AFRIPOL INTERVIEWS Chief (Dr.) Victor Ide Okoye
Dr. Victor Ide-Okoye has been elected the president general of Umuoji Improvement Union (UIU) USA and North America since 2017. Okoye in his capacity as the leader of UIU North America promised to move forward with the building of a medical center in Umuoji. But in the course of his tenure, issues arose that brought about division, impeachment imbroglio and consequently two fractions of UIU in America. Ide-Okoye never ceased with the project and has just completed the physical building of the medical center. AFRIPOL interviewed him on all the issues that brought about the division and separation, on how he did manage to complete this project of medical center and his vision of peace for UIU North America.
Afripol‘s cultural and Entertainment Analyst, Mark Wooten and Emeka Chiakwelu, Afripol founding director conducted the below interview. Chief Dr. Ide is always a pleasure to speak to you and AFRIPOL thank you for making out time for this special interview with AFRIPOL….
At the July 2018 Umuoji convention held in New Jersey USA, in your capacity as the president general of Umuoji Improvement Union of North America you pushed a bold and ambitious agenda of building and equipping a modern medical center in Umuoji. How far have you gone with the project?
Dr. Victor Ide Okoye: Yes my brother, during our 2018 National Convention the National Congress, the general membership unanimously voted 49 – 0; to build a modern medical center for our people back home. As you must have heard, those opposing the project continue till this day to fight and to obstruct all of our efforts, but I must give thanks to God Almighty, because today, it is near completion. You know the saying “pictures don’t lie”. Here is the current picture of the Medical Centre at Nkwo Dimechem Umuoji
We remembered your rallying words, “Let us build a medical center in Umuoji”. You called for a collective effort, for one tree does not make a forest. How was the level of cooperation from Umuoji sons and daughters worldwide?
Dr. Victor Ide Okoye: Good question, the truth of the matter was that during our 2018 National Convention in New Jersey, we debated passionately about the Medical Center Project; the oppositions were fierce and nasty. Some people wanted us to go and rebuild the Abor Maternity Home and most of us wanted to build a more modern medical center for Umuoji; that one we could call our own. After debating and deliberating for over 4 hours, the votes were called and the votes were 49 – 0 to build a new medical center. Those fiercely against this project were acutely aware they were losing big time and decided not to vote against it because they didn’t want the record to reflect their opposing to a life-saving project for our brothers and sisters back home. Today, they are openly and brazenly showcasing their disgust at the project making every effort to thwart the project. I guess when one is on the right path, God would find ways to make it happen. We just refused to take “NO” for an answer. They have come against me with everything they had.
As everyone must have heard those opposing our Medical Center project have formed their own UIU/NA faction.
They have created their own WhatsApp forum and announced there that they have impeached the elected National President of UIU/NA, removed the National Vice President, and removed the National Secretary. Yes, true story, does it sound like a “Banana Republic” You guessed it right. Some of them are having a field day defaming my good name. But there is a price to be paid if you defame someone’s good name. we are currently sorting those out in the courts here in the United States.
Also, as most of you might have heard, during my visit to Umuoji in December of 2018, I found out that those opposing the Medical Center project at Nkwo- Dimechem Umuoji , wrote a petition against me to the Inspector General of Police, alleged that the initial $9,000.00 we paid to the contractor building our Medical Center at Nkwo-Dimechem Umuoji was stolen by me. They planned their evil act to have me harmed and detained. I was able the secure the fictitious petition they wrote against me. My investigation exposed that their plan was to harm me personally. Their goal was also to make sure that they stopped our planned fundraising in Umuoji to enable us complete the project. Bottomline, I do what I do for the love of my people.
Even with a viable and credible opposition, you thrived and accomplished your agenda. What is the source of your optimism and motivational energy?
Ide Okoye: The love I have for my beloved town Umuoji is my driving force. I love my town and I wanted to be a part of something big that would truly meet the needs of our people. One thing about me is that whenever I am told that I can’t do something that I know I have the right to do; I become unstoppable. All my life, that word, “no” has never been a part of my lexicon. You know me from high school and you know how we roll!!! Laughter. Honestly, I just want to give back and I am so lucky to have found others like me who are willing to give back. I am so tempted to mention some names here, but I will wait. We are working on recognizing and honoring some of our folks behind this our project during our upcoming 2020 National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.
