By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
It was an amazing sight to behold, a mission accomplished. Three gleaming security vehicles, seven rugged motorcycles, three walkie-talkies, 20 machetes 20 security kits, 20 safety boots, 20 torches, 20 raincoats, 20 headgears and other assorted security gadgets were assembled before an appreciative large crowd in Umuchu, Aguata LGA, Anambra State at the annual New Yam (Iri-ji) Festival on Saturday, September 5.
The highly industrious Engr Emeka Ononuju, President-General of Umuchu Improvement Union Representative Assembly (UIURA), and his hardworking team had delivered on their promise to equip the community with the most sophisticated security gadgets.
According to the personable Engr Ononuju, “We are also training and retraining as well as providing insurance cover to the vigilante group to get them updated on modern methods of community policing.”
Ononuju took the initiative because “during the dreary days of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown there were some frightening predictions from security experts of a huge surge in criminality such as kidnapping, armed robbery, theft etc occasioned by the economic meltdown.”
PG Ononuju goes on thus: “There were equally some frightening tales of strange people, purportedly running away from the crisis flashpoints in the North and moving downwards into the hinterland. Their presence would of course complicate our already precarious security situation. There was palpable fear in the villages, indeed a period of severe existential threats.”
As a committed leader, Ononuju had to ask himself the question that Lenin once asked in Russia: “What is to be done?”
“After an audit of the situation and our capability,” Ononuju said, “we came to the conclusion that the best course of action would be to rework our security and bring it to speed.”
The successful engineer said: “We found some group of the finest patriots led by Mr Ossie Nwankwu (Ome Ihe Jideofor).”
The charismatic leader of men, Ossie Nwankwu, aka Paparex, and his security council “went out in their numbers to mobilize fund for the security upgrade project.”
According to Ononuju, “Despite initial skepticism their efforts have paid off handsomely and the people are happy.”
The Ossie Nwankwu-led 22-member Alanso Trust Security Committee was indeed a resounding success.
Already there is a donors list of 155 and counting.
“May our Father Lord reward these men for their labour of love,” Ononuju says, beaming with satisfaction. “They have etched their names in marble. We shall place these names in our archives as part of our most priced icons.”
Even so, Ononuju admits, “We’re not out of the woods yet. We have merely scratched the surface. As a matter of fact, security funding is never a one-off process.”
As he “drew the curtain on the committee’s activities,” Ononuju added: “There is still much work to be done. This is opportunity for those whose names are missing in the icons list to play a part. You can pay into our account and we shall update accordingly.”
PG Ononuju then took out time to “thank those who had been special in many ways than one,” notably, “Chief (Sir) Fidel Ononuju (Eziokwudaaoshimiri) for hosting all the live meetings of the patriots even when it was most inconvenient.”
The grateful PG was equally full of gratitude to “the ground operations led by Mr Ik Ezenweinyinya, Prince Chibueze Ofobuike and Chinedu Ezekwike who have earned my respect.”
He also thanked “members of the clergy for their support and prayers, and the Association of Umuchu Indigenous Rev Fathers. My Padres just demonstrated the Epistle of St James by backing their prayers with action.”
“I’ll not fail to mention the support of Umuchu people in Diaspora,” Ononuju said, stressing: “They came in large numbers from the USA to UK and the rest of Europe, Asia and Africa. Thank you Ndi nke m for thinking home. We’ll do more to connect our people anywhere in the globe.”
Explaining that he “cannot mention every name on this honoured list,” PG Ononuju revealed: “The Igwe himself, HRH Igwe G.O. Ezechukwu, OON, KSP, who has been following up with the updates is very happy and has expressed his desire to host a more elaborate Thank-You event as soon as situations normalize.”
“On a final note,” Ononuju intones, “let me allay the fears of some of the committee members and donors who called me privately. I assure you that the items handed over to us shall be effectively managed.”
In conclusion, he hands down the reassurance: “Yes, the work is done for now. I’ll leave you with the words of Sir Oliver Wendel Holmes: ‘the riders in a race do not stop when they reach the goal. There’s always a finishing canter before coming to a standstill’. He who passes an exam is promoted to a higher class. If we call on you again please do oblige us.”
In blazing the trail of community security in Anambra State, Umuchu town has shown a lofty example that needs to be copied by other communities.