HRH Appolus Chu, the Egbere Emere Okori 1 Eleme, has brought the Okori community in Eleme, Rivers State, to limelight and elevated the lives of the downtrodden through his foundation, writes Mary Ekah
Ever since his ascension to the royal throne of the ancient kingdom of Okori in Eleme LGA of Rivers State, the Egbere Emere Okori 1 Eleme, His Royal Highness Appolus Chu has not relented in his efforts in transforming the once sleepy Okori kingdom to a very lively, busy and developed community, so much that a lot of people have come to reckon with it. He has brought Okori Community in Eleme, Rivers State to limelight and has elevated the lives of the downtrodden through his Foundation which has provided scholarships, skills acquisition as well as equipped economically hundreds of people including non-indigenes in Eleme.
HRH Appolus Chu is not just a king but a traditional ruler per excellence, a devoted Christian, a philanthropist, captain of industry, prolific writer and of course the Egbere Emere Okori 1 Eleme. He has been able to portray that a traditional ruler can be a Christian without sacrificing the tradition and custom of his people. He has also been able to show that a traditional ruler can touch the lives of his subjects through the act of giving. His generosity knows no bounds.
One of his numerous noble gestures, recently, which will remain unforgettable in Okori, Eleme and Rivers State in general, was the official opening of the palace of the Egbere-Eleme Okori, Eleme Kingdom. The occasion, which also witnessed the dedication of a new church building for the Commonwealth Covenant Church located in Okori, can only be described as historic, trailblazing and profound in all ramifications. It was an occasion that replicated what national unity represents. It was a day that witnessed, for once in a very long time, a united Nigeria, where all geo-political zones in Nigeria were represented under one roof to discuss matter of national interest without bitterness and rancour. It was a day for the traditional rulers to celebrate one of their own.
No wonder the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon whose presence was conspicuously felt at the occasion, described the event as unprecedented. He said, “The array of people here from all parts of the country, really gladdens my heart. I must thank you all indeed for coming to this unity forum and must say thank you to HRH Appolus Chu for this. And honestly it has been long that I have been able to see all Nigerians gathered in one place to pronounce our love for the country and this is really what Appolus Chu has done.”
Speaking further, the obviously excited former Head of State noted, “When you came to see me, you didn’t tell me that you are asking all Nigerians to be here. You are trying to sort of build the unity of this country. I must say I’m really impressed that all Nigerians are here. And for me to be robed as a chief of Okori, I can assure you that I really appreciate it and I say well done your majesty.”
“HRH Appolus Chu was very convincing when he came to see me even though I didn’t quite understand what he was doing. He was so positive that I had no choice but to accept his invitation and now I see the reason. You have done so well and from what we have heard, your faith is so paramount and you have done so much to promote your faith not only in this area but throughout Nigeria.”
To portray the fact that he is a true custodian of tradition, culture and custom, the host, HRH Chief Appolus Chu started his opening remarks by first saluting the people of Okori in his dialect after which he went on to addressed the congregation of people that gathered at the hall in a language that they all understand.
“I thank God for today’s occasion. I thank all the royal fathers who have taken the pains to travel from all over Nigeria to grace this occasion. I also appreciate the presence of my colleagues in this domain from whom I’m learning a lot to become a better king.
“I unreservedly welcome our father and special guest of today, former Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon. As a child in primary school in those days, I used to admire afar. I have a few role models in my life. He has been one of them. I never knew that one day I will grow up to not just meet him face to face but to also be friends with him and also invite him to my community like I have done today. This is not only a surprise to me but dream come true.”
Speaking on what informed his decision to bring together Nigerians from all parts of the nation to gather in one place, HRH Appolus Chu said, “I have noticed that communication is one of the major problems of most of us that are gathered here today. We have found it difficult to come together in unity and address issues of national interest. We conceived our feelings and then hold onto them without expressing them, and then let it out in form of grievances, bad feelings, anger, ill-thoughts and so on; we then turn them into actions – blackmail, restiveness, killings, sentiments etc. I felt this was one of the ways to ensure that we come together and express our feelings without rancour and sentiments.”
“As a traditional ruler, as I flag open this one of kind palace in my community today, I could have invited just people in my community to celebrate with me, but I decided to bring people from all over Nigeria to celebrate with me, so that we would use the opportunity to integrate with our fellow brothers from different tribes in one mind despite our diversity.”
