Wednesday 16th August, 2017
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Umuchu Community: A model in self-help rural development

Umuchu Community: A model in self-help rural development

Umuchu, also called Alanso, comprises three major clans of Ihite (Ugwuakwu, Umugama and Ozara-Akukwa villages), Amanasa of seven sub-units/villages and Okwu-na-Achara (Ibughubu and Achara villages). She is a model town of great repute; a comfortable home to many indigenes and non-indigenes of Nigeria. The people of Umuchu with high so­cioeconomic visibility are very hardworking people. They be­lieve in self-help, hard work and hardly-wait for Federal/State/Local government to bail them out of socioeconomic problems after they have done their best to ask for help. As a result they have been cheated and neglected over the years until State gov­ernments of HEs Chris Ngige, Peter Obi and Willie Obiano recognized Umuchu people for government assistance. Umuchu has a large geographical area; thickly-populated, bounded in the northwest by Aguata LGA, southeast by Imo State and fur­ther by Orumba South LGA. The population is over a hun­dred-thousand.

One has travelled to many towns in Nigeria; one avers that Umuchu has much excellence and tourist attractions to be proud of. Is it good human qual­ity of the indigenes or their care of non-indigenes? What of their rich cultural heritage and tra­dition? Is it people’s infectious sense of humour/jocularity? What of beautiful and kaleido­scopic Geomorphic landscape and extensive range lands? Is it their high socioeconomic resources or rich agricultural potentials? What of rich soils and farmlands; the bounteous surface water resources of Uchu Lake and River, Uku and Ubo springs/streams with waterfalls and rich aquatic life? What of the busy Nkwor-Uchu market and daily markets that provide commercial opportunities to people from Anambra, Imo and Abia States? What of desirable celebrations of Christmas and festivities of Uku, Awuo, Urashi etc. where religious activities, dancing and mmanwu festivals are reverred annual events for the indigenes and tourists even from Europe and the Americas? What of their great competitive spirit for educational and de­velopmental pursuits/advance­ment by indigenes at home and abroad? What of the intimidat­ing large population/varied cul­ture of people that make neigh­bours jealous?

What of progressive extended family system of good brother­liness that engender progress, the warm reception and special kindness to visitors and non-indigenes from different parts of this country who regard Umu­chu as their home? What about the way and manner Umuchu youths hold their heads high in governments, business, com­merce and industry within Ni­geria or overseas or how they assist the Police take care of se­curity? Umuchu town and her good people have so many posi­tive attributes that have marked her out and merit her the name, Alanso or Holyland! During the 1966/67/70 disturbances, po­groms and war, Umuchu provid­ed refuge to Igbo and non-Igbo who became refugees in their fa­therland; provided them homes, shops/spaces in markets, farm­lands and relief materials when available. Some of those refugees still come to Umuchu to this day to pay homage while some oth­ers stayed on permanently at Umuchu after the gruesome war.

Umuchu people are very ac­tive in pursuit of education and community development; they believe in self-help and love one another. Most rural develop­ment projects were carried out by people through self-help and not wait for governments. It is in recent times that impacts of Anambra State and Aguata Lo­cal governance have been felt; it has been self-development ef­forts all the time. The primary schools, later taken over by the government, were built by the people; four Secondary Schools were built by the villages, later taken over by Anambra State Government. The General Hos­pital was built and fenced by the people, later taken over by the State. There are hospitals set up by private medical practitioners; a School for the handicapped built by the Anglican Church. There are industrialists who set up industries such as Mr. Goddy Ezeemo who has established hotel, FM Radio station, petrol station, agricultural farms, ICT centre, newspaper etc.; Mr. Fer­dinand Okpaleke has established agricultural farms at Umuchu, cattle ranch at Umunze, poultry farms at Ozara-Akukwa Umu­chu, Ekwulobia and Umulolo Okigwe-Imo State; Chief Zanas Okpala, a commercial complex in Umuchu and Akokwa; Chief Oddy Otti has industrial com­plex at Fegge Onitsha etc.

The Catholic Church has a hospital, a Secondary School and a thriving and highly-sub­scribed mortuary. The town at­tracted many institutions such as ICT systems, a Divisional Police Station; the constructions of IgboUkwu-Umuchu-Umunze road and Nkpologwu-Akpo-Achina-Umuchu road by An­ambra State; the State govern­ment of HE Dr. Willie Obiano has awarded contract for con­struction of Nkwor Umuchu-Ugwuakwu-Achara road. All these roads open up hinterlands for trade/commerce/farming. The town President with Execu­tive of Umuchu Improvement Union Representative Assembly (UIURA) and Igwe-in-Council handle the sociopolitical affairs of the community. The tradi­tional institution of Igwe-in-Council has first Igwe as late HRH Ignatius Oforbuike, Eze­ora I of Umuchu, CFR, followed by Igwe Godson Ezechukwu, Okwuluora I of Umuchu, OON. The people are politically-active with parties; APGA, PDP, PPA, APC, UPP etc. and strong gu­bernatorial candidates such as Mr. Goddy Ezeemo and Engr. Johnbosco Onunkwo, emerging from Umuchu.

There are sociocultural groups, youths and individu­als that engage in social devel­opment such as the churches, ndichie, umuada, age grades, vigilante group etc. Umuchu has many men/women/philan­thropists that help one another in times of need. You can easily-identify an Umuchu man in a crowd: he stands out as humor­ous and volubly-vocal; intelli­gent and logical in arguments; kind-hearted, considerate and generous; culturally-imbued, religiously-fanatical and viva­ciously-hardworking. He is his brother’s keeper and hardly-discriminates against non-in­digenes; and is a man of peace. He tries to buy-into modern developments and the attractive influences of the civilized world but continues to appreciate the sustainable and good aspects of his culture, tradition, norms and mores. An Umuchu man is very Philosophical in ideas as usu­ally speaks his Igbo/English lan­guage fluently in juicy proverbs.

Umuchu town stably-sits on the Amawbia-Orlu Geologic es­carpment with the gentle slope of cuesta trending northwest and the scarp slope southeast; and peters-out into a gentle lowland of wetlands of marshes, springs. There are deposits of lat­eritic iron ore, sandstones, shale and slate minerals that are pri­vately-mined for uses. The Uchu lake, streams/springs of Uchu, Uku, Ubo, Nwampike, Awuo, Ogbanelu etc. provide water for use, local irrigation and fishery; potable water also from shallow/deep boreholes and rainwater harvested in surface/subsurface tanks. Men and women engage in small scale manufacturing, extensive farming and mining of solid minerals. Nkwor-Uchu is a modern market that at­tracts customers from Anam­bra, Imo and Abia States; people use buses, lorries and trailers to buy/cart away farm products of yams, bananas, vegetables, palm oil/palm kernel, poultry etc. The Federal/State governments should establish a Campus of University/Polytechnic and in­dustries in Umuchu. There are lands/quantum spaces to do so. The Umuchu community can support governments to shoul­der responsibilities of such in­stitutions whenever established.

By Boniface Egboka, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State; E-mail: boniegboka@gmail.com

S.A.L.V.O

“There is an urgent need for prompt and immediate cessation of the actions of the Military Joint Task Force in Letugbene and any other community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa, to avert further loss of lives and property.”

– Hon. Frederick Agbedi (Bayelsa-PDP)

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