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Background Information 

Viewed from a philosophical point of view, something has got to happen for something to happen. One of the decisive moments leading to the creation of the National Association for Nigerians in Austria (NANCA) was the death of the Nigerian citizen Mr. Marcus Omofuma on May 1, 1999, an asylum–seeker who died on board of a Bulgarian Aircraft enroute to Nigeria in the hands of the Austrian police force, while he was being deported. Mr. Omofuma had been allegedly maltreated, bundled and plastered around the mouth and chained to his chair on the aircraft, to hinder him from protesting during his deportation to Nigeria. He died of suffocation before arriving Sofia.

The desire for a national Organization was further fostered by the fact that the Nigerian community could not respond to the rage that followed. The necessity for an all encompassing Organisation for all Nigerians across the ethnic borders became apparent, as there were only ethnic oriented associations at the time, beside the National Association of Nigerian Students in Austria. This was best exhibited by the fact that there was no organisation to organize or coordinate any response of the  Nigerian community to the then attitude of the police that was increasingly becoming violent towards the Africans and the Nigerians in particular.

In view of this general mood and frustration of the Nigerian community, Dr. Jones Edobor thought something had to happen and telephoned Dr. Walter Ajaegbu and urged him to kindly assist in arranging a meeting of all Nigerians to discuss our response to Mr. Marcus Omofuma’s death and also about putting an Association in place to take care of issues of common interests to all Nigerians in the future. This led to the arrangement and a call for a meeting at the Afro-Asian Institute. The All 

Nigerian National Meeting took place on 6th of May 1999, at the seminar hall of Afro-Asian Institute. This meeting was chaired by Dr. Jones Edobor. The meeting had 8 Agenda points, and the meeting was attended by over three hundred Nigerians and other Africans. 

The 7th point on the agenda was whether “there is a need to have a Nigeria body to represent the interest of Nigerians?” After a long deliberation, there was a unanimous decision for the creation of such a body, after which a committee comprising of the following ten eminent Nigerians was elected: 

The names of the persons are as follows:

  •  Dr. Jones Edobor was elected as the chairman of the committee. 
  •  Dr. Walter Ajaegbu 
  •  Arch. Dipl. Ing. Remi Ofoedu 
  •  Mag. Dr. Adedeji Aganga-Williams 
  •  Dr. Francis Oguegbulam 
  •  Dr. Camillus Konkwo
  •  Dr. Chibo Onyeji
  •  Mag. Zachie Falasinnu 
  •  Mag. Phill Samuel Ogbonna 
  •  Mr. Sylvester Odiase

The minute of the meeting was taken by Mag. Phil Samuel Ogbonna who also later functioned as the secretary of the committee. For the record, it is necessary to note also that shortly after the inauguration of the committee Dr. Francis Oguegbulam relocated to London, whilst Dr. Camilus Konkwo and Dr. Chibo Onyeji left the committee. 

Furthermore, the tasks of the committee were as follows:

  •  To fight for the legitimate right of late Marcus Omofuma, based on the available laws, organize demonstration and officially bring the matter and complain to the Government of Austria,
  •  To organize a requiem service for the late Mr. Marcus Omofuma as a last respect and lastly, 
  •  To work out a framework for the establishment of an umbrella organisation for Nigerians in Austria, as none was in existence at the time.

In accordance with the defined tasks, the committee organised a demonstration to protest the violation of the human rights of the late Mr. Marcus Omofuma, informed the Nigerian Government of the sad event and launched our disapproval with the Austrian authorities, while demanding for adequate compensation for the family of lateMr. Marcus Omofuma. 

The Committee requested and audience was granted, and visits were made to the following highest government organs in Austria with protest letters on behalf of Nigerians in Austria:

  •  The president of the Republic of Austria late Dr. Thomas Klestil
  •  The President of the then Austrian Parliament Dr. Heinz Fischer, 
  •  The President of the then Austrian Police Force Dr. Peter Stiedl (Präsident des Bundespolizei Direktion in Wien) just to mention but a few.

