Commentary: Profile Of Igwe Rowland Madukolu Odegbo

Chief Rowland Madukolu Odegbo was born on March 27, 1957 into the family of Chief Peter Orakwue and Catherine Oliji Odegbo of Adagbe, Ikenga Nteje in Oyi LGA. He was the only son and the eldest of his two siblings.

Odegbo had his primary school education at Aba, but could not finish there because of the outbreak of the Nigeria-Biafra war. He enrolled at Sacred Heart Primary School, Nteje (now Community Primary School, Nteje) shortly after the war and sat for his First School Leaving Certificate.

In 1972, he proceeded to Ibo National College, Aba (IBONACO). But his stay there was short-lived as his father relocated to Onitsha. Young Odegbo was transferred to St Mary’s High School, Ifite-Dunu where he obtained the West African School Certificate (WASC).

He was subsequently employed as an auxiliary teacher at Christ High School Aboh, Udi Local Government Area. While a tutor at Aboh, he also doubled as a radio announcer cum presenter at the Anambra Broadcasting Corporation (A.B.C 1, Enugu), anchoring the programme, Ekene Ndiafia. In 1980, he met with the principal of the school, Chief C.O.B Eche, which changed his career path. The young Odegbo left Nigeria in 1981 for Indiana State University, United States of America for a degree in Journalism and Political Science.

Thereafter, Odegbo worked briefly with PeachTree Communications Ltd before opening his own communication company, Link Communications. He worked as a communication expert for most of his time in US. Before returning to Nigeria in 2005, he married his pretty wife, June Ndidi Okonweze in 1985. Both met at the Indiana State University. The marriage was blessed with three children – two boys and a girl – Tobechukwu, Chinelo and Chukwuma – all born in US.

After about thirty-two-year sojourn in US, Odegbo returned to join in the development of both his Nteje community and Anambra state. He was first elected as the President-General of Nteje community between 2004 and 2007. However, while still serving in that capacity, he was picked by Chief Nicholas Ukachukwu, the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) as his running mate in the 2007 Anambra governorship election.

As the President-General, Odegbo initiated some positive changes that ushered in a lot of progress in the community. Thus, he was reelected to the position for another three years. It was while serving out his second term in office that the Aborgu 1 and the traditional ruler of Nteje, Chief S.A.C Nnaemeka, joined his ancestors.

The lot of producing a successor fell not just on Odegbo’s Ikenga quarter, but also on his Adagbe clan. Three candidates emerged after an intense and rigorous search by the people, the king makers and Ojiani Nteje. But in the end, Odegbo was selected and subsequently crowned the king. Muo na Ikenga, as he was fondly called, took the title of Chinemeze and the Aborgu 11 of Nteje. In 2010, Odegbo was issued a Certificate of Recognition by the Anambra state government.

His reign brought relative peace and progress to Nteje. Igwe Odegbo used his office and contact in government to attract development to Nteje.  Under his Igweship the Umunya-Nteje road was asphalted and the Nengo Bridge constructed. He also ensured that Afo Nteje-Akamanato-Nsugbe road and Achala Agu road are undergoing construction. Government established the Skill Acquisition Centre at Adagbe Ikenga at his instance, among others.

Until he joined his ancestors on November 2, 2021, Igwe Odegbo was the Chairman, Anambra North Traditional Rulers’ Council; Chairman, Anambra State Community and Social Development Agency (ANCSDA), a World Bank-assisted Agency. He was member of board of many Ministries, Parastatals and Agencies, including the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS).

Igwe Odegbo chaired many Conflict Resolution Panels as well as Fact-Finding Committees, including the Ochanja Market Fire incident. Blessed with the gift of the garb, he spoke confidently and persuaded his listeners accordingly.  Odegbo was as courageous as he was confident.

He is survived by his wife, children, in-laws, friends, well-wishers and the good people e of Nteje. Adieu, Aborgu 11, Adieu Chinemeze, Adieu Igwe Nteje!

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