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[The Concourse] Special appeal to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

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Last week two important events took place in Nsukka. First was the dedication of ecclesiastical edifice of no mean magnificence — the Cathedral of the diocese which also marked the 30th anniversary of the creation of the diocese.

The second was political rally held in Nsukka High school play ground tagged Oganiru Nsukka Unity Rally. It was organized to offer opportunity to every Nsukka man, without appeal to party affiliation, social standing or religious creed to air their views and profess their support to Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s leadership in the state.

The governor was present and active in both occasions which took place two days apart. Today’s edition of the Concourse is an extension of the later — the Unity Rally proclamations.

The author, Jude Eze
The author, Jude Eze

Vatican II council (which is the 21st of its kind in history) may be the last ecumenical council in the anals of the church for many reasons, despite calls in some corners for the convocation of Vatican III. The council envisioned and emthroned a system where the meeting continues in continental, national and regional levels of the church among the prelates of each jurisdiction, after it officially ended on December 8, 1965.

It devolved its powers among and within the collegiality of the Catholic National and regional Bishops Conferences, Roman curia, and other organs of the church. In their transcendental wisdom, they empowered each of them to continue the discussion, improvement, modification, implementation and strengthening of the resolutions made at the all-important council.

And that was why the various continental Synods of bishops, the sacred congregations for various causes, the Pontifical councils for different purposes, papal encyclicals, motu proprio etc, could reach decisions, make proclamations/pronouncements that will bind on the church in general; thus saving the her the cost in both human and capital resources of convocking another ecumenical council to take a universal stands on contemporary controversial matters like homosexuality, abortion, contraception, relativism, women ordination, feminism etc.

Drawing from the above analogy, the Nsukka Unity Rally (though first of its kind) is meant to be a continuum despite being a day event held on 21st November 2020. It was a reality check, and stock-taking session densely graced by political heavyweights in Nsukka who poured out their hearts in appraising Ugwuanyi’s administration and offering solutions where necessary. For the sake of today’s topic, we will take two speeches from the rally. One by Sen. Utazi: “…Please, Mr Governor, the remaining two years of your regime should be strictly for Nsukka land.”

President General of Ohaneze — John Nnia Nwodo Jnr: “…Your Excellency, pardon my choice of words, in your first tenure, you neglected Nsukka. You only gave us Opi-Nsukka road, because you were trying not to be parochial like your predecessors. In this last tenure, you have our support, focus more on developing our land for we have long been marginalized.”

Some of us who were not physically present at the rally will cash in to the premise already layed by these participants.

Like Vatican II council, the forum continues in various respects, social fora, discussion platforms and decision facets wherever Nsukka men meets.

Since Ugwuanyi was magnanimous enough to permit such forum, we his maternal nephews from Obollo kindred would seize the opportunity to remind him of the one single road we have been begging him to rehabilitate for us.

His rural development strides have been felt by all and sundry save the rural dwellers and numerous users of the all-important road mentioned above: The Ogwu Obollo Afor – Okpakerekere – Umuitodo Ulo – Ibenda – Obollo Eke – Neke – Ehamufu road.

It is an estimated 27.5Km road that if constructed will make Ehamufu a 25 minutes drive from Obollo Afor. A multipurpose road that networks business, economic as well as agricultural interests. We cried about the road in past regimes spanning 16 years of Govs. Chimaroke and Sullivan Chime, and none heeded our plea. This was a period that the Mgbugbu Onyeke (erosion gulley pit) section of the road was not so dilapidated as it is presently.

This road connects well over 16 automonous communities and over 45 villages housing a population density of 168,000 (a hundred and sixty thousand) adults going by the 2006 population & housing census. The vast majority of the people are commercial farmers owing to the fertile agrarian lands they inhabit by default. The Umu Onyeke – Umu Okoriko – Umu osogwu – Umuitodo axis of the road share proximate boundary with Ogbadigbo (Idoma) LGA of Benue State, while the Ibenda – Obollo Eke – Neke and Ehamufu end bordered Okpokwu LGA of the same Benue State.

