By Anayo Okolie
ANAMBRA is one of the few states in Nigeria that are gifted with a large pool of wealthy individuals. One account said Anambra has the largest number of millionaires per square kilometer in the country.
Currently, some of these wealthy individuals have taken up philanthropic projects to better the lot of the less privileged in their communities. However, a host of them are yet to look in this direction, a development that prompted Governor Willie Obiano to solicit more grassroots support and assistance in the provision and maintenance of social amenities in the state.
The governor spoke while commissioning the Igwe GNC Ezeude Road at Ezema/Ubuluenu in Uke, Idemili North Council of the State, last week, adding that such private interventions motivate all including the government.
The road was built by a Lagos-based businessman from the community, Chief Tochukwu Emmanuel Kpajie, who agreed with Obiano on the need for wealthy individuals to partner the government in provision of social amenities.
Governor Obiano, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Mr Emeka Ohuoha, commended Chief Kpajie and the traditional ruler of Uke, Igwe Charles Agbala as well as the people of the community for their continued support to his administration.
He charged citizens of each community in the state to take up ownership of such infrastructure in their areas so as to protect, guard it and ensure it lasts.
Obiano therefore called on richly endowed citizens to assist the government and the people in providing necessary infrastructure all over the state. He assured that the government will continue to provide conducive atmosphere for peace and development to thrive.
Igwe Agbala, in his libation, said prayed for Chief Kpajie, who he described a selfless public spirited philanthropist, a true patriot and worthy son who loves to put lasting smiles on faces of Uke citizens.
Why I constructed the road – Kpajie
Speaking on why he constructed the road, Kpajie went down memory lane on how and what motivated him to take up the project and other such projects in the community. He also opened up on the behind-the-scene battle over naming of the newly constructed road.
He appealed to other affluent citizens to seek out other avenues that are begging for attention to give back to the society, which he said is the simplest and more satisfying way to appreciate God for his mercies, endowment and blessings.
The road project was done in memory of his late father, Linus Kpajie (Ezennia) and named Igwe Godfrey Nwabufo Chikeluba Ezeude Road. Igwe GNC Ezeude was the late immediate past traditional ruler of Uke, who had brought so much development to the community.
“The idea to build this road dates back my primary school days when I used to trek with difficulties through the waterlogged and murky road to Okaa Omee Memorial Primary School, Uke, with a thought that if I had money I would fix the road. To clear up and dispel the doubts and apprehensions of those who differ on naming the road after Igwe G.N.C. Ezeude, I categorically state here that the honour is well deserved. The late Igwe was a man of many parts; a captain of industry, and a quintessential Uke patriot, whose thirst for making life better for the people of Uke was unassuaged. Prof Francis Nnamdi Ikwuegbu (2010) quoted Igwe Ezeude as having declared that, “God created him to serve, help and develop Uke with his resources for the good of all Uke people.”
Kpajie noted that Ezeude during his lifetime blazed many trails. He brought electricity to the community in 1989, provided portable water for public use direct from his compound. He also gave his personal land for the building of a Specialist Hospital which he attracted from the Federal Government. Just recently the Federal Government sent assistance to the hospital with equipment, accessories and drugs.
Continuing, Chief Kpajie said that the late Igwe Ezeude lived for and died for Uke. He admitted that opinions on the topic always differ but his late father, Linus Kpajie cherished and spoke loftily about Igwe Ezeude’s large heart, which caught his young heart and attention very early in life.
”From then, I saw the late monarch as my role model. And that explains why I opted that the road be named after him in memory of my father who had been in the vanguard of those who wished that the road be fixed. Little did he know that it’s me, his son, Tochukwu, will fulfil that his life-long dream.
He counselled other affluent citizens of the state, especially Uke people to think home, be selfless and consider the less privileged around them. They should work for the community so that their good deeds would speak for them always.
He urged the rich in Uke not to hide under the excuse that Ndi Uke do not appreciate good deeds. ”It’s therefore a clarion call to all, to use whatever we have to make life more meaningful for everyone in our community because it’s what you did, and the sacrifices you made that make you great. I pray that our action working Governor Willie Obiano would encourage us by extending the road to link up our neighbouring communities of Ideani, Abatete, Ogidi, and Umuoji.”
A key member of the Uke royal cabinet, Chief Nick Obiegbu, commended Kpajie for his works of charity in the community, noting that Kpajie was the greatest donor in the course of raising funds for purchase of a piece of land where the Uke town hall was built in Lagos.
Obiegbu disclosed further that Kpajie built the hall eventually when he saw how the community was struggling with the issue.
“On the commissioning of the road today, I feel very happy with this happening in Uke because it’s the first of its kind for an individual to undertake the construction of a communal road. I equally appreciate others in his mould who have been doing great things in the community, and I encourage more people to emulate him so that the quality of life of our rural folks would become enhanced”, he added.
The Caretaker Chairman of the Uke Development Union, Chief Chuks Igboanua, in his welcome address, pleaded with the governor “for an extension of this road to Eke-Agu Abatete which will benefit Uke greatly as well as her neighbouring towns of Abatete, Ideani and Umuoji.; and also the extension of the Mpia Uke-Abatete-Ogidi Road.
He commended Kpajie for the road which he acknowledged was provided with solar-powered street lights and drainages on both sides.
One of the community leaders, Prof Francis Nnamdi Ikwuegbu of the Imo State University described Kpajie as someone imbued with selflessness from the cradle, adding: “He is a worthy and honourable son of Uke. He has continued to motivate us, young and old, male and female, big and small, to do good always.”