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Peace at last

 Anambra community sheathe the sword after 12 years of skirmishes

From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi

Before now, the people of Osumenyi community in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State have been living like cat and dog. They had two parallel town unions that never saw eye to eye until recently.

The situation lasted for over 12 years with the two parallel town unions – Osumenyi Town Union (OTU) and Osumenyi Development Union (ODU) – working against each other in a manner that led to the hiring of youths to unleash mayhem in the community amid series of litigation.

At a time, the Bishop of Nnewi Catholic Diocese, his Anglican counterpart, other men and women of God around the community intervened to make peace between the warring factions, but their efforts failed due to one reason or the other. And the warriors went back to their trenches.

Also, a body called the League of Osumenyi Lawyers (LOL) had intervened and wrote a letter to the warring unions in 2015, urging them to urgently end the crisis. The group made it clear to the parties that the community required unity and peace for meaningful progress to thrive, arguing that Osumenyi had been losing politically, socially, economically, and otherwise as a result of the crisis compared to its other neighbours.

In their resolution, the lawyers noted that litigation would not solve the problem in Osumenyi, as some issues were deep beyond what the court could solve.

The group affirmed that there could be no other way to solve the problem except through reconciliation, which needed sacrifices from both sides to achieve.

However, the peace building process finally came on March 25, when the youth leaders of the two warring factions, Apostle Ogochukwu Mkparu and Nnadi Amaoyi, brought their loyalists together at Osumenyi Unity Plaza, Obiohia field after series of closed-door meetings and discussions courtesy of a concerned member of the town.

The event tagged: “Youths’ seminar and general meeting” meant to have developmental, empowerment and unity discussions, as well as entertainment which witnessed a turnout of about 1,000 youths and some of the elders, an indication that they were actually tired of the crisis that had robbed them the opportunity of coming together as a people of the same community.

Amaoyi and Mkparu took turns to address the youths with the general message that they should forget the past for the community to move forward, acknowledging their mistakes to have waged the unnecessary war that lasted for over a decade.

Amaoyi said: “God has arrested both of us. Before now, our case always ended in Abuja. If you calculated what the community said it had spent within the period the crisis lasted, you will marvel. Many organisations tried to settle our case but could not.  We must unite by fire, by force. Forgive me in any way I have offended you. Those who sent you to fight always abandoned you. They give you peanut to go and fight your brothers. They cheated you.”

Also, Mkparu admonished the youths to go home and tell their fathers and uncles that they have embraced peace, saying that they could not stop them this time for absolute peace.

He apologised to the youths for the mistakes of leading them to fight unnecessary war that brought no profit to the community.

In a paper he presented entitled: “The role of the youth in community development”, Mkparu identified youths as problem solvers.

He said Osumenyi community needed them to solve most of its problems, adding that the youths needed to be given a chance to prove themselves.

“Youth is the spring of life. It is the age of discovery and dreams. They have the power to transform the community into a better place. They also have the ability to lead their fellow citizens into the right direction. Youths are fighters. They fight for an identity in society, equality, the homeless, bullying, unemployment, exploitation, violence, poverty and other problems which the community and world at large face,” he said.

One of the prominent lawyers in the community and founding member of LOL, Mr. Chinwenche Mbazulike said the elders were only wrongly using the youths while the crisis lasted.

He described the youths as the backbone of any society and urged them not to allow the elders to misuse them.

He said the lawyers who had earlier taken a step to resolve the crisis were solidly behind the peace process.

“What is happening today is a formidable force towards Osumenyi peace and unity. I’m happy because the people I see here are from both the OTU and ODU who say they have surrendered. As a lawyer and an Osumenyi indigene who started this move for peace with my colleagues under the aegis of LOL, I will support the youths and make sure my colleagues join forces with the youths to unite the two brothers together and God willing, it is already achieved,” he said.

A youth in the community had suggested bringing other elders from both sides of the divide to also address the youths at another appointed date to show that they have embraced peace, but the majority of the youths objected to the idea.

They affirmed that all the elders must key into the peace initiative without any objection.

The youths also resolved that this year’s Afia Olu (their own version of new yam festival) and Christmas must be celebrated together by all Osumenyi natives to further prove that peace has actually returned to the community.

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