By Nwabueze Okonkwo
It appeared like a dream come true for the people of Ugbene-Okodu community in Awka North Local government Area of Anambra state as they unianimously crowned Chief Sampson Mkpuora Chimakwa as their newly elected traditional ruler.
Chimakwa, a Lagos-based furniture manufacturer and one-time President-General of Ugbene Town Union, was crowned as Ezu-Ukwu II of Ugbene-Okodu, by the kingmakers who according to their constitution, included the oldest man in the area, Ozo Aaron Agumadu who incidentally is also the head of Ozo Title Society; the President-General of the town union, Chief Emmanuel Nwude; Secretary-General of the town union, Emmanuel Ibeh and three representatives from each of the six villages.
Chimakwa’s selection and crowning appeared to have received laudest ovation and accolade from the entire community as there was no noticeable dissenting voice. rather major stakeholders, including village chairmen and leaders of women groups in the area appeared to have heaved sigh of relief as they described their Eze designate as a round peg in a round hole, square peg in a square hole.
Among the stakeholders who heaved sigh of relief were Prof. Patrick Nze, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, COOU Teaching Hospital, Amaku, Awka and former Deputy Director, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, Enugu; Chief Fidelis Nweke (Ide Ugbene), a Port Harcourt-based illustrious sons of the community, philanthropist and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Rivcon Energy & Construction Company Limited (Fidwax Group) and the Parish Priest of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Ugbene, Rev. Fr. Charles Ezeoke.
Other stakeholders who are also in solidarity with Chimakwa’s selection were Ozo Albert Ibeh, immediate past President-General of Ugbene town union; Chairmen of Umunokwam, Enuagu, Umuagunwoke, Umualor, Umuemem and Ifite Ora villages, Simeon Dinyelu, Emma Ndife, David Ejimene, Oliver Okafor and Fidelis Umenyelu, as well as the entire Umuada women group.
The crowning ceremony came barely two months after Chimakwa emerged victorious at the October Igweship election conducted by a team of state government officials led by Sir Benjamin Emerah, Senior Special Assistant, SSA to Governor Willie Obiano on Local Emerah had shortly after the election exercise, declared Chimakwa winner of the Igweship polls, having scored 10 out of a total of 21 votes cast by the 21-member kingmakers who voted for the four Igweship candidates, including Chimakwa and his three other rivals, Jonas Okelue Urebe, Clement Okoye and Chief Aaron Onwelukwue who were selected with him from the same Umualor village which is the eldest, as contained in their constitution which states that the Igweship throne would rotate among the six villages in order of seniority.
Speaking during the crowning ceremony, the President-General, Nwude explained that the election of Chimakwa and his crowning as their new king was prompted by an Awka High Court, presided over by Justice D. A. Onyefulu which made an order that it is the right of Umualor, the oldest and most senior village to produce the new monarch which would succeed the late Igwe Simon Nnalue who joined his ancestors in 2014.
Nwude who commended Governor Willie Obiano, the state Commissioner for Local government and Chieftaincy Matters, Greg Okonkwo and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Town Union, Community and Chieftaincy Matters, Mrs. Vera Queen Okonkwo for the restoration of peace which had hitherto obstructed the process of selecting a new monarch in the area, noted that crowning of the new monarch was imperative as it has brought to an end the five year old vacancy and rivalry in Ugbene royal throne.
According to Nwude, the royal throne had remained vacant since 2014 when the late Igwe Nnalue (Ezu-Ukwu I) joined his ancestors and had his last Ofala cultural festival performed by the town union, in collaboration with the bereaved royal family in June, 2019, while the selection processes for a new monarch commenced in December, 2018.
He therefore made a passionate appeal to the state government to expedite action in giving the newly crowned monarch a chieftaincy certificate and staff of office, even as he also appealed to the state government to expedite action in the rehabilitation of Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Awba Ofemmili road with a spur to Ugbene.
Responding, the newly crowned king, Chimakwa, also commended Governor Obiano and his able leutnants for their interest in ensuring peace and tranquility in the area and pledged to move Ugbene forward, adding, “my kingship will be progress-oriented and I will be a good listener”.