The Onitsha Advancement Foundation (OnAF) was established on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, by the Onitsha Traditional Council, under the leadership of His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, CFR, mni, Obi of Onitsha. It is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission as an Incorporated Trustee with two major objectives. The first is to support the funding and education of deserving Onitsha indigenes in all fields of endeavor, academics, and the arts. sports, technology. skills acquisition and vocational training. The other is to facilitate the preservation of the values, history, and traditions of the Ancient Onitsha Kingdom! through the sustainable maintenance of the institution, structures, and objects of its monarchy.
‘Taking Onitsha Ado N’idu to the Next Level’
On ascending the throne on May 14, 2002, His Majesty Nnaemeka Achebe articulated a personal philosophy of Peace and Reconciliation based on Truth and Transparency as Foundation for Sustainable Development. It was on this basis that he shaped the vision of re-inventing and re-positioning the Onicha Ado N’Idu Community by applying modern management and leadership principles to its governance. Following from this, various initiatives have been undertaken. These include youth development workshops, town hall meetings, review of rules and regulation, think tank sessions, engagements with Onicha indigenes outside of the homesteads and conferences. The highpoint of these efforts was the Inaugural Meeting on ”Taking Onitsha Ado N’Idu To The Next Level, which was convened on Saturday, April 152017, by His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe. This is a bold change effort designed to reinvent and reposition the Onitsha community. The programme’s major thrust is to galvanize the energies and resources of Onitsha indigenes towards self-driven and future-relevant development that would enable the community to transcend the debilitating impact of modernization and globalization on a traditional society. Implementation commenced with the constitution of workstreams to look at various aspects of the development and repositioning needs of the ancient community. A workstream was charged with providing a roadmap for wealth development and economic empowerment of the Onitsha people.
Onicha Community COVID-19 Response Team (OCCRT).
While the efforts were still ongoing, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The outbreak of the coronavirus, which was first reported in Nigeria on February 27, 2020, created a huge health and economic challenge for the country. To complement the efforts of the Anambra State Government in curtailing the spread and adverse effects of the virus in the state, and in furtherance to the 2017 programme, the Onitsha Traditional Council on April 9, 2020, set up the Onitsha Community COVID-19 Response Team (OCCRT). It was the first of such community responses to the pandemic in the State. The initiative was also aimed at mitigating the expected effects of COVID-19 on the more disadvantaged Onitsha indigenes resident in Onitsha. Whilst the initiative was impactful during the early stages of the COVID pandemic, it became necessary to re-focus the remit of the OCCRT, and also try to support a number of economic empowerment initiatives that involve the establishment of businesses in Onitsha with a view to creating local jobs in Onitsha and improving the local economy.
The Economic Empowerment Programme
It was against the background of this need to modify the task of the OCCRT that His Majesty Nnaemeka Achebe, on July 3, 2020, constituted an Economic Empowerment Team comprising Onitsha professionals. The team was charged with mapping out strategies “to support the struggling and budding entrepreneurs in our domain in weathering the (COVID-19) storm.” Drawing from the work of the team, and his desire for meaningful economic empowerment in Onicha Ado N’Idu, His Majesty Nnaemeka Achebe established on August 12, 2020, an Economic Empowerment Programme. This forms part of the strategies aimed at taking Onitsha through the 21st Century. In immediate furtherance of the above, it was decided to utilise the existing Onitsha Advancement Foundation (OnAF), to coordinate the funding and management of the Economic Empowerment Programme. Consequently, OnAF had to be restructured as a community led socio-economic development holding entity. focusing on:
- Entrepreneurship training,
- Technological skills acquisition,
- Financial intermediation,
A Values Reorientation Initiative has been identified as a critical enabler for the success of the Economic Empowerment Programme.