The Moment of Truth
REPORT CARD OF THE 5TH SEESION OF IGBERE WELFARE UNION DELIVERED BY CHIEF MAZI A.E. UKONU ON THE OCCASION OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF IWU HELD AT THE ULO NKUMA CONFERENCE CENTRE, ONU IBINA, THIS SATURDAY 26TH JUNE 1993.
Your Highness, EZE SAMPSON UWAKA UKAEGBU, the EBIRI II of IGBERE:
Members of Ebiri Council of Chiefs; Distinguished Presidents and Executives of IWU Branches; Age Grades; Town Unions; Respected Titled Chiefs; Patrons; Ndi Ichie Igbere; Former Officers of the Union; Respected Delegates; Fellow Members of Igbere Welfare Union, Greetings!
We have chosen to describe this period, this day and date, as: “The Moment of Truth”. We intend to lay the cards on the table facing upwards showing what we have been able to make of our Great Union since inception. It is not our intention to denigrate any body past or present but to put the facts in their proper perspective.
WHY THE 5TH SESSION?
There have been Five Sessions of Igbere Welfare Union: the First Session was headed by late Chief A.K. Ogwe. Starting from inception in 1936/1937, it lasted till 1952. The Second Session began when late Elder Chief Ijioma Okocha was the President General. He ruled for 25 years and was succeeded by Elder Chief O. I. Ukaegbu in 1977. From the formative years till now, IWU had entered adult age and was naturally beset by problems which only adults experience. The union have always had direction and purposeful leadership but little or no fund. And to make matters hard we were not left out of the Ezeship dispute which spread across Igboland some years ago. Between 1986 and 1988, the Fourth Session, the Central Committee headed by Chief John O. Kalu came to an end…
On July 2nd, 1988, the Fifth Session was born. The following officers you will recall were elected. I, Chief Mazi Anyaogu Elekwachi Ukonu President-General; Mr. Okorie Nwagbara Chukwu (Snr), First Vice President; Mr. Eme Arisa Mekwa, Second Vice President; Mr. Rowland Abara Ekeoma, Secretary-General Mr. Okorie Nkwere Onwusogh, Publicity Secretary. (What a pity that today our friend Owusogh is critically ill and bed-ridden which is why he is not here with us. May God order his speedy recovery).
Also elected were three provosts, namely Eke Lewa, Joshua Iheuko and Ukoha Oti. Messrs I. O. Okereke’ Ukoha O. Ike and Madubuike Ukonu were appointed auditors. Of these persons none received any salaries nor remuneration. They volunteered their time and life in the service of our community. In an age when personal problems have become unbearable as a result of economic down turns. Igbere should have a second look at this one sided arrangement in which officers of a town Union who have assumed duties of a regular Government, sacrifice their individual time and resources without monetary rewards or compensation.
Mr. Obasi Dimgba Ukpabi retained his post from the previous two sessions as the Administrative Secretary. So did Mr. S. O. Ukachukwu as Messenger and Mr. Oji Onuoha as the Night Guard. These later persons from Mr. Ukpabi were the only salaried members of the team. And what a fine team.
Prior to our election, IWU had only two Patrons at the Centre: Chiefs David O. Udeogu and Paul I. Chukwu. Seven others, namely’ – Elder Chief I. U. Okpe, Chief E. U. Ogwo, Elder A. Ikewecheghe, Chief John O. Kalu, Chief J. E. Orji, Elder Chief O. I. Ukaegbu and later, Mr. Mark Okoroafor Uche joined the fold.
2. IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE ONE LEGGED DANCER
Between 1936/1937 when the Union was conceived and founded by Messrs Arisa Kalu Ogwe, Ijoma Okocha (formerly Ijioma Ogbonna) and Agwu Ikwecheghe the tripod of unity was erected. They were actively supported by our First generation to duty and forth right leadership becomes prominent feature. There was cooperation even among villages. We built schools and in particular a secondary School, a Health Centre, Bridges and Culverts, Community Hails. Etc. There were sturdy traders, there were brilliant schoolmen and women. Politics outside our boarder were only for a few families. We become distinguished from the rest of our neighbors. But we were like the terrific dancer whose problem was that he was one-legged. We were afraid to take initiatives, afraid of publicity good or bad. But we were and have remained a good and wonderful people – one of the finest true breeds to be found anywhere in Nigeria.
In 1987 when Ihie Ebiri (the Light of Ebiri) retired as an Age Grade, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. The next year we assumed office and that light has remained so bright. I say this with all humility and truth, my Administration was bathed in that light. From then on (1987) when IWU celebrated its Golden Jubilee Anniversary till now, we have changed from the one legged dancer to the acrobat whose both legs are on display.
We have achieved so much in a few years than we did in fifty six. Our success has been made possible by the sacrifice and superb organization of our predecessors and the dedication and coordination of the men of the moment - my immediate Executives.
3. THE FIRST LIBRARY BRANCH IN THE WHOLE OF BENDE LGA
Only 32 days in office, we labored amidst opposition from some powerful conservative lobby to establish, on August 4th 1988, the First Library Branch in the whole of Bende LGA.
Housed in the Building (behind the Post Office) which was donated to Igbere by the Ihie Ebiri Age Grade, the Library become a pointer to how fast we intended to go.
We started in office with very little. Altogether, we had only N 9,952.41k (Nine Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifty two Naira Forty One kobo) in three separate Banks. At the end of the commissioning of the Library, the entire fund was practically gone. Our attempt to raise money through donation was frustrated by the same group of persons. To those who did give us a little , including the patriots who donated sets of books – Elder Kodak U. Onuoha and Mr. Kalu Ogbonnaya, we once more express our gratitude.
With the money vanished in ceremony, what were we going to do? The union needed fresh impetus – something to look up to and some more things to achieve.
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