January 23, 2019

Ebonyi community resolves chieftaincy impasse with football tournament

Ebonyi community resolves chieftaincy impasse with football tournament

*Participants receive medals from Prince Oli

By Dennis Agbo

THE Obeagu community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, during the last yuletide, employed soccer competition to bring about unity in order to resolve a lingering chieftaincy tussle in the community, which left its indigenes divided over who succeeds their late traditional ruler who died over three years ago.

Ebonyi community resolves chieftaincy impasse with football tournament

*Participants receive medals from Prince Oli

The succession dispute had remained in court after Obeagu’s late monarch; HRH Ezeogo Damian Oli passed on over 23 years ago, with neither of the contending parties sheathing their swords. But son of the late traditional ruler, Prince Chinenye Oli said he had been worried on how the community could be in unity again and decided to introduce the Unity Cup Tournament 2018.

The tournament kicked off on December 27, 2018 with Erudite FC, a team from neighbouring Nkalagu community and All Stars, a team comprising ex-footballers from Obeagu and its neighbouring communities.

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Prince Oli said that what motivated him to sponsor the football tournament was basically for peace and unity of his beloved Obeagu community. He said: “Since the death of my late father, the community has been having problems in getting a successor and is still in court for over three years now.

“But in 2018, with the aid and intervention of a great man who I consider as my father and mentor, Prince Arthur Eze (Ozoigbondu), I set up a foundation, Prince Chinenye Oli Conflict Resolution Foundation. The very first meeting was held in Prince Arthur Eze’s residence during which he personally spoke with some stakeholders of the community concerning the need for peace in the community and his full support to achieve the peace.”

Oli stated that the foundation has an executive committee comprising delegates from each village for the primary purpose of resolving the chieftaincy issue in Obeagu and other challenges facing the community.

“In order to fortify the peace process, I decided to sponsor the football tournament, to bring the whole villages together and I thought of the youth as being the active force of every nation or community,” Oli said.

The tournament brought the community’s warring factions together by ensuring that among the ten participated teams, nine of them were composed of players from all the whole villages in Obeagu community in addition to the cultural dances from different villages of the community such as Igede, Ogene, Ekpe and Omaba masquerade performances.

The women dance group from Jioke and the community dramatist clubs also performed together during the event in addition to stakeholders from different villages in the community who were all together and some personal and collective remarks were made by the stakeholders at the end of the event.

Prayers were made by different religious leaders on the day of the kick-off match but more importantly was the Chairman of Ishielu local government council, Hon. Henry Sunday Eze who spoke extensively on the importance of peace in the community.

Giving support to the tournament, the council chairman also promised that the bad state of road leading to Obeagu community will receive attention very soon. Eze said “when I was coming, I saw how bad Obeagu road is to the extent that it has no access road even for foot users despite Obeagu’s endowment in agricultural produce.”

Reacting to the deplorable infrastructure in the community, sponsor of the tournament, Oli said “sincerely speaking, in terms of infrastructure and basic social amenities in the community, I can tell you that Obeagu community is non, because there is no active functional medical centre of any kind, the schools are in poor conditions and Obeagu has no access road even to the use of foot especially during the rainy season from Egedegede junction to Obeagu.

“However, it is noteworthy to mention that Nkalagu–Eha-Amufu road which had enjoyed decades of neglect has been reconstructed by Governor David Umahi. It is a federal road and Eha-Amufu is under Enugu State, which was why they sent delegates to visit the governor in order to thank him and deliver appreciation of all the Eha-Amufu people for the neglected federal road that the governor reconstructed. He did the same thing in Ntezi–Agba road, all in Ishielu Local government, in addition to appointment of her illustrious sons and daughters.

“I would like to use this opportunity bring to his notice that Obeagu community as a whole, has no major access road even to the use of foot especially during the rainy season right from Egedegede junction to Obeagu is a big problem, despites her richness in agricultural and the Obeagu community is behind him with their registered 98.5% votes to enable him to continue with his marvelous and exceptional good works since the creation of Ebonyi State.”