You are on page 1of 7

UKPOR OWES DIM NNAKIFE A LOT… C.O.

L UGBOAJA
When I was given the name of Chief C.O.C. Ugboaja as one of the credible sources to interview on the life and politics of Dim Nna O Nnakife, I felt a bit inadequate. I still remember with great respect the unblemished records of Chief Ugboaja in the federal civil service. I had never met him one on one before, but his reputation precedes him. I wondered how he has fared in retirement, has he lost the fire and acute intelligence that were hall marks of his younger years… I wondered. Again how do I get such an accomplished person to open up and tell me his candid balanced opinion of a personality such as Dim Nnakife? I did what any average writer would do, I decided to first do a background check on my subject, but with absence of libraries or resource centres in Ukpor, I can only rely on what well informed people can tell me about Chief Ugboaja. But nothing they old me prepared me for the face to face interaction I had with this illustrious son of Ukpor. Just as the sun began to take its inevitable dive into the unknown horizon beyond the hills of Lilu, I set out for the interview date with Chief Ugboaja. He had earlier called me in the morning to inform me that he would be available for the interview at my convenience, but it was Sunday and mass must take precedent. On the phone his rich soft voice which I strained to listen to in other to catch the so soft spoken syllabus gave nothing away of his depth of wisdom and love for Ukpor and her people. If anything his voice on the phone sounded deeply rich and baritone, the kind of voice you would expect from highly successful politician or an obese man of cloth, as it turned out he is neither. As I began to descend the small hill after „Obom Otagborogwu‟ momentarily distracted by the women and men laboriously excavating stones from farms straddling both sides of the ill maintained hill, I wondered aloud if the town isn‟t courting ecological disaster in future by this temporary solution to the economic hardships of families in this area. A left turn and I was at Chief Ugboaja‟s country home, a one storey building set in one of the most serene

This is a passion. Nature blessed this village. I had never seen where a goat can give birth to a cow. there is nothing one can do. Central UIU because you‟ll remember if you were close then. This Chief Ugboaja. Adjacent to the house plantain trees struggling to remain erect labored under apparent unbearable weight of plantain stocks dangling pricariouly from dead stalks. Chief Dim Nnakife. but I said. Peace first because without peace. Omenka. And there will be peace by putting together and by organizing people. equally participated in Lagos putting Ukpor community together in Lagos in the sixties before the start of the civil war. like every other community that was progressive started moving forward. Well eh. And so the person you are asking of. After exchange of pleasantries and presentation of kola nut which I elected to pocket. I am a retired Federal public servant and I am now retired to the village to assist in putting things right as much as one can. Respectable. he affected a lot of Nigerians that came across him because he is a lover of the people. even when I was working. . wits and sincere desire to see Ukpor join the league of fast developing towns. he shares with Dim Nnakife… Question: Can you give us a little of your background Sir? Ans: My name is Chief C. I was able to reactivate UIU. and. A cow has to give birth to a cow and a goat give birth to a goat. He was one of the officers then. he signaled his readiness and the interview commenced. and then he was very dynamic. I left his home so deeply touched by his wisdom. And he later came back after having lived there for many years.nature friendly enviroments I have seen in Ukpor. he tried to put in his best before he left for Cotonou from where he made what he is.C Ugboaja. He has not aged much. and he is the kind of person you instinctively trust. according to him. Almost like the environment. there was another body introduced by the then leaders called Ukpor Development Trust. Lagos branch and that was in the seventies and from there the other body.O. so we struggled from Lagos end to reactivate the Central body which we succeeded in seeing through by 1980 and since then Ukpor. he looked every inch his reputation. a very calm looking man opened the door to welcome me to his austere but tastefully furnished living room. I was equally interested in community peace and development. there is a simplicity about him that is so re-assuring. I think that has been my area and even when I was in public service.