Finally, the committee organised a memorial service for late Mr. Marcus Omofuma, in the Votiv Kirche (Votiv Church) at Schottentor in Vienna. The requiem service was well attended by different people from all works of life and from far and wide within Austria. At some point, the Committee received unofficial information that after several legal battles involving one Austrian Non–Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Republic of Austria, the Austrian Government made what could be termed a token compensation to the family of late Mr. Marcus Omofuma. At the conclusion of the task relating to Mr. Omofuma, the committee directed its resources to working on the frame work of a new Organisation. The committee decided that a structure encompassing the following should be realized:

  •  The national association should involve all the regions in Austria,
  •  That a constitution should be produced and finally,
  •  That the national association should be officially launched

Tackling the first task of calling for a protest rally to demonstrate the unacceptability of the treatment of late Mr. Marcus Omofuma, the committee was faced with some legal challenges that made it apparent for the committee that the provisions of Austria's law restrain unregistered associations from conducting mass protests. It thus became obvious that in other to better represent the interest of Nigerians by going to Austrian authorities and to raise money for the inauguration, the organisation had to be legally registered with the appropriate authorities as this was pre-condition for any financial support. This lead to an internal distribution of roles for individual members of the committee, for the sole purpose of achieving the set objectives.

The exercise produced the following results as the protem leadership Committee of the association:

Dr. Jones Edobor, Chairman,

Dipl. Ing. Arch Remi Ofoedu, Vice Chairman,

Mag. Phil Samuel Ogbonna, Secretary

Mag. Zachie Falasinnu Assistant secretary.

Dr. Walter Ajaegbu, Financial secretary,

Mag. Dr. Adedeji Aganga-Williams, assistant financial secretary,

Mr. Sylvester Odiase as the Social secretary.

The committee also visited the regions in Austria to intimate them with the intention to form an umbrella association and also called for coordinated efforts from the regions. Hence, on Monday 11th of 

December 2000, Dr. Jones Edobor on behalf of the committee made a trip to Tyrol.

It is worth noting that all activities of the committee were presented to the General Assembly of all Nigerians and were debated and agreed upon. The draft constitution was also presented and all the articles were agreed upon on a “one by one basis”. On completion, the final draft was adopted in a general meeting called for that purpose. To understand the selfless service of the members of the committee, as the meetings had to be held after work hours, they normally dragged into late hours of the night. The committee meetings were held twice weekly, many of which lasted for over six hours. This stretching for a period of about 2 years. The group had two hundred and eight (208) meeting sessions covering about one thousand two hundred and forty eight hours (1,248) hours. 

In addition, eight (8) General Assembly Meetings were conducted and Two (2) Emergency General Assembly Meetings, bringing it to a total number of ten (10) assembly meetings. The committee spent all in all twenty four months and two weeks working.

The registration was officially done on 29.09.2000 and the Organisation was formally launched on 27th January 2001. The grand launching organised by the above committee was attended by all eminent 

Nigerians and some African Ambassadors in Austria, including the Nigerian Ambassador Mr. Rindap, Dr. Riwalnu Lukmann, General Secretary of OPEC, Former Federal Minister for Petroleum/Foreign 

Service/Energy and Dr. S.Y. Abdulahi, Director General of OPEC Fund, just to mention a few.

Also on attendance were many personalities and representatives from the Austrian Government and Institutions. As a matter of fact, the list of dignitaries was endless. At the General Assembly Meeting of 20th May 2001, an electoral Committee was elected with the mandate to organize an election of officers for the organisation and with that the work of the initial committee came to an end. 

The electoral committee comprised of the following members:

Dr. Med Samuel Nzokurum, Chairman,

Mrs. Atinuke Aganga-Williams, Secretary,

Mr. Patrick Odionikhere, LLB Hons,

Mr. Chukwudi Ndokwu,

Mag. Godwin Erhunse.

After screening, short-listing and campaigning the committee eventually presented two prominent Nigerians for the office of the president namely Dr. Med Michael Isima and Mag. Dr Adedeji Aganga-Williams

Finally, on the 1.07.2001, the first general election of the association took place, voted and elected for the first time, directly the Nigerian National Executive Committee Members of the National Association of Nigerian Community in Austria.

