By Ori Martins
Let the truth be told. Before 25 years ago, Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise used to be derided as an evil coven and their people regarded as cove.
Our elders and leaders told us while we were growing up in the 1970s never to have anything in common or associate with Mbu. Without asking questions, we strictly adhered to that divisive and condemnable piece of advice.
Yet, that time or as we later discovered, Mbutu was preparing ingeniously albeit surreptitiously to conquer both Mbaise and Imo State as a whole.
Even, at that point, one of the most powerful and popular Imo personalities was an Mbutu clan chief known as Chief Francis Wogu Eberemadu. Yet, the elders of our town overlooked such a great – head start.
As it turned to be, Mbutu has produced some of the greatest personalities out of the Igbo country. I had mentioned Eberemadu who as a warrant chief facilitated the clearing of the road from Afor Enyiogugu to Orie Uvuru in 1948 when he was a member of Owerri Divisional Union, later, Owerri District Council and in 1954, a member Mbaise Country Council.
The Great Sam Mbakwe eventually constructed this road, using modern technology in road construction in 1981/82 before Achike Udenwa, through the recommendation of Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha completed it before leaving office in 2007.
Based on the running storyline, it is note worthy to bring it to the fore that, Dr Augustine Ewunonu, was for more than three decades, a leading as well as respected medical doctor – a surgeon of international repute whose whose massive hospital at at Aronta saved many lives.
There were others like Fan Ndubuoke of sports fame, Dr Celestine Udegiri of PolyNekede order, EOB Anyanwu, High Chief (Sir) Ibe Ekeocha, a renowned banker and financial expert.
Of course, Ihedioha stole the show when he arrived the scene as he emerged deputy speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and ultimately, governor, Imo State.
Remarkably, today, Mbutu is not just a popular town but a pacesetter in virtually all human endeavour. It is a political pilgrimage: Ihedioha is a national factor., it is an essential religious centre – the Anglican Bishop of Mbaise is a scion of Mbutu., it is an enclave for socioeconomic cum academic investment as the area now has beautiful roads, medical doctors, university professors and doctors even legal luminaries.
And controversially you must add Sam Onwuemeodo who boldly campaigned against his brother, Ihedioha, in preference for an Ideato politician, Senator Rochas Okorocha – it is his Idiocracy, his rights!
Sensationally, another star has sauntered in the horizon, still from Mbutu, still from Mbaise. He is Rev Fr (Prof ) Fidelis Agwulonu now the vice chancellor, University of Notre Dame, Tanganyika, Uvira, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
I have known Agwulonu since 1985, from his Amawu Autonomous Community, Mbutu. All the way from Mater Ecclesiae Seminary in Nguru, Aboh Mbaise LGA, to St Peter Claver Seminary, Okpala, both in Imo State, via his philosophical and theological degrees, up to masters as well as Ph.D levels, and now, this epic, even peak professorial, crowning it all with the position of a vice chancellor of a university, Agwulonu has been enterprising, outstanding and focused.
He is indeed another star from Mbaise, adding up to the list of Mbaise Super Stars which includes but not limited to Jamike Iwunna, D. N. Abii, the Nwogas, N.D. Ukah, Prof Uzodimma Nwala, Sylvester Ugoh., Tony Anyanwu, Isdore Obasi, Bright Nwanne, Chris Anyanwu., Warrior, Chioma Ajunwa, Eucharia Uche, Okaey Bakassi, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Eucharia Anunobi, Victor Okafor, Jegede, Rita Dominic Anosike, Jenevive Nnaji., Cele Onwuliri, Ahaneku, Gaius Anokam, Frank Nneji, KBC Onwubiko, BSC Nxenwa, Mary Odili, Joe Ehioma, Kelechi Madu and few others.
Finally, let it be proclaimed to the rooftop that what we celebrate today of Agwulonu was made possible by the then PDP federal government.
The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs under President Jonathan had arranged for an overseas training of young Nigerians and it spread the slots across the six geo political zones. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs was Prof Viola Onwuliri.
More than six slots came to Imo State and Onwuliri for the sake of equity and fairness distributed them evenly among the three senatorial zones. One of those that got the opportunity for overseas training from Owerri Zone was Agwulonu, then a young but upwardly mobile Catholic priest of Ahiara Diocese.
You can see he did not disappoint!!! He manifested the great spirit of Mbaiseness of Mbaise! He maximized the opportunity that came his way. This is how growth and development usually come about – certainly, Fr must reciprocate this wonderful gesture by ensuring he also inspires as well mentors and at the same time empower other struggling Imo State youths who are educationally inclined.
Kudos, Prof Agwulonu, you have made all of us proud!