Akulu-Isuofia: Good Anambra Example In Community Development

By Casmir Igbokwe

Anambra state is reputed for its wealthy and influential citizens. It is the home of Obi Cubana, ABC Orjiako, Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson), Allen Onyema (Air Peace boss), Paul Okonkwo (Pokobros) and others too numerous to mention. The state also has great leaders and scholars like the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the late Professor Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to mention but a few. Like these great personalities, Anambra has made giant strides in many spheres of life. For instance, every year, especially during the Yuletide, some communities embark on developmental projects usually powered by their illustrious citizens.

Isuofia is one of such communities. The community, you may wish to know, is the hometown of the incumbent governor of Anambra State, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo. It is also my hometown. Almost every year, the community embarks on one multimillion-naira project or the other. Grading of community roads is one of them. There are also building of health centres, village halls and empowerment of some indigent indigenes.

Two days ago, being Saturday, December 31, 2022, the smallest village in Isuofia known as Akulu commissioned another multimillion-naira project – street lights. I was the Chairman of the occasion. This project, which cost about N25 million, was realized in less than two months. And it started like a joke on the village Whatsapp platform. A Diaspora indigene of the village, Nnamdi David Nsofor, made the suggestion. The majority of the people accepted it. A small committee headed by this same Nsofor was set up. Before one could say “street light”, donations started pouring in. Different families started taking up the cost of erecting the street lights. The highest donor happens to be the family of a Mozambique-based citizen, Chief Okey Umeano, who paid the cost of erecting about 27 street lights. Some paid for six street lights. Some paid for five, three and so on.

Each of these standard street lights cost N90, 000. When you add the cost of pole and labour for erecting the street light, you are talking of about N150, 000 for one street light. The three-man street light committee and the village four-man Whatsapp admin headed by Honourable Aloy Uzoekwe handled the project. The Chairman of the village, Mr. Madueke Okeke-Aja, provided good leadership. These lights are solar-powered. In the night, everywhere is lit up such that a first-time visitor may not know the difference between day and night in Akulu.

This has posed a big challenge to the remaining five villages in the town. The traditional ruler of the town, Igwe CAO Muoghalu, said that much when he commissioned the street lights last Saturday. I know that in no distant time, other villages will want to surpass the standard Akulu has set. The prayer of the village is that Governor Soludo should use his good offices to put street lights on the newly constructed road linking Akulu to Nanka, a neighbouring community.

It is pertinent to note that other villages in Isuofia are not sleeping. In 2019, for example, the six villages in the town embarked on major rehabilitation of their roads within the Christmas period. An age grade in Umueze-Isuofia called Chidozie Age Grade, built a multimillion naira sports complex in Umueze. Chidera Age Grade of Ozala-Isuofia built a standard one-storey hall which was inaugurated on January 1, 2020. On its part, Chidera age grade of Umueze-Isuofia installed solar energy street lights in some parts of Umueze. Oganiru age grade also of Umueze built a two-storey health centre which was unveiled and handed over to the town on January 2, 2020. This age grade also offered free medical treatment/eye glasses that same day.

In 2020, many citizens benefitted from the COVID-19 pandemic palliatives given out by the illustrious sons of the town. Last year, a wealthy son of the town, Mr. Patrick Ndubuisi, empowered scores of youths in the town with tricycles popularly called Keke. Before Mr. Ndubuisi were philanthropists like Chief Paul Okonkwo popularly called Ojih, Chief Aloy Okoye (Ezesinachi), Chief Uche Obiakor and many others who have helped the community one way or the other.

Also, last year, the town embarked on the construction of a pavilion at her civic centre. It is estimated to cost over N100 million. Nobody was levied to do this. It was just freewill donations from the citizens of the town. The project is still ongoing and is still attracting donations from people.

In many other parts of Igbo land, it is the same spirit. Some family kindred, villages and towns take up scholarship schemes to train indigent members of the society up to university level. Those who cannot go to school go through apprenticeship scheme under the tutelage of successful businessmen for some years ranging from five to seven. They later come out to establish business ventures of their choice with the assistance of their masters.

Women groups such as ‘Umuada’ (daughters of the soil), ‘Ndi Inyom’ (women married to sons of the soil) and church groups like the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) have also helped in bringing development to their various communities. Such is the spirit of development in many communities in Anambra State.

