IRETE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY – 20 Years After Creation

IRETE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY – 20 Years After Creation

Irete was the last son of Nwoha. Nwoha it should be recollected migrated with his younger brother Ara from Owaelu in the present Uratta in the Owerri North Local Government Area. Among the brothers of Irete are Ohii the eldest, Orogwe, Ndegwu, and Amakaohia-Ubi that make up the famous Umunwoha clan and aptly constitute the Umunwoha Political bloc. These five sons of Nwoha founded their respective towns named after them as they dispersed to their present locations.

Irete town shares boundaries with Owerri municipal native community with which it fought prolonged wars in protection of its territorial integrity and preservation of its lands and environment. Irete defeated Owerri in most of these wars and secured its boundaries with the natural boundary provided by the Nwaorie River. We also share boundaries with Umuguma, Egbeada, and Akwakuma. And in the prehistoric period Irete fought with the surrounding neighbours to secure its agricultural vast lands and rid it of uncontrolled encroachment.

Irete Community is located one and half kilometers away from the Imo State seat of Government and situated along Owerri – Onitsha Road. Irete is one of the communities that make up Owerri West Local Government Area in Imo State. It is also one of the five communities that constitute the Umunwoha Clan. In Umunwoha, Irete is the youngest of the five sons of Nwoha that constitute the popular Umunwoha Clan and the former Umunwoha Autonomous Community from where it was carved out in 1996 as Irete Autonomous Community. Irete shares historical, cultural and social affinity with the other four towns of Umunwoha namely Ohii, Orogwe, Ndegwu and Amakohia Ubi. Our great grand ancestor and progenitor was the great Agubiam who killed the mythical rampaging Elephant that ravaged and terrorized the other towns of Umunwoha and its environs with a machete. He chopped off its head and stood astride the fallen elephant raising its head up to the admiration of his elder brothers. This earned him the appellation the Great Agubiam that killed Elephant with matchete (Agubiam ji mma gbue enyi).

Today, Irete community occupies a vast area of land and harbours many Federal Government and State institutions and organizations such as the Mobile Police Base, the new Office complex of the State Security Services; including the Owerri-Irete-Onitsha Road Industrial Estate which is the commercial nerve of the state as many industries are located here, Housing Estates like Graceland, Arugo, Blue Sea, Desire and others.

Irete is composed of eighteen villages. The component villages in no particular order are:  Umunjo, Umueye, Umuagwu, Umungada, Umuelele, Umuoba, Umunwanlo, Umuohia, Umueju, Umunkweye, Umuedi, Umuakum, Umuigolo, Umumbe, Umuezeduru, Umuorieoji, Umungwenakoroche, Umuoyodumgbogo,  .

In addition to the eighteen native villages there are four major satellite communities namely Okwuele 1, Okwuele 2, Ama Mmiri Estate and Umuelele Extension.

The quest for autonomy began as far back as 1979 during the military era. Irete had seriously craved for its autonomy so that it could organize itself and look at ways of enhancing its development at its own pace. The erstwhile Sam Mbakwe administration lumped the five communities of Irete, Ohii, Orogwe, Amakaohia-Ubi and Ndegwu into one autonomous community namely Umunwoha Autonomous Community.

At each point of this demand, the leaders highlighted the serious problems posed by merging us with other communities. These problems were undue exploitations, incessant conflicts, frictions and strains arising from competitions for available scarce resources and positions; strains on available infrastructures; coupled with real and perceived administrative hiccups and burdens of managing a vast area by a single leader. We felt that our natural and human resources were seriously being undermined. Besides, the ever growing population of Irete in the face of its high rate of urbanization reinforced this quest for autonomy.

The quest for autonomy continued with vigor in 1992 through 1996 when the then Military Administrator of Imo State, Navy Captain James Anieke on the recommendation of the Panel set up for that purpose granted Irete Community Autonomous status having satisfied known criteria for autonomous status at that particular period and existing Law.

EZESHIP: For seventeen years after our autonomy we could not select our Eze. The reason was that politics and litigations marred every attempt to conduct an Eze election in the community. Some individuals and families argued that they are the rightful people to the throne while some villages claimed that they should produce the Eze. There were claims and counter claims to the throne regardless that the Irete Eze constitution provided that the selection of the Eze shall be by election.

In the seventeen years the Ezeship struggle lasted in Irete, we had four Presidents General of the Irete Community Development Union. They were Chief Chris Anukam who led the community for six years, next was Sir Goddy Osuji who ruled for six years, Chief Stanley Ogbuewu and Mazi Kevin Unakalamba whose administration eventually gave the community an Eze in 2013 through the instrumentality of the Imo State Government that supervised the June 19 Eze election in Irete.

COLLEGES: Irete Autonomous Community before its autonomy in 1996 already had two secondary schools, the Irete Secondary Technical School built by the community in 1980 and the Bishop Lasbrey Girls Secondary School that was established as a Teachers Training College in the fifties. Some approved private secondary schools and commercial institutions exist in the community as well.

PRIMARY SCHOOLS: Irete has two main public primary schools; Irete Community School and T.T.C. Practicing School Irete. Each of these schools predates the Nigerian independence. Today several private schools abound in the community.

CHURCHES: Irete people are predominantly Christians. We have before our autonomy three big churches; St. Pauls Catholic Church, St. Helens Catholic Church and St. Peter's Anglican Church Irete. Today these Churches are Parishes. This, we have Umunwoha Holy Family Catholic Parish Irete; St. Helen's Catholic Parish Irete and St. Peter's Anglican Parish Irete. In addition, we have the Bishop Lasbrey Girls Anglican Chaplaincy and the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Irete an out station of St. Helen's Parish. There are today over thirty other blossoming Christian denominations that dot the Irete landscape. MARKETS: Irete has two big markets. The Afor Irete Market is the main market and is situated at the heart of the town along Irete – Ndegwu road. The Orie College which has gradually becoming a daily market is the second market and it is located along the Owerri – Onitsha Federal Highway.

HEALTH CENTRE: Irete Community has well equipped and functional Community Health Centre with resident nurses that cater for the health needs of our ever growing population.

INDUSTRIES: While some big organizations such as the Nigerian Bottling Company Plc, Vinal Aluminum, Roche Construction Company, Rhas Construction Company Limited and Roudo Construction Company Limited and others operate in the community; there are other cottage industries operating in the community. They are engaged in bread baking, Paint production and potable water production.

POPULATION: Irete is a cosmopolitan community harbouring a great number of stranger elements because of its nearness to the seat of Imo State Government and its peaceful nature. Irete people are highly hospitable. Irete community boasts of a population of over Twenty Thousand people (20,000).

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