So he fought very much and achieved Umudim as a village. I remember when we initiated our local government – Mbanano LG we initiated it from Lagos. and when that one came. And like I said too. because he is a very dynamic politician. They were seeing him as somebody who wanted to destabilize something that was organized but that kind of organization is not an organization because it was not formidable and it had no history behind it. a lot of people even within your Umudim did not see the vision and the way he was going. And he is a very sound politician brought up by Chief Mbazulike Amechi but I think he is now overtaken because Chief Amechi is retiring and we are looking forward to borrowing better political ideas from him by those who are young enough not people like us who are retired. And it was that Mbanano LG that metamorphosed to present day Nnewi South LG because you cannot just start from nowhere. for those who care for that. C. he saw his village in shambles that is Umudim. In fact we drafted application for that and dispatched a number of men to meet with Chief Mbazulike Amechi. he thinks of retiring as a statesman and advise young men aspiring to go up. And from all indications he may come out successful with that. provided the person is not a criminal. eat he rose up to the occasion. because of his love for his village and desire for its development. The moment one gets on to certain level. and they took it up and developed it and with their effort we had the Mbanano LG of which Chief Dim Nnakifeh was the pioneer Chairman of the LG then. He is the young man – the person that fought very vehemently to ensure that Umudim is taken and recognized as a village of its own in the town. and he has done a lot of things in other areas. Chief P. He developed most of our business boys over there before he returned to Nigeria for politics. and he worked on that and when he was working on this. Formerly.He loves progressive men. He is very relentless in that project and is working day and night to see it through. Chief O. he equally accommodated and helped them with whatever form of problem they had.N. Emerah and Chief Dim Nnakife to meet with them and sell our idea to them which they bought. Those that got there without accommodation. . they used to be known as Umudim-Ebe and if you look at it. they had no relationship with Ebe. Sam Okeke. He is sound and working well on that. so most of our boys used to travel to Cotonou then. Ukpor continued to remain the headquarters. Ukpor was the headquarters and as it developed. If it was where to stay. and Chief Nnakife‟s place was the rallying ground for them. even right now he is working with other collaborators to have Ulasi State. In fact what we are looking forward to now is to have Ukpor as a LG of its own which the young man is working very hard to actualize. when he came back.

being a peaceful person that he was not forcing issues.And it was inaugurated. They too should be allowed to be. it became a case and it came up to UIU Central Body. one related to Ohamadike. yes. so this case came up before my committee. I don‟t know what the situation is like there now. He said look if any fraction or group of people still wants to belong to Ebe let them belong and allow those that want to belong to Umudim Ukpor to belong. because we told them. Umudim‟s argument is very sound. look it is quite clear that Umudim Orioha has no relationship to Ebe whatsoever. So as chairman of the committee I told them well I have no reason to object to these people‟s aspirations and they have every reason to be there as Umudim village historically speaking and should be allowed to exist on their own. then I said yes. it is mighty in reality. Others can go wherever they want until the other group decide to come back and team with the rest. Question: So the unification of Umudim is a vindication of your committee‟s recommendations Ans: Yes. I think what he is saying is quite clear and even if there are only three people that want to be Umudim Ebe. Agbuana. it is a river. So I am happy that they are together now in fact Dim Nnakife in his magnanimity. We are related to Umudim through our Nna ochie. “Ndi be anyi si na isi miri adi ebu ugbo”. people from far and near attended and there are some pamphlets on that. and Egochukwu the mother of Agbuana was Okwutuo‟s daughter so you see historically. We studied the submissions and saw that he had a very good reason for what he was saying and we did not hesitate to recommend to the Ukpor Community that these people should be allowed to exist on their own because they are supposed to exist on their own and the way they came and their affiliation – even Umuohama Dike have relationships with them through Agbuana and if you look at those things you see that though Umudim is a very small village. There it is barely “Ogba n‟ elu” but down stream. and then the other one relates to Nnaboshi. they all came through Ezika. They should be allowed to go there until they see reason to want to come back so he was so open on this. And even when some people tried to bring up some crisis too over it. the two slices of Ebe. He never believed in fighting people for holding a contrary view point or even people who refuse to see reason. For instance this Urasi River that can drown scores of people actually started from Dikenafar from ordinary spring water. and in UIU we have a peace committee called Conflict Resolution Committee and I was the chairman. Ezika was the father and Naboshi and Umudara Ebe were brothers while Ebejerem Onye and Ohamadike were of same mother. still fighting strongly to belong to Umudim Ebe. .

We are supposed to know ourselves better but people chose to fight against what I don‟t know. Well I don‟t know why. they ought to be because most of them don‟t make their presence felt by the people. how do you recognize him. Now going back to Chief Nnakifeh. Anyamene. I really don‟t know why. But there are still others who people don‟t even know. But there are still many others. Ogunna you spoke about are public men. he came down here to the village to accept the position of a secretary general of the town union. and when you don‟t know somebody.. I mean only very few of them like Prof. it is partly a fault of the intellectuals. Because Ukpor doesn‟t seem to care enough. He is unifying the people. so how do you expect the people to recognize somebody they know nothing about. the people can recognize him because he loves his people and we have indeed been recognizing him in many ways. he is a lecturer in Unizik and not minding his high position there. . Question: So why are philosophers misunderstood? Has it got to do with the way their visions are communicated and why are our intellectuals not recognized? Some people believe that Ukpor has not accorded enough recognition to our thinkers is this as a result of the way our philosophers are communicating their ideas. It is now that a good number of them are coming out like Prof. you find that those that are in position of making themselves known to the people. Question: Why has Ukpor not recognized him knowing he is the only Ukpor man to have attained such high position in political party administration in Post Civil War Nigeria? Ans: I think that is part of what you said earlier that some people rendered services to Ukpor that go unrecognized. Is this the with Dim? Ans: Yes. Chief Nnakifeh has been a chairman of a party in old Anambra state. a former member of the constituent assembly. you know.We are so interrelated. you don‟t know they exist. Even here the way they comport themselves and the way they organize people and I think that is part of the reason why they seem not to be recognized the way. a highly articulate and sagacious politician. Whether we can look at it as ill luck. it is just like chief Mbazulike Amechi. this is a man that rose to the position of chairman of a Political Party in the old Anambra State. He played prominent part in the various development stages of this town…. some of them are not …. his presence is felt wherever he is.

