“Little by little, a little becomes a lot” -Anonymous
A few days ago, I was reflecting with a pal of mine (name withheld to save him embarrassment, for he’s now a big boy in his own right) on the allures of Christmas in Arochukwu. We recalled how we would, as early as September, book for a ride from relations just to make sure we were in Aro during Christmas. To be able to hike a ride in those days required good planning!Of course the unlucky vehicle would always be overloaded, at times the younger ones were lapped, but no one complained. Instead the discomfort would be trivialised and democratised with jokes and wise cracks.
No matter how many times you visited Arochukwu during the year, it was unthinkable not to come for Christmas. It was, and still is, the best period to catch up with old friends, relish local cuisines and awe your friends with whatever.
Arochukwu is still fun during Christmas, not minding the dust and bad roads. When you arrive you do not feel like leaving. But this year’s Christmas will be different in Arochukwu. It will be different because it will witness the breaking of a jinx. The Arochukwu Cultural and Civic Centre, which many had labelled a jinxed project, will be commissioned. The story is already out there of how Dr. Alex Otti; an erudite first class economist, banker’s banker, development catalyst, lover of the people and leader par excellence; picked the gauntlet a year ago to spearhead the completion of the Aro Cultural / Civic Centre.
Before then, the Central Working Executive Committee of Nzuko Arochukwu was toying with the idea of scaling down the project to manageable size because we were determined to get it completed. But Dr.Otti said there was nothing wrong with the size and that the Aro Day of 2017 will be celebrated there. Jubilation started immediately because we all know Mazi Alex as “talk na do”.
A brief history may further highlight the significance of the completion of the Civic Centre. Then, Nzuko Ikom na Inyom Arochukwu (the harbinger of present day Nzuko Arochukwu worldwide) obtained the land for the Civic Centre, on 7th August, 1975 but not much visible work was done until 30th March 1991, when the foundation stone laying ceremony of the current edifice was laid. It therefore took 42 years for Arochukwu to realise the project.
This Christmas is also special because at no time has the hope of finding lasting solutions to our road problems been brighter. With the construction of the Nkana/Ikpe/Arochukwu road by the Akwa Ibom State government nearing completion, Umu Aro are already changing their flight arrangements to land in Uyo airport ,and in an hours time they are in Aro. Not to talk of the ease with which we would be accessing Aba and our in- laws and friends in Akwa Ibom.
Similarly, another project which appeared jinxed has received a life line. The bridge that was the major stumbling block on the Arochukwu/ Okobo/ Abam road has been completed and asphalting is in progress. The Abia State Government is showing commitment to complete that all-important road.
Also, on the 27th of last month, the federal government advertised the tender for the rehabilitation of the Arochukwu /Ohafia/Bende road. We thank Senator Mao Ohuabunwa and other elected representatives for this feat and implore them to ensure that this time around, a performing contractor with track record is employed to do the job. As for Bekks Construction company, well, God will help us!
Umu Aro have enough reasons to identify with the giant strides being made in the community. We urge all to be part of the Aro Day celebration this 26th of December. Besides commissioning the Civic Centre, Nzuko Aro will use the opportunity to unveil the Arochukwu Development Fund. The community would be briefed on the objectives and purpose of the fund, the structure, methods of collection of monies into the Fund and accountability procedures. The Board of Trustees and the Implementation Committees will also be inaugurated.
Now that the jinx of the Civic Centre has been broken, we do not want to wait another 40 years before we can address other development issues confronting our community. The solution lies in working together and the generation of creative ideas and approaches. Before long, the challenges we see today will be history.
As Barack Obama once wrote, “we have a stake in one another… what binds us together is greater than what breaks us apart, and if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem but we can get something meaningfully done”
Anicho Okoro is Secretary General of Nzuko Arochukwu