Chief Paul Ururuka’s seven-foot statue stands majestically at Obikabia Junction, Aba, a popular confluence of five major roads. The imposing statue stands like a colossus in the middle of the road and flaunts the masculine frame of a political maestro who has remained a legend in life and in death. Everyone seems dwarfed before him and he seems to be alive and speaking from a high political rostrum.
There is precisely a two-pronged idea emanating from the imposing statue. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, inadvertently, has built an empire of ideas. If you understand the science of semiotics, the Ururuka statue must come to you with far deeper meanings that transcend history and aesthetics value. To me, it communicates meanings that are somewhat esoteric.
First is the narrative of an illustrious man who left indelible footprints in the sands of time, whose name shall remain a symbol of utilitarian value in service and to whom posterity must continue to accord honour. The governor has not only immortalised Ururuka but has also archived the story of the political journey of the Ukwa Ngwa. It is a story that would inspire our generation and generations yet unborn.
Governor Ikpeazu is also loudly and openly transmitting the message of a new Abia, a new dawn. The statue has created a beautiful scenery and a beautiful environment around the interjection roundabout. The message is the accomplishments of a governor in his conscientious drive to reclaim a city that was hitherto in the backwaters. To a visitor or passer-by, the statue announces the new Abia of massive social and infrastructural reconstruction. Before now, the Obikabia Junction was a place of traffic commotion, where man and mermaids competed for space within a small radius. The new sense of order and decency generated by the transformation of the environment ushers one into a new mind-change and orientation that are Ikpeazu’s brand equity.
The Ikpeazu brand equity is in the overall dividend that his tenure has offered Abians and in the value of promises fulfilled. It is value that transcends aesthetics and environmental heritage. Ikpeazu, by his work and accomplishments, has provided a bridge or an elevator of transition from one milieu to another, a sort of renaissance, which is accompanied by a new wave of cultural and political reawakening. I see a revolution but not of victory of arms but of victory of change. Revolution is not just about taking up arms and overthrowing an existing political regime, revolution is also about taking drastic steps and actions that progressively expand the frontiers of our human existence. And this is what Governor Ikpeazu has done with the Caterpillar revolution that has seen to the construction and inauguration of over 100 roads spread across the three geo-political zones of the state. The Ururuka statue is, therefore, a continuation of a narrative of revolution.
Born in 1910 into the polygamous family of Mr. Ururuka Ajereh and Mrs. Orianu Ururuka Ajereh of Umunkpeyi Nvosi, in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, Chief Paul Omerenyia Ururuka (PO) was the first and only child of his mother, who was the first wife of Ururuka. He attended Christ the King School, Aba, where he obtained his Standard Six certificate with distinction. Because of his brilliant performance, he was employed as a pupil teacher by the Roman Catholic mission, Aba. From there, he enrolled into the famous St. Charles Teachers’ Training College, Onitsha, from where he obtained his Teacher’s Grade II certificate.
“Teacher Paul, as he was fondly called at CKC, Aba, distinguished himself in whatever he set his mind and hand to do. He was a disciplinarian, highly principled, versatile and an all-round achiever. He was a great organist for the school as well as for the church choir. This actually contributed to earning him the fond and popular name of Teacher Paul in Aba and its environs,” disclosed High Chief Tony Ururuka, his only surviving son.
Teacher Paul enrolled, studied and passed his General Certificate of Education (London) at ordinary and advanced levels as a private candidate, a rare feat in those days. He also obtained Teacher’s Grade I Certificate. He later left the teaching career and joined the Nigerian Railway Corporation as a pay clerk, a prestigious and privileged job earned only by outstanding pupils in those days.
Chief PO Ururuka later won a scholarship from the Northern Ngwa County Council to study overseas. Consequently, he left his young beautiful wife and three children at the time in the care and custody of his father, Ururuka Ajereh (having lost his mother at a tender age) and travelled to Trinity University, Dublin, in 1947. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, a Higher Diploma in Education, a Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Public Administration and also a Master of Art degree in Geography.
After completing his studies, he returned home to his family and took up appointment as the first African vice-principal of the famous St. Theresa’s Teacher Training College, Umuahia, under the headship of an Irish Roman Catholic priest, Rev. F.R. Fullen. It was while here at Umuahia that the nationalist movement started and Ururuka joined the agitation for freedom from colonial rule, which was eventually accomplished in 1960.
Before then, he had his first taste of national politics when he was elected a councillor in the Northern Ngwa County Council by his people of Ngwa clan. By 1954, he was elected by the Ngwa community to represent them in the Eastern Region House of Assembly. He contested and won election on the platform of the NCNC, under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and was a minister severally in his cabinet with various portfolio and later under the Premier of Eastern Region, Dr. Micheal Okpara, all between 1954 and 1966, after Azikiwe left to take up his position as the first African President of Nigeria in 1960.
Chief PO Ururuka, while serving his country in the Eastern Region, held the following portfolios at different times: Minister of Commerce and Industry, Minister of Transport and Minister of Works, for long years.
Governor Ikpeazu, by the statue, has resurrected history for posterity and also resurrected a man.
•Adindu is director-general of Abia State Orientation Agency