Following the release of the list of those who were selected for the various categories of Nzuko Arochukwu awards bestowed on them during the Aro Day on 26 December, 2015 events at Oror, and the controversy that trailed the names, Aro News went to town to find out whether those who were given those Aro awards had merited them or not. In the end, Aro News had found out that more than 85% of those who spoke to the correspondent had condemned the act of giving exalted Aro awards to those who do not merit them; and the bastardisation of the event by some powers that be in Nzuko Arochukwu.
At Asaga, a villager who was asked to assess those that received the awards had told the reporter that ‘the moment Nzuko Arochukwu and their leaders stop hero-worshipping and celebrating those who have only acquired riches and embrace all spectra of Ndi Aro, things will become better in Arochukwu. When I saw the list of those who were chosen, I couldn’t but weep for Arochukwu. They had selected those that appealed to the orgainsers in their wealth and influence, not those who have helped (or are helping) Aro. They chose only those who drive jeeps, who have built big houses in the town and those who live in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Aba, Port Harcourt and the like, excluding those who have been around and helping Aro in their little ways. In fact, the organisers could not call the name of one of the recipients (an officer of Nzuko Aro) when they were calling others as they had noted the people would jell at them the more on hearing such a name. So, they ‘smuggled’ in his name towards the end of the exercise. This will tell you what I mean. Aro awards are today given to the highest bidders – those who are not known in Arochukwu, or who are known to have contributed to the development of the town. In fact, Nzuko Aro officials recycle the awards within themselves, and call at Aro award!
At Utughugwu village where the reporter had visited to interview a cultural icon on the issue, the ninety years old man shook his head in rejection. He had told the reporter he had served together with in Okpamkpo Aro Publicity Committee in 1996, that ‘what I see in Aro today reminds me what the Bible had foresaid about days difficult to deal with. Aro affairs are daily bastardised by those who impose themselves as the leaders of Arochukwu, those who do not know the nto ali Aro. Aro awards should not be given to any and every Aro man. Those who receive such awards should merit them. They should not be conferred on only those who drive jeeps, those who live in Abuja and Lagos; such wards should be conferred on teachers and other simple villagers who live in Aro and who have contributing to the growth and development of the town through teaching Aro children cultural values and rendering other services. They should also be conferred on those who live in Arochukwu and help solve everyday problems that occur in Arochukwu. Nzuko Aro awards should be conferred on those who have discouraged those who live in Aro from travelling to Ohafia to buy cement and building materials by opening building materials stores in Aro; and those who help deliver letters to those in Arochukwu (some Aro drivers). These people too render important services to Arochukwu and her people. Aro awards should not be for only the rich, ‘successful,’ important and the so-called educated elite; they should be awarded to only those who merit them by rendering any kind of service to the people.
At Nkwunabu Junction, a retired teacher Aro News spoke to on the conferment on people of Aro awards retorted: ‘Aro awards? No, I don’t care about them. We no longer have Aro culture and traditional ways of doing things in the town again. Everybody does what they like these days in Arochukwu, particularly those who returned to Aro “yesterday,” and who claim to know it all because such persons have money. Such persons have continued to bastardise nearly everything in Arochukwu today, including conferring Aro awards meant for real Umu Aro unto themselves. Aro no longer have ways of doing things again. Here, anything can go. No problem; I wish them well. Things have really fallen apart in Arochukwu and nobody cares – even those who claim to be traditional and cultural leaders in the town. It is a pity that Arochukwu is deteriorating in everything.’