Mag. Dr Adedeji Aganga-Williams, National President,

Mrs. Doris Ajaegbu, Vice President,

Mag. Phil Samuel Ogbonna, Secretary General,

Ing. Mag. Olakunle Parkinson, Asst, Secretary General,

Mr. Solomon Akhigbe, Financial Sceretary,

Mrs. Angela Domansky-Ujah, Treasure,

Ing. Oluyemi Ogundele, Social and Welfare Officer,

Mag. Jacob Godwin, Public relations officer,

Mag. Jude Onyeyiriuche, provost and 6

Mr. Godwin Nwafor completed, Ex-Officio.

The 1st National Executive during the periods 2001 – 2203

The Implementation, Structural and Operational methodology and development This phase of the association was led by the then national president, a well known personality in Austria, Mag. Dr. Adedeji Aganga-Williams with Mag. Phil Samuel Ogbonna as the secretary general respectively. During this period, the association witnessed amongst other issues:

The first celebration of the Nigerian Independence day under the leadership of the newly established umbrella association;
The first conference of the "Nigerian Ethnic Nationals" made up of Nigerian cultural and social organisations was established;
The finance committee as a "standing committee to sort out and canvass for finance" for all Nigerian Organisations led by the then secretary general Mag. Phil Ogbonna was called to live,
The association in addition, organised the first national conference in Austria which was attended by prominent personalities across the continent of Africa – Europe - America, namely, H.E Abdul Rimdap, The Ambassador of Federal republic of Nigeria, H.E Seyd Abdulahi, DG OPEC Fund, Distinguished Senator Dr. Femi Okunrounmu , and Prof Omo Omoruyi Former DG, just to mention a few The regionalisation of the chapter started during this epoch, the executive committee travelled to some regions (Tyrol, Salzburg, Steiemark etc) for consultative meetings and later establishment of the regional coordination committee followed.

  •  The first national conference took place during which the first national executive committee of the association was established involving the regions in Austria and this exercise put the umbrella association in a good and befitting structure,
  •  Produced Identity Cards (ID) for members and finally to mention jut to mention but few,
  •  Held Press Conference on late Marcus Omofuma week.

Finally, they staged a befitting send off party for the then Ambassador Adul Bin Rimdap Ambassador and permanent representative of the federal republic of Nigeria to Austria and also the United Nations. 

By so doing, Mag. Dr. Adedeji-Aganga-Williams and his crew democratically practiced the provisions of the constitution, laid structures 

and operational methods of the association. 

Furthermore, they also proved to the public that the efforts of the founding fathers were not in vain and that the dream of the Nigerian 

Public has been realised. Many people will continue to remember this era as the of “Era of Pragmatism” 

The 2nd National Executive during 2003 - 2005

The Solidification Period 

The National association elected the following people as the electoral officer to conduct election for the second legislative period in accordance with the constitution;

The names of the electoral officers were as follows;

Mag. Godwin Erhunse, Chairman

Mr. Patrick Odionikhere, LL M Hons Secretary,

Mr. Benson Ogbubele, Member

Two prominent Nigerians were short-listed as candidates for the office of National President namely Dr. Chibo Onyeji and Dr. Chucks Okoye.

After a fierce battle and campaign, Dr. Chucks Okoye defeated his opponent by just a single vote.

The National Executive comprises the following officers:

Dr. Chucks Okoye, National President,

Mr. Uyi Davidson Omorodion Vice President (now late), later replaced by 

Engr. John Egbor as Vice President,8

Ing. Mag. Olakunle Parkinson, Secretary General,

Mr. M.C. Ofoha, Assistant Secretary General,

Mr. Solomon Akhigbe Financial Secretary,

Engr. Philips Eggough, Treasurer,

Mr. Jude Ejidoh Public Relations Officer (Late) later replaced by Mr. 

