EXCLUSIVE: Why Ibagwa Autonomous Community Was Created From Ogbozara Opi By Enugu State Govt.

EXCLUSIVE: Why Ibagwa Autonomous Community Was Created From Ogbozara Opi By Enugu State Govt.

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By Amaechi Agbo

On the 16 day of May, 2023, the creation of a new autonomous community, Ibagwa Autonomous Community from the old Ogbazara Autonomous Community in Opi, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, was announced by the state government.

This followed the issuance of Certificate of Recognition by the State Government to the Igwe of the community, His Royal Highness, Eze Williams Ezugwu.

In this Exclusive Interview with Best Choice Sports Managing Editor, Amaechi Agbo, HRH Eze Williams Ezugwu explains how and why the new autonomous community was created. Excerpts

May we meet you sir, your name and designation?

My name is His Royal Highness, Eze Williams Ezugwu. Igwe Ibagwa; Ibagwa One of Ibagwa. Eze Ogbozara, Eze Ka Eze One of Ideke Land

I am the Eze of Ogbozara Kingdom and at the same time, the Igwe of Ibagwa Autonomous Community

What led to the creation of Ibagwa Autonomous Community from the present Ogbozara Community?

It was a tug of war. Opi as a town applied for over ten autonomous communities just like every other town in Enugu State. Communities which applied for autonomy were about 750 in numbers. The government on their own set up a committee and they recommended 350 communities to the government to be created.

Maybe the governor because the number was so much, was unable to create up to the numbers as recommended. All things being equal, we applied and fortunately the Commissioner for Chieftaincy Affairs called me and asked if I am ready for them to come for verification to my community. We had a date and I informed my people.

When the government people came, luckily there were multitude of people despite the day being Afọr day, which most of our people usually go to the Afọr Market, we were able to have enough crowd. After all their questions, it was thrown up for those who are interested in being the Igwe of the Autonomous Community to indicate interest, they asked the question several times but nobody came out.

Then I stepped out and they asked the people that if they believe and agree for me to be the Igwe, everybody should line up behind me. We hand about two hundred people who lined up behind me, and it was passed and documented. It was a unanimous decision of the people.

Ibagwa Community was carved out from Ogbozara Community, is this an end to the existing relationship between the two?

HRH Eze Williams Ezugwu, Igwe of Ibagwa Autonomous Community

As far as I am concerned, I am the Eze of Ogbozara Kingdom, when you talk traditional monarchical institution. We are still brothers and must relate together. We are looking at autonomous community as a creation of development, it does not divide us from our ancestral bond. The creation of Ibagwa Autonomous Community was borne out of the need to bring development closer to the people. We know that government deals with a community not a village when it comes to development, if you have your autonomous community, then the development will come to your area.

I remember sometime ago, government gave each Autonomous Community five million naira each. As Ibagwa has been created out of Ogbozara, Ogbozara Community will have their five million naira and Ibagwa will have five million, is that not ten million? The two communities will use the money to develop their areas. That is development and that is what I think everybody is pursuing.

Have you been congratulated by the Igwe of Ogbozara Community?

No. Not yet.

Any congratulatory message from Opi Town Union?

No. But the President of Ogbozara Community Union has already sent a message, congratulating me. That is, Dr Amaechi Isiani.

When is the coronation date of your Igweship?

Well, it is not on my agenda for now. I have a lot of things I am doing. I can only think of the coronation when I have finished what are before me.

How many villages make up the new community?

There are nine villages in the new Ibagwa Autonomous Community. The villages are – Umuaguekwa, Umumpo, Umuobekeogbu, Umuokwor, Amukpa, Isamani, Isamelu, Owerre and Amaonicha.

What are your plans for the new community?

Even before the creation, the community believes that if I can do what I have been doing for them, how much more when I have the community under my umbrella now. The water you are seeing here (borehole in Amukpa village), the road that is being constructed by the government, is because of the relationship I have with the people.

For the Ibagwa Autonomous Community, I think that will make me to do more once there is much corpration, because there is an adage which says that when you greet somebody for doing a work for you, he he will have the mind to do more.

If they can give me the peace I am looking for and be in unity, there is no way I won’t do anything within my reach and contacts for them. I am not somebody limited by my area, I am a national person.

Being the Secretary of all the registered political parties in Nigeria, that is Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), I believe that I should have made one of two contacts that could help my community.

Talking about helping the community, construction of the link road between Amukpa and Umuegwuru, when will it be completed?

What happened was that I went to see the former state Governor ( Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) and he asked me what he would do for me. I demanded for him to do Ogbozara Road for me, from Eke-Ibeku to Amukpa and down to Owerre village. That was in the second year of his first tenure.

But nothing happened even when one of our great sons, Mr Emmanuel Onyeke did almost a kilometer road from junction.

Finally, the Governor then asked where I would want the road to start, I then said if the road from Junction and down to Etiti has been done, why not then creat a link road from Nike-Enugu Road through Amukpa.

When I showed them the path, he sent the contractor to come and discuss with me and that’s how they speedily did the much they have done. They have done almost 80% of the work, the other 20% I believe, the new government will take it up.

A new government just came in, but one thing with contractors is that they work based on payment. The moment you pay them, they will mobilize to site but once that money finishes, they will stop work.

But I believe that they will definitely finish it. We need to allow the new government to be able to settle down.

Do you have any relationship with the new Governor of Enugu State, Mr Peter Mbah?

Prior to the election, I didn’t meet him one-on-one but we were in communication. However, I visited him in his office on Thursday, to first congratulate him on his election victory and swearing-in as the new Governor of our beloved state.

Of course I have spoken with him on the phone prior to his inauguration and the young man I saw, I believe will lead our state aright.

We discussed issues around governance and I advised him to be the governor of all the Ndị Enugu.

He Should continue from where his predecessor stopped and move the state forward as expected.

What are your Expectations under the new administration in the state?

Let him take off from where his predecessor stopped. Let him know that he his Governor of the whole people of the state, he should not sectionalise his governorship. If he sectionalises it, people like us will not take it.

He is humble, his humility is something that will help him to succeed.

It appears you have a robust youth you are working with in your kingdom, how is the relationship like?

Before the construction of the road started, the youths here were able to start the road by themselves. I encouraged then and also contributed money to them. In as much I told them that government promised to construct the road for us, I didn’t want them to stop what they were doing. In my mind I said, ‘what if government didn’t construct the road, what would I do?’ Then it will be that they wanted to do the road and I stopped them. Thay will tag me enemy of progress.

Fortunately for all of us, government came in and the road is almost finished. I am happy with my youth. The encouragement and support from the youth to the progress of the community is fantastic.

Officially, how would you be addressed, what is your official title?

When you go to Government Gazette, what you see is His Royal Highness (HRH), but when it comes to the Ezeship, it has to be His Royal Majesty (HRM) because it is a monarch.

Officially, government doesn’t have Royal Majesty in the constitution of Enugu State Chieftaincy Titles. The Royal Majesty happens to be the one I was holding and still holding (before the creation of Ibagwa Autonomous Community).

All things being equal, both titles refer to me.

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