Community development has been an age long practice among the Igbos of the South-East Nigeria. Town halls, schools, health facilities, bus stops and other land marks achievements in many Igbo towns and villages attest to the fact that the Igbos have the development of their country home at heart at all times.
In Ugwuakuma, a village in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, the story is not different, as the community has witnessed a lot of developmental strides through the efforts of its sons and daughters over many decades.
It is worthy of note to mention that the age grade system had played prominent role in community development, prior to emergency of development unions which was the product of the thoughts of Ugwuakuma indigenes residing outside their home town.
Looking back to the days of the Ugwuakuma United Front Organization (UUFO), Ugwuakuma Improvement Union (UIU) to the Ugwuakuma Development union(UDU) one cardinal objective of this organizations has been the Unity, Love, Progress and the development of the village.
There is no gain saying the fact that since the infrastructural development agenda of the UIU gave rise to the birth of UDU, the UDU has since its emergence deployed many strategies to fund developmental projects in the village.
One of its avenue of attracting development to the village that has proven to be formidable has been the Ugwuakuma Day Celebration which is marked on December 27, every year. Since its debut in December 2004, the celebration has turned to an annual festival with growing influence and popularity. The Day now attracts VIPs from the wider Arochukwu society, Abia state and Nigeria at large.
Though the Ugwuakuma day celebration has turned competitive with cash prices won by its various competiting branches, it has not lost its developmental under tones. Consequently a water borehole project initiated by the UDU in the year 2008, has been completed and is serving the community and its neighboring communities.
The 2018 Ugwuakuma day which recorded a huge success was hosted by the Port Harcourt branch of UDU led by Deacon Chikaodi Ivi.
The event started with a road walk by UDU members which ended with a visit to the home of Senator Mao Ohuabunwa.
The event began with the arrival of dignitaries and various UDU branches with their different cultural dances adapted from their bases, each branch showcased dances learnt from their place of residence.
In his welcome address the President General of the UDU, Mazi Eugene Okey Imouh, expressed appreciation to God for the journey mercies granted the UDU members and other Ugwuakuma sons and daughters who attended the occasion. He equally appreciated the UDU Excos, BOT Chairman, the patrons, and national advisers for their support in the struggle to reposition the community. Not done with his felicitations, the PG also thanked UDU branches nationwide for working tirelessly to keep their branches afloat. He also urged them to sustain the tempo as many of the branches were collapsing because of the harsh economic realities in the country.
He equally extended his appreciation to the Ugwuakuma women led by Mrs Cecilia Uluorji for their roles aimed at ensuring the peaceful coexistence of the Ugwuakuma community. The PG also thanked the Ugwuakuma youth led Ezuma Jude Kelechi for identifying with the UDU as a road map to contribute to the well being of the community.
Presenting his stewardship since taking over the leadership of the Union in April 16, 2017, the PG stated that his administration has ran an open door policy where everyone was carried along.
“You are all good testimonies to the success story of this administration within the short period of our existence. We have set up committees to help the operation of the Union. We embarked on sensitization visits to all branches nationwide and visited Aba, Lagos,(Otta and Ikorodu branches), Port Harcourt, Owerri, Enugu, Benue, Calabar and Abuja” he stated. He emphasized that achieving complete peace in Ugwuakuma and maintaining the UDU/ IDA objective has remained the bed rock of his administration.
The PG pointed out that under his watch for the first time an illustrious Aro son and the senator representing Abia North senatorial zone, Mao Ohuabunwa visited Ugwuakuma community at the invitation of UDU and the result was an ongoing construction of an ultra modern Healthcare centre with a borehole attached to it.
He further revealed that going forward that the UDU would thrive to use its links and connections to attract many other infrastructural development to the community. We are indeed set to do more. As we speak we are discussing street light, building of speed breakers, and construction of the ring road from Ugwuakuma to Utughugwu village. There is also move to rehabilitate the Nde Iyom hall, all we need is space and cooperation of all.
Speaking with Aro News the PG described the Ugwuakuma day 2018 as unique and a celebration of excellence. He stated, “The Ugwuakuma day 2018 was so unique and very special and it was the Port Harcourt branch led by Deacon Chikaodi Ivi that hosted the Ugwuakuma day 2018. The branch performed creditably well. They fed Ugwuakuma completely and of course the dance group that came from there were also wonderful .
Lagos branch came first, Abuja branch came second even though they had clinched the first position for two to three times and PH branch that hosted took the third position even though they protested to have been robbed of the first price but we had followed what the judges told us.
The event has come to stay and we call on the branches of the UDU to participate and make it more colourful than what we saw in 2018. The 2019 celebration is also being planned and we are expecting improvement from what we saw in 2018, the prices are sacrosanct, but of course branches must have to show class for them to win the price. Because the judges are not drawn from within but outside the community and what they tell us is what we are going to do, he explained.
By Ikoku Ogbonnaya