For good reasons, Aros have resolved to take their destiny in their own hands, conscious that governments at all levels – having looked the other way for several years – are not in any position to lift Arochukwu out of the doldrums.
Indeed Arochukwu Kingdom had suffered setback in almost all indices of development – namely education, infrastructure, healthcare, human capital et cetera – occasioned by years of government’s neglect.
For example, it remains to be contradicted that Arochukwu probably has the worst access roads east of the Niger River. In fact, accessing Arochukwu from the North, South, East or West axis is a nightmare to motorists, especially during the rainy season.
Visitors to Arochukwu during the rains usually have horrific tales to tell, wishing they don’t have any compelling reason to return there again.
But Aros, without having to wait endlessly for any government, have re-ignited the age long self-help spirit, hitherto the trademark of the Aro man, encapsulated in the dictum – onye ajuru aju anaghi aju onwe ya (you don’t have to despise yourself because you are despised).
At the last count, several self-help development initiatives have either sprang up within Aro, are on-going, or being fine-tuned for implementation, in what is clearly a re-emergence of the Aro spirit of old. Quite a few, indeed, have been done and dusted by individuals, families, compounds or villages, thus igniting the ‘can-do’ spirit of a people who have contributed immensely to the advancement of modern society.
Time was, when the Arochukwu General Hospital catered to the health needs of the people, far and beyond the Arochukwu catchment area. But over the years, the facility which was established in the early 1950’s had progressively deteriorated, leaving a mere shell devoid of substance.
However, Aros have now decided to ‘do something’ about it, to reverse the situation and avert the sometimes avoidable deaths of the homestead dwellers.
That is what has precipitated the urgent steps being taken by Umu Aro to revamp the hospital to a state in which it can be of service to Arochukwu and the neighbouring clans.
Aro News learned that the initiative is being spearheaded by the leadership of Nzuko Aro as part of its immediate and medium term goals of the Aro Development Plan, soon to be unveiled.
The Arochukwu General Hospital project is being undertaken in phases.
Phase one, as Aro News learned, includes rehabilitation of the surgery theatre, staff quarters and the procurement of essential items such as mattresses, wheel chairs, oxygen and others estimated to cost a whopping N10 million.
Nzuko Aro has taken up the gauntlet of contributing the initial N4.5million from the Arochukwu Development Fund (ADF), leaving the balance to be raised through sundry sources.
Already, a committee chaired by Mazi Dave Imoko, with Elder Ike Onu and Jerry Onwumere as members, has been constituted to supervise the work, ensure prudent utilization of the funds and value for monies spent.
Aro News further learned that the Health Committee, made up of Aro medical professionals at home and in the Diaspora, have volunteered to advise and guide
Nzuko Aro on the requirements of the hospital. The committee is also interfacing with the Abia State Hospitals Management Board on staffing and other needs. It is understood that the Union may enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Abia State government on the way forward after completion of rehabilitation work.
At the last visit to the hospital by Aro News correspondent observed that rehabilitation work was going on in earnest.
It would be recalled that Aro-Okeigbo Social Club of Nigeria (AROSON) had in 2016, under the leadership of Elder IK Onu as its President, drilled a water borehole complete with an overhead tank and a generating set, and donated to the Arochukwu General Hospital.
However, for some inexplicable reasons, the project went into disuse after it was handed over to the hospital.
Worse of all, Aro News learned that some never-do-wells vandalized and stole the sumo pump.
Now, and in the rejuvenated spirit of revamping the hospital, AROSON under the leadership of Mazi Naira Okorafor, has purchased a new sumo pump and all that were stolen, reactivated the borehole and, in fact, reticulated water to all the wards and the Out Patients Department.
Members of the hospital’s management, staff, patients and residents of neigbouring communities who spoke with Aro News expressed delight at the reactivation of the water project, which had hitherto served them well.
It would indeed appear that the initiative to revamp the Arochukwu General Hospital has touched the hearts of almost all Aros, given the level of response.
Reports have it that some have had to travel long distances to see for themselves. Obviously impressed, they have been responding by dolling out huge sums of money to support the project.
Apparently led by the spirit, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa recently boosted the rehabilitation project by donating a new, well fitted ambulance to Nzuko Aro for use at the hospital.
He also presented assorted drugs and infusions to boost health care at the hospital. He equally presented a generator to guarantee alternative power supply to the doctors’ quarters
The All Aro USA Clinic, Baraki, also received a donation of various drugs and a generator from the Senator.
He said the donations were motivated by the desire to arrest the deteriorating situation at the hospital.
He commended Nzuko Aro for rallying Umu Aro to give the hospital a facelift, pointing out that the hospital served the five clans in the council.
Indeed the desire to uplift the Arochukwu General Hospital had been around and within the Arochukwu circle, knowing its value to the people.
The Abuja branch of Nzuko Arochukwu had last year also donated some items to the health facility, including lawn mowers.
From all indications, the current efforts to revamp the Arochukwu General Hospital look good to raise it to a standard healthcare facility, which the locals can rely on, as in the days of yore.
On its part, Nzuko Arochukwu worldwide is confident that, given the level of support it is currently receiving from Umu Aro, and the hope of getting the State government to play a key role, the facility will be restored and positioned to once more serve the healthcare needs of the people.