Lastest articles

History of Umudim-Nnewi

Post on 15 September 2015
by CHIEF DENNIS N. NNABUIKE

Umudim as we know is the third quarter among the four quarters of Nnewi town. Others are Otolo, Uruagu and Nnewichi. Umudim Community has ten (10) Administrative wards as follows.

 (i) Ward 33 Inyaba (ii) Ward 37 Inyaba Ngo (iii) Ward 34 Umuezena and Ebeleogo (iv) Ward 35 Umunwakanwa Akamiili (v) Ward 36 Uru (vi) Ward 38 Umudimkwa (vii) Ward 39 Amai and Umughaji (viii) Ward 40 Umuezeokalum, Akabo and Umuele (ix) Ward 41 Umunnealam (x) Ward 42 Okpuno-egbu

The introduction of wards not-withstanding, Nnewi has a lineage system of Administration developed over the centuries. Each quarter or descent is made up several major lineages upon which the administration is based.

Umudim has six (6) of such lineages namely:

(i) Ogo (ii) Uru (iii) Umudimnkwa and Umuele (iv) Umuezeokalum (v) Okpuno-egbu and Akamili (vi) Umunnealam
 

Based on estimated population of Anambra State published by the Statistic Division of Ministry of Economic Development Enugu in 2009, Umudim Nnewi has a population about 50,000 males and females.
 

From time immemorial and even before the arrival of the British Administration in Igboland, the four quarters of Nnewi town have operated a confederal political system of government. Each quarter has an “OBI” but no “OBI” has jurisdiction outside his own quarter. The foundation of the political Union rests on the principle of “’AGBANANO NNEWI”. This recognizes the equality of the traditional rulers of the four (4) communities and independence of action as far as their communities are concerned.
 

However, in matters affecting Nnewi such as “IKWUARU EDO” festival and its allied ceremonial activities, the four (4) Obis act in concert or in agreement in order to preserve the unity of Nnewi town, otherwise each community is autonomous and primarily responsible for the welfare and development of its people. This position has not yet changed to date.
 

These facts about Nnewi town cannot be complete without the mention of Umudim Nnewi Community. Umudim has been in the fore-front of both political and economic development of Nnewi town. It is blessed with massive fertile land for agricultural production and industrial development. The community plays a leading role in all matters affecting Nnewi town. For example.
 

1. In olden days before the coming of the British, Umudim was actively involved in all the civil wars within and outside Nnewi town. During the “Great War” popularly referred to as “Agha Ukwu” between Ohafia soldiers and Nnewi town, it was the Obi of Umudim Obi Ezeanyanighu otherwise known as Okafor Ezeigbo who killed the first Ohafia soldiers, thereby making it known to Nnewi people that the invading soldiers were not invulnerable as was the myth then. This resulted in the death of a great number of the enemy forces, which were eventually repelled.
 

2. Umudim played an active role in ending Uruagu-Nnewichi Otolo war, which began immediately after the Great War. At the end of this war, Chief Ezeanyanighu married one of his wives, Nwangbogo Ezeozobialu from Ebenato Uruagu.
 

3. During the slave trade when the LONG JUJU of Arochukwu was constantly “eating” citizens of other Igbo town who went to consult it, it once brought a message to Nnewi that the Long Juju had swallowed an Umudim man from Uru Village. The Uru people after due consultations kidnapped an Arochukwu man and sent message to Arochukwu town that “Ulasi Uru” shrine in Umudim Nnewi had also swallowed the Arochukwu man. Consequently the two prisoners were exchanged between Arochukwu and Uru, whilst all other Igbos continued in the deception till the arrival of the British. This confrontation had never been staged by other towns in Igbo land except Umudim Nnewi. It was a masterstroke. By this action Uru people was nicknamed “Uru rudolu Chukwu”.
 

4. In the year 1904 when the British Colonial Army was advancing towards Nnewi from Oba town, one of the soldiers by name “AHIMA” escaped from the battalion and ran away. The deserter on entering Nnewi town was accosted by Chief Eze Ulum of Umunwakanwa, Umudim, Nnewi and thereafter, the soldier disappeared. The battalion Commander Colonel Trenchard and his deputy, Major Moor-house sent out patrol troop to arrest Chief Eze Ulum. During the encounter, the soldiers killed the Chief, and some of his personal bodyguards. The deserter was eventually arrested at Arochukwu where he was sold into slavery.
 

