History is made at Ojoto town on the 7th of April 2021, as Idemili South Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria celebrated 25th Anniversary – a journey which late Head of State of Nigeria, General Sanni Abacha approved in 1996. It was a thing of joy.
It was not on a platter of gold that the Idemili South Local Government Area was situated in Ojoto town. It was doggedly fought by eminent personalities in the area. It was briefly sited at Oba, but some political juggernauts in the area would not allow it to endure.
When the news of the planned relocation of the Idemili South LGA out of Oba filtered into ears, it was rumoured it would be relocated to Nnobi town, considering the superior submission of late Nze BBO Emeh that the short-lived Obiaja Local Government Area was located in Nnobi in 1983, and that Nnobi was also the abode of the Idemili goddess from which Idemili South Local Government Area derived name. Nevertheless, Ojoto won with the magic torch of a renowned African Economics, late Dr. Pius Okigbo.
According to Professor Charity Ifenyinwa Emelie, a professor of Law at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University at Uli, Anambra State, “Idemili South Local Government Area lies in the South of Anambra State and is bounded by Idemili North Local Government Area (to the North). Ogbaru Local Government Area (to the West). Ekwusigo Local Government Area (to the South), and Aniocha Local Government Area (to the East).” The Idemili River which passes through many towns in Idemili South LGA started from the trough of Ezu Lake in Agulu town and flows calmly in a gentle slope valley till it empties in the River Niger.
Seven towns make up Idemili South Local Government Area. They include: Nnobi town, Alor town, Ojoto town, Oba town, Awka-etiti town, Nnokwa town, and Akwa-ukwu. The Local Government is “divided into 3 zones, with zone 1 comprising Nnobi and Alor, zone 2 comprises Ojoto, Oba and Akwa-ukwu, while zone 3 comprises Awka-etiti and Nnokwa.”
The 25th Anniversary began around 12:30 pm. It attracted a large turnout of varying classes of the Idemili South people and well-wishers. An entertaining Master of Ceremony, Don Onyenji, started by welcoming the Transition Chairman of the Idemili South LGA, Hon. Don Unachkwu, and the Town Union Chairmen, Evangelist Chris Emelie (Oba town), Barrister Emeka Mmaduabuchi (Nnokwa town), Chief Chris Ezeani (Nnobi town), Chief Emeka Ogbuji (Akwa-ukwu), and Hon. Peace Akwudo (Alor town). Other dignitaries in attendance were Hon Barr. Chuka Ezenwune (Member State House of Assembly, representing Idemili South Constituency), Archbishop Owen Nwokolo represented by Reverend Cannon D.C. Okoye, Lady J. O. Anene, Ndi Ichie Alor, Mr. Mike Anieliobi (Chairman, Ohaneze Idemili South), Nze Chidozie Okigbo (Omenife Nnobi), Mrs. Ifenyinwa Nnekwelugo, Idemili South LGA Youth, to mention but a few.
The opening prayer was said by Reverend Chris Emelie; and in the absence of the Chairman of the occasion, his wife, Professor Charity Ifenyinwa Emelie presented a paper titled “THE IDEMILI SOUTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA AT 25, ‘THE JOURNEY SO FAR’.” In her paper, she traced the development of Nigeria’s Local Government system to the “Native Authority Ordinance of 1916, which was passed by the British Colonial Government ostensibly to leverage the existing traditional administrative systems in the different regions of the area now known as Nigeria.” She noted that it was the Constituent Assembly of 1976 that recommended that the Local government be removed from the control of the State Government. She mentioned the functions, uniqueness, and the way forward for the Idemili South Local Government Area. She painstakingly stated below the list of past Chairmen of the LGA since inception.
Mr. Fabian Mbanefo, appointed in December 1996.
Hon. Sylva Abasilim from Awka-etiti, elected 1997 to 1998.
Dr. N. O Agbasi, appointed from 1998 to 1999.
