Asaga Village in Arochukwu Kingdom: Rising stronger from turmoil of misrule that recently beset the community

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Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi

I have always believed that no community can ever grow better or greater than what its people and leaders decide to make it to be. Arochukwu is a kingdom with 19 village communities which are listed hereunder in no special order: Amuvi, Asaga, Amangwu, Atani, Isinkpu, Ugwuavor, Obinkita, Oror, Amaoba, Amankwu, Amaukwa, Ugbo, Utughaugwu, Ibom, Ujari, Amasu, Amanagwu, Agbagwu and Ugwuakuma. Each of these villages has its own traditional head, called Eze ogo, who with his cabinet members manages traditional issues in the village. Each village has certain number of traditional compounds and each of the compounds has its own traditional head called Eze-Ezi .The Ezeogo with all the traditional compounds’ heads and few other experienced leaders, from within the village, form Ezeogo cabinet. Traditional leadership is most often chosen based on inheritance. In addition, every villagehas asocio cultural and development oriented organization referred here as the union. One or two leaders of the union may be appointed into the Ezeogo cabinet to represent interests of the union and ensure good relationships with the cabinet for the good of the community.

Village unions play active roles in development and political activities in their respective villages. The unions are governed by democratic principles; their leaders are elected to serve for a specific period of time; and they have their trustees and patrons to guide and advise them wisely. Every village union has its women’s wing and youth group. These institutions are expected to work together harmoniously for the good of their people and community to ensure adequate security, peace and progress in the village.This requires involvement of good and competent people to boldly participate actively with others in choosing and electing their leaders and managing the affairs of the village, at least at union level where leaders are democratically chosen.

Where good citizens and capable people abandon leadership roles to incompetent and undesirable persons in their community, turmoil and failures will certainly set in. As already mentioned here above, there is no community that can ever grow better and greater than what its people and their leaders decide to make it to be. And so, any community that finds itself in any state of turmoil may still have a choice of resolving the problems internally by sheer determination of its good citizens to intervene wisely and appropriately, with a view to make the community better. Incompetent union leaders have been found conniving with dishonest Ezeogo to work against the overall interest of their people. When it happens, many troubles set in at expense of peace and progress. But not all villages suffer that. Some villages are making good progress, while some others are not progressing at all. Villages that are not doing well are likely to have some leadership challenges. Ego, greed and insincerity are most often responsible for many conflicts and calamities in some villages. Such bad attitudes of some leaders, including deceiving people and telling wicked lies against the rights of their people may even annoy God and also make the people withdraw their trust and support from their village head and leaders. People in their frustration may resort to placing curses on their leaders which may result to unfortunate calamities that may ordinarily be avoided. All these may happen when leaders are no longer serving the desired interests of their citizens. It is true that where bad leaders govern, people suffer; peace, progress and development take a flight away from there; youth restiveness, drug abuse with many crimes thrivesthere. Some Arochukwu villages have found themselves in such ugly situation today.

But this author still believes that such misrule can still be effectively stopped by some good citizens of that community if they can boldly and peacefully arise with one good voice and reverse the trend.

Asaga, my own village, has suffered such unfortunate peril in not too distant past, until some of its good citizens rose up and took positive actions peacefully and stopped further troubles and misrule in the village. Before that intervention, Asaga had leaders who encouraged conflicts and troubles with passion. They misled some to hate each other. Even brothers and sisters whose ancestors had lived peacefully together for several centuries in the same village were incited to see themselves as irreconcilable enemies. Unity and peace disappeared. Cultism, chaos and crimes were everywhere. Asaga became attractive to police and other law enforcement agencies for frequent ‘arrest and detain’ operations. Merchants in crises loved it as they became village champions and were making unmerited wealth from the scornful conflicts they helped to create. Community common wealth in land were cornered by few of the bad leaders and wrongfully treated as private estate. Asaga village became unfortunate customers to several courts in Arochukwu. Court case lists at the customary, magistrate and high courts were almost dominated by cases instituted by one Asaga lawyer at the prompting of few bad leaders working with him in the village against some innocent individuals and groups in the same village.

Some people from certain section of the village were wickedly chased away and locked out from their old and poor homes; they became displaced citizens and refugees in their own village where their ancestors had occupied several centuries ago. Unfortunately, Ezeogo was misled and lured into a cabal of misrule by the few greedy leaders who did not even know the limit of their powers and rights; and they foolishly took certain court actions against the people who own them and kept them in the positions they occupied.

Even when some of us initiated some peace moves, with a view to resolving the problems and sought accommodation of our brothers and sisters from the other side of the divide, the same people because of ego and greed thwarted the efforts. Behold, at long last, my own people of Umuoti, the head of Asaga village, suddenly woke from slumber and declared enough of wrong doings in the village had become enough. Our people rose and stood firm to totally reject the cabal of misrule and abandoned them. The citizens suddenly realized that when good people fail to take active interest in leadership, unsuitable elements among them would rise and grab power and misrule them to ruin; the entire community suffered the consequences. The people took advantage of a general meeting called by the immediate past leaders of Umuoti Development Association (UDA) on 3rd April, 2018 and effected a change in the union leadership peacefully and democratically.The old Executives who had over stayed their usefulness and constitutionally allowed tenures  were democratically sent packing. However, some of the past leaders who were not found wanting like the Vice President General, the Treasurer and Financial Secretary General were reelected to different respective positions. The then President General, his legal adviser and administrative secretary were not accepted by the people.

