Official Website of Godknows Boladei Igali

The Imperatives of Strategic Partnership Between INDG and Other Ijaw/Niger Delta Organisations for Effective Human and Infrastructural Development

Ambassador Godknows Igali

Protocol

I will like to begin by thanking most sincerely the Organising Committee for this very important event and indeed the entire leadership of the INDG for giving me another opportunity to speak to you as we accept to usher in a new team of Executives. I recall that two years ago, I had a similar opportunity on your invitation to participate as the Lead Speaker on the occasion of the inauguration of the Executive which is on its way out. I particularly salute the outgoing Executive for the successful accomplishment of its full mandate and for serving so diligently and creditably. For those of us who watch closely the activities of your organisation, despite the very turbulent times in which you had to operate, you were all found on top. This, I must say, is a great mark of your diligence, commitment to the tasks which you had set ahead of you.

Why are we gathered here?

2. We are gathered here once more not just as a ritual but to tenable us look back and see how the journey of our growth and development has been as an organisation for the past two years and also map out for ourselves the right path to follow in the years ahead. In other words, we are here to again examine ourselves introspectively and ask ourselves some critical questions for which the best answers should come from ourselves. Particularly, is for us to sincerely see to what extent we have been able to achieve our goals and objectives and more closely the objectives which the current administration has outlined for itself. This is the most critical task before us today and I believe that by the end of the day, we shall be able to achieve that.

3. I must pay my special tribute to our outgoing leader, Elder Ben Nanaghea for the mature and articulate manner in which he has been able to steer the affairs of this our flagship organisation. The period of your leadership coincidence with so many great national events, including our exit from covid-19, the setting up of a new Executive for the Ijaw National Congress and most lately, the electoral process in Nigeria covering all tiers of governance apart from the Governorship of Bayelsa State which will come up soon.

4. As we interrogate the issues, I will like in the course of the day, for us to ask ourselves to what extent we have been able to rise up to the occasion. For me as an individual and as we do in academia, I would say we scored above A+ as the voice of INDG was heard in a clear and resounding manner not only in Nigeria on all the pertinent issues but across the world. Today, INDG has become a household name within the Ijaw communities all over and also continues to reach out to bring on board more of our professionals.

5. Gladly, today, you have asked me to speak on the topic – “the Imperatives of Strategic Partnership Between INDG and other Ijaw/Niger Delta Organisations for Effective Human and Infrastructural Development”. What this means from the beginning is that there is an accepted understanding of an area where more work needs to be done. That area I believe is with respect to the types of horizontal and vertical relationships which we need to keep as an organisation with ourselves and with similar bodies like us within the Ijaw community in the Niger Delta and the rest of Nigeria. Indeed, this to me should include what kinds of relationship we map out with all related bodies from around the world. I think this is another critical phase that every organisation needs to enter into. Having understood yourselves, having set out in a clear but unfolding manner your strategic direction, the next step is whom do we relate with in order to attain our objectives and our goals. Your theme is therefore forthright and very germane to the times.

On the question of Strategic Partnerships

6. The words strategic partnership or what some call strategic alliances occur at all level of human existence. So what are strategic partnerships? As it is in the social sciences, it will be difficult to proffer any all-encompassing definition. Sometimes, the explanation as to what is strategic, what is partnership is contextual. In other words, the full definition would depend on the specific type of relationship but in simple terms, what does these two words mean, so when you say strategic, you are looking at the need to identify in a clear and pristine manner, the long term overall interest. This would also include clearly stating the types of the means by which such objectives and goals could be achieved.

7. So, being strategic simply means having the acumen to take a particular mission, assignment, organisation or body of interest in a direction it will go and create the best of advantage for it. Of course, the goals and the mean to attain those had to be properly and if I may add another word, critically and tactically and decisively aligned. So if the INDG is now talking about being strategic, it is not to say that there were no goals but it is simply to emphasise the need for a new focus in order to achieve the goals ahead. This would include for us today, redefining the specific cause of action which the new management will need to take to take us to where we want to be. I think this is very important as not doing so will, in the words of Prof. Claude Ake, be like embarking on a journey without a map. The new management of the INDG must therefore go deeply into diagnosing what this organisation was sent to do, i.e. were there problems and have they been solved or what new specific and coherent steps and action can we purpose to deliver the results. Before I rest the case on the matter of strategy, most efforts at strategy always aim at the very top, i.e., being the best at what you set out to do, not second or second best, but the very best, being proactive and not reactive, being efficient and ensuring that there is enough internal cohesiveness, including carrying all along as we say in Nigeria.

8. At this stage, I should say a few words on the question of partnerships which is the other key word. Perhaps this is a word that we do not need to go on a wild chase into philosophy or sociology as it simply means a situation where two or more entities come together to coalesce their energies in order to achieve certain goals. Some of these can be a form of alliance, co-partnership in specific projects, some type of association working together or even setting up a special purpose vehicle to achieve what the two sides agreed to achieve. Such partnerships or alliances operate on the age old maxim that two heads are better than one or that a broom sweeps better when they are more and not one.

