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Age grade system, a catalyst for development
The age grade system in Igbo land has been described by Ezeogo Jones Udeogu, a former Abia Commissioner for Finance and a retired Permanent Secretary, as a formidable catalyst for community development.
He stated this at, Igbere, Bende Local government Area, Abia State, during the Afo Ukwu Igbere Triennial mass Return/ Retirement ceremony age grade from active community service.
Udeogu who was chairman at the occasion disclosed that Igbere Secondary school, Health Centre and other infrastructural facilities in Igbere were built by various age grades before such were handed over to the government.
“The age grade system has actually aided development of Igbere because all the bridges in Igbere were built by the age grades, so also our first market, health centre, library, Igbere secondary school- which was built by asking different age grades to build a classroom or hall. That was how the school was set up before it was handed over to government in 1975” said Udeogu.
Udeogu said that the 2017 Afo Ukwu Igbere Triennial mass home return/ retirement ceremony saw the oldest age grades retiring from active service and their successors inducted. Adding that the main aim was for community development because every three years, everybody would struggle either to build a house or to renovate the one he has and to also assist people.
“When our fathers had this conception of the triennial Ezemezu ceremony, they had the intention that this thing would spur everybody to think home and then come home to invest. It is through the age grade that we advise and encourage one another. So, this age grade system is a veritable means of development,” he explained.
“Oganihu age grade would be sent forth today and before you qualify, you must have executed and donated a project(s) to Igbere community,” Udeogu said.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was the conferment of Pillar of Infrastructural and Human development to one of her illustrious sons Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor, Abia state, and business mogul, who in turn expressed his delight, stating that the welfare of Igbere people, was his primary concern.
UDOKA AGWU, Umuahia
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