(By Chuks Onuoha – UMUAHIA)
Former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has been conferred with the Pillar of Infrastructural and Human development award in Igbere community.
Kalu, one of the illustrious sons of Igbere in Bende Local Government Area, was given the award during the Afo Ukwu Igbere triennial mass return/retirement ceremony of age grades for active community service.
Speaking during the ceremony, chairman on the occasion, Ezeogo Jones Udeogu, former Abia commissioner for finance and retired permanent secretary, said all the developmental strides in the community were made possible by the age grade system.
According o him, Igbere Secondary School, Health Centre and other infrastructural facilities were built by various age grades and handed over to government.
“The age grade system has actually aided development of Igbere because all the bridges in Igbere were built by the age grades, so also our first market, health centre, library, Igbere Secondary School.
“We built Igbere Secondary School by asking age grades to build a classroom or hall.
“That was how the school was set up before it was handed over to government in 1975,” Udeogu said.
He extolled the virtues of Kalu as the pillar of infrastructure and human development, adding that the honour done him was well deserved.
Udeogu said the 2017 AFO Ukwu Igbere triennial mass home return/ retirement ceremony saw the oldest age grade retiring from active service and their successor inducted.
He noted that the aim of the event was for community development because every three years, everybody would struggle either to build a house or to renovate the one he had and to also assist people.
“When our fathers had this conception of the triennial Ezemezu ceremony, they had the intention that this thing would spur everybody to think and come home to invest.”
He said it is through the age grade that they advise and encourage one another. “So, this age grade system is a veritable means of development.
“Oganihu age grade would be sent forth today and before you qualify, you must have executed and donated a project to Igbere community.”
He said what Kalu has done to Igbere community to garner the honour could not be overemphasised.
Receiving the award, Kalu thanked his people for honouring him and said the welfare of Igbere people would ever remain his primary concern.