Group photograph of the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Dioces, Most. Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye with(4th right) the two traditional rulers of the two conflicting communities; 1st right is the Convener, Prof Charles Soludo, Igwe Isu II, HRH C.A.O Muoghalu(2nd right), Igwe of Isuanaoma, HRH Uchenna Okpalaunegbu(6th right)
After 20 years of lingering dispute in Isuofia Town which led to its division between Isuofia and Isuanaoma communities, history was made last week Saturday, 26 August, 2017, as the two disputing communities buried their grievances.
The peace summit was organized to bring back their long history of unity, hospitality and love.
The summit started with an interdenominational service led by the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most. Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye. The bishop reeled out peace messages to the communities concerning their faith, socio-political status, and issues regarding to development.
He centered his message on 1st Corinthians 12:12-27, noting that the Body of Christ needed not to be separated, but should be unified for fruitfulness and growth. The bishop told them to focus on the heavenly race which, he said, was the primary focus for every Christian.
He told them that power tussle was not a path to development and therefore urged them to embrace unity, just as he pointed out that there was no need spending money on court cases over power, but to use money for human and structural development.
'Use your talents and resources to work for God. We need this unity today, not tomorrow, because united we stand, divided we fall,' Bishop Okoye.
He recalled how rich, buoyant, large and productive the community was and how it was being emulated by other communities. In order not to lose such beauty, the bishop told them to come back to what they had been known for.
As a sign of peace in Isuofia, the environment became filled with love, hugs, tears of joy and exciting moments as people began to respond to peace. The bishop prayed for them and promised to continually keep them in his prayers.
After the service, the bishop inaugurated the secretariat which comprised the clergy with the function of keeping records of the proceedings, facilitating meetings and providing advisory services.
They are: Frs. Festus Okoye (St. Theresa's Isuofia); Julian Anaetoh (Holy Child Sec. School, Isuofia); Patrick Okeke (Holy Trinity, Isuofia); Mac-Simeon Uche Nwankwo (St. Patrick's, Isuofia); Christopher Nnonyelu (SS. Peter & Paul, Isuofia); Revd Oguejiofor Bernard (National Evangelical Mission, Isuofia); Revd Odera Peace Adinnu (St. Peter's Anglican Church, Isuofia); and Revd Canon Emmanuel Nwankwo Immanuel Anglican Church, Isuofia).
Also, a committee was set up with members from each from the village was set up and charged with helping to restore the lost glory of Isuofia Town.
The convener of the summit, Prof Charles Soludo, advocated for peace and unity in the community, stating that he was perturbed by the continued crisis which he said had created loophole for factions and formation of various constitutions.
He recalled how a series of peace initiatives, meetings were organized for peace in Isuofia but failed.
The convener said that the summit was mainly to create a platform for the people to work out a detailed blueprint for resolution. He apologized for every wrong on his own part and on the part of the majority and called on the people of Isuofia to join the league for the growth of Isuofia Town.
'The summit of the people is to confer legitimacy and ownership by the people, and hence lay the foundation for possible popular acceptance of the outcome. If anyone feels ignored or not sufficiently recognized, I tender an unreserved apology. Everyone is important and all voices must be heard,' Soludo stated.
He thanked God and Isuofia Town for reposing confidence in him to create the summit, saying, 'I met with the leadership of the various factions: Isuofia People's Union Federated (IPUF); Isuofia People's Union (IPU) and Isuanaoma People's Congress (IPC) and they all gave me the mandate to create a platform for all parties to discuss and hopefully resolve the lingering crisis.'
In his capacity to instill peace in Isuofia, Soludo proposed a Football Unity Cup with N1million as the take home prize for the winner.
In their separate speeches delivered by the Igwe of Isu II (Isuofia), C.A.O. Muoghalu, and the Igwe of Isuanaoma, Uchenna Okpalaunegbu, both advocated for peaceful co-existence, unification and development.
'Udo amaka' in Igbo dialect, was the central message for some prominent members in Isuofia who spoke at the peace summit. They include, Chike Obiakor; Nze Nwankwo; Perpetus Chiegboka (PG IPU, 1993); Greg Obi (Commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters); Chief Pius Muoneme,Rev. Fr. Anthony Chiegboka and many others.
It will be recalled that the late Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most. Rev. Simon Okafor, who had visited Isuofia alongside others as Igwe Ezeabasili, Chief Ezeanowai, Madueke Mbamalu, Goddy Osele, Sir. T.O.C Chiegboka, Chief Anyaonu and many others, had all made efforts to seek for peace and unity in Isuofia.