By Steve Oko
The people of Arochukwu ancient kingdom in Abia State have passionately appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action towards the completion of the Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal highway to immortalise their deceased monarch, Eze Ogbonnaya Okoro (Eze Aro).
Chairman Aro National Rites of Passage Committee, Prof. Okoro Ijeoma, who made the appeal during an event marking the royal rites of passage of the late monarch, decried the deplorable condition of the colonial road.
Following the sorry-state of the road, a trip from Umuahia the state capital which ordinarily should take one hour now takes about three hours.
Arochukwu has produced many emminent personalities including the Ikokwus, the Ohuabunwas, and many others but the only federal road linking the ancient town with other communities in Igbo land has been delapidated for decades.
Professor Ijeoma begged the federal government to give the town which he described as the cradle of Igbo civilisation, a sense of belonging by rebuilding their only access road.
He described the late monarch
as “a highly talented, educated, very respectful king who sacrificed a lot for the peace of his community.”
His words: “We have had a road which is in despair and it was one of those agonies that faced him when he was alive and we want as a lasting legacy for the road to be fixed to honour him, because that is how we can grow economically and socially.”
In his tribute, convener of the New Nigeria Group, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, described the late Eze Aro as a patriotic monarch who emptied himself for his subjects.
“Late Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, preached peace and collective responsibility towards the development of his community while on the throne.
Speaking also, former Speaker ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, described the late Eze Aro as man of great wisdom who left indelible imprint on the sands of time.
Similarly, a security expert, Chief Chikwe Udensi, described the late monarch as “an epitome of Arochukwu culture and tradition.”
He said his demise was a big blow to his subjects, adding that his people had only taken solace in the fact that he lived a life of service to his people.
Born in 1932, the late monarch trained in the United Kingdom as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.
He returned to Nigeria and worked at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he was involved in the production of Nigeria’s first cholera vaccine in 1971 together with the renowned Professor of Virology and former President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Augustine Njoku-Obi.
He was the pioneer head of the Department of Laboratory Technology at the University of Nigeria Teaching hospital, Enugu.
“He retired as the Chief Medical Laboratory Scientist at the UNN in 1988 to ascend the throne.
Eze Ogbonnaya Okoro ascended the famous Eze Aro throne in 1995 and reigned for 25 years before his demise last year.
He was a first-class traditional ruler and occupied one of the ancient traditional stools in Nigeria and was the custodian of the Aro heritage worldwide.