Alarming misdeeds of the past misrule are being uncovered by the new executives. The present leadership ,led by Barr Charles Onwumere as President General and Barr Eustace Njaka as Secretary General and legal adviser, have now repaired some damaged relationships, healed the wounded hearts, restored back to their rightful homes many of the displaced old and poor villagers. And at “Umuoti Asaga annual mass return” held between 8th and 12th August 2018, the seven traditional compounds that make up Asaga village were all duly represented. A huge and beautiful crowd of the villagers, never witnessed in recent years, was seen in all the activities of the event days. The people in the meetings all agreed as follows: to get the past UDA leadership to account for their stewardship and return all the assets of Umuoti people still in their possession; as much as it is possible, put all the ugly past behind Asaga; to resuscitate comatose Nzuko Asaga to begin afresh good work of moving the village forward again in unity and love; and to finally return Asaga village to its lost glory of higher standing. This indeed demonstrates strong determination by the people to peacefully resolve their internal problems by themselves. Now that a more competent mixed set of leaders have been handed over the union leadership, people are happier, peace has returned, progress and projects are seen rapidly going on peacefully every day to the joy of the people.

Youth restiveness, drug abuse and its associated crimes are now under check and reasonably curtailed. Youth empowerment programs are springing up, and the people are keying into them. 34 youths have been guaranteed skill acquisition training in various trades, free of charge. The number is sure to further increase. Scholarship scheme to university level for the youths will soon be reintroduced by ‘about to be revived’ Nzuko Asaga when the people assemble on 27th December 2018 to celebrate the return of peace in the village and a rebirth of Nzuko Asaga at the national level. Some of us have made some contributions to this laudable peace and empowerment programs. We urge peace loving and good people of Asaga at home and abroad to help the new Executives deliver more dividends of good governance to the people even beyond what we all expect of them. Asaga has a lot of brothers and relations in various other Aro villages and outside Arochukwu. The people of Amuvi village, for example, are ancestral blood younger brothers of Umuoti, Asaga; and both are usually known as Umuoti-Oke. These two brotherly people with the entire Asaga village constitute a core part of Bianko Kindred Group. They are one of the aboriginal groups in Arochukwu kingdom. Asaga and Amuvi with their other relations in some parts of Atani village and Amaja Kindred of Amangwu and Isinkpu villages constitute the strong Bianko group. This vibrant group works harmoniously with main Okennachi paternal group and they irrevocably constitute larger and stronger Okennachi Kindred of Arochukwu kingdom.

Asaga village is the Head of Bianko Kindred. Mgbala Ekpe Umuoti in Asaga remains the ancestral Mgbala Ekpe of all the Bianko villages in Arochukwu. It is the only Mgbala Ekpe court with powers and right to hear appeals on cases that had already been determined by any village Ekpe in Arochukwu kingdom. If any judgment from Ekpe Bianko Appeal court is not acceptable to any party in the case, further appeal may only go to the supreme Ekpe Aro at Oror as the last arbiter. And that was how it used to be in the years of yore when truth absolutely governed the affairs in Aro kingdom. Umuoti Asaga is one of the communities with largest land assets in Arochukwu. Asaga village is also ranked “category A” village by Nzuko Aro Worldwide. The village has strong connections in and outside Arochukwu and is capable of getting great support for any creditable programme it embarks upon. Asaga has seven traditional compounds namely: Eziukwu, Ndi-Ivi, Abonkwu and Ezinta (this four constitute Umuoti clan), and the remaining three compounds which constitute Umuabiara clan are: Eziavor, Eziumahi and Eziokoro. These two brotherly clans are collectively called ‘Asaga Ugwuna Agbor’ and together make up Asaga village. Abonkwu compound is the oldest of all the compounds and was, even in the far past, regarded as a separate village in Arochukwu before Aro villages were restructured and harmonized into the current 19 villages. This historic fact was never known by many before. All these combined to make Asaga a unique village. One can now see how important Asaga is in the traditional and contemporary issues in Arochukwu. The village has now risen stronger from the debris of the turmoil of misrule of its recent past; and is hopefully more determined in unity to challenge anyone that may tend to destabilize it again. The present UDA leadership has recently affirmed that “Never again will Asaga people allow anybody or any group of individuals to disintegrate or even destabilize the village anymore

Asaga youths have embraced the new leadership and its youth empowerment programme which already has helped curtail drug abuse and crime in the village and will surely provide better future for them. The village is now peaceful and united, and relatively progressing too; and the people are glad about it. The 27th December 2018 Asaga day will surely provide a good platform to create a new path for greater Asaga village. For us the citizens, the village having now been made to come together again and agreed as one people marks a new beginning; living peacefully and united again is an improvement; and now working together as one community to achieve better and greater Asaga is already a successful progress. And no one can reverse it. And to God alone shall always all the glory be.

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