Asking you to "stay well" the Director of the James Ibori Center, John O. Ifediora, J.D., Ph.D., invites you to join. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and
Director of the James Ibori Center for Policy Studies. Email: Ifediora@uwplatt.edu
The James Ibori Center For Policy Studies
The Director and the Board of Advisers of the James Ibori Center for Policy Studies are pleased to announce the establishment of this Center, and its inauguration that took place on November 20, 2004 in Madison, Wisconsin. The Center is a consortium of universities in the University of Wisconsin System through a cadre of diversified professionals and academics from the thirteen institutions that make-up the University of Wisconsin System, the second largest in the US. The Center, as a research institute, is dedicated to the furtherance of human development, and would serve as a forum for constructive dialogue on international affairs, especially those of immediate relevance to Africa, and the African Diaspora. One of the principal reasons for this endeavor is the urgent need to bring to bear some of Africa's and North America's bright minds on major socio-economic issues that have perennially subdued basic human development in Africa. To achieve its objectives, the Center would serve as a resource-base from which expert assistance in higher education, public policy development, and analysis would be rendered to African States and institutions. The Center, however, would do more than commission scholarly discussions among experts and academics, rather, it would be solution-focused in areas of its competence, and protecting fundamental human rights in the continent.
A Brief Narrative About the Genesis of the Center By its Director, Professor John O. Ifediora
The idea to create The James Ibori Center for Policy Studies is mine, and a result of the meeting held in the Capitol building of the State of Wisconsin. I was invited by the Honorable State Representative Johnny Morris to discuss the viability of a Sister-State relationship between Delta State and the State of Wisconsin. Among those in attendance is the Secretary of Commerce of the State of Wisconsin, Mr. Cory Nettles. This is a coveted relationship that Countries in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe seek and continually lobby for because of the incalculable benefits that accrue to citizens of successful States. In the normal run of things, the Asian and Eastern European countries are more often than not more successful in their efforts than their African counterparts because they have more than adequate resources to retain professional lobbying groups to represent their interests. What successful states get from such relationship is preferential treatment in trade, assistance in transfer of medical, educational, agricultural, and goods-production technology. The opportunity to train and educate students, faculty and staff in the University of Wisconsin System is also enhanced, and so is the transfer of educational materials and research equipments. These are benefits that citizens of Delta State can surely use. When the possibility of such relationship was communicated to the Governor of Delta State, his reaction was swift, and positive; he clearly saw the benefits to the citizens of his State, and devoted his energy towards this end. But this will not come easy; for it is a competitive process that must be engaged with diligence, and requires the cooperation of state legislators.
It is with these benefits in mind, and the Governor's willingness to devote his energy to this initiative, that I proposed that the Center for Applied Public Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, which I co-founded, be re-named as The James Ibori Center for Policy Studies. The immediate impact of this would be instant awareness of the Governor, and Delta State amongst Wisconsin legislators, government officials, Journalists, and policy makers in public and private institutions in Wisconsin. (The inauguration of the Center on November 20th achieved this objective.) But since the Center for Applied Public Policy has only a regional mandate, the director of the center and I opted to create a more robust center with an international focus that would take advantage of the expertise from all campuses in the system and direct them to policy issues that pertain to African States. And that is exactly what we did; create a center that is based in the capital city of Madison with an international platform, and reach. Such a center is not new to the University of Wisconsin System; in fact The James Ibori Center for Policy Studies is modeled after The Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies that encompasses ten of the thirteen campuses in the system and based at UW-Stevens Point (www.wisconsin-institute.org).
In order to remain a viable entity, the center will rely to a great extent on research grants, and in-kind services from faculty members, and University staff associated with the Center. The Center will not receive any funds from Delta State, and I, as the director, will not be paid for my services, and neither will other faculty members, because the Center's activities meet the requirements for 'community service' that is required of all faculty members in the University of Wisconsin System. The Center's activities would also be part of the University of Wisconsin Outreach Activities performed by its faculty and staff. This is not entirely selfless on our part; being part of the Center enhances careers, and provides non-pecuniary benefits that come with the knowledge that you are part of an entity that provides for humanity.
Usefulness of the Center
First and foremost, the center is a think-tank, and a resource base on African affairs. It would provide a platform from which to project to policy makers on the international arena issues that matter to Africa, and Nigeria in particular. This will be accomplished through the Center's publications, applied research, and advocacy. The Center would provide consultative assistance in areas of higher education, economic development, and economic impact studies, environmental impact studies, urban and rural housing development, agricultural, and infrastructure development. All these expertise are within the Center's reach for free to African states. The Center is uniquely positioned to direct resources from the UW-System to any country in Africa in need of these services. It would also provide scholarships to Delta State students to study in any of the campuses in the System.
Of immediate import, however, is the central role the center would play in achieving an all-important sister-state relationship between the state of Wisconsin and Delta State. The Center's presence, and its advocacy activities would enable the legislative adoption of this coveted relationship that would bring incalculable benefits to citizens of Delta State, its businesses, and educational institutions.
When I met Chief Ibori for the first time on November 20th, I must tell that I was very impressed by his personality, the intelligence he projects, and his awareness of the needs of the people whose affairs he governs. This sentiment is shared by literally everyone who met him at the inauguration; and these are people in academia, government, international diplomacy, and in the private sector. He represents a State of proud and resourceful collectivities, and he did it on this occasion with exemplary dignity. He also happens to be the Governor of the State into which I was born and raised. I was born in Ogwashi-Uku, raised in Agbor, and did my secondary education at St. Anthony's College, Ubulu-Uku. So you see, I also have a vested interest in the welfare of the people of Delta State, they are my people too!
As a tenured Professor of Economics in the University of Wisconsin System, and a licensed Attorney at Law with a private practice in Wisconsin, I can assure you that this Center is beyond reproach, and will deliver. If you need to know more about me, please go to my university website at: www.uwplatt.edu/~ifediora/ The Center's website will be up and running in January; it is being designed to serve as a comprehensive academic and policy analysis port on African issues to serve academics, researchers, policy makers, and anyone interested in matters that are of import to Africa. For now, you may visit the website of The Center for Applied Public Policy at: w.uwplatt.edu/cap/ and read the last three News Letters from the Center.
I now wish to extend a heart-felt invitation to all of you to communicate to me what you would desire for the Center to help accomplish in its first year of existence. I would be very happy to assist you in any way possible to achieve our mutual goals that lead to the furtherance of human and infrastructure development in Africa. So long as we remain positive, we have within our hands a great opportunity to help the needy, and the less fortunate in our midst.