These were the exact words of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu when he received, in courtesy, the people of Okagwe Community, Ohafia LGA.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has urged indigenes to offer support for the development of their communities.
The governor gave the advice at a meeting organised to settle some differences between the Okagwe Community and the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria over the proposed Hope Waddell University owned by the church which is to be built in the Okagwe Community.
The Community and the Church have been at odds over some problems relating to the 100 hectares of land provided by the Community to the Church for the University’s construction.
While conceding that the community has a right to be upset about some of the issues stated, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu informed them that the long-term benefits of having a university in their town cannot be compared to owning cassava farms, which the group claims is also essential to them.
The governor explained, “the development of a community must involve making sacrifices for the future.”
The Governor emphasised that he will do everything in his power to keep the university project in the Community because he recognises how important it is to the people of Ohafia, and indeed the entire state.
The Governor pledged to raise funds to quickly construct a brand new Isiama Community Comprehensive Secondary School in the location where the projected University had previously stood.
He urged the community to give another piece of property for that purpose within seven days and promised to send over the funding for the school project to them in another seven days.
He also promised to find funding to address some community concerns but cautioned that constructing a university is a long-term endeavour and that expecting rapid results is unrealistic.
He told the community leaders that supporting the university’s development would be an excellent investment in the future of their children and grandchildren, and he suggested that they work with the church to agree on specific corporate social responsibility items that the university would provide for the people.
He suggested that they discuss career opportunities and scholarships for their people.
The Governor also instructed the church to involve the community in their plans, stressing that while he can legally issue them a Certificate of Occupancy over the land, it does not eliminate the people’s emotional relationship to it.
Gov Ikpeazu added that the best path forward is for the two sides to agree on how to proceed to maintain the University.
“The people of the Community must see this University project as a blessing to them and not a curse”. The Governor stated.
ABIA ONLINE gathered that both sides expressed their thanks to the Governor and noted that the meeting set the tone for resolving the seemingly intractable problem that has hindered the University’s progress and resulted in multiple court lawsuits and interactions with security services over the past 12 years.
Following that, the Governor advised that all pending court cases be dismissed immediately because “anagh eweta ose ebe ana agwo ogwu anya udo”.
The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria was represented at the meeting by its top leadership, which included His Eminence, Nzie Nsi Eke, Prelate and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church in Nigeria, and the Principal Clerk of the Church, The Most Rev. Dr Miracle Ajah, both of whom are Ohafia LGA sons.
The Deputy Clerk of the Church, The Rt. Rev. Solomon Okorie is also from Arochukwu in Abia State.
The Okagwe Community was represented by the Paramount Chief of Okagwe Ohafia, Ezeogo Achi Uka Okoji and his Council of Chiefs. Others included community leaders Kalu Orji and Emeka Ukpai, as well as Mr Eze Erem, a Youth Leader.
Chief Barrister Olugu Kalu Ugba (Ishibumba), the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff and an Ohafia native, led the two sides to the meeting, which lasted until late into the night.