5. In recent years, Nnewi has witnessed some political rifts. The first was the “OKPA EBUNU” episode in 1952, involving Umuenem village and Nnofo family in Otolo. The sole arbiter of the dispute was the Late Prof. C. C. Mojekwu of Umudim who was also the Chairman of the Peace Committee set up by Nnewi Community to resolve the dispute. Also during the Duncan Commission of enquiry into Nnewi Chieftaincy dispute in 1959, the same Prof. C. C. Mojekwu was the leading counsel representing Nnewi Community.
 

6. In 1985 when crisis in Nnewi Youth League was gathering momentum, Barrister Sam. Ofomata of Inyaba, Umudim was the Chairman of the Committee set up by the League to investigate the cause of the crisis and make recommendations. The famous “OFOMATA REPORT” assisted in no small measure in finding solution to the League problem.
 

In Natural Resources, Umudim is the most fertile part of Nnewi, bordering on the reverie areas of Oraifite and Ozubulu towns. It is the best-watered part of Nnewi town, blessed with several streams, rivers and one lake. It has an inland drainage yielding abundant raffia products and raffia palm wine, the famous “AGBO-UKU UMUDIM”. Below the earth surface is found chalk, clay, stone lignite etc.
 

In terms of human resources and economic power, we have a very high comparative advantage over most communities in Nnewi. Umudim has produced one of the most successful businessmen in Nigeria in the person of Late Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu. Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu was the brain behind the building of Nnewi General post office at Nkwo Nnewi in 1953. He also influenced the opening of Police Station in Nnewi.
 

Other illustrations sons of Umudim who dedicated their wealth and experience to the service and development of Nnewi town include, Chief The Hon. F. E. Okonkwo popularly known as “Okonkwo Kano”, Chief Benson Okoli, alias “Okoli Agwu-Agwu”, Chief Clement Ndubuisi Egwuatu, Chief Rufus Enemchukwu alias “Atamuna”, Chief Timothy Okoye otherwise known as “Okoye guard”, Chief Patrick Emeasoba Mmadubuko of the old Calabar and the then Fernanda-Po who was said to be counting his money in basins, Chief Beniah Onykwelu “Ocho Udo Nnewi” the first Nnewi importer and director of Anaedo Stores at New Market Road Onitsha, Mr. Francis and Benson Osakwe of the S.M.O.G. transport. Chief R, M. Obimdike “Onweluzo Nnewi”, Chief P. J. O. Ilechukwu “Oke Obuluzo Nnewi” Chief Nathan Ifediora, Chief Nathaniel Obinma, Chief Lawrence C. Egbuna, the contractor, Chief Ben Esom, Chief E. E. Udegbunam, Chief Silas Obodogha, Chief Francis Okeke alias “N. A.”, the driver of the first Bedford Kit car attached to Nnewi Native Authority in 1936, Chief Godfrey Odoghugbo, the first dispensary attendant who opened the dispensary at Eme Court in 1931, Reverend Ofoma and host of others.
 

In industrial sector, these are already more than ten large and medium sized industries/factories dotted here and there in Umudim Nnewi. The first of such industry to go into operation in Nnewi town is CENTO Group; Chief Innocent Okafor won the first prize and Governor’s Gold Cup as the best Industrialist of the year 1987 in Anambra State. The opening of CENTO Group of Companies spurred the emergence of other industries such as:
 

(i) John White Industries Ltd.

(ii) Uru Industries

(iii) Life Vegetable Oil Industry (a member of the Chicason Group)

(iv) Uzochukwu Bread Industry

(v) Godwin Kris Industry

(vi) Ifepe Plastic Industry

(vii) Munich Industries

(viii) Innoson Motorcycle Manufacturing Industry

(ix) Chicason Industrial Complex

(x) Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing/Assembly Plant 

(xi) Kotec Industries Ltd.  
(xii) Beverly Hill Hotels
 

In the field of education, Umudim has until recently been setting the pace for other communities in and outside Nnewi Local Government. The first Secondary School in Nnewi Local Government “Okongwu Memorial Grammar School” (OMGS) was opened in Umudim Nnewi in 1949 by Late Prof. C. C. Mojekwu.
 

