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Tristram Hunt in his, ‘A Brief History of heroes’ states; “Most of us have our own rough definition of heroism – we think we know when we see one. But pinning down those attributes is a challenge; your hero may not look much like mine. So it’s worth asking: Are there certain immutable characteristics that have defined heroism across the ages? Although there are some timeless, universal qualities known as heroic, throughout history the idea of the hero has fluctuated and evolved to suit the ethos of the times”.

It goes without saying that the modern concept of the hero would not have been possible without the Renaissance. Prior to this era, the period in history known as the Middle Ages did not look favorably upon human achievement. It was an era suffused with religious favor with man overburdened with the shadow of human sin, the early church fathers and other Roman Catholic scholars of medieval Europe stressed the afterlife. Greatness according to them came from God, not man, so the true heroes of Christendom were the martyrs, missionaries and priests preparing for salvation.

The Renaissance challenged this apocalyptic view emphasizing man’s capacity for greatness. The new humanism was ushered in by the Italian poet Francesco Petrarca, known as Petrarch. Petrarch was excited by the classical tradition of education – the aim of which, as Cicero had explained, was to cultivate not a narrow range of technical skills, but the single, noble virtue of manliness. The modern hero was born, and the ideal of the Renaissance man remains a heroic value today.

From the Renaissance culture – this new stress on the autonomy and virtue of man – came a series of histories in the late 14th century recounting the inspirational lives of great men. Petrarch’s De Viris Illustibus (On Famous Men) celebrated heroes who conquered fortune, beat the odds and rose to the top.

From the age of reason to present day, it is still not a settled debate if a man’s achievements should take greater attention over his attitudes and character.

But even in the presence of this contest, everyone can agree that a man’s character is always at the heart of his success, for no man can go so far without meeting tests of integrity, attitude, and character. In answering those tests, one is determined fit or unfit for the greatness which he or she seeks.

For Hon. Prince Chibudom Nwuche, OFR, achievement and character are inseparable. If his life is dissected, picked apart and studied separately in batches, we find even from his very humble beginnings that he is the man worthy of study and emulation.

But again, paying less heed to his fantastic achievements, attention is drawn to the bravery and courage of heart that must have enabled a young man successful in his business to plunge in the murky world of politics. He not only made it far in politics, rising up to the position of Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, but also used politics to practicalize his long held belief that politics can and ought to serve the people. Utilizing every opportunity and position available he re-wrote the template on servant leadership.

Years after, his stewardship remains indelible in the minds of his constituents and Nigerians. Permit me to showcase some of his achievements.
Mindful of the importance of education as a key element towards socio-economic transformation of any community, Hon. Nwuche initiated various schemes aimed at assisting indigent but hardworking and intelligent young men and women. His interest at improving the standard of education in his constituency entailed the distribution of free exercise books and other essential educational materials to both primary and secondary school children. In his bid to improve the teaching and learning environment in the various communities in his constituency, he embarked upon the renovation of some key primary and secondary schools.

Through the Hon. Prince Chibudom Nwuche Bursary Award, he instituted a bursary scheme in January 2000 for post primary and post-secondary indigent students from Abua-Odual, Ahoada East and Ahoada West Local Government Areas. The sum of N1,942,400.00 was paid out to over 70 beneficiaries of the scheme.

Also over 30,000 exercise books and 1,500 mathematical sets were freely distributed to students in Post Primary institutions in the three local government areas. The sum of 650, 000,00 was spent for the printing of these exercise books.

Also in the area of education, the Students Union in Abua-Odual/Ahoada East Federal Constituency equally enjoyed the magnanimity and goodwill of Hon. Chibudom Nwuche. In this regard, he released funds to the National Union of Ekpeye Students, the National Union of Ahoada East Students and the National Union of Abua-Odual Students for the upkeep of their secretariat and to facilitate Student Union activities in his constituency.

Hon. Prince Chibudom Nwuche completely rehabilitated Ikata Primary School, which was destroyed by rainstorm some years ago. The cost of rehabilitating this Primary School was about N3, 200,000.00. In addition to this, four schools were rehabilitated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited under the Prince Nwuche’s Constituency’s Educational /Social Development Appeal Fund. Amount involve was to the tune of N 20 million. The schools involved were: (i) County High School, Ahoada (ii) Government Secondary School, Ochigba (iii) Government Secondary School, Abua (iv)State Primary School, Ochigba

Similarly, his interest in the upliftment of the health of his people was clearly demonstrated by his renovation of and supply of hospital equipment to the Comprehensive Health Center, Ahoada. The renovation work was in the form of provision of mosquito netting for windows and window and door blinds aimed at giving the Comprehensive Health Center, Ahoada a face lift. Hospital equipment worth over one million naira were also donated to the comprehensive Health Center. The equipment were (1)10 Hospital Bed Mattresses, (ii)5 Baby Beds with mattresses (iii)3 Drip Stand (iv) 6 Room Divider screens ,/12 curtains and hooks(2 for each stand) (v)1 Baby scale (vi) 1 Mercury Sphyg Mamanometer (vii)1 chancellor Bharat Gas Hp (viii) 24 Bed Sheet and Pillow cases (ix)10 Pillows (x) 10 benches.

