Succor is on the way to various communities in Nigeria, particularly to those towns and villages in the Southeast. In a nutshell, that is the tacit, and sometimes explicit, message most community organizations organizing fundraising activities in the Diaspora advertise to the people in an attempt to attract targeted contributors. The invitation cards these organizations send out to the unsuspected potential donors do have catchy inscriptions saying: “All proceeds go to support health centers or hospitals” or “All proceeds go to the orphanage”. They seem to have a sleuth of captivating phrases they use year after year. Unfortunately, in most cases, the promise of help on the way neither reaches the purported recipients in Nigeria in kind nor in cash.
Interestingly, there are many fundraising activities organized by various Nigerian organizations in the continental North America for a variety of projects in Nigeria. In the Dallas metropolitan area alone, no weekend passes without two to three fundraising activities in the area. This may hold true in many other areas that have a large concentration of Nigerians, particularly the Igbo. Through the goodwill of many Nigerians, so many organizations have raised substantial amounts of money for community projects in Nigeria only to see or hear that one or two leaders of those organizations have embezzled the money.
Sad still, some organizations deliberately organize fundraising activities in pretense of utilizing the funds in Nigeria. Members of such organizations fiddle people who have good heart for giving of their money. There are some individuals who literally live the teaching of Luke 6:38, the scripture says, “Give and it will be given to you…” And there are people who are bent on taking an advantage of such people. In 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Nigerians in Dallas have many such givers who have given generously to various Igbo communities in the Diaspora.
There have been many fundraising activities organized by various Nigerian organizations for variety of projects in Nigeria in the past year. Many such activities are lined up two years ahead of time. As we are bracing for the onslaught of fundraising invitations from numerous organizations the rest of the year and next year, we still have to contend with other social activities, such as graduation parties, christening and naming ceremonies, birthday parties, and of course, the wake-keeping that occupies one’s weekend.
Talking of wake-keeping activities, in some weekends, there may be four to five such activities that exert enormous pressure on one’s inelastic time and resources. However, people are more apt to attend wake-keeping ceremonies because they are considered legitimate and most often they attract sympathy.
Similarly, death is a debt collector that can come knocking at any door. Thus, people in the Diaspora are resigned with the fact that if not now they will in the future witness the loss of a loved one. Perhaps, attending wake-keeping activities is the best way for some individuals to cultivate goodwill.
On the other hand, fundraising activities organized by clubs or parochial organizations are treated with derision. Considering the number of these activities, one has to forage for money to meet the cost of loyalty and friendship. Well, since fundraising is a lucrative business, many more community organizations are forming each year thereby placing an undue burden on cheerful givers who manage to scrounge up enough money to meet the unnecessary demands. Inasmuch as one cannot contain the proliferation of community organizations and fundraising activities, one can inevitably guard his/her wallet against some of these fraudulent Igbo leaders in the Diaspora, who parade themselves as leaders.
Cases or allegations of embezzlement of money in Igbo community organizations are on the rise and misappropriation has plagued many Igbo community organizations in the Diaspora as the number of fundraising activities increases. Unknown to the donors, some Igbo community organizations have not sent a dime home after their first fundraising activities in which they told the contributors that the proceeds would be used for projects in Nigeria. These organizations and their leaders are shameless to organize other fundraising activities after swindling money from unsuspected contributors.
Exasperated by the incessant misappropriation and squander of public funds by some Igbo leaders in the Diaspora, Chief Ken Jerry Ike opined, “The general intent by Nigerians living in the Diaspora to raise funds to support their home country targeted at improving the Educational and Health Care Systems is a laudable one but the biggest problem is that most of the funds raised in such occasions never made it home or used for the targeted projects either because the funds are mismanaged or completely embezzled. Some unscrupulous elements in the Diaspora are now using this as a way of enriching themselves. Every year these unscrupulous elements will deceitfully call unsuspecting individuals together with a very attractive theme to come and donate.”
Annoyed by the importunate embezzlement and waste of public funds by some Igbo leaders in the Diaspora, many Nigerians seem to shun fundraising activities organized by parochial organizations. Also many clubs and parochial organizations have resorted to going to court to have their respective matters settled.
Disturbed by the disarray in some Nigerian organizations in America exacerbated by the spate of cases of financial misappropriation, Sir Ike Ginigeme alarmed, “Oftentimes some groups or individuals will come up with all sort of things geared towards raising money. Medical mission, schools, and motherless-babies homes just to name a few have been the vehicle used by most organizations or individuals to raise funds which they turn around to pocket.” “They exploit people’s desire to help the underprivileged, but they don’t deliver as promised. It is sad that now even some churches here are now joining in the game,” Ginigeme concluded. Perfidy notwithstanding, there are still some Igbo community organizations that raise money for credible causes. These organizations apply the resources for the intended purposes.
In any case, people are yearning in silence for a moratorium, at least for a two-year moratorium, on fundraising activities not only to give us a break from the drudgery, but also to find a mechanism to ensure that the funds being raised are used for their intended purposes. Most donors these fundraising activities are beginning to wonder how their hard earned money is being used. The quiet questions of these contributors are beginning to get louder with every passing weekend of fundraising activities in the Diaspora.
There are about 100 Igbo community organizations and clubs in the Dallas metropolitan area alone. Conservatively, the average annual fund raised by each of these organizations is $10,000. That means that the Igbo organizations are collectively generating an annual income of $1,000,000 in the Dallas metropolitan area alone.
In a period when some Third World countries derive substantial percentage of their foreign exchange earning through remittances from their citizens abroad, $1,000,000 yearly, if utilized wisely, would help immensely the economy of Nigeria, chiefly the Southeast Zone. What else can I say other than kaput!