Also, the traditional ruler of Igu, Hakimi Solomon Igu, described the milling plant as a dream come true for the women and the town. He expressed profuse gratitude to NAS and the Thai Embassy for such a gesture, noting that in due time, the proceeds from the milling plant would be channeled by the women towards assisting themselves on their farms to grow better and bountiful crops.
But this feat only tBanning Cultism, Piracy And Governor Udom’s Wrong Foot (III)ells half of the story as Mr. Kola Oseh explained that the project was a product of painstaking work with the women for a number of months. This includes the partnership with the Catholic Church in Igu via Reverend Father Duniya, a priest who has been in Igu for more than three years, who provided context for the initial demographic analysis for Igu. The priest who has a soft spot for community development was immediately excited about the idea and the possibilities for these women.
The team also confronted challenges such as the problem of language as the women only spoke Gbagyi; lack of organisational structure and, essentials for capacity building which were all required at this stage.
The National Association of Seadogs rose up to the challenge using the Sufficiency Model and Participatory Development approach. Mr. Nnamdi Okose, the Royal Thai Embassy expert on Sufficiency Economy noted that using the Sufficiency Economy and Participatory Development approach was not entirely alien to Africa. Local knowledge within parts of Africa effusively promote values such as moderation, reasonableness and self reliance. These values put together alongside any economic venture can help a people come out of poverty.
Moving on, the team asked the women to identify with an activity that would add immense value to their lives and that of the community. At that meeting, the women unanimously agreed to the idea that they needed a grain milling plant which they said would add immense value to their grain produce as well as serve the 22 villages around them.
This helped build their capacity as the team explained to the women the building process. A milling plant needed a house and machines. But to start building, they needed a land, water, stones, labour and land. These were the things which could be found around their environment. Sufficiency economy was about being self-sufficient and being self-sufficient starts with the recognition of the resources around you.
With the donation of a piece of land from the Catholic Church through the St. Mulumba Catholic Church Igu, the women immediately commenced work on their milling site while the Abuja Chapter of National Association of Seadogs had tried to get grants for this project but when it was not forthcoming, they looked inwards and raised the funds for the construction of the mill. That wasn’t all, as professionals from the association also helped the women on the design of the site and its construction.
Wyego Manayi: A local revolution
Wyego Manayi in Gbagyi , the dialect of the Igu people means Good Machine. The word which adorns the entrance to the milling plant was chosen by the women of Igu who described the milling plant as the beginning of good things in their lives. The machines and the milling plant themselves are not just machines but a pointer to the very fact that our development lies in our own hands and the power to fulfill and make our dreams come true.
WyegoManayi is not just about inspiring people in the villagers and rural areas such as Igu to dream, it is a revolution waiting to happen. More than 70 per cent of Nigerians live in rural areas and in poverty.
But the above is not intended to be simplistic. Agencies hoping to help communities out of poverty must be willing to listen. They must also be willing to let the communities take the lead on the project for it is actually their destiny. It is the hope of the National Association of Seadogs that the government adopts this model for participatory development as well as utilising the local knowledge of the people in its poverty alleviation and rural development programmes.
I have taken this time and space to help many see that the devil isn’t in the National Association of Seadogs, neither are his agents. The issue of cultism and its vices though real cannot be associated with an organisation that has more interest in the well-being of others than itself; that has repeatedly lent its voice to matters affecting the poor as well as the weak.