The Formative years of Isoko Association of Houston (IAH)

The story of the formation of IAH, that we have today, has metamorphosed over three distinct stages, and will be narrated here accordingly, as I know it. I will, from time to time, supplement this story as other facts come to memory, or become available.

Stage one: This stage was pre-2004, don’t remember exactly when, when the present presidentMr. Obaro Odu and Mr. Oke Adhekegba paid a visit to me at my resident in Sugar Land Texas. During the visit the need to form an Isoko Association here in Houston was paramount in our discussion. If I remember correctly, we developed a framework there and then and Mr. Obaro was put in charge of drafting the bylaws/ constitution. Mr. Obaro Odu did followup on this assignment, and I remember that he emailed me a draft copy. But, however, before we could go further Mr. Obaro was being moved out of town by his company, and Mr. Oke Adhekegba left for Nigeria, where he resides today, or was at an advance stage of doing so. These happenings brought the first stage to an end. Although there were other identified Isoko indigenes in the Houston area, who may have heard from us of the prospective formation of the association, we did not have the opportunity to involve them.

Second Stage: This stage did not begin until late 2004 when we started meeting again in my house in view of reviving the association. Mr. Obaro Odu was still in Detroit and Oke Adhekegba was, of course, still in Nigeria. The new membership was comprised of John Mukoro, Bibian Mukoro, Mr. Vese, Dr. Agbanobi (of blessed memory), Dr. Austin Orette, Ben Okpei, Edward Ifode and Fidelis Etugbo. Mr. Etugbo, who was appointed the secretary, was very dynamic in his leadership of the new association that all our hope was put on him. However, before we could get beyond this stage, Mr. Etugbo had to leave for Nigeria under some very abrupt circumstances, where he still is till date. After his departure, meetings were no longer regular, the membership declined, and the center could not hold together anymore.

During this time, or soon after, the Isoko Association of North America (IANA) was been formed, through the dynamism of one David Agbuduta, the then president of the Dallas chapter. Despite not having a Houston chapter my wife, Bibian, and I continued to be members of IANA. I became secretary general of IANA and the facilitator of the prospective Houston chapter. In this capacity my wife and I attended the first IANA national convention held in Dallas, and subsequent once in Los Angele CA and Atlanta GA. Joining us in the 2008 Dallas convention was Mr. Toni Ayera, who had just recently relocated to Houston from Nigeria, and it was at this convention, despite the fact that we did not have a Houston chapter yet, that we committed Houston to hosting the 2010 convention, and this was the beginning of the third stage. Also at this convention were Dr. and Mrs. Austin Orette. Dr Orette was at this convention to make a presentation. It is worthwhile to give some credit to IANA and the general membership, especially the Dallas chapter, for the encouragement they continued to give us to form the Houston chapter, and for making it possible for us to participate in IANA affairs without a registered chapter.

The third stage: We came back from the Dallas convention determined to get the Houston chapter going, since we had now committed to the 2010 convention, and we thought the time was now or never. The zeal to go forward was bolstered by having a couple more new members in addition to Toni Ayera. Prominent amongst these was Mr. Jones Oleita who, also, had recently relocated to Houston from Nigeria and Mr. Edward Ifode who had joined again. In my humble opinion, these guys were a great part of the success of the 2010 convention in Houston. Also, at this time Mr. Obaro Odu had been, miraculously, returned back to Houston. I found this out when I casually called to announce to him that despite his not being here, that Houston had committed to the 2010 convention, and that we would needhis assistance. It was then he announced to me that he was back in Houston. We quickly convened officially, appointedadhoc officers, with my humble self being the facilitator, and the Isoko Association of Houston that we know today was born. We joined the national chapter IANA, and the convention, 2 years away, was pivotal in embarking on a successful membership drive post 2008. The membership through the 2010 Houston convention grew,especially with the obligatory spouse membership that we legislated during this time. At the convention the membership comprised of: John Mukoro, Bibian Mukoro, Toni Ayera, NgoziAyera, Jones Oleita, Stella Oleita, EloAkugha, Chika Akugha, Ben Okpei,WilliamVese, CelestinaVese, Edward Ifode, Mrs. Ifode, OmoefeOnoriobe, Blessing Onoriobe, IghoKagho, Bose Kagho, Rose Okoro, Patricia Emordi, Kelly Emordi (blessed memory), Dr. Austin Orette, MariannOrette, ObaroOdu, Veronica Odu, Bright Ashaka, Brenda Ashaka, Dorothy Ashaka, Festus Okiomah and Ruth Okiomah.

In conclusion, we worked very hard for a successful convention because we wanted to set a standard everything was in place to welcome our brothers and sisters to Houston- but we were a little disappointed because it was not well attended as expected, but those who attended would attest to the fact that it was a great one. We continue to grow the chapter and our monthly meetings are regular and well attended under the leadership of a new executive presided over by Mr. Obaro Odu, and we look forward to continued growth.

By: John Mukoro. Esq (Olorogun)