Aro News Clocks 20: Reminiscences of its history, achievements, etc.

Azubike Okoro

Aro News, the foremost community newspaper of Arochukwu kingdom has recorded another feat as the first to maintain unbroken presence at newsstands for two decades. The quarterly newspaper which was founded by Dr Azubike Okoro and his team debuted in 1997 when the maiden edition was published. This calls for celebration given the history of high mortality of prior publications and the many achievements it recorded since inception. Excerpts from the tenth year anniversary editorial summed up the first decade as follows, “The curtain falls with this editorial, thus, bringing to a fitting close, an era. It also marks the beginning of another.

For ten long years, Mazi Azubike Okoro and his team have blazed a trail in community service via journalism. It’s only proper that we pause a while to salute their courage, uncommon love for their people and deep sense of community. We equally salute the pioneer editor, Mazi Ben Ezumah for the rare talent, creative gusto and intellect brought to bear on the crusade.

We thank Prof. Chris Aniche Okorafor, our editorial consultant, for his illuminating thesis and dissertations accentuated by uncommon insight and intellect. This is the trinity that kept the dream alive, even at times when it appeared futile and inconceivable continuing on an apparent long, tortuous and unrewarding enterprise.

Then, each copy of Aro News that came back unsold and many did, seemed more like an indictment on all. First, on the team to take a second look at the entire vision and, second on a community that is a bit too hard to please; where passivity is more like a popular culture. Looking back now, inspite of all odds, Aro is better off. Aro News filled a yearning vacuum. All is well that ends well.

We thank Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi, President-General, Nzuko Aro, and all who worked tirelessly in concert with us to sustain the Aro News project. Indeed, we are all making history by our positive actions today.

As the curtain falls on this era, let a new era, re-charged and emboldened by its illustrious past emerge and flourish to the glory of God and Aro land for all eternity.”

To commemorate the event, history was made at the Civic Center, Oror on Aro Day, December 26th, 2006, when the founder and pioneer publisher/editor-in-chief, Mazi Azubike Okoro donated the venture to Aro kingdom and also worked out a management handover with Nzuko Aro after singlehandedly funding the publication for a decade.

Before a large crowd of umu-Aro from various branches of Nzuko Aro and in the presence of the Aro Monarch, His Royal Majesty, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, CFR, Nzuko Aro President-General, Mazi Kanu Ivi went down memory lane and briefed the audience how Mazi Azubike Okoro and his team noted the gap in the area of discourse, dialogue, information dissemination and understanding in Aro Kingdom ten years ago and moved quickly to close it using the platform of Aro News Newspaper and its sister publication, the book series.

Aro, according to him, had barely come out of the circumstances that characterized the first ever succession tussle in its traditional authority, so needed a medium of communication to nurture a sense of community without which building a viable and enduring kingdom was impossible. So much resources and sacrifice were committed into the endeavor by the pioneers that Arochukwu would remain ever grateful for their invaluable roles, he said.

Also, he observed that Aro had seen the birth of so many publications all of which also collapsed after a while. In the history of Arochukwu, according to Mazi Ivi, this was the first time when an individual floated a newspaper with the object of protecting the interests of corporate Aro and successfully ran it unbroken for a decade.

In the course of the period, the newspaper assumed a life of its own and became one of the rare artifacts by which Arochukwu is recognized world-wide. While, alluding to the fears by some that Nzuko Aro involvement in the management would kill the effort and abort the dream of the founder; Mazi Ivi clarified that elaborate structures have been put in place to ensure that the publication thrives. ‘In an era of privatization and commercialization which is pervading the entire globe, it is historic that an Aro son is handing over a publishing firm built up in the last ten years freely to the community as a worthy contribution to its development’, he opined.

The Nzuko Aro, he clarified, is not inheriting any liability or cost as the publishing house is not indebted to any person or group. It would rather use its contacts to galvanize Umu-Aro to use the medium to strategize, build and sustain networks including linkages with its Diaspora for the development of the kingdom.

