By Uche Onwuchekwa

It was an atmosphere of hope. A shout of joy it was. Spontaneous gathering of a people whose dignity was thrown to the dust. it seemed a sordid story of a thirsty people that had been starved and denied of living waters till a God sent Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha with his Rescue apostles led by his Deputy, Prince Eze Madumere remembered them.

The story of what happened at the bank of Oramiriukwa is better experienced than imagined. It is a pathetic tale of one time river of life that almost turned river of death. River Oramiriukwa serves as natural boundary between Ngor Okpala Local Government of Imo State and her sister Local Governments of Owerri West and Owerri North. The river has been of great economic importance to the people of both Owerri North and Ngor Okpala particularly the people Obibi-Ezena and Imeriegwe respectively but remotely with other States like Rivers State and Abia State. It is a source of drinking water and other pecuniary purposes for the people. More importantly farmers of the area bank on the river for washing and processing of their farm produce while the communities around the area also banked on the same river for fishing.

Oramiriukwa River did not begin and ended in Ngor Okpala and its neighbouring Owerri North but links River State and other areas thereby making its economic importance even more manifest. Oramiriukwa had a bridge across it, which was said to have been constructed in the colonial era. The bridge which later collapsed created an ever green and robust socioeconomic and political interaction among the communities in Imo State and her neighbouring States like Rivers and Abia States. This worthy relationship occasioned by both social, economic activities was bonded by the regional market called Orie Obibi at Obibi-Ezena.

Last Friday witnessed a visit by Imo Deputy Governor who had come to ensure that the reconstruction of the bridge had begun with the adjoins road network to relink the neighbouring villages and towns in the area.

Speaking on the development, the traditional ruler of Imerienwe autonomous HRH, Eze Andrew Njoku extolled Governor Okorocha and his deputy, Prince Madumere for their vision and sincere resolve to make a requisite change to make Imo better.

Continuing, his words; "today is a great day in my life. We have been abandoned for too long. We have lost hope but today that hope is being rekindled. We have waited for about twenty years. We have had our women fall into the river from what was left of the bridge with life threatening injuries. We produce so much from our farms but evacuating them to the market where they are needed has been a problem. Our dignity was trampled upon. We have cried but no one listened to us. Today, it is hope and joy that is being restored."

In the same vein, the traditional ruler of Upe autonomous community, HRH, Eze Okoro, showered encomium on Rescue Mission Government led by Owelle Rochas Okorocha for remembering them. He said the traffic they used to have in economic activities is almost dead owing to bad Road and collapse of Oramiriukwa bridge. "Ezi Enyi ( Good friend) of Ngor Okpala, Eze Okoro referring to Prince Madumere, you and Governor Okorocha are the best things that have ever happened to Imo State. You can see that what is good is not hidden. These people you see here were not called by anybody. They are happy and we are assuring you of our support."

According to the Imo State Commissioner for Information, Chief Theodore Ekechi who is from Ngor Okpala while speaking to the deputy governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, explained that Oramiriukwa Bridge used to give the people the necessary lease of life. He described the abandonment of the bridge since its collapse for over fifteen years as the worst humiliation the people of Ngor Okpala has ever faced. He explained further that the bridge is very key to the cultural, economic and political life of Upe, Imerienwe Orishie and Ngor Okpala as a whole. "Your Excellency, our dear deputy governor, as a brother whose Ngor Okpala holds in high esteem, I must tell you that these projects especially construction of this bridge is like restoring the dignity of our people. This very bridge is key to our development especially in the area of commerce and industry.

He also reminded Imo Deputy Governor of the popular Owerri Grammar School, which used to be one of the best and where Nnenna Ukegbu reigned for over fifty years. He drew the attention of Imo deputy Governor that the reason the Nnenna Ukegbu left was because of the collapsed bridge that brought to abrupt end the influx of students and the reign of the prestigious Owerri Grammar School.

Beyond the move by Rescue Mission Government led by Owelle Rochas Okorocha, to reconstruct Oramiriukwa bridge, the Best Deputy Governor in the South East, Prince Eze Madumere told the people of Upe, Imerienwe and many others who had trailed his convoy from Upe-Imerienwe-Etche Road to the bank of Oramiriukwa River that frantic effort has begun to rehabilitate Upe-Imerienwe Road and to also restore the link between the people of Ngor Okpala and their sister Local Overnment, Owerri North. cultural, social and economic life of our people.

Continuing, he expressed happiness that the contractor for the construction of the bridge is on site and has begun work. He revealed that there are total of six economic roads, which has been approved and awarded for construction and rehabilitation in Ngor Okpala.

Speaking further, Imo deputy governor averred that Owelle Rochas Okorocha led administration has come to restore hope and confidence in governance. He told the people that the era of waste and sharing Imo money for no work done. "I am sure every family here is benefiting from free education scheme of Rescue Mission. What do you do with the money you would have used for school fees other than to plough it back into your trade? Our children are motivated to go to school with quarterly stipends, he enthused.

He therefore called on the people to support Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Rescue Mission Government assuring them they will never go wrong.

He reminded the people of Ngor Okpala that the Local Government is one of the three less privileged ones - Onu Imo and Ohaji Egbema Local Governments, which Governor Okorocha has resolved to uplift.

It will be recalled that while most local governments in Imo State got eighteen to twenty Kilometer Roads approved for construction, the said three local governments were graciously handed over award of about forty kilometers each. Imo State Governor observed that the local governments in question had given so much to the State either in human, natural and food but nothing to show for it. He then vowed to make a remarkable change in them.

The high point of the event was the people's resolve to chase PDP away from their local government in preference to All Progressives Congress. The unscheduled event which started with the gathering of a few persons to welcome the deputy Governor of Imo State soon spontaneously increased to become a multitude qualifying a rally of a sort. Songs were rendered and slogans were hyped and of course women spoke in their cultural and traditional tongues all in appreciation of the working government of Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha.

Hon. Theodore Ekechi, Explaining some issues to Imo Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere (MFR) at Upe-Imerienwe Road at Ngor Okplala last Friday.

His Excellency, Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere (MFR) arriving the bank of Oramiriukwa River with Theodore Ekechi, Hon. Commissioner for Information, Imo State.

People of Upe and Imerienwe arriving the Bank of Oramiriukwa in their numbers to cheer the Imo Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere with APC members also seen with the sweeping broom instrument.

His Excellency, Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere requesting to know the schedule of the contractor at Oramiriukwa while the people watch with excitement.

The people of Ngor Okpala theough Comm. for Information and Strategy, Chief Theodore Ekechi with HRH, Eze Okoro and Tobi Ekechi presenting Kolanut to Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere as he was about taking his leave after Ngor Okpala Inspection.