These were the exact words of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu yesterday to the people of Okagwe Community, Ohafia LGA.
The event was a meeting called at the instance of the Governor between the Okagwe Community and the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria over some disagreements on the proposed Hope Waddell University owned by the church which is to be built in Okagwe Community.
The Community and the Church have been embroiled in a series of disagreements over some issues surrounding the 100 hectares of land donated by the Community to the Church for the building of the University.
While acknowledging that the Community has a right to be agitated over some of the issues they raised, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu told them that the long term benefits of having a university in their community cannot, by any any stretch of the imagination, be compared with owning cassava farms which the community said, is important to them also.
The Governor told them that development of a community must involve making sacrifices for the future.
The Governor stated that he will do everything humanly possible to ensure that the university project is not taken away from the Community because he understands what it will mean for them, the people of Ohafia and indeed, the entire state.
The Governor undertook to raise money to immediately build a brand new Isiama Community Comprehensive Secondary School whose original site, the proposed University took over. He tasked the community to provide another land for that purpose within the next 7 days and the funds for the school will be handed over to them for the project in another 7 days.
He also promised to find money to assuage some community issues but advised that the community must understand that building a university is a long term project and as such expecting immediate dividends isn’t realistic.
He told the Community leaders that they would be investing greatly in the future of their children and grandchildren if they support the university to be developed and advised that they engage the church and agree on certain specific items of corporate social responsibility which the University will provide for the people. He advised that they speak about jobs and scholarships for their people.
The Governor also advised the church to carry the community along in their plans, noting that while the Governor can lawfully grant a Certificate of Occupancy to them over the land, it doesn’t remove the emotional attachment the people have over their ancestral land and the best way forward is for the two sides to agree on how best to proceed to ensure that the University stays.
“The people of the Community must see this University project as a blessing to them and not a curse”. The Governor stated.
The two sides were full of gratitude to the Governor and acknowledged that the meeting has set the tone to resolving the seemingly intractable controversy that has lasted for 12 years and has stalled the development of the University and given rise to several court cases and interfaces with security agencies.
The Governor advised that all pending cases in court be withdrawn immediately because “anagh eweta ose ebe ana agwo ogwu anya udo”.
The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria was represented at the meeting by their topmost leadership led by the Prelate and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church in Nigeria, His Eminence, Nzie Nsi Eke and the Principal Clerk of the Church, The Most Rev. Dr. Miracle Ajah who incidentally are sons of Ohafia LGA.
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 Kalu Orji, Emeka Ukpai who are community leaders and Mr Eze Erem, a Youth Leader.
The Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Barrister Olugu K. Ugba (Ishibumba), also an indigene of Ohafia led the two sides to the meeting which dragged into late last night.
The Prelate said the closing prayers and prayed God to grant peace and long life to the Governor for this singular act. He presented him with a copy of the Holy Bible.
Sir Onyebuchi Ememanka.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.
15th April, 2022.