Governor Soludo realized that this spirit could work wonders in the state if challenged. He has therefore challenged wealthy citizens and communities in the state to take up different projects for their communities. Last September, Soludo commissioned a 1.7km new road constructed by a businessman, Chief Val Onwumelu, in Uruegbe village in Umuoji community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. He commended Onwumelu for demonstrating a true Anambra spirit and noted that the project was in line with his Public Community Private Partnership model which he envisioned for Anambra.

Prominent citizens of a community like Neni had similarly embarked on such developmental projects in the state some years back. They had constructed some 24 kilometres of road in the community. This effort was powered by people like the late owner of Tonimas Group, Chief Anthony Enukeme, the Chairman of Paul B Construction Ltd., Paul Enidom, and some others.

What Anambra has going for it is its citizens living in the Diaspora. They are found in different parts of the country and in the world. Some live in the far North. Some live in some African countries like Angola and Mozambique. Some live in Europe and America. Wherever they find themselves, they make that place home. But they don’t forget to bring some development to their ancestral homes.

It will be good if other people or states emulate this developmental trajectory. The point is that there is a limit to what government can do for the citizens. Wealthy individuals can always help in bringing development to their localities. Unfortunately, what we usually experience in Nigeria is that wealthy people use their wealth and influence to oppress the less privileged. For many of them, all they are interested in is endless acquisition of money, property and power. In no distant time, many of them leave this world with their family members fighting over such property.

Happy New Year!

 

Re: Christmas in a troubled nation

Dear Casy, indeed, our nation is in a state of ‘jagajaga and everything scatter, scatter’, apologies to the late musician Idris. And celebrating Christmas in such atmosphere is a misnomer! Even the blind ‘sees’ it because even if he doesn’t literally see, he could feel the harsh effects. Casy, how can we celebrate Christmas: (1) when insecurity has become a leviathan? (2) When new prices of fuel are, daily, smuggled into filling stations through the backdoor and the effects transferred to the common man via increase in prices of commodities to increase the common man’s woes? (3)When prices of goods and services have broken the rooftop on their ways to irredeemable heights? (4) When our nation’s currency, the Naira, has lost so much stamina such that it can no longer withstand a battle with any currency in the world today in terms of comparative purchasing power? (5)When the nation is groaning under the crushing weight of debt overhang? Solution? (1) Fervent prayer for Divine intervention in the choice for Buhari successor; (2) Damn ethnic jingoism, come 2023 presidential election, and vote wisely for Obi-Datti squad for salvation of Nigeria from further asphyxia.

-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.

 

Casmir, since nagging and lamentations throughout the outgoing year 2022 have not and will not give us the el dorado kind of country that we all wish for, let us use Psalm 23 to pray/intercede for Nigeria. Ps 23: the lord is Nigeria’s shepherd. Amen. May Nigeria perpetually not be in want or lack. Amen. God shall once again, make Nigeria lie down in green pastures of prosperity. It shall be green for us on all sides. Amen. He will make us lie in ‘still waters’ and not in the ‘troubled waters’ of economic doom and misery, insecurity of different dimensions, disunity, educational backwardness and stagnation of all kinds. Amen. He shall refresh the deteriorating soul of Nigeria and prevent it from becoming stale. Amen. He shall direct the path of the reconstruction of Nigeria’s economy, making it once again vibrant . Amen. He shall by his might move us from a debtor nation to a ‘creditor nation’, for his name’s sake. Amen. Even though Nigeria is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil. Amen. For the rod & the staff of God shall comfort and protect Nigeria, as all hope is not lost. Amen. God shall anoint ‘the head’ – so that it will be correct – of the next president with the oil of gladness such that Nigeria’s cup (bank account/revenue/income) shall run over (be in excess) and Nigeria shall have more than enough to feed her citizens and lend to other nations in want. Amen. Surely, God’s goodness and mercy shall follow Nigeria and make Nigeria great again in all the years of existence of Nigeria. May we witness this from 2023. Amen. It shall start from our generation to generations yet unborn. Amen. We shall continually seek and dwell in the house of the lord forever and ever IJN. Amen.

-Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +234 816 111 4572

 

Greed and selfish interest are our problem in Southeast region. Whenever there is festival season, our Southeast transporters milk commuters dry with hike in price of transport.

-Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +234 807 316 5732

 

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 2, 2023

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