Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Nri community, the progenitor of Igbo communities and citadel of Igbo culture and tradition has breath of fresh air following the new spirit of oneness pervading the area.
The ancient town in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra state and home town of notable personalities who have contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of Nigeria was lurked in leadership tussle for over 30 years. The crisis that obviously polarised the once powerful and peaceful town, no doubt, hampered peace and development of the place.
Made up of the six villages of Uruoji, Obeagu, Agbadani, Uruofolo, Ekwenanyika and Diodo, Nri was bereft of basic infrastructures including modern civic centre, roads, modern market and security, among others.
Worried by this development, some patriotic indigenes of the town organised themselves and pulled resources under the chairmanship of Dr Emma Enemmuo to build a multi-million naira town hall, named Unity Hall.
The Unity Hall practically brought together all the factions; the warring villages and indigenes as they all contributed one way or the other to erect the edifice.
The grand reception in honour of some Nri indigenes who had made notable contributions and the inauguration of the hall, which held recently attracted the ‘who is who’ in the state including Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, Senator Victor Umeh, Senator Uche Ekwunife and Hon. Dozie Nwankwo.
Speaking at the event which also featured the launch of N100 million endowment fund for the town’s infrastructural development, including a befitting civic centre, President General of Nri, Chief Kevin Obiegbunam said that the town’s first hall was built in1952 through the collective effort of their forbearers when Chief M.O Mbolu was the President General of the town.
He said, “The hall remained the meeting point for all the social and political activities in our dear town. As the town continued to increase geometrically in population, the need for expansion and improvement of the hall became very imperative and akin to spirit of togetherness exhibited by our fathers.
“Our modern patriots (icons) pulled their hard earned resources together to build this edifice of a present day standard town hall which we all gathered here today to unveil. Communities in the South East have a history of providing social amenities by taxing themselves but in the case of Nri; the need has shifted to ultramodern landmark civic centre, modern market, road rehabilitation, street lights, potable water and security infrastructure among others.”
The governor who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke commended the leadership of Nri Progressive Union (NPU) for their passion to develop the town to an enviable height and achieving peace at last.
He reiterated the administration’s resolve to develop all communities in the state through the N20 million ‘Choose your project initiative’, stating that most communities are done with the first and second phases of the project while the third phase will commence by this year.
Obiano informed that peace brings happiness and unity of purpose and commended Nri for ending the over three decades crisis, which he said, pulled the town backward rather than leading in the state in terms of infrastructure and otherwise, judging from the calibre of individuals the town has produced in the country and beyond.
In their separate speeches, Umeh, Ekwunife and member representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency, Hon Dozie Nwankwo pledged to be part of the success story in Nri kingdom by contributing in the infrastructural development of the town.
Ekwunife, who received excellence award for community service along others, said she is proud to have been married to Nri as she has benefited a lot and as well, paid her dues, pledging to singlehandedly complete the civic centre if she is re-elected into the senate in this year’s poll.
Chairman of the occasion, Chief Calistus Nweke observed that having peace in Nri kingdom was akin to having peace in the entire Igbo race.
According to him, “Igbo race will continue to be in disarray as long as Nri is not united and is in crisis. But there is hope for the Igbo race. With this infrastructure in place, there will be peace in Nri community. There are some people who were fuelling that crisis that came together to build the hall and that means we have decided to forget the past and forge ahead. The implication is that peace will now return in Igbo land,” they claimed.
Thirty seven members of the town, including the Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Peter Umeadi; the town’s President General, Oba Kelvin Obiegbunam, Oba Emelie Okika, Mrs Uzo Obi Okoye, Prof Osita Aguolu, Tony Abana and others bagged service awards.