9. What is always important with respect to partnerships is the fact that there must be an agreement, hence even the Bible says, can two work together except they agree (Amos 3:3). As a matter of fact, even at the very primordial level of partnerships, the marriage bond itself is the most ancient type of partnership for the purpose of mutual comfort and support and for the purpose of procreation. Looking at the whole subject matter, strategic partnership therefore entails getting into relationship with others, getting into cooperation with others, getting into liaisons with together, getting into affiliation with others, getting into alliance with other, getting connected with others, getting hook-ups with others in a manner that gives us the best of advantage. By best of advantage, we mean within our own definition of our aims and objectives. If we are to relate it to business which is the simplest way to define partnerships, it is to mean how much more profit do I make with the least cost and how much benefit will I get by joining forces with others without harming myself and without diminishing my identity doing this.

10. You all therefore will agree that strategic partnerships or strategic relationship with others are critical and in the best interest of any organisation. In modern times, the best performing organisations are those who realise and spread wide their dragnet of partnerships and inter-relationships. It may be necessary to bring comfort to you by stating that such tactical moves and geo-tactical moves are not limited to organisations such as ours but are increasingly common place in the business world, some of which even end up in acquisitions and mergers.

11. At the national level, diplomacy itself is simply a journey of engagements and re-engagements, alliances, and readjusted alliances between nations.

Steps towards strategic partnerships

12. The process of entering into strategic partnerships is a very delicate one and INDG must ponder very well and at all steps, take a number of deep thoughts.

i. Do we really understand our permanent and movable interests? –
Interest is the fibre by which all organisations survive, so those who will now be charged must have a rethink, perhaps organise a retreatment among themselves or the larger house on our common interests. This is because we live in a world that is dynamic and ever changing, so we must also be open to redefining our interests to be in tune with the times without losing our core values.

ii. Do we really need partnerships? This is important because it would be un-ideal to enter into partnership because all others are doing it or that it appears it is becoming fashionable. We must examine what aspect of our goals and objectives need such partnerships. Definitely, it is not everything or every area that we need other people in our kitchen.

iii. Whom do we need to go into partnership with? This appears one of the most critical areas. In identifying the problem, you have stated Ijaw and Niger Delta organisations. Yes, this is understandable. However, the need is more than that. There are hundreds of organisations in the Niger Delta, from cultural, socio-political, environmental, finance, education, integrational, community based, etc, etc. The mandate of the INDG is broad and wide and can relate with several organisations in different ways, so it would be important to ask – whom do we relate with of all these and in what specific areas?

iv. What types of relationships do we enter? I need to explain at this stage, that strategic partnerships cannot be limited in a strait jacket. We do not need directly to pour all our eggs into one basket. In some cases, relationship may be complete 100% working together in every area of our activities. In other cases, our relationship may just be working together in some areas that are mutually agreed and defined. In some other cases, relationship may just be a form of understanding and when the need arises, we work together. This remain therefore very clear understanding of relationship and levels of relationship.

v. The legal status of relationship. Relationships can be defined by mere gentleman’s agreement or informal or made more formal by some of MOU, letter of understanding, term sheet, protocol or even a formal agreement. All these will depend on which aspect of our relation we want to go into partnership on, that is why we use the work strategic. It is not strategic, it is not a loose thing, it is something we have thought through.

Unsung Critical Stakeholders

13. Going by the topic, I will want to suppose that the first order of priority of those we can relate with take the concentric cycle model, that is, the horizontal types of relationships. So by this, I believe we are looking at relationships that are parallel to planes as different from the vertical ones. This horizontal relationship to me will include relationship with other Ijaws with similar objectives. This will include:

a. The Ijaw National Congress
b. The Ijaw Youth Council
c. The Ijaw Elders Forum
d. The Ijaw Monitoring Group
e. The Ijaws in Diaspora Organisation
f. The Ijaw ladies association
g. The Ijaw women connect
h. and other Ijaw groups at the level of the various clans.

14. At the vertical level, we are also looking at relationships that are not directly within our biosphere but extend to the space of our neighbours, the country and the world. And these would include such groups as PANDEF, the various cultural organisations from other ethnic groups eg. Urhobo Progressive Union, the Itsekiri Union, the Ogbaku Ikwere Union, the Isoko Progressive Union. Next will be such other regional organisations as Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum, etc.

15. Perhaps a more less visible but important and critical level of relationships are with national and international bodies, organisations and associations. This will include those that deal with activities that affect our people. For example, the question of flooding emergency relief has become a perennial challenge to us and what organisation can we work with in this respect, eg NEMA, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, the humanitarian communities, the human right communities, philanthropists, social organisation, oil and gas companies, etc. I must say that with some of these groups, the strategic partnership will only be consultative, that will mean mostly liaison to enable us raise issues when they arise.

16. The next set of vertical relationships we need to keep are with international organisations, many of whom are very much interested in our region due to its strategic and geo-strategic interest to the entire world. For a region that holds most of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earners being oil and gas and hosting multiplicity of international corporate bodies and nationals, there is a lot of interest in Ijaw land and bodies such as our can maintain contact with them. Besides these, a lot of the agencies of the United Nations, African Union and even ECOWAS are deeply involved in social activities for which our people deserve the right to benefit from.

Closing

17. Once more, I congratulate the new Executive for coming to power and want to assure that persons such as I and I am sure many others will be ready to work with you and support you to achieve the strategic goals and objectives of this important organisation. What is important is that three are critical reasons for us to continue this good work and to adopt strategies and get the best out of our friends, both local and international from around the world.

18. I thank you for your attention.