Before 2003, Prof. Maurice Iwu’s name had not yet been etched on the public psyche like a recurrent decimal. By the same token, not many would have known or heard of Umukabia, the sedate rural community in Ehime Mbano LGA of Imo State, Nigeria, the ancestral home of Prof. Iwu.
However, that year, something significant happened: just as Iwu, a professor of pharmacognosy, was completing his contract as a research fellow at the Walter Reed Institute of Research in the United States, he was appointed as federal commissioner to represent the South-East geo-political zone on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He was subsequently appointed chairman of the all-powerful commission on June 9, 2005 following the completion of duty of the then chairman, the late Dr. Abel Guobadia. Ever since, both Iwu and Umukabia have not been the same again.
Following Iwu’s appointment, Umukabia acquired a larger-than-life status. Dignitaries from various parts of the country will swear that they have known Umukabia from time immemorial, probably from Iwu’s university days. It is possible that some of the dignitaries are politicians. But Iwu is a man of many parts, a man of the people: in the church, he is not just a benefactor and a Papal Knight, he is the vice chairman of the diocesan council of the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe, the highest decision making body in the diocese. To wit, the church he built in Umukabia ranks as one of the most comfortable that can be found anywhere in the country. Thus, Catholic clergymen and women, members of the laity and many others usually besiege his home in Umukabia, especially at festive periods. Besides, Iwu is a quiet philanthropist, an entrepreneur and a social engineer who spends his time mentoring people from all places of life, especially his community. With such a pedigree, it is not surprising that his home is a Mecca of sorts, or a Jerusalem, if you are pointedly particularistic! Read more