Through his efforts, several towns and villages in his constituency benefited from the Federal Government’s provision of social and infrastructural amenities such as water, electricity and roads which financial implication runs into hundreds of millions of naira. Appreciating the strategic position of Ahoada town as the economic nerve center of his community, he successfully ensured the jump starting of the digitalization of the Ahoada Telephone Exchange by the Federal Ministry of Communication. Also apart from ensuring that the planned diversion of the Immigration Training School meant for Ahoada was aborted, he thereafter not only ensured that the school was commissioned but also assisted in bringing about the appropriation of the sum of N30 million for the takeoff of the school. Through the efforts of Hon. Chibudom Nwuche various projects that will benefit his constituency were slotted into the budgets of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Ahoada Water Scheme was appropriated in the 2001 budget to the tune of N500,000,000.00. This involved the provision of motorized water scheme with 27 KVA generating set each with over head tanks in the following communities: (i)Ahoada, N100 million (ii)Abarikpo, N40 million (iii)Edeoha N70 million (iv) Akinima, N50 million (v)Ochigba/Ikata, N100 million (vi) Abua Central, N90 million (vii) Emelego N50 million. Contracts for these projects were awarded and work commenced. Hon. Nwuche also drew the attention of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria to the deplorable water supply condition in Ahoada town through a letter requesting for a Regional Water Scheme at Ahoada. The President in turn drew the attention of His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State and the Honourable Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Abuja to this request.

Hon. Nwuche’s input in the 2002 Budget led to the inclusion of the following communities for water supply projects; (i)Ubeta, N20 million (ii) Ozochi, N20 million (iii) Ihugbogo, N20 million (iv) Ekunuga- Abua-Odual, N20 million (v)Okana-Abua-Odual, N20 million (vi)Joinkrama, N20 million.

In addition, Hon. Nwuche had requested for the dredging of the Sombreiro River to serve as a major inland water way and a source of economic activity for his constituency. He had projected N1 Billion for this project.

The rehabilitation of the EBOCHA-AHOADA-BUGUMA Road was a major source of constant concern to Hon, Nwuche right from the inception of the parliament of the Fourth Republic. His input led to the provision of the sum of N100 MILLION for the rehabilitation of this road in the year 2000 Appropriation Act. Several letters on the urgent need to rehabilitate this Trunk A Road were written to the Hon. Minister of Works and Housing and the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Through the efforts of Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, the following roads were included and appropriated for in the 2001 Budget for rehabilitation: (i) Okogbe –Ogbologbolo – Ochigba Road, N40 m (ii) Abua –Ogbele – Oshugboko –Okoma 1 & 2- Okporowo Road, N62, 500, 000.00 (iii) Owerewere – Ochigba Road, N54, 178,000.00. The rehabilitation of the Ebocha – Ahoada – Buguma Road and the aforementioned three roads were again included in the year 2002 Budget by Hon. Nwuche.

Acting on a tip off from his constituents and a letter from the Eze Ekpeye Loogbo, he swung into action and stopped the planned diversion of part of the Owerri – Ahoada – Yenagoa – Abua – Abonnema 132 KV Transmission line by then NEPA. He wrote to the Managing Director of NEPA and received assurances in writing from NEPA that the original lines will be maintained.

Hon. Nwuche’s efforts yielded fruits as Abua-Central, Ochigba, Edeoha were surveyed and included in National Rural Electrification Scheme. Contracts for these projects were immediately awarded. Also Hon. Nwuche included the following communities in the appropriation Act 2002 for rural electrification. The communities were; (i) Ihuaje, N3,054,047.20 (ii)Ogbo, N3,696,991.20 (iii)Ula-Upata, N2,601,219.20 (iv)Odiemerenyi, N2,633,131.20 (v) Ochigba, N3,005,876.40.

Hon. Nwuche had through a letter to NEPA requested for 6 units each of 500 KVA transformers to boost electricity supply in Ahoada. This request was approved with the release of six transformers to Ahoada.

