By: Ibem Onwuka Ibem
According to Swahili proverbs, ‘the one who visits you is better than the one who sends you greetings’.
This proverb became a fact when The Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai’s joy knew no bound as thirteen representatives of Ohafia Council of Traditional Rulers/Ndi Ezieogos paid him a courtesy visit in his edifying office at Uyo; a visit being sponsored by the Chief Executive Officer of Challenge AIDS and Malaria in Africa (CHAMA). Being triggered and inspired by Uma Ukpai’s philanthropic gestures and his ongoing construction of a polytechnic in Asaga Ohafia, Abia State Nigeria, Dr. Olugu Ukpai who is a Canadian based illustrious son of Ohafia soil decided to send the Ezieogos in Ohafia for an appreciation visit to our own self acclaimed and renowned international Evangelist, writer, academia and mathematical guru, Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai on Tuesday, 9th August, 2016.
Speaking earlier after a brief introduction of the Ohafia monarchs to Uma Ukpai by their Traditional Prime Minister, Prince Chukwuma K. Udensi, the chief spokesman and the oldest Ezieogo in Ohafia, Ezieogo Kalu Awah of Ibina Ohafia community thanked the clergyman for the majestic welcome he offered to them. Also speaking, the Ezieogo of Asaga Ukwu Autonomous community, Ezieogo Makim Ndukwe on behalf of his royal colleagues said they came to appreciate Uma Ukpai for his numerous projects and philanthropic gestures in Ohafia especially the siting of King of Kings Hospital and Uma Ukpai Eye clinic built for the poor and the needy, the tarring of some roads in Asaga, the ongoing construction of Uma Ukpai Polytechnic, Asaga Ohafia which will go a long way to boost the academic arena of Ohafia, creation of employment opportunities and enhancement of economic activities in Ohafia and especially, the role he played in making Dr. Olugu Ukpai who he is today, therefore, we have come en-masse to show gratitude on behalf of Olugu Ukpai and to say, bravo! We are solidly behind you,’ Ezeiogo Asaga Ohafia concludes.
Also adding to what the two monarchs has already said, Prince Mba Odo Okereke, Ezieogo Akanu Ukwu Autonomous community and Traditional Prime Minister of Ohafia monarchs, Prince Chukwuma K. Udensi said the Ezieogos in Ohafia has been planning for the visit on their own not until Olugu Ukpai decided to sponsor it which they used one stone to kill two birds by first thanking him on behalf of Olugu Ukpai and sending greetings from the palace of Udumaeze Ohafia, His Imperial Majesty, Ezieogo Prof. E.U.L. Imaga. We are aware of your magnanimity and many projects you are doing in Ohafia and there is no other way to show appreciation than to pay you this visit, therefore, accept our majestic heartfelt greetings on behalf of all the twenty six Ezieogos in Ohafia and the entire good people of Ohafia Udumaeze. The monarchs used the occasion to inform Uma Ukpai that Olugu Ukpai is really following his benevolent and passionate heart by his free medical missions, empowerment and ongoing construction of a six classroom block in Ndi Aku Ohafia, a village that has stayed up to 100 years without an elementary school under the auspices of his organization, Challenge AIDS and Malaria in Africa.
Responding, the international Evangelist, Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai who was beaming with smiles and couldn’t control the joy in his heart awesomely appreciated the Ohafia Monarchs and Olugu Ukpai for the stunning royal visit and said, ‘when I was told the Ohafia traditional rulers will be coming to visit me, I couldn’t believe it not until I was informed that you have arrived at my office. I am overwhelmed for this visit and I must say, this visit will mark a dawn of new era in Ohafia in all ramifications of life, he prayed. Speaking further in an interactive manner, the Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai narrated the story of how he built the hospital and that Olugu Ukpai’s father is his brother. He told the monarchs how he prayed for Olugu Ukpai which made him to earn a Canadian scholarship to do his Masters degree in Canada after graduating from the University of Port Harcourt as the best graduating student and also how under a British scholarship, Olugu Ukpai did his Ph.D in law. Therefore, I am satisfied with the height Olugu Ukpai has reached and I will continue to pray for him to move higher. I am also grateful for the pathfinder jeep Olugu Ukpai bought for me in appreciation and also sponsoring the visit of the monarchs to my office,’ Uma Ukpai asserted.
Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai went further to say that the polytechnic will be changed to a university since the award of National and Higher National Diploma has been removed from the polytechnics and that polytechnics will now start offering Bachelor of Technology as a Technological institution. Also, a plan to establish a Girls College of Agriculture in Ohafia which will train girls on Animal breeding is on the way. In addition, we have started acquiring lands for the construction to keep off but for now, in the polytechnic, we have gone far by erecting girls and boys hostel which will accommodate 600 students each, building a domed central hall, administrative block with 166 rooms, establishment of E-library which is first of its kind in South East, procurement of 133KVA generator, construction of the external and internal roads with landscaping, mounting of the school gate and drilling of a borehole that will be sufficient for 5000 students for a start among others. In addition, the rector, registrar and bursar of the institution have been recruited and currently applications for other academic and non academic staffs are ongoing as the institution will commence academic activities soon.
However, The Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai regretted and lamented over what happened when he intended to establish an Aeronautic College in Ohafia but due to the ignorant scrupulous activities of some disgruntled youths in Akanu Ohafia including a threat by another disgruntled elements from Asaga to kill him and his wife, the project was withdrawn although it was sponsored by one man in China who donated a whooping sum of 1 billion dollars for the aeronautic institution in Ohafia. He concluded by saying that notwithstanding what happened, things has not gone wrong as he still have good plans and projects to do for Ohafia and Ohafians. The visit came to an end with closing remark from the traditional Prime Minister on behalf of Udumaeze Ohafia, Ezieogo Prof. E. U.L Imaga, and a closing prayer by the clergyman. The highlight of the occasion was the renewal of oath between Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai and Ohafia monarchs to collaborate to move Ohafia to a more enviable position academically, economically, culturally and otherwise.
The selected Ezies who represented the Ohafia monarchs were the Ezieogos: Kalu Onuma (Nkwebi), Makim Ndukwe (Asaga), Prince Chukwuma K. Udensi (Elu), Mba Odo Okereke (Akanu), Uma Agwu (Amuke). Others include, Kalu Awah (Ibina), O. K. Anya (Ufiele), Chief I. C. Ndukwe (Ebem), O. K. Ibem (Ndi Ibe), Aso Lekwa (Ndi Aku) and the Ezieogo from Isiugwu.
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