Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Recently, Dr. Joel Rotechukwu Ugwuoke handed over a church he singlehandedly built for the people of Alor Agu, Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area, Enugu State. Before now, members of the Anglican denomination worshipped in a zinc and wooden structure.
Not done, he built a motorised water borehole and sited it at the nearby Umuopu-Agu community. The borehole was christened Unity Water, owing to the location that is a boundary between two communities within Igbo-Eze North and Igbo-Eze South local government areas. The borehole now serves the needs of various communities in the area, including Alor Agu, Umuopu Agu, Umuida, Umuagama, Imufu, Aguibeje, Umuogbo Agu and others.
From humble beginnings, Ugwuoke, who is the chairman of Golden Valley Hotels, Nsukka, said he was once a palm wine tapper and cutter of palm nuts in the village, before God provided the means for him to leave the village and fortune smiled on him many years later.
He has also upgraded himself academically and is involved in politics presently.
The dedication of the church attracted dignitaries like Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, his deputy, Cecelia Ezeilo, several government functionaries, politicians and clergymen.
The parish priest of St. James Anglican Church, Alor-Agu, Rev. Basil Okenyi, said there was reward for every action of man. He described the donor as a gift to the church and the community.
Okenyi urged people to use their God-given wealth to make humanity better just as Ugwuoke had done. The host priest, Rev. Uche Arua, noted that it had not been easy pastoring the local church, with the congregation consisting of old and poor people in the village. He said Ugwuoke’s intervention was unique, as the donor was a member of another parish, St. James.
Ugwuanyi, while handing over the keys of the church to the clergy on behalf of the donor, described the act as another manifestation of the fact that Enugu State is in the hands of God. He expressed immense gratitude to God for allowing Ugwuoke to build the church and called on all to be instruments of peace, love and harmony in society.
The governor also thanked Ugwuoke for floating the Mma Agha Support Group, for the governor’s re-election into office.
While responding, Ugwuoke noted that the church project started as part of the humanitarian services of his Mma Agha Foundation.
“I started preaching at the pulpit at the age of nine. At that tender age, I also nursed the desire to be a clergyman but because of poor parental background, I had to seek greener pastures. But I made a promise to God that, if He eventually blessed me, I would still return the same blessings to Him,” he said.
A parishioner of the church, Mrs. Eucharia Ugwu, told the reporter that it was like a dream for members of the community when the construction of the church started.
“Only those who have seen our former church can understand what I am saying. And when one considers that even if you called for donations among those of us in the village, the paltry sum you would realise would not even mould blocks, not to talk of embarking on this modern structure. The donor has lifted a very big burden off our shoulders” she said.
The launching of the borehole project was also like a political carnival. It was jointly inaugurated by Comrade Uwakwe Ezeja and Dr. Fide Odo, chairman of Igbo Eze North Local Government Area and Igbo Eze South Local Government Area, respectively.
In attendance were a number of dignitaries, including Ethel Ugwuanyi, Deputy Chief Whip, Enugu State House of Assembly, Dr Simon Atigwe, Commissioner for Environment, Erochukwu Ugwueze and incoming legislators like Prince Emeka Mamah and Innocent Okogba.
The two council chairmen, in their addresses, extolled Ugwuoke for his service to humanity, adding that the water project has further united the two councils known as Old Igbo-Eze.