Ibukun Talabi as Public Relations Officer,

Madam Doris Ajaegbu, Social and Welfare officer,

Madam Angela Dommanski-Ujah as the provost and

Dr. Med Menakai Amadi Nna as the Ex-Officio. 

The leadership under discussion witnessed some turbulent periods. 

Shortly after the election and in fact after the first executive committee meeting, on the same day, the community witnessed the death of its vice president Mr. Davidson Omorodion. This sad event shocked the newly sworned in executive and they had to gather strength to continue their task. Just as the community was coming to terms with the demise of its vice president, the community was again confronted with the death of its public relations officer Mr. Jude Ejidoh. The death of Jude Ejidoh a promising young Nigeria shook the community to its foundation. 

As a result of all these unforeseen circumstances, the national executive was basically pre occupied by consoling the community who was bearded.

Notwithstanding these bad situations, the national executive was able to continue some programme that were of importance to the community.

The first National Women day was done during this executive 

stewardship period. 

Conclusively, the second national executive under the leadership of Dr. Chucks Okoye and Ing. Mag. Olakunle Parkinson should be commended for showing leadership for Nigeria community and for given befitting burials to two of its late members. Precaution was the symbol and style of the tenure.

The 3rd National Executive during 2005 - 2007

Consolidation Period

The association elected the following people as electoral officers:

Mr. Owe Naps Agbonkpolor Chairman,

Mr. Osaro Osayi Secretary,

Mr. Sunday Agbah,

Mr. Steve Noghama,

Mr. Benson Ogbuebele,

The electoral committee short-listed two prominent candidates namely;

Mag. Godwin Erhunse and Mr. Felix Okoro.

After a hard fought battle and campaign, Mr. Felix Okoro won a land slide victory against his opponent.

Please find below the names and offices of the following officers:

Mr. Felix Okoro, National President,

Ing. Mag. Olakunle Parkinson, Vice President,

Mag. Dominic Aghaizu, Secretary General,

Engr. Philips Eggough, Asst. Secretary General, 

Mr. Luis Azusu, Financial Secretary,

Dr. Chike Charles Chiemeke, Treasurer,

Mr. Charles Ofoedu, Public relations Officer,

Mr. Peter Ogbevoen, Social and Welfare Officer,

Madam Celina Otseme, Provost and

Mr. Godwin Nwafor, Ex-Officio member

The national executive under the leadership of Mr. Felix Okoro and Mag. Dominic Aghaizu as President and Secretary General respectively, was characterised by legal battle between the defeated president candidate Mag. Godwin Erhunse and the Incumbent President, Mr. Felix Okoro, who is challenging among other things the qualifications of the president and the PRO.

These challenges although unprecedented, let to the establishment of a Constitution committee,

This committee comprises of following members

Mag. Dr. Adedeji Aganga-Williams, Chairman,

Mag. Phil Samuel Ogbonna, Secretary,

Dr. Med. Michael Isima,

Dipl. Ing. Arch Remi Ofoedu

The committee after a through work submitted its findings to the general house for their information with copies sent to the Nigerian embassy and to the court of law for their attentions.

Conclusively, the petition was defecated in the court of law.

In addition to the legal battles, the national executive introduced amongst others the following:

  •  The Nigerian Health Awareness Day. This seminal offer Nigerians and friends of Nigerians the opportunity to asked questions about all sorts of dieses and preventive measures that could be taken,
  •  Held seminars of other kinds, extended invitations outside Austria,
  •  Made some efforts to re-established contacts with the regional chapters of the association and to call a national conference of the national executive committee but eventually failed,
  •  The period under review conducted a befitting sent-off party for the then Ambassador of Nigeria to Austria Mr. Diodun Owoseni . 

In summary, this period to some extent, was distracted from its original intentions, visions and missions of continuing with the policy style of the first period of the life of the association. Nonetheless, the executive committee was steadfast and carried out their policies. This event also showed that the National association was strong enough with the support of overwhelming Nigerians, to withstand the legal challenges.

The 4th National Executive for the Period of 2007 – 2009

Solidification and Consolidation continued Process 

The association elected the following people to conduction an election in accordance with its ´constitution:

Madam Doris Ajaegbu, Chairperson,

Dipl. Ing. Festus Imarhiagbe, Secretary,

Mr. Fidelis Osaghale, Member.