Whose brainchild was it to build Umuoji Medical Center? Has it always been in the pipeline before you became the leader of UIU North America branch?
Ide Okoye: It doesn’t even matter whose idea it is, can we all just get things done for our people and have them benefit from our collective effort! But on different note, I have read somewhere some folks are claiming that it was their idea or they had the idea in mind or whatever. But the funny thing is that those who were claiming that it was their idea were the biggest opposition to this project. So, I don’t get it. . ., you’re opposing your idea? Let me give you a little perspective; When asked what I hoped to accomplish if elected the National President of UIU/NA, during our National convention in Maryland in 2017, I promised to do the following:
(1) Secure a land and build a brand new, ultra-modern medical Center in Umuoji;
(2) Get our young adults completely involved and inaugurate the youth wing of UIU/NA;
(3) Inaugurate more branches, because since our union began; some 20 years ago, we had never added any branch, we were stagnating;
(4) re-organize our Annual National Convention and
(5) continue our yearly medical mission;
Well let’s evaluate our achievements 2 years later; here are what we have done thus far:
- the goal of Inaugurating the UIU/NA Youth Wings was accomplished during our 2018 National Convention; mission accomplished.
- We have created two new branches; Canada Branch and Western Region Branch.
- Held two highly successful National Conventions 2018 New Jersey, and 2019 Toronto Canada. Both National Convention were totally successfully,
The 2018 National Convention in New Jersey was where we voted unanimously to build the Umuoji medical center at Nkwo Dimechem, Umuoji. Toronto Canada was the first National Convention held outside United States. Its tremendous success speaks to the inevitable success birthed whenever like-minded people dedicate themselves to rising beyond their personal agendas while serving a greater good.
- We secured a land at Umuoji from the UIUN for our medical center project, thanks a bunch to our indomitable PG, Dr. Victor Okechukwu Anyaegbuna’s administration.
- Our very own Modern Medical Center; Umuoji medical center is completed, and we are currently working on equipping this project as we speak, we are planning to open it for our folks on or before December of 2020. My brother talk is cheap.
Now you have completed the physical structure of the Umuoji Medical Centre. What is your strategy for the equipping and running of the medical center?
Ide Okoye: Like I said, we are securing equipment as we speak, and other minor work in the center is still ongoing. We have 10-year plan strategy on running the Medical Center; it is going to put Umuoji on the map. Every equipment and all the medications are going from the United State of America. Trust me my brother when we are through with the center, it is going to be one of a kind in Anambra States. Our folks are excited and we are looking forward to doing something great for our folks. Knock on wood.
It is not news any more that UIU in North America have split into two fractions and you are leading the fraction that is building the medical center. Can you enlighten us or rather tell us to the best of your knowledge what caused this division among brothers and sisters in a foreign land?
Ide Okoye: As you know we live here in the US, which is a civilized society but it seems some of us are still behaving like they live in a Banana Republic.
Our constitution is very clear; the only people who have power to elect or not elect the officers are the General Assembly which happens once a year. Couple of guys who think for some reasons they are the owners of UIU/NA went to WhatsApp forum to publish that they have removed the National President, removed the National Vice-President, and I think they wrote that they removed the National Secretary as well. I truly don’t know why they decided to defame my name by writing about impeachment and misappropriation of funds and other defamatory write-ups.
They took me to court in the State of Nebraska, alleging that I stole $9,000.00 from UIU/NA and that I needed to return the money. They should have simply started their own faction which they have every right to do. Initially, I had no interest in going to court with these guys, but you know sometimes people take your kindness for weakness.
Well to answer your question, yes, we have two factions now, honestly, if that would bring more development to our dear town, so be it. Remember we have had this UIU USA since 1999/2000 and yet no tangible achievement until I became the National President and decided to do something tangible for our folks. I guess some of them wanted to keep things the way it has been.
Two separate conventions were held this year July by the two fractions. One convention was held in Canada and another in Dallas USA. Your own group was in Canada convention. How did Umuoji arrive at this juncture in a foreign land and how can we come together again?
