By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Igwe (Sir) Raphael N. Offor, KSM, JP, AMB. P breaks bold ground as he celebrates Ofala on December 31, 2023. He was crowned Ide II of Omogho in November 2005, having been the regent from 1993 to 2005. He succeeded the first traditional ruler of Omogho, H.R.H Igwe J. M. Anyanechi, who reigned from 1967 until he joined his ancestors in 1993. The first Ofala of Igwe (Sir) Raphael N. Offor was held in December 2017, and his second Ofala is billed for December 31, 2023, at Igwe’s Palace, Isiamehi village, Omogho.
Igwe Raphael Offor has brought profound peace and prosperity to bear on Omogho, one of the ancient settlements of Enugwu-Uno towns in Orumba North and South Local Government Areas of Anambra State. Located in the valley-cum-basin between Oko/Amaokpala and Ufuma along the Ekwulobia-Umunze Federal Highway in the old Aguata Local Government Area, Omogho was founded by the eponymous man named Omogho, who migrated from Igala Kingdom, now in Benue State, circa 1510 AD. Omogho is an agrarian community richly blessed with arable land and natural resources.
It has been a crowning glory for Igwe Raphael Offor to lead Omogho into resounding modernity. Born on September 1, 1938, to the family of late Mr. Offor Nwangwu and Mrs. Enyidie Euphemia Nwangwu of Umu-Nwangwu quarter of Omegwala ward, Isiamehi village of Omogho town in Orumba North L.G.A, Igwe Offor started from humble beginnings before becoming today’s towering personality. He remarkably passed the landmark Standard VI exam in 1952 and ranked among the very few people in Omogho to achieve the feat. However, no thanks to financial constraints with which to further his education, young Raphael was sent by his family to learn trading in Shinkafi in present-day Zamfara State. On the completion of his apprenticeship two years later, his master settled him amicably. It was then the future Igwe relocated to Oturkpo in Benue State to look for greener pastures.
In 1957, he was offered a temporary appointment at Aguata County Council and later, in 1962, he was offered a permanent appointment as a clerk/typist at Orumba County Council. He was later promoted to the post of Secretary/Co-ordinator of the Local Government Unit and Executive Officer in Charge of the Awka Town Planning Authority in Awka Local Government. In that capacity, he supervised the design of the present Eke Amawbia.
He then passed his General Certificate of Education (G.C.E.) exam and got admission to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he obtained a Diploma in Local Government Administration in 1985. This earned him a promotion to higher posts such as Senior Executive Officer (1985–1992) and Principal Personnel Officer (1993–1998) in different local government councils, and he retired on September 1, 1998, with good records and a good name.
After retirement, he was appointed and served as the Ajalli Customary Court Judge from April 1, 1999 to 31st August 2000.
He got married to Lolo Monica Nwaanyibunwa Offor, nee Okoli, of Umunaba Village, Omogho in 1964 and the marriage is blessed with eight lovely children, made up of seven females and one male, all doing very well in their various professions and vocations.
A champion of community development, he secured appointments for about 27 indigenes of Omogho in different levels of Government.
The offices he held with uncommon distinction before becoming Igwe included: Palace Secretary, Igwe’s Cabinet, Omogho (1976-31st August 1993); Secretary-General, Omogho Patriotic Union (1982-1992); Vice-Chairman, Omogho Patriotic Union (1993-1996); Regent, Omogho Community (1st September 1993-2005); Treasurer, Omoogho Rural Electrification Project (1991-2003); Member, Justice of Peace (30th November 1990-date).
A devout Catholic, Igwe Offor has served the church in the following capacities: Member, Knight of St. Mulumba, Nigeria (1992-date); Secretary, Queen of Peace Sub-Council, Ekwulobia (1998- 2005); Vice-Chairman, St. Pius Catholic Parish, Omogho; Chairman, Akpu Denary Laity Council; Patron, Awka Diocesan C.W.O, and many others.
Igwe Offor was one of the elite personages who championed the establishment of the Community Secondary School, Omogho. He was equally instrumental in the Omogho Electrification Project and the elevation of St. Pius Catholic Church, Omogho to the level of a Parish.
It needs reiteration that Omogho has enjoyed tremendous peace and prosperity since his reign and shared mutual amity with her neighbours. He has given unalloyed support to the Anambra State Government and in return the Government has extended many democracy dividends to the Omogho community.
Igwe Raphael Offor’s 2023 Ofala programme is indeed star-studded and grand with Anambra State Governor, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo (CFR) as Special Guest of Honour.
The Ofala ceremony starts in earnest with a 10.00 am Pontifical High Mass to be officiated by His Eminence Peter Cardinal Ebere Okpalaeke, Bishop of Ekwulobia Catholic Diocese.
Conferment of Chieftaincy Title to deserving indigenes and non-indigenes who have made significant contributions to the development of Omogho will take pride of place in the Ofala celebrations. The various villages will pay homage to Igwe (Sir) Raphael N. Offor, KSM, JP, AMB. P.