However, on the day of the general election, the following people were also appointed as electoral officers:

Mrs. Adaora Ofoedu-Asuzu, Mr. Peter Chinaemelu and Mr. Okungbowa Enoma Vosper.

This election was extra ordinary in nature because for the first time in the life of the association the office of the presidency was not contested. 

Either by accident or by nature, one person stood out as the sole candidate for the position of National President. 

The following people were elected into the executive committee:

Mag.Pharm Dominic Agbahizu, National President,

Mr. Owa Naps Agbonkpolor, Vice President,

Engr. Philips Eggough, Secretary General,

Mr. Dennis Agba, Asst Secretary General,

Mr. Francis Egogo Financial Secretary,

Madam Angela Domansky – Ujah Treasurer,

Mr. Olatunde Oloyede, Social and Welfare Officer,12

Mr. Sunny Akpan, Public Relations Officers,

Mr. Edwin Nwaka, Provost,

Mag. Leonard Obiegbwu Kazie, Ex-Officio member.

According to overwhelming opinion of the members of the community, the association under the leadership of Mag. Pharm Dominic Aghaizu as the President and Engr. Philips Eggough, as Secretary General, witnessed the rekindling spirits and the visions of the founding fathers of the association. 

Within the shortest time in office, the administration has passed many bills and constituted some Adhoc Committees namely:

The social and welfare committee,
The regional coordinating committee,
The finance Committee,
The information and Mass Media committee,
Conflicts Resolution Committee,
The constitution review and amendment committee.

Furthermore, tribute should be given to this administration for organising the second National Executive Committee conference in the eight years of the association’s history. The National Conference of the National Executive Committee was first and last held in the year 2003 and thereafter none was held till 2008. The importance and merit of such 

conference lies on it’s involvement of the regions in Austria where a branch of the association has been in existence and also encourage the establishment of new chapters in regions where none is in existent.

It is also a platform for the association to deliberate on matters of national concern and vital issues affecting Nigerians generally in Austria and beyond. By so doing, the president has demonstrated once again that he is the national president. He has also repositioned himself as the commander in chief of the Nigerian Communities in Austria and has brought back the “missing link” in the immediate past two legislative periods of the association before his tenure.

The national colour of the association has started flying once again in Austria. To cap it all, the Website project of the association started by the first legislative government, which was regrettably abandoned by the second and third tenures without obvious reasons, has been reactivated or rather a brand new one placed on World Wide Web (WWW). 

Also very essentially to mention is that this leadership for the first time in the history Nigerians in Austria organised “A Football Fan Club” to render 

moral support and gear up the “Nigerian Flying or rather supper Eagles” in a friendly football-match between them and the national team of the 

host nation. The association provided two luxurious buses from Vienna to Graz, other regions joined in the exercise. 

Furthermore, the regime organised a warm and befitting reception to welcome Ambassador Dr. Jerry Sunny Ugokwe to Austria on his assumption of office as Ambassador and permanent representative of the federal republic of Nigeria to Austria and the United Nations. A one and half (11/2) minutes of standing ovation the incumbent president received after delivering his welcome speech during the occasion was an absolute testimony of his charisma and quality leadership of his nature. That was fine. 

Finally, it should be hoped that the momentum right now (at the time of going to press) in the administration and management of the association under the pivot of good leadership of president Mag. Pharm Dominic Aghaizu and his crew will continue and by the time their tenure will be over the final solidification and consolidation of the association will be realised. 

Fundamentally, after eight years, one can confidently and comfortably, proudly and conclusively say that the association has come to stay. The National Association of the Nigerian Community in Austria (NANCA) lives on and the Nancanisation of the association will continue for years ahead!

                                                              >> Mag. Phil Samuel Ogbonna (Msc. Mass Comm, Pol Sc) [1]

 

[1] Stand: In Vienna - Austria, August 2008

 

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National Association of Nigerian Community Austria

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