THE HISTORY OF THE ARCHBISHOP C.J PATTERSON
INTERNATIONAL AUDITORIUM COMPLEX
The Archbishop C.J Patterson International Auditorium Complex was conceived by Ven Sam C. Chukuka, who was then the Archdeacon-incharge of All Saints’ Cathedral Onitsha. Ven Chukuka initiated, nurtured, and pursued the idea and vision to build the international auditorium, propelled by the desire to build a unique arena in the South East of Nigeria, where international conference as well as major religious, State and National events of international standard could be held. He invited some Architects from Enugu (Plummage consultants) who searched the internet and drew the architectural design. The Cathedral Committee bought the idea and got an encouraging approval from the then Bishop – The Rt. Rev. Ken S. Okeke who said ‘I wish I can press a button and see this International Auditorium in existence as in this Architectural drawing’.
The location of the Archbishop C.J Patterson International Auditorium complex was previously occupied by a bungalow, which housed the Archbishop Patterson Ecumerical Youth & Conference Centre constructed during the episcopacy of Rt. Rev. L.M. Uzodike. For record purposes, the planning/erection of Archbishop Patterson Youth & Conference Centre was done by Mr. I.R.E Iweka, Civil Engineer, Union Construction Company Onitsha & executed by Umenyiora, Esq (B.Arch MNIA, ARIBA), of Umenyiora & Associates, Chartered Architects, Enugu. The Rt. Rev L.M Uzodike project committee was set up on 24th Jan 1973 with Sir Louis N. Mbanefo (Chancellor of the Diocese) as Chairman and Rev. Canon Sir A.E.D. Mgbemena (Diocesan Administrative Secretary) as project Secretary. Members of the building committee constituted on 8th June 1977 were
1. E.O. Enemuo Esq (who replaced the late Chairman & Chancellor – Sir Louis Mbanefo)
2. Ven. P.O. Egolum
3. Ven. C.A. Mbanu
4. Mr. J.O.S Philips
5. Mr. N.O. Ekpunobi
6. C.I. Odumodu (Miss), (7) Canon HDO Chiwuzie, (8) Canon M.S.C Anikwenwa, (9) Mr. W.I. Amobi, (10) M.E.O. Uwakwe, (11) Canon A.E.D Mgbemene (Sec). With the premission of the then Bishop, the following persons were included Mr. H.C. Anerobi, Rev. M.C.S. Bever, Barr F.M. Obianyo, Barr B. Erinne, Mrs. Sophia Onwuegbuna and Mrs. Sussanah Dillibe.
The Archbishop Patterson Ecumenical Youth & Conference Centre was completed and dedicated and formally opened on 29th April 1978 by the Most Rev. C.J. Patterson (former Archbishop of West Africa & Bishop on the Niger), in company of Mr. Justice Adetokumbo Ademola (Chief Justice of the Federation then) and Professor Kenneth Dike of Harvard University (native of Awka).
The siting of the present Archbishop C.J. Patterson International Auditorium Complex raised a lot of dust. Opposition came from good spirited individuals who felt that an old ‘youth hall’ in the proposed site might be erased and the name of C.J Patterson which it reflects might be forgotten. By the grace of God the initial Challenges were amicably surmounted.
With the blessing of the Rt. Rev. Ken Sandy Okeke, then Bishop on The Niger, the Youth & Conference Centre was demolished on the 10th of October, 2002, and a Building Committee was constituted to undertake the construction of the new Auditorium. It comprised the following members:
1. Pharm Uche Apakama – Chairman
2. Sir Jerry Onyeagbaram – Dep. Chairman
3. Mr. Chinedu Adimorah – Secretary
4. Mr. Harrison D. Ejiogu
5. Sir IK Ubachukwu
6. Mr. Uche Nwosu
7. Engr. Austin Ilonze
8. Engr. Uzo
9. Bar Obi Ulasi
10. Mr. P.O. Ojekwe
11. Sir A.A. Onyeji
12. Engr. Nweke
13. Mr. Omemgboji
The committee swung into action, and based on the Architictural design for the auditorium, construction work commenced in earnest at the site. The foundation works, block work, some columns and concrete decks were completed. Slow but steady progress was made in 2003 and 2004 as the Building Committee grappled with reality of the cost implications of the complex architectural design.
On 13th March 2005, Ven. Chukuka was consecrated Bishop of Isikwuato/Umunneochi Diocese, and so, left All Saints’ Cathedral. The mantle of leadership and directorship of the work of the Auditorium Complex fell on the energetic Ven. Owen Chiedozie Nwokolo, the then Sub-dