From Obinna Odogwu, Ekwulobia
The people of Ndiowu community in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State have resolved to jettison their differences and build on the good legacies of their late traditional ruler, HRH Eze O.O. Udeh, who lived from 1933 to 2015.
Some of these legacies, they said, are especially “his laudable efforts targeted at ensuring sustainable peace in the community while his reign lasted.”
The resolution was reached during a memorial lecture organised in honour of the late monarch by Ndiowu Unity Forum as part of the activities marking the burial ceremony of the revered king.
The event which took place at Ndiowu Town Hall was attended by hundreds of the natives, including their prominent sons and daughters who returned from abroad for that purpose.
Also in attendance was the traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu, Eze Prof. Vincent C. Ike.
The event also afforded the people the opportunity to pay glowing tributes to the man they described as an epitome of peace.
Delivering a lecture entitled “Ndiowu Affair: The Challenge of Memory, the Politics of Identity and Identification,” Rev. Fr. Dr Lawrence Nwankwo, a native of the town, pleaded with the people to do away with the unfavourable historical account of their foundation and toe the path of unity instituted by their late monarch.
He maintained that no meaningful growth can be achieved in atmosphere of rancour and bitterness, hence the need to encourage brotherly love and unity among the people.
The priest, who traced the various dynamics of the people from Adams, declared categorically that “our challenge as a community is not unique”, pointing out that “the situation is not even as deplorable as the situation in some other communities that have largely pulled or are still pulling themselves out of conflicts that appeared endemic and are repositioning themselves to face contemporary challenges.”
He, however, maintained that there was hope, saying that “but we have to get the right analytical framework in order to put our challenges into perspective.
“We have also to pray for open hearts and minds to be able to let go of some negative experiences in order to embrace and commit to new possibilities.”
In his speech, Chairman of Ndiowu Unity Forum, Sir JAS Nwankwo, disclosed that the diversity in the origin of Ndiowu people has been the cause of the feud in the community even as he urged the feuding parties to sheathe their swords in order to usher in progress to the town.
“Ndiowu is made up of people from various parts of the world. And people came in settlement pattern and that issue of settlement has always been the problem. We have not been able to synthesize into one community. And that unity, reconciliation and forgetting the past of where you came from and stuffs like that is all we need to forge ahead,” he said.
He reasoned that organising the lecture was considered ripe at the time in order to “talk to our people and enlighten them on the need to think alike in the midst of our diversity. People should remember their past but let that not be a hindrance to future developments.”
Nwankwo, however, eulogised their late monarch, pointing out that “our late monarch was peaceful to a fault.
According to him, the departed traditional ruler refused to go into any area of controversy.
“He wanted his people to have peace and live in unity. And God gave him that opportunity to rule this town for 40 years. People cashed into his extreme peaceful nature and see it as weakness; saying he couldn’t do this and that but he knew what he was doing. He knew that if he had done any of those things some people wanted him to do, this town would’ve gone up in flames; it would’ve been bloody. But he avoided those things to hold the town together. He is a simple man who attended functions people never expected him to attend. Common marriage ceremonies you’ll see him there with his wife. So, he would be remembered for his humility, peace, and progressive mindedness,” he said.
Also speaking, the former President-General of the community, Engr. Chike Emenike, insisted that the late HRH Eze O.O. Udeh deserved to be immortalized.
His words: “I know him as a very peaceful person; a man who doesn’t like victimization. He likes inclusiveness in everything he was doing and he listened to people. He has been able to manage this town for the past 40 years. And you know what happened with traditional leadership. All land cases, family cases and, in fact, a whole lot of cases went to him. I’m proud to say that in all, if they were 10, he was able to resolve eight. In all, he was a very wonderful traditional ruler. All these 40 years he reigned, there were a lot of factions. We have this issue of those who claimed to be aborigines; we have issues of those who claimed to have come before others. We have so many issues. So, for him to have managed it up till now and we’re still one, I give him kudos.”
Emenike, who highlighted some of his achievements and efforts such as initiation of Ndiowu thanksgiving day which was a rallying point for Ndiowu people, attracting the government to construct over 5km roads in the community; mounting of 150 solar powered street lights; attraction of MTN to donate furniture to their secondary school, fencing of their town hall, construction of two industrial boreholes, a skill acquisition centre and a host of others, said that they were targeted at promoting the peace and progress in the town while he held sway, even as he vowed not to relent until peace is achieved in Ndiowu.
However, the late king’s maternal cousin, Chief Chukwudi Udeh, regretted that the community treated the departed king unfairly.
Hear him: “The community was not fair to him. But because of his nature, he never took it to heart. For 40 years he reigned, it was Engr. Chike Emenike that organised his first Ofala about two years ago while he was the President-General. And that was his 38th year on the throne.”