Maybe some of the leaders that have been can explain better. . It was when he came back to Nigeria that we actually became close. but I was not really close to him or met him one on one. Question: Ok what are the personal qualities that endeared this man to you? Ans: Well I have already said certain things about him like what I said about him when he was in Cotonou. you know like when he was in Lagos. this is Ukpor and this man has been in Ukpor and is always there. I still heard people talking about this Ukpor man in Cotonou. I used to hear about him. We are talking about a person in a community and the whole community cannot share the same religious views. because Dim is right here in our midst. I accompanied a friend on a visit to Cotonou and he said there is an Ukpor man here in cotonou” I didn‟t even know Chief Nnakife then but the friend said we should go to his house that he helps Ukpor people. Honestly I can‟t explain why this man has not been accorded a commensurate recognition. that doesn‟t matter. He became very popular by that name. because it is not religion we are talking about. So everybody liked him. Though I used to hear a lot about him and what I heard about exactly was what I saw in Cotonou and when I came back to Nigeria. They are truly the forgotten heroes. It does not matter. and you know Julius Caesar was one of the Shakespearean tragedies and any body that has read the book and heard of the man Caesar would like to know the person bearing such a name. Question: A gentle man I spoke with yesterday told me that his religious views may be responsible that people kind of can‟t differentiate his politics from his religion could it be true? Ans: Meaning what? I can‟t understand what that means. but up till now he has not been given any national honor. everybody would like to have a glance at him whenever mention is made of his name in a public gathering. his person is there whether he belongs to the least religious group makes no difference at all. There are a lot of things that made him popular like the way he addresses issues his kind of life and that kind of things. it does not need outside decisions. But that of Dim cannot be compared to that of Chief Mbazulike Amechi. you know this & that and I followed my friend to Chief Nnakife‟s house and that was the first time I saw him in my life. I can‟t explain but it is surprising because he is supposed to have been placed where he belonged I really cannot explain. everyone will like to look at Caesar.I don‟t know how many Mbazurike Amechis still exist in Nigeria politically. He has been very popular with our people you know “CAESAR”. Maybe the leaders has forgotten him.

And I like him for that and if he comes out for something. And it is unfortunate we have not been able to organize age grades at Central Ukpor Level because all our age mates within Ukpor would have come out together to tell Ukpor that we are still alive. anything outside of what he thinks to be the truth he disassociates himself from. we are all age grade you know and I was telling him the other day that if not for my bereavement. and I call upon people of good will to pray for him to celebrate it at his best and then after that we would then tell him. he is reborn and we want more of what we have always known him for. . oh. And I thank God for him. To me he has one of the best qualities of a good leader. because I believe that it is one of the benefits of the type of person he is. he will fight to make it work and I respect him for that Question: So what is your massage for him on his 70th Birthday? Ans: My message to Dim my friend. What do you say to this? Ans: Yes exactly he was a very good coordinator and a good organizer. anybody that appreciates such quality in a man would like to deal with him. of my wife‟s eternal exit early this year I would have much earlier than now celebrated my 70 th birthday.Question: Now many people are not aware of the noble deeds this man did in Cotonou and the services he rendered to our people then. he is out for it and he must make it except where he is not interested. wherever he is. Oh I am praying for him that he would celebrate his birthday very healthy. he is a man of truth. I thank God for his life and wish him the best Thank you. things can not be left undone and above all. And I pity those that never lived up to that and I think also that it is a confirmation of the fact that he is living a good life. that he was actually a rallying point for Ukpor indigenes in Cotonou and that his life in Ukpor is just a continuation of his selfless service to Ukpor in Cotonou. that he has actually marked what the Bible spelt out for us. having achieved 70 years of age. And life begins at 70. he would tell you initially and from on set that he is not interested in that but if he is. Because of the way things are now I am looking forward to him living up to 130 years as long as he would be able to move and with his kind of stature he may even make 150 years. if you go to him.