By Moses Akaigwe
If there were a prize for the state with the best memorable road networks in Nigeria, Anambra would easily earn a pride of place even before the competition.
Although Anambrarians would not agree on who among their leaders has the best tenure scorecard in terms of road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, credit is always given to former Governors Peter Obi and Chris Ngige, as well as the incumbent, Willy Obiano.
The obvious benefit of this sustained priority on roads by successive administrations in the state is that, under normal motoring condition, a motorist can traverse six different towns, through very smooth roads, within a very short time.
That is why you can drive from Abagana, through Nimo, Neni, the Adazis, Oraukwu, and Nnobi, to Nnewi, in just 30 minutes, if the traffic is light. It is even much smoother and shorter if you take the Oye-Agu/Eziowelle route.
However, all the credit does not go to the state and local governments, and even town unions, which most times mobilise indigenes to pool resources towards the execution of projects, including internal roads in their communities. Instances abound of roads singly rehabilitated or reconstructed by the many billionaires in all parts of Anambra.
Yet, it is doubtful if any philanthropist in the state, or elsewhere, has ever undertaken to embark on an accelerated construction of a network of 16 internal roads at a go as Chief Chinedu Benson Madubuko, the Ezeani Chinechendo, has done in Adazi-Ani.
As would be expected, this gesture by an individual, with no financial input from government or the community, has not only transformed Adazi-Ani, a town in Aniocha Local Government Area, and further widened the network of smooth roads in the state, but has also taken the bar of philanthropy many notches higher.
Predictably too, Adazi-Ani went agog on Sunday, April 4, 2021, when Chief Madubuko invited prominent Anambra indigenes who, in his own words, have recorded great achievements in their various domains and have impacted positively on the society, to inaugurate the roads.
The excitement lingered throughout the Easter week and beyond, particularly on Thursday, April 8, when the chairman of Innoson Group of Companies, Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, and his entourage drove on some of the new roads with Ezeani Chinechendo to launch one of the projects.
The ‘haul’ of 16 asphalt concrete roads, which feature neatly cast drainage and markings to enable safe driving, connect various parts of the town and, in some cases, lead to neighbouring communities, make the first phase of the multiple projects, even as more are still under construction.
Apart from the Innoson Group chairman, who inaugurated Factory Road, other eminent guests invited by Madubuko to perform the official inauguration of the roads, with their names etched on the marble plaques, were Dr. Cletus Ibeto: St. Jude’s Anglican Church/Amaebe Road; and chairman of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Ltd, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, who opened Umuogu/Power Station Road.
Chairman, Air Peace Airlines, Chief Allen Onyema (Uruene Road); president, Chisco Group, Chief Chidi Anyaegbu (Uhuabosi Road); president, Ekulo Group, Sir Emma Bishop Okonkwo (Amaebe/St. James Anglican Church Road); Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo )(Ezeani Chinechendo Road); and Dr. Godwin Maduka (Ezeanum Road) also unveiled other event plaques.
Other internal roads completed by Chief Madubuko, who is the chairman of the Port Harcourt-based De Chico Group of Companies, are Ichie Ikejiejemba, Ikenga Village Hall, Umuru-Nkpuota, with a spur at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Ezeanum, Sacred Heart Catholic Church/Ikenga, Umudiokpala and Eziama roads.
At the Factory Road opening ceremony, amid cheers from youths, distinguished guests and some of the town’s leaders, Chief Chukwuma lauded the unprecedented philanthropic gesture extended to Adazi-Ani by Ezeani Chinechendo, which he said would facilitate development in the area.
The Innoson Group chairman, who was accompanied by a director of Innoson Oil & Gas, Chief Tony Amalubiauwa Nnajiofor, to the brief ceremony on April 8, having missed the general inauguration on Easter Day, urged other people of means to emulate Madubuko’s benevolent spirit to make society a better place for all.
Apart from the vicar of St. James Anglican Church, Adazi-Ani, Rev. Royce Umezuluora, Chief Kilo Ebelidike, the Ezeani Chineyeaku of Adazi-Ani, and Lady Queen Ebeledike, some cheering youths, a few of whom waved placards with an inscription proclaiming “ Ezeani Chinechendo is Mr. Projects,” witnessed the opening of Factory Road by Chief Chukwuma.
The philanthropist, while thanking the Nnewi automaker for accepting to preside over the inauguration of the road, explained that he carefully avoided making the unveiling ceremonies “political events” by inviting mainly achievers who have track records of impacting on the lives of people through their selfless activities, to formally open the roads.
Chief Madubuko gave more insight into his choice of guests, saying, “Focusing mainly on Igbo achievers with philanthropic minds, instead of having many politicians, was deliberate. The intention was to encourage more people who have the means to do philanthropic deeds for the people, to come out and do so in order to develop the Igbo nation.”
He had, earlier at the Easter Sunday ceremony, emphasised the importance of giving back to society, remarking that, in constructing the roads, he had considered the impact they would have on Adazi-Ani and on the well-being of his people.
Neither Madubuko nor those close to him would comment on the cost of the network of roads, because, as one of his confidants put it, “you don’t buy a gift and stick the price tag or receipt on the pack as you deliver it to the recipient.”
But the Special Adviser to the Governor of Anambra State on Oil and Gas, Sir Ikechukwu Okafor, who was with Ezeani Chinechendo during Innoson chairman’s visit, recalled that Senator Ubah, “a man familiar with such projects,” estimated that the completed roads must have gulped about N1.5 billion.
Ubah himself had at the ceremony observed that businesses would thrive, investors would be attracted, and security of life and property improved, if other well-endowed people in the state take a cue from the Adazi-Ani billionaire and give prompt and regular attention to roads in the state. He stated that the rate of road accidents would considerably reduce too.
To another prominent guest, Senator Uche Ekwunife, the chairman of De Chico Investment Limited was a selfless man whose contributions to community development were “immeasurable.” She applauded the quality of the construction, saying the roads were of “international standard.”
Unsurprisingly, Madubuko’s deluxe home in Adazi-Ani became a Mecca of sorts as the townspeople, well-wishers, friends and associates from far and near continued to pay him courtesy visits even days after the Easter Day ceremony.
One of such guests was the chairman of GUO Transport Services Company Limited, and Onwa Anaocha, Chief Godwin Okeke, whose courtesy call coincided with Chief Chukwuma’s visit.
And the youths? They remained conspicuously present inside and outside Ezeani Chinechendo’s home even after the fanfare at the opening of Factory Road. Their joy was given an extra boost by the philanthropist’s assurance that what they had seen so far was just a foretaste, because more projects were on the way.
That was why their eulogy for the “never-seen-before” projects continued days after the ceremonies.