Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
There was jubilation in Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State recently as the 40-year-old collapsed wooden bridge that links the town and Ukpor in Nnewi South Local Government Area was replaced by a concrete bridge.
The collapsed bridge had been a source of worry for the two communities over the years until recently when the Ebebechuwuozo Foundation floated by Aloysius Ikegwuonu (a.k.a Bishop) constructed a brand new bridge across the Ubu River, as well as roads in the town.
Before now, the people of the community have groaned over the hardship and suffering they pass through due to lack of access road and a bridge to link them to their farms and markets.
The problem of poor road network had adversely affected farmers in the state as most of their farms are situated in the remote areas, making it difficult to get their produce to the market.
This problem has affected Ozubulu and Ukpor communities, which are close neighbours, but are miles apart owing to bad road network and a bad bridge.
Indeed, this has been the major problem of the people of the area in the last 40 years.
At a time the people gave up hope, succour came their way as the Ebebechuwuozo Foundation took up the gauntlet to tar the road that leads to the forgotten bridge, as well as constructing it with concrete.
Despite the ugly incident that happened in the Ozubulu community on August 6, last year, when about 13 Catholic faithful were killed in a church by gunmen, life has returned to the community again with the renewed development strides by the Ebebechuwuozo Foundation.
The people of the community are equally excited over the high level of development in the area courtesy of one of their sons.
A native of the community, Ugochukwu, told Oriental News that they would remain indebted to Ikegwuonu (Bishop), saying that he has put smiles on their faces by bringing development to their community.
He pointed out that the South African-based businessman built the Ubu Bridge that had cut off the Uru Egum Nza community from the neighboring community of Ukpor in Nnewi South LGA for 40 years.
“He constructed access roads, Umueze Amakwa through Ogbatu to Ofefe Nza to Amie. He constructed another road called Ajegbu road linking Umuezekweofe to Four Corner Junction and continues with Aloysius Ikegwuonu Road to Ugwuorie called Affia Orie Akpu Ozubulu. He also constructed another road from Igwe Ozubulu bus-stop at Amakwa to Three Corner Amakwa, as well as road from Customary Court at Ozubulu to Four Corner Nza. He is also building a civil centre for the village which is at the roofing stage. He built church called St. Philip Catholic Church where he built Rev. Father’s house, Chapel and also constructing hall for the women. Our prayer is for God to protect him and grant him long life to enable him continue to do the good job he is doing in the community,” Ugochukwu said.
“This Ubu River had no bridge across it apart from wooden makeshift bridge where one manages to cross during the dry season. It had been bad for 40 years even before he (Aloy) was born, because he is 37 years old now. I was very small when the bridge was impassable. There is another bridge called Akpata Bridge along Aloysius Ikegwuonu Road, which he pulled down the old one and constructed a new one to make it stronger,” he explained.
The Chief Security Officer in the community, Chief Onyeka Mathias Chimezie, described Chief Ikegwuonu as God-sent to the community, saying that he came to wipe off their tears.
“I thank God who brought him into the world and to our community to wipe out our tears. Due to the development he brought to this community anybody that left here 10 years ago and returns now will not know the community because of the roads and other amenities built by this young man.
“Some people said Solomon came back the second time in Ozubulu, but myself said it is Elijah because he went into a town where there is bitterness and brought sweetness. Chief Ikegwuonu was born in this town when there was no helper, God sent him to this land and he has good heart and promised to build church for God. He started building the church, which is St. Philip Catholic Church for God, he built the church and his house the same time and it was commissioned the same day.
“He distributes rice during festive periods and pays aged persons up to 70 years monthly stipend in every part of Ozubulu, not only in his own village. He also pays the elders and Obis in the entire community. The day he commissioned and dedicated St. Philips Church which he built, he said that God told him to help 10 youths in the community, but he didn’t know how to do it, so he did a lucky-deep and selected the 10 people whom he gave N1 million each for business and today these people are doing well in this community.
“He helps the less privileged, the disabled and the sick in this community; he helped me when the going was tough in my life. I don’t know how to thank him for what he is doing for this community, but my prayer is for God to keep him alive. He built so many things in this community which are numerous to count because I don’t know where to start.
“This road that leads to Umuezekwu to Nza, I was among those who created the pathway, it was a bush before we decided to create the road for easy access, it was a narrow road, but today, Chief Ikegwuonu has not only made it motorable, but also tarred the road and constructed the bridge that links us to the Ukpor community. This man has achieved more than his age because he is just 37 years old, he does projects that are difficult to do in this town, he is God-sent and we are praying for his long life and good health.
“Government doesn’t remember or recognize this community before now, all the projects were community efforts, this road as I told you was done by the community and the Ubu Bridge was first done locally by the community until God sent this young man to wipe out our tears. We have some prominent men in this community who had helped in the building of the community in their own capacity, but not to the extent of road and bridge construction as witnessed today by Chief Ikegwuonu.
“There is nobody like him in Ozulubu; and if we have two or three persons like him in Ozulubu, the community would have been a big city. Ikegwuonu should not be thinking about the enemy of progress and what happened in this community last year, but should forge ahead because God sent him to deliver this community.”
Chimezie urged Ikegwuonu to help more youths so that they would be supporting him in the community projects, saying that no one tree can make a forest even as he prayed God to continue to bless him hundred-folds.