Apart from the foregoing, Hon. Prince Chibudom Nwuche also registered tremendous successes in empowering his people through various ways. For instance, through his nomination, a good number of his people were put on the board of several Federal Government companies and parastatals. Before this time no Ekpeye indigene had held any board membership appointment at the Federal level.

In addition, some contracting firms owned by his people were able to secure lucrative contracts through his recommendation and nomination of such companies to the appropriate authorities.

Hon. Chibudom Nwuche touched the lives of several of his constituents through his employment of more than twenty young men and women into various senior and junior positions in the National Assembly. Further still, several people from his area have secured employment in different ministries and companies based upon his recommendation.

The poverty reduction program for his constituency was also of immense benefit to his people. For instance, credit facilities were extended to market women and men as well as widows to either enable them augment their working capital or set up new businesses. A form of skill acquisition was also initiated on a pilot scheme starting with Ochigba and Ikata youths. This scheme involved engaging the youths as apprentices in selected trades of their choice and then subsequently setting them up to manage their own trades. Over N200,000,00 was committed to this. The sum of N400,000,00 was equally committed to the revolving loan scheme, which brought the total sum spent on poverty alleviation to N600,000,00.

Hon. Chibudom Nwuche apart from these modest but very outstanding achievements and contributions used his pre-eminent position as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, to score so many pluses for not only his immediate constituency but also for the good people of Rivers State.

The contributions of Hon. Prince Chibudom Nwuche to the enactment of the NDDC Bill are widely acknowledged and commendable. Significantly, he worked assiduously with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to actualize the historic passage of the bill by the House on June 1, 2000. It is also worthy to note that the Deputy Speaker played a role towards the siting of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Headquarters in Rivers State. In addition to the above, he played a pivotal role towards the increasing of the budget of the NDDC.

Hon. Prince Chibudom Nwuche played a prominent role in the actualization of the payment of the 13% derivation fund to the oil producing states in the country including Rivers state as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution. He was a key actor in the lobby to get the Executive Arm of government to pay this constitutionally prescribed percentage to the affected states. Undoubtedly these funds have been contributing to the speedy development of the Niger Delta.

He successfully worked towards the appropriation of adequate funds for various key projects meant for Rivers State during the National Assembly consideration of the past appropriation Bills sent to the National Assembly by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Hon. Nwuche sponsored the bill aimed at setting up a National Commission for Persons with Disability. The intendment of the commission was to promote and protect the rights of about 12 million estimated Nigerians living with one form of disability or the other.

Hon. Nwuche also sponsored a bill to stop Women Trafficking and Child Labour in Nigeria. The planned legislation was to address the worrisome trend whereby young Nigerian women and children were escorted abroad for nefarious purposes. Apart from protecting this category of Nigerians, the legislation will go a long way in redeeming the image of Nigeria abroad.

A friend of the media and a strong advocate for press freedom, Hon. Nwuche accepted to sponsor an Amalgamated Law which aimed to unshackle the Nigerian Press and make it more vibrant and effective in a democracy.

Hon. Nwuche is the father of the Nigerian Local Content law which he sponsored as a member of the House of Representatives. The aim of the bill was to ensure that Nigerian companies participate more effectively in the petroleum industry. He believes that a situation where Nigerians account for less than five per cent of the activities in the core petroleum sector was unacceptable.

The Deputy Speaker chaired the House of Representatives membership of the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution. In this capacity, Hon. Chibudom Nwuche was the Vice Chairman of this very crucial constitutional reform body which visited different geo-political zones of the country, including the South-South which made their input into the debates about the review of the 1999 Constitution.

Ever since he left political office, Hon. Chibudom Nwuche has remained active as a businessman, community leader, statesman, Patriot and philanthropist.

These activities in multiple sectors, without doubt, consume a lot of personal energy and time, yet he still provides himself for activities of the people and for the people. He attends ceremonies, he donates to the less privileged, and empowers startups, making his wealth go round and uplifting the society.

Often times people praise a man for his successes without studying the very soul of his ventures, which is where the lessons lie. If the anatomy of Chibudom Nwuche is studied, we begin to find that what we must teach ourselves goes beyond the admiration and aspiration to wealth, rather the uptight imbibing of character, courage, and readiness to match ambition with calculated actions, taking risks that will drive us to great rewards.

On his birthday, the wish, as always, is that the he remains alive and healthy, innovative and cheerful, hence living out his dreams and teaching the society with his strides. Happy Birthday Esama Ekpeye Loogbo. Happy birthday, the people’s Tiger.