Ide Okoye: Listen, our doors are open, my people and I, our interest now is to give Umuoji a Modern Medical Center, and if anyone wants to join us, let them come on down. We are not getting any younger, we cannot just meet once a year and contribute money and nobody gives account of this money. Our people are done with contributing money and nobody is giving them an accurate account of their contributions and you know we have done the same thing for 20 years and counting. Come on man, it doesn’t make any sense at all and I refuse to be part of a legacy like that.
Our convention in Canada was one of the best UIU/NA National Convention ever, we raised enough money to almost complete our medical center. I have to tell you; our people witnessed a different kind of convention and it will be impossible to convince them to go to convention again and just fight from morning to night in the name of a ‘meeting.” Bottom line is this, we had a great convention in Canada, and our accounting was done within 24 hours and all the money raised deposited, all within 24 hours. This had never been done before.
Before the division and separation of North America UIU, you were accused for overstating and going beyond your constitutional power as the president and for allegedly financial misappropriation?
Ide Okoye: Yes, my brother. These people are bent on defaming my good name and you just cannot do that and get away with it. I have sued them for defamation of my good name.
Here is the truth of what actually transpired: In my “State of Union Address” in October 2018, I delved into the detail of how the medical center project was approved in New Jersey and also I detailed the process we undertook in selecting our medical center building committee members; the committee’s selection/award of the contract and their request for release of money to the contractor; the NEC meeting authorizing the release of the money to the contractor; the refusal of the Treasurer to transfer the money as approved by the NEC; occasioning my reasons for effecting the transfer of $9,000.00 to the contractor account.
This was a project approved by the national body at the national convention. The few guys who opposed the project thought that they can stop the will of the people. But, no! Not on my watch.
Believe it or not, the only UIU/NA money in this project is only $9,000.00. Let me say it again, the only UIU/NA spent in this our Medical Center at Nkwo Dimechem Umuoji is only $9,000.00 which I transferred to the Contractor after the approval by the National Executive Council (NEC). Any other story by those opposing the Medical Center are all lies and slanderous.
The money we used to build the Medical Center was contributed singlehandedly by members of my group. It is the $9,000.00 that they wrote that I misappropriated, unbelievable, you just can’t make this up. I have contributed thousands of dollars to make sure that this Medical Center is not one of those abandoned projects in Umuoji. I thank God, my family is blessed and I would continue to give to make our town a better place.
We heard about the legal actions on both sides. Suing and counter suing. What is the truth?
Ide Okoye: Well, it is true, like I stated before, they filed suit against me after I transferred the money to the contractor who is building our medical center. So, three of these guys claimed that they filed the lawsuit on behalf of the UIU/NA. In essence, they fired the first shot, so we decided to fight back. One thing I can assure you is this; when anyone impugns my character in anyway, I will defend my good name with the last blood in my vein.
There was also an accusation of alleged award of contract to the building contractor without open bidding to the general public. Not carrying along your executive members and creating your own inner caucus?
Ide Okoye: Well, my brother I have heard all sort of rubbish. But one thing I can tell you to take one look at the people making all these crazy allegations and rubbish write-ups, and compare these people to the caliber of Umuojians who make up the building committee members like; Mrs. Ngozi Stella Nkulume, Ike Ofoje, and Dr Jacob Mgbemena; I rest my case. Everything we have done is well documented. Remember at one point, they claimed that no land was given to us for this project. Some folks are really the enemies of our beloved town, honestly…
Finally let’s talk about peace and unity. How can unity emerge and once again UIU North America becomes one entity and to end this unwise division and separation?
Ide Okoye: Honestly, I don’t really think this is a serious division. Bottom line, is that some people want us to go and remodel Abor Maternity health center and some people want to build a brand new Medical Centre at Nkwo Dimechem and have already spent tens of thousands of dollars to achieve that objective. Sooner or later we will all get back as our big family. I don’t think any person from Umuoji would be denied treatment at any of those two medical centers. At the end of the day, we are one big family.
One more question Chief Ide, what is your next agenda and vision for Umuoji?
Ide Okoye: Honestly, I would like to tackle one more project before the end of my tenure in 2021. Stay tuned and thank you very much! You are awesome!
AFRIPOL: Thank you Chief, it is a pleasure speaking to you again and your cooperation was highly appreciated.
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