These bordering communities (true to their name as food basket of the nation) provide more than 70% of the foods consumed in Udenu LGA. The two mega markets in Obollo — Afor and Eke are majorly commodity markets.

This means that rehabilitation of this road will open up vast economic thresholds for the state. It will geometrically increase the state IGR, and naturally enhance human capital development. The cashew plantation that forests more than a quarter of the communities connected by this same road will get a huge commercial boost.

Obollo has five automonous communities, each with its own central market. Obollo Afor, Obollo Nkwo, Obollo Orie, Obollo Etiti, and Obollo Eke. For want us access roads, it is only Afor and Eke markets that are alive.

The rest are anaemic, pathologically jaundiced and beggerly looking up to government for revitalization. Rural dwellers pass through hell conveying farm produce on head loads to Obollo Etiti in order to access a tarred road where they will board buses to Afor market every native week.

Once this road is asphalted, Nkwo Chukwu Umuitodo Ulo main market, Ugbeturu Mama mini-market, Ugbeturu Egudele palmwine market , Ofu Mkporogwu mini-market etc will witness unimaginable boom.

The only alternative/salvage route which is the Obollo Afor – Obollo Eke – Ikem – Nkalagu road is projected to collapse again within ten or fifteen years despite being rehabilitated four years ago, because of huge vehicular and human traffic pressure mounted on it, since it is the only pliable road South of Udenu.

If this Okpakerekere – Ehamufu road is reconstructed, it will decongest it and ease the undue pressure totally thereby prolonging the lifespan of this major road.

Villagers intervene on the road every Saturday, clearing grasses and shrubs, filling the gulley ersions with sands to help haulage pick-up vans and commerical cycle riders access their locality. This community effort, though laudable, is nothing but licking our wounds to save the day.

I pray this plea gains the attention of Enugu State Ministry of works, the office of the Executive Governor, the Executive Chairman of Udenu LGA, as well the Councillor representing Obollo Etiti Ward.

When we made similar lamentation here about the comatose state of Obollo Eke market, it got the attention of many including Aka Eze Aka, Fr. Fidelis Ogbonnaya and the Executive Chairman of our LGA whose intervention brought life back to the ancient market.

Such urgent revitalization is needed on this feeder road. It has four major bypass link-pathways and two ring-roads to Onumkpu Ogerenyi, Umuosogwu, as well as Ugbabe Uwal – Ada link-feeder belts.

We understand that some Obollo Community Associations and selfless individuals who were vanguards of our collective welfare have at one point or the other articulated same motions and presented similar submission to the Governor awaiting his approval. Nonetheless, this is a continuation of the self-same plea.

And because it is a capital intensive project, we have kept making subtle reminders to his Excellency to include it in the 2021 state appropriation bill.

To the two federal lawmakers representing us from Nsukka — Hon. Atigwe and Sen. Utazi, we suggest they extend the philanthropic hands of their oversight functions to this community project.

We are not oblivious of the harsh economic realities ravaging our time which the federal government’s mishandling of same had plunged the country into another phase of economic recession; but tough men outlast tough times. Gov Ugwuanyi is presumably one of such rare men that belonged to this class.

He did it to Orba-Imilike-Ezimo-Nkalagu Umuosigide -Onumkpu Ogerenyi roads. A masterclass!

Gburugburu Ugwuanyi, Nwa Vero Pius n’ Umuezejor, nwa David Ugwuanyi n’ Orba Udulekenyi, ndi bè Ideke Ar’mona, this is an appeal to our common ancestral ties. You are our last hope, else, it is a lost hope!

You can still pull the strings, if you wills.

May our groaning make meaning to you.

Ike na-atu g’
Dar’or’

✍Eze Jude O.

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