Umudim has produced men and women of outstanding academic excellence; for example, the first known Nigerian to obtain an academically recognized Doctorate Degree by written thesis was the Late DR. NNODU OKONGWU. He died in America in 1947. The first person to graduate as a Lawyer in Nnewi town was the Late Prof. C. C. Mojekwu. Also the first lady Medical Doctor in Nnewi town, the Late Dr. (Mrs) Phyllis Egbuna (Nee Onwuagba) was from Umudim Nnewi. Other eminent scholars from our community include Prof. G. E. Ofomata, Prof. E. M. Asomugha, Dr. Chu Okongwu, Dr. Johny Onyeka, Late Retired Chief Magistrate B. M. C. Etiaba, Late Mr. Eugene Onwughalu (Principal) and many others.

 

In Political and Administrative set up, Umudim has been the seat of Government since the arrival of the British in 1905 till the present day. Our sons and daughters have held prominent positions of influence and political power in both the Federal and State Governments of Nigeria. For example, the first Minister in the defunct Eastern Nigeria Regional Government to represent Nnewi Constituency was the Late Prof. C. C.  Mojekwu. Also Chief Hon. F. E. Okonkwo was the first and the only Igbo Legislator in the defunct Northern House Assembly from 1951 – 1954.
 

The first Journalist in our Local Government, Late Chief M.C.K Ajulucchukwu was the chairman of Eastern Nigeria Information Service, the post he held till the outbreak of Civil War in 1967. Chief Onuzulike Okonkwo was the first Nnewi Local Government (Onitsha Southern District (Council comprising “ORU – MBA – NISII” from 1958 – 1963. His dynamism and achievements during his tenure of office earned him the Chieftaincy title of “Ozuo-Ome Nnewi”. Lastly but not the least is Chief Joel E.E. Okankwo “Agbawodike-izu” who became the first Chairman of Onitsha Market Amalgamated Traders Association (OMATA) from 1958 till the outbreak of Civil war in 1967.  The First Woman Governor of Anambra State and in Nigeria was from Umudim, Mrs. Dame Virgy Etiaba.
 

In the Military Sector, our community is perhaps second to none in production of some of the best top-ranking Army Officers who have occupied strategic positions in the affairs of the country. During the first Military takeover in Nigeria in the year 1966, Lt. Col. Emeka Odumegwu Ojuwku, “IKEMBA NNEWI” became the first Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria Government and the leader of Biafra till 1970. Major General Sam Momah (CFR) (Ugomba Nnewi) a two-term Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and Lt. Col. L. G. Ufodike have both held responsible offices in the Nigerian Army before they retired.
 

Umudim Community has also produced some top ranking Police Officers, namely: Mr. Joseph Okeke (SP), Chief Dennis N. Nnabuike (SP), Dr. E. Okonkwo (SP) and Chief (Barr.) Sylvester Odumegwu Ojukwu (DSP).
 

In the Civil Service, our sons and daughters are occupying enviable positions both at the State and Federal Government levels. Dr. Chu Okongwu was at a time the Federal Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and also Federal Minister of Petroleum Resources. Late Chief Onuzulike Okonkwo until his retirement was the Secretary for Finance and Administration in the Federal Ministry of Communication.
 

Barrister Sam Uche Ofomata, was a Director-General in Anambra State Government, and was the Chairman, Ihiala Local Government and at one time, the Sole Administrator for Rangers International Football Club/ Management Corporation Enugu.
 

The former Executive Chairman of Anambra State Rural Development, Chief Engr.) Ken Emechebe is from Umudim Nnewi, before his appointment he was the National Chairman of Basket Ball Association of Nigeria.
 

The Late Chief D. B. A. Ofomata was the Chief Executive of the Anambra State Health Management Board and Chief Medical Officer in Anambra State Government He was also the Chairman of Nnewi Local Government from 1987 – 1989.
 

