereaved family suggests that we decide the amount to be given. Nwaogo Nwagwu supports Susan Odunukwe’s suggestion that we define who should receive the money or else this proposal can quickly bankrupt NUSA.
It was resolved by the president that a committee will be appointed to look into the benefits for members.
Nneka Okonkwo wanted clarification as to what constitutes NUSA membership stating that she went to pay and their check was refused because she was told that Dallas chapter has already paid.