Hon. Sylva Abasilim from Awka-etiti, elected from 1999 to 2002.
Engr. U. E. Umeghalu from Ojoto, appointed from 2002 to 2003.
Hon. Edwin Egbobe from Oba, appointed from 2003 to 2003.
Mr. Nath Ezekwu from Onitsha, appointed from 2003 to 2003.
Mr. B. A. Ezelefeanya from Ihiala, appointed from 2003 to 2003.
Hon. Sebastian Uzowulu from Nnobi, appointed from 2003 to 2006.
Mr. P. Umejiaku from Nkpologwu, appointed from 2006 to 2007.
Hon. Ikem Okigbo from Ojoto, appointed from 2007 to 2007.
Dr. Engr. Alloy Ezeabusilim from Ameshi, appointed from 2007 to 2008.
Dr. Mrs. Evelyn Okpala from Achina, appointed from 2008 to 20011.
Hon. Sir. E. Ezekwem from Nnokwa, appointed from 2008 to 2011.
Prince Henry Ezenwa from Oba, appointed from 2014 to 2016.
Hon. Dr. Unachukwu from Awka-etiti, appointed from 2017 till date.
From her record, out of 15 Chairmen of the Local Government Area from 1996 to date, 9 were the indigenes – Awka-etiti (3 slots), Ojoto (2 slots), Oba (2 slots), Nnobi (1 slot), and Nnokwa (1 slot). She “observed that Alor and Akwu-ukwu have no slot in the chairmanship position, with Awka-etiti leading with 3 slots.” Finally, she appealed for the Local Government to “be a legal entity district [sic distinct] from state and federal government,” and also suggested for the Local Government to “enjoy substantial autonomy” and “be administered by democratically elected officials.” In nutshell, her lecture was remarkable and noteworthy that the Master of Ceremony appealed to the administrators in the Idemili South Local Government Area to add the contents of the presentation to the Local Government website.
Following that, the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Donatus Anozie, Ichie Ezemadike Ojoto, in his opening remark, expressed deep joy in his heart for the multitude of people in attendance and asked God to guide and bless them. He noted the efforts of his late father, himself, late Lawrence Okigbo, late Colonel Chris Ugokwe, and late Dr. Pius Okigbo in stirring boat of the Idemili South Local Government Area to Ojoto. He made mention of the peacefulness of the Local government and appeal to all to sustain it.
It was at the height of this epoch-making event that His Royal Highness Igwe Gerald Mbamalu (Eze Oranyelu) of Ojoto and shortly, His Royal Majesty Igwe Nicholas Muodum Omenyili Obi (Chairman, Idemili South Traditional Rulers Council) arrived at the occasion with pomp and splendor. The Igwe of Ojoto, in whose town the anniversary was held presented the kolanut to the attendees after which he offered traditional prayer to the kolanut.
As the kolanut was being distributed, the soft-spoken and elated Chairman of the Idemili South Local Government Area, Hon. Don Unachkwu, addressed the gathering. He narrated the importance of the 25th Anniversary, thanked, and prayed for the attendees of the ceremony. He was also extremely delighted that some of the traditional rulers in the Idemili South LGA graced the occasion, according to him, “notwithstanding the short notice given to them.”