The Pioneer Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) and the current Registrar of the statutorily established Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN) Mr. Godson O. Moneke is from Umudim Nnewi. In Lagos State Local Government, system, Chief Uche Momah was one of the only two Igbo Councilors elected into the Local Government Council in 1987. He represented ward ‘F’ Surulere Lagos.
 

Mr. Obi Mmadubuko of Umudim Nnewi is the Asst, General Manger (Personnel Plant) Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria (PAN) in Kaduna. Mr. Cosmas Maduka is the president of the Nigeria Table Tennis Association and Mr. Chuka Momah, the president of the Lawn Tennis Associations of Nigeria.
 

In the Economic Sector, Umudim Nnewi has produced some of the biggest names in Nigeria. For example;

(i) Dr, Cosmas M. Maduka owns the famous Coscharis Group that holds the franchise for BMW vehicles, FORD vehicles, LAND ROVER vehicles ABRO PRODUCTS MERCURY ICT PRODUCTS etc. in sub Sahara Africa with regional operations in Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, USA, JAPAN etc.

(ii) Dr. Chief Chika Okafor (MFR) Chicason Group comprising A – Z Petroleum, Life Vegetable Oil, Chicason Plastic and other companies within the Chicason Industrial Complex. It has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, and Geneva Switzerland.

(iii) Chief Joe Obijiaku owns the Middle Point Group and holds the franchise for Polyguard Auto Care products in Nigeria and Subsahara Africa, as well as Solite Batteries and associated products among numerous franchises. He has operations in Nigeria, and across the world.

(iv) Chief Innocent Chukwuma (OON) owns the famous INNOSON GROUP with formidable presence in Auto Innoson Industrial Manufacturing Plastic Co. Enugu, Innoson Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. Nnewi and Innson Vehicle Manufacturing Plant Nnewi.

(v) Chief Dennis Okafor and Chief Eugene Anachebe own the famous DENCA GROUP, Nigeria’s Maritime and Shipping giants with associated companies in Oil and Gas, Ports Management, Bonded Terminals, Mining and Manufacturing.

(vi) Chief Gabriel Chukwuma owns the famous Gabros International Football Club Nnewi, the 4-Star Beverly Hills Hotel Nnewi, Abuja and Port Harcourt among other business interests’.    
 

From time immemorial the people of Umudim Nnewi have always been noted for their ever readiness to contribute materially towards the development of Nnewi town. Thus many of the note-worthy infrastructural facilities in Nnewi have been built with substantial moral and financial contributions of Umudim Nnewi people. This community’s willingness to assist Government in its development programme for the town led in early days to the formation of patriotic organizations whose aim was the proper co-ordination of mass efforts of the citizenry to achieve desired objectives.
 

Thus the Umudim Nnewi Development Association of Nigeria was born. We are privileged that the Association, which was conceived in Lagos in August 13th 1988, like a mustard seed has today grown into a virile organization with branches in most principal towns of Nigeria. Some of the notable achievements of the Association within this short period are many but the flagship are the University Scholarship scheme through which many sons and daughters of the Community have obtained University Degrees in various disciplines and still counting, the robust dynamic WEBSITE showcasing the community and it activities. Others are:
 

  1. i. Uniting and mobilizing all Umudim citizens all over the country and beyond.
  2. ii.Organizing the “Umudim Day” celebration in January 1989 during which some illustrious sons of Umudim were honoured. This celebration has become an annual event.
  3. iii.Settling of the crisis in Umudim Community in Kaduna State.
  4. iv.Settling of misunderstanding among the Obis in Umudim.
  5. v.The Obi Umudim Project.
     

Contributing to the material development of our people is praise-worthy; but more praise-worthy is the nurturing of fraternal love and co-operation among the citizens. Since its formation, Umudim Nnewi Development Association has systematically nurtured the spirit of brotherly love among all the Umudim citizens and has succeeded in developing among them an ardent spirit of mutual co-operation for the betterment of the community.
 

This brief history activated for our past and present generation is intended to remind our people of the noble contributions and personal sacrifices which great sons and daughters of Umudim Nnewi made and are still making to put our community in the fore front in every sphere of life. It is this proud heritage, which we want all of us to continue to uphold and sustain. Our fathers and forefathers have made great impact and it is our duty to improve on their performance.