While appreciating the role played by the Aro Monarch during the gestation stage of the newspaper, Mazi Azubike Okoro noted that ‘when the maiden edition was presented to Okpankpo Aro in-council on 3rd January, 1998 by a delegation led by the late Eze Ogo, Amuvi, Mazi C.Y. Oti; we got a mandate that rekindled our faith in the project.

Happily enough, ten years after, we see unity and sense of community pervading the entire landscape and Aro News is being received and read both within and outside the country; coupled with an online version which makes its global reach instant’.

Furthermore, Mazi Azubike Okoro alluded to the request by the Aro monarch that the medium should serve Aro’s immediate and long-term interests and declared thus, ‘I have done my duty in this wise and hereby pass over the baton to a new team. We founded, nurtured and built up a publishing entity which has now assumed a life of its own hence, will serve as a foundation for greater attainments.

I salute the Okpankpo, Ndi Eze Ogo, the leadership of Nzuko Arochukwu, past and present, my esteemed benefactors, fans and the entire readers of Aro News within and outside Nigeria on the strength of whose popular support we kept the flag flying in the past ten years. In the same vein, I salute my team who were convinced of the need for the medium when the idea was mooted and the larger editorial board who were persuaded of its relevance and worked relentlessly to see to its successful take-off. Most importantly, I thank the pioneer editor, Mazi Ben Ezumah for his confidence and support throughout the journey. The soothing love of my family is not forgotten. You all made me proud.’

As part of the ceremonies that marked the ten years anniversary, a robust website to sustain and improve communication and discourse amongst Aro in diverse abodes was launched by Dr Azubike Okoro. It was chaired by the President-General of Nzuko Aro, Mazi Kanu Ivi and a talk on the role of information technology in community development was presented by Professor Chris Aniche Okorafor which elicited much interest from the students and the general audience.

Prof Okorafor delved into the origin of Arochukwu, especially the communication systems used by our forebears, traced its connection with the modern trends and showed the enormous potentials which modern information technology presented to the community. He urged the students in particular to make use of available technologies like the internet and the website to further their development and usefulness to the community. Also, award of excellent service was presented to correspondents, columnists and marketers. The ten years anniversary event was rounded-off with a Thanksgiving Mass on December 31st, 2006 at St. Thomas Catholic Church, Amuvi, at 10 am. The leadership of Nzuko Aro and several guests, including some royal fathers, were in attendance.

The officiating Minister, Rev. Fr. Mathew Kalu admonished the rulers of the land to pay attention to what God wants to use them to achieve in the interest of the entire community. Also, he extolled the contributions of the Aro News team is using the medium to direct the community towards the path of honor and service to mankind; prayed that God will individually and collectively bless them. Thereafter, guests were sumptuously entertained at a party hosted by Prof. Chris Aniche Okorafor at his residence.

On the 20th anniversary, the Board at its meeting of December 28, 2016 at Arochukwu constituted a five-man committee chaired by Dr Kanu Ohuche to work out modalities for a memorable occasion. The Board chairman, Mazi Kanu Ivi, FCA, specifically charged the committee to package what will have community-wide impact given the invaluable role the medium has played in the life of the kingdom.

The committee, according to its chair, Mazi Ohuche, shall release a blue-print to mark the 20th year event latest by Ikeji to enable many umu-Aro to be part of the programme which is being planned for Xmas 2017. This is wishing Aro News and its numerous admirers happy 20th anniversary and greater attainments in the years ahead.

About author

Azubike Okoro

Mazi Azubike Okoro holds two Master’s degrees - Sociology and Human Resource Management- and a Doctorate of Management of Argosy University, Chicago, USA. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria and the Nigeria Institute of Management; he is Member, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) USA and the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), USA. Currently a Director at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), he founded Aro News in 1997 to encourage research on the culture, history and civilization of the Arochukwu nation. Also, he was the pioneer Publisher/Editor-in-Chief. Dr. Okoro is married with children and resides at Abuja, Nigeria.

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