By 2:18 pm, award presentation started. Among those that received Awards are:
Senator Annie Okonkwo
Dr. Webster Okonkwo
Chief Chuwkudi Nzeribe
Ezeudoka Azubuike Brown
Chief Dr. Sir Okwy Maduekwe
Late Igwe P. C. Ezenwa
Dr. Kennedy Okonkwo
Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Owen Chidozie Nwokolo
Chief Barth Azubuike Madubuko (JP)
Chief Emma Sunday Okafor
Hon. Sylva Abasilim
Chief Ifemeka Nwoji
Late Colonel Chris Ugokwe
High Chief Sir. Donatus Anozie
Sir Ikechukwu Ojukwu
HRH Igwe Nicholas Obi of Nnobi
Chief Chukwuemeka Emenike
Chief Mallinson Ukatu
Chief Emeka Agbanari
Chief Obinna Ugozu
Late Mr. Dennis Chukwuka
Chief Sir Mike Enendu
Professor Okey Oramah
Chief Chuka Uzodike
Engr. Sir (Dr.) Simon Ukpaka
Chief Osy Agbazue
Chief (Mrs) Fraces Efobi
High Chief Chidi Ogbuefi
Late Igwe Dr. C.A. Ifeakandu
High Chief (Pharm) Chibueze Ezeukwu
Late Igwe Gabriel Ezekwem
Chief Okechukwu Izugha
Late Mr. Vincent Anozie
Late Igwe Dr. C. O. Ezeagwu
Dr. Obiora Anthony Chukwuka
Late Sir E. O. Enemo
Chief (Prof.) Frederick Ikediugwu
Late Archbishop S. N. Ezeanya
Late Chief Sir J. O. Igwe
Late Chief J.C. Ekwulugo
Chief Sir Michael O. Arinze
Chief Engr. Dike Kingsley Chigozie
Chief Chike Okpala
Chief (Mrs) Joyce Nkem Umorem
Mr Celestine Ogana
Chief Austin Agu
Hon Augustine Ekene Aghasiefo
Chief Obidi Nwibe
Chief (Sir) B. M. Onyeka
Sir Louis A. Ezeonyim
Chief Henry Nonso Mgbojikwe
Rt. Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Enechukwu
Bishop Moses Ezedebego
Prof Paul Madus Ejikeme
Chief Ifeanyi Ezeogu
Late Chief Sir Goddy Chikeluba
Late Dr. Pius Okigbo
Chief Chijioke Maduka
Dr. Patrick Mbanefo
Chief Obiora Okongwu
Shortly after the departure of the Igwe of Nnobi and Igwe Ojoto from the venue for what appeared as poor consultation and involvement of the monarchs in the coordination of the chieftaincy awards, chieftaincy recipients were, however, recognized by the organizers. Among them are:
Chief Ebuka Okafor…Onwa Idemili
High Chief Chidi Ogbuefi…Ifekanku Idemili
Chief Nonso Mgbjikwe…Ikukuoma Idemili
High Chief Sir Donatus Anozie…Ide Idemili
Chief (Mrs) Joyce Nkem Umorem…Ada Ife Idemili
Dr Obiorah Anthony Chukwuka…Eziafakaego Idemili
High Chief Chibueze Ezeukwu…Iyierioba Idemili
Chief Festus Onyima…Udemba Idemili
Chief Ifemeka Nwoji…Obata Ife Adi Idemili
Chief Chike Chidozie…Ikenga Idemili
Chief Ikechukwu Agbogu…Odogwu Asia Idemili
Chief Ann Okigbo…Akwa Ugo Idemili
The scene of the celebration was filled with euphoria and elation. Most of the recipients accepted the awards and titles with noteworthy remarks and generous donations. Many attendees said good about some of the worthy recipients. The eulogy of Venerable Angus Umeh, Church of Ascension, Diocese on the Niger, to one of the recipients, Sir Ikechukwu Ojukwu (CEO of Quest Compuserve ltd) from Umuagu, Ngo Nnobi, is worth noting. He extolled: “The honour of Merit Award bestowed on him (Sir Ikechukwu Ojukwu) is a clear testimony that the society still recognize and acknowledge people of high integrity. He is amiable, a child of God, a Knight in the Anglican Church, a philanthropist, a lover of justice and equity.”
Before the official end of the ceremony, the appetizing and captivating silver jubilee cake was cut and shared. Added to that, satisfactory refreshment and musical entertainment followed. It was indeed a red-letter day in the Idemili South Local Government Area, in particular, and Anambra State, in general.