“Also as a business tycoon, I have also come to learn that collaboration brings quick and timely success. That is why I have thought of applying same strategy with the traditional rulers in Nigeria by bringing them together from different tribes in the nation to fellowship together in unity. I also thought it will afford an opportunity for the man from the East, North, South and West to sit together, express themselves in a peaceful manner and share contacts, so that if any Eleme person finds his/her self in trouble in any part of the nation, I can easily call on the traditional ruler to address the situation. So this is all about us partnering and forming a strong synergy with one another.”
In his welcome address, Chairman of the Day, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom and Chairman, South-South Monarchs Forum, HRM, Dr. Edmund Daukoru (Mingi XII) described Appolus Chu as a king who has done something that is beyond kingship.
He said: “He has put God first in his affairs and that is worth celebrating. He is very humble and God-fearing. Faith is very much at work in his life. God has prospered him and he has been doing a lot of good in the community not for self-aggrandisement but for the love he has for God and for his people. And anybody who calls himself a leader or a king ought to borrow a thing from him. What he is doing is to showcase in the process royalty. HRH Appolus Chu has demonstrated here today that whatever he does and achieves, is for the purpose of moving his people to the next level. He has put God to task because he has honoured God first by building a place of worship all by himself and dedicated it to God. He is a book from which much can be learned. So we would continue to learn from Appolus Chu’s exemplary life.”
Also speaking at the event, Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Ruler, HRM, Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, described the occasion as another mile stone in our fight for unity of the country. He said: “We are here to witness and to be part of history making in this country where the unity of Nigeria is uppermost in our hearts. Royals father from various parts of the country have gathered here today to show our support. We are here to share the joy and blessing of the Almighty God as bestowed on one of us, King Appolus Chu – a king with foresight, a king with understanding and fear for Almighty God.” On behalf of himself and the Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, the Etsu Nupe, who is also the coordinator of the group, presented a live size portrait of HRH Appolus Chu to the King.
On his part, the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdul Rasheed Adewale Akanbi described King Appolus Chu as a great man, adding, “A kingship position is a position of service to humanity. We came to be servants to the people and being servants to the people is an emulation of God’s existence because God is our servant. We only ask and God provides, the provider is always the servant. That is why I thank God for this day, that I have found a brother and friend who understands what kingship is all about. You are great indeed and God will bless you the more.”
The coordinator South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and Chairman, Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Eminence Eze (Dr.) Eberechi Dick, said, “There is extreme joy in our hearts that a fellow traditional ruler has done so well. And today he has assembled the whole nation to witness what is happening in his kingdom. We are here to associate ourselves with you. And we are saying that what you have done for your people; you would continue doing more and more. And we pray that the Almighty God will help us to be like you.”
Presentations of cash and other items were made to beneficiaries of the HRH Appolus Chu Foundation. Explaining the impact of the Foundation so far, Coordinator, Promise Ikharine, said it has so far empowered over 700 people in various capacities. “Since 2011, the Foundation has been making a marked difference in the lives of indigent youths, women, and men of Okori. Many have been trained in different skills after which they received start-up packs to enable them begin their trades and crafts. The Foundation has given over a thousand computers, laptops and other office gadgets to such SME start-ups,” he noted.
While declaring blessing upon the beneficiaries of the Foundation, founder of Salem International Christian Centre (SICC), Abuja and presiding Archbishop of Foundation Faith Church Worldwide, Dr. Sam Amaga, said Gowon’s presence at the event gives hope to everyone that he has not abandoned the vision that he pursued as a head of state then. He advised that a king must constantly make positive proclamations upon his people, adding, “For wherever the word of the king is, the Bible says, there is power. So God is going to take the word you speak to bless your people and your kingdom.”
“Speak forth wisdom, for wisdom establishes the seat of a king; and as you keep speaking the wisdom of God upon your people, it is going to come to pass and the land shall be full of wisdom. Whenever wisdom prevails wealth and prosperity prevail too. And remember that a praying king is a deliverer and also a fountain of life to his people. As you bend your knees before the Almighty God, the grace and wisdom of God will come upon your land,” the cleric said.