In the old Imo state, Imo Hotels were located in Owerri, Aba, Afikpo, Umuahia and Arochukwu. Then, suddenly, the Ibrahim Babangida Administration created Abia state on 21 August 1992. So, Imo Hotels branches located in Aba, Afikpo and Arochukwu then became Abia Hotels and, luckily for Ndi Aro, Mr John Ogbonnaya Egwu, one of the Aros living in the Diaspora in Afikpo, was named its general manager – he resided in Umuahia then.
Under him, Abia Hotels in Aba, Umuahia and Arochukwu blossomed and bubbled in business patronage. People patronised these hotels on the creation of Abia state; particularly, the branch in Arochukwu that was described by one man as ‘the best of them all in its location.’ The man who made the observation was Chief G E O Egbulefu, a former chairman of Aba South LGA who still lives in Aba as I write.
So, Abia Hotel Arochukwu bubbled in patronage – and officers of government were posted their from time to time to manage the hotel. That was the situation until things began to change for worse for government parastatals including Abia Hotel Arochukwu.
But with time, one of the men who made things happen (in the political and the business arenas in Arochukwun then), the late Mazi Okereke Chioma (Atunaerimgbo) was linked to have taken over the hotel in franchise. According to unconfirmed reports then, Mazi Chioma began the renovation of the hotel when, suddenly, he died – many years ago.
And following his death, the fast-dilapidating Abia Hotel Arochukwu started deteriorating the more in infrastructural facilities. Weeds and reptiles started to take over the hotel – all the blocks in use in the reconstruction work started to fall, just as the other building materials store therein were stolen and moved away on daily basis – until today when things have really fallen apart about the hotel!
The sorry state of the whole sordid situation is that no single person of Arochukwu origin has elected to take action on the possibility of taking over and renovating and resuscitation of the abandoned Abia Hotel Arochukwu till today, not even one of the ‘thousand and one’ self-acclaimed business men and women Arochukwu parades locally and internationally, and this is really unthinkable and unimaginable.
The meaning, according to Mazi Igwe Akuma ‘Is that Arochukwu has allowed one of the few public institutions located in the town by government to continue to rot away like that. I am yet to believe that hitherto no Aro man has decided to take up the challenge of taking over the abandoned Abia Hotel Arochukwu – even on franchise basis – the way Mazi Okereke Chioma did while alive. This shows the type of life and attitude we live and lead as Ndi Aro. If some persons have taken over the well-located government hotel, some of our sons and daughters would have been employed therein as workers, thus checking the current high-level unemployment among our youths.’
It is the suggestion of the writer that Nzuko Arochukwu should initiate actions aimed at bringing the attention of Abia state government to the hotel. This is one of the things the Nzuko will do to convince the majority of Ndi Aro that the current leadership of the organisation is grassroots-oriented, and does not exist only for Ndi Aro living in Lagos, Abuja, London, New York, Canada and similar places abroad, as what obtained in the past