Monday, January 18, 2021, would remain an indelible date in the minds of the people of Umuisu Ugbawka, in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.
That was the day people of the community elected their first traditional ruler, the Igwe of the community.
Only recently, Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had granted the people of the community their long wish by creating the Umuisu Ugbawka Autonomous Community. It was a feat achieved through the efforts of a prominent son of the community, Chief Sunday Nwobodo.
Some of the dignitaries at the event were Dr. Charles O.C. Egumgbe, Commissioner for Chieftaincy Matters in the state, who stood in for the governor; Mr. Sylvester Ugwuagbo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Chieftaincy Matters; Mr. Chinemelun Onuoha, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Chieftaincy Matters; Mrs. Nwobodo Pethrolina, Deputy Director, Chieftaincy Matters; Mrs. Okonkwo, Director of Finance and Accounts, Ministry of Chieftaincy Matters; Mr. Emeka Nebeife, Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Chieftaincy Matters; Chief Charles Chukwu, Chief Samuel Aniwobodo, Chief Steven Okeke, Mr. Charles Adeogwo and many others.
The event started with opening prayers by Reverend Oyera J.P. of the Assemblies of God Church.
In his opening speech, Egumgbe said the top officials of the state were on ground on the directive of the governor, to ensure that the people chose their preferred candidate and voted their conscience. He went further to state that the governor had granted their first request, but one thing left was for them to choose their leader.
He said: “We are here from the state governor, to ensure that this election is free and fair. The governor has granted your first desire by approving Umuisu autonomous community. But one thing is remaining: You should choose who will represent you people, so that the community can be represented at meetings held in the state. All those who wish to contest should indicate interest. Even if you are deciding now, there is no problem. We will still accommodate you.”
Before the election, Egumgbe had called on all the concerned communities, comprising Amaezeaka, Amauno, Enyimoke, Ndibinagu, and Umukwesiri, to ensure that they were all represented.
Members of the electoral committee, whose membership was drawn from all the communities, were called out to ensure transparency. Those that were members of the committee were John Okafor, Bath Nwobodo, Nwigwe Onyekachi, John Nwodo, Pastor Patrick Edoji, Christian Chukwu, Christopher Ede and Okeke Eze.
Egumgbe once more delayed the voting by 30 minutes, to ensure that no candidate was left out, and people were allowed to make their final decision. He called on all the contestants to come forward, but the only person who came out was Chief Sunday Nwobodo. Egumgbe again extended the election by another 10 minutes. When the time elapsed, Chief Nwobodo was still standing unopposed, as the whole community kept cheering him up by shouting “Igwe!”
In ensuring the atmosphere of transparency, he instructed that voters should stand behind their choice candidate. And all those present stood behind Chief Nwobodo. After the counting, a total of 525 votes were recorded for him, and the electoral committee consequently announced him as the winner of the election. He was elected Igwe Sunday Nwobodo, Isu of Umuisu.
Mr. Christian Chukwu posited that the Igwe-elect was the only person trusted and loved by the entire community. He said that the community had witnessed many developments and transformation solely accomplished by their Igwe. He maintained that the people all decided to choose a man of peace, a visionary leader and a true pathfinder.
In his vote of thanks, Igwe Nwobodo, the Isu of Umuisu, thanked the state governor, all the officials, and all sons and daughters of Umuisu for choosing him to represent them. He said he was glad because they chose a poor man like him. He promised that he would not change, saying it was time to witness double progress, unity and peace in Umuisu.