Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko is the Secretary General of Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA). He is also the Founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), which celebrated its 20th anniversary two days ago with a symposium in Enugu themed ‘How to Make Nigeria Work’. In this interview with ONYEDIKA AGBEDO, he reflects on issues in the polity, maintaining that the country will only make progress after a sincere reconstruction of the polity through devolution of powers.
What was in your mind when you founded the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) 20 years ago?
I had a burden. My people, the Igbo, were disorganised to the point that everybody was afraid to talk about issues affecting us as a people.
People were scared of speaking up. I decided to stand up and inspire the younger generation. It was going to be a dangerous, rough, thankless job, but I believed that if God gives me the grace to remain consistent, then a new conscious and alert Igbo youth will emerge with time.
I presented them with the truth. I was encouraged by large attendance to my seminars. I was thrilled by the fact that they were hungry for information; an angry bunch hungry for justice. So, I compiled all the injustices against my people and began monthly IYM seminars for Igbo youths. I travelled all over the country, wherever Ndigbo resided in large numbers and preached the gospel of a new, just and equitable Nigeria. My target audience was the younger generation. My message was simple and direct — a new Nigeria is possible. A new template, a new format is desirable.
I was quite fortunate that great Igbo leaders accepted my invitation to attend as resource persons, answering the numerous questions these youngsters were asking.
Men like Ojukwu, Ekwueme, Ajuluchukwu, Mbakwe, Achuzia, Ikedife, Onoh, Chukwumerije and Obumselu helped IYM become what it is today. Their presence and attendance at IYM seminars made IYM popular and respected.