Arochukwu Kingdom Civic Center: A Near Impossibility Now Made Possible Thanks to Alex Oti

Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi

Aro Kingdom Historic and Cultural Civic Center which construction started some decades ago has had some challenges and severe financial hitches that had stalled its completion until Dr Alex Otti was attracted to help Nzuko Aro complete the project. Aro kingdom is not limited to its headquarters at Arochukwu geographic location; it extends to all Aro communities in Diaspora, no matter where located. Dr Alex Otti, Ugwu Abia, although an indigene or citizen of Ngwa, is of Aro in Diaspora family that has been in Isiala Ngwa for about two centuries. For the love of Aro, anyone whose ancestors originated from Arochukwu is always an Aro, no matter where domiciled. Just like all Aros in Diaspora, people like Prof Humprey Nwosus of Ajalli, HRH Prof Chukwuemeka Ike of Ndi Ike in Orumba North Anambra State, Mbadiwes and Mbonu Ojikes of Arondizuogu in Imo state are still sons of their Arochukwu kingdom ancestors, Alex Otti of Isiala Ngwa in Abia state also remains a great son of his Aro kingdom ancestors. And so, when Dr Alex Otti was approached to help, he accepted and completed the civic center hall within 10 months. History has been made. This wonderful performance has made Alex Otti a man of the people, both at home and in all Aro Diaspora. It is a landmark achievement that has further given eloquent credence to Alex Otti’s outstanding leadership quality, and love for the people. This man of action had mobilized resources within a short period of time and got the civic center completed, as he had promised ndi Aro about a year ago.

We thank God that most of us that saw the beginning of this project some decades ago, and even witnessed it been labeled with some derogating names like: ‘unrealistic, white elephant project, very impossible to realize’, are well alive today, joyfully witnessing the successful handing over of the now completed Aro Historic and Cultural Civic center hall to the people, this 26th December, 2017 Aro day. (It is indeed the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes). It is very obvious that what Arochukwu as a body could not easily do all these past years, one man with benevolent heart and outstanding leadership qualities has just done it in less than one year. This is a good signal of greater and better things that will surely come to Arochukwu in the very near future. Let’s keep praying good prayers for this beacon of hope, Dr Alex Otti.

The idea of ndi Aro building a civic center was conceived by some young Aro men at about August 1975. Then, one of the now defunct Aro unions secured a small portion of land opposite Eze Aro’s palace from Okoni Ibom people to build Aro Town Hall. Construction of the Aro town hall was even started, but later got demolished after the various Aro unions were unified. The unification followed the birthing, in 1981, of Arochukwu Joint Action Committee (AJAC) championed by some few Aro patriots. AJAC came and successfully reconciled and reorganized all those Aro unions that were hitherto quarreling among themselves and brought them all under one entity that later transformed to the present Nzuko Aro worldwide (men and women). Nzuko Aro Men’s wing which started with Mazi Emmanuel Okorafor (Avonta) as its President General later developed a great vision to build a bigger and better Aro kingdom civic center. A civic center project committee comprising some Aro professionals was formed by Nzuko Aro to develop a master plan for constructing the envisioned Aro kingdom civic center. Members of that committee were Sam Ohuabunwa – chairman, Dave Imoko – Secretary, Emma Kanu Ivi – Financial Secretary, Oji Nwamuo, Arch Chima Chijoke and few others. This team recommended and got approval for Nzuko Aro to secure more land within the same area to accommodate the proposed modern Aro civic center. The committee and some other people secured the land expansion, surveyed it, and through Arch Chima Chijioke, procured a good architectural design for this civic center. Although the project work had started much earlier, the foundation laying ceremony was officially conducted in 1991. It was then highly expected that the project would be completed within seven years of mobilizing to the site. But that was not to be; unfortunately, many batches of seven years had come and gone without the civic center been completed until Dr Alex Otti successfully intervened.

Part of the strategies put in place by the committee to achieve completion of the civic center as earlier envisaged was anchored on effective fund raising drives and the use of both direct labour and outright contracting works. Various fund raising events were organized and launched, both locally and outside the country. Many people made promises, but only a few fulfilled their pledges (either partly or wholly); and that yielded meager sums of money. Some Aro politicians had come with their friends, pledged some monies, but failed to honour their pledges. Various forms of  levies were imposed on members and various groups during Nzuko Aro leaderships of Mazi Emmanuel Okorafor, Ukwu Udonsi and Sam Ohuabunwa respectively. Yet, not much of the expected results were achieved despite massive and honest efforts these great Aro leaders made to raise funds needed for the project. Nevertheless, the cumulative efforts of these past Nzuko Aro leaders yielded some good results: They secured and duly surveyed the huge expansive land upon which the civic center now stands; they reclaimed the water logged portions of the land, provided good drainage system and progressed the foundation works to almost its completion. And because of the difficult nature of the soil and typography of the land, the foundation works took quite some time and huge sums of money to complete. Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi’s leadership of Nzuko Aro came in, in 2003 and did quite a lot of very noticeable great works on the civic center thereby improving upon the good works of the past leaderships. Thus Mazi Ivi’s administration completed the remaining part of the foundation works, constructed all the huge pillars still standing there today, raised the stair cases and the slabs, raised up some parts of the block walls to minor level, and roofed the central portion of the main hall that still sits on top of the now completed roof today. All these works cost Ivis’s leadership about N18million to achieve; and which were fully paid. Yet they still left some huge amount of money to the next incoming leadership to inherent. And so all these these past Nzuko Aro leaders up to this point really contributed quite a lot towards the construction of the civic center project before Dr Alex Otti stepped in to complete it. History shall always remember the good works of these Nzuko Aro leaders. More details of contributions made by some others towards the building of the civic center are well documented in my handover book: Nzuko Aro Leadership, An Account of My Stewardship,2003 to 2009. (see pages 90 to 102). I believe all the people mentioned there in that book shall always be well remembered for their contributions to the development of the Aro civic center project.

However, despite all the works done as stated above, much more huge and expensive works still remained to be done to get the civic center completed in beauty and niceties before Dr Alex Otti stepped in to complete it. Prior to the current administration of George Ezuma’s leadership of Nzuko Aro which started in Easter 2016, further works expected to be done at the civic center were unfortunately left undone for almost six years. The project almost came to a standstill. Nothing much happened there. And that gave some umu Aro the opportunity to begin to widely criticize Nzuko Aro and the civic center. Many began to see the civic center as an impossible project that would never be accomplished. It was then obvious that the civic center project had degenerated to a standstill status until Dr Alex Otti came to the rescue. This rescue mission followed an appeal by George Ezuma’s administration to some Aro men of goodwill to assist them drive their vision of getting the civic center project completed during their tenure. It was at this point that some of us came up and offered to approach Dr Alex Otti to help handle the project to its completion for ndi Aro. And Alex agreed to assist; provided there would be no interference on leadership style he would employ in mobilizing people and necessary resources that would help him coordinate the works to achieve the desired result. We all agreed and it became a done deal. On 26th December 2016 Aro day, Alex Otti walked up to the podium and in few clear words promised ndi Aro that he would hand-over a completed Aro civic center hall to Nzuko Aro on the next Aro day of 26th December, 2017. Some people doubted the possibility of his fulfilling this promise. But some of us who are very close to him assured the people he would get it done. And today he has gotten it completed beyond expectations, within a short period of about ten months, with great style and pace that baffled many. Dr Alex Otti has perfectly finished the project beyond imagination of everyone. He really put in use his wide contacts and connections. He reached out to some few selected umu Aro for participation in the project so that the glory would go round. However, only a reasonable few positively responded. The list of those that responded to him will be made available for transparency, acknowledgment and accountability. We urge Nzuko Aro to always remember to appreciate those contributors whenever the story of the civic center is told. We thank all of them.

We can all see that this project which Aro kingdom, as a community of people, could not easily actualize all these years, Dr Alex Otti, applying an extraordinary leadership style, has gotten it done in less than one year. The civic center hall which many people had termed a white elephant project that would never ever be completed has now been completed. What many had labeled a ‘wishful thinking’ project that would remain impossible to realize, has now been easily achieved. It is now certain that the name on the good lips of almost every Aro today is Dr Alex Otti; the man that keeps his promises; the man that can be trusted. However, there are still some more works to be done at the center that Nzuko Aro may still need some more sponsors to help actualize. Such works include: fencing the entire land to secure it from land intruders, furnishing and equipping the hall, landscaping and upgrading the open event ground, provision of borehole, among others. Ndi Aro, and indeed ndi Abia need more people like Dr Alex Otti, people of extraordinary goodwill with good heart and leadership quality. We thank God for the gift of this brilliant man. And now, the Aro kingdom Historic and Cultural Civic Center hall which hitherto was termed an impossible project has been made possible through the efforts of this special gift of a man, Dr Alex Otti. And to God alone shall always all the glory be.


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Emmanuel Onyemachi Udogu

Emmanuel Onyemachi Udogu

Surgeon and former minister of the Federal Republic turned 68 on the 14th of June. A native of Ndianiche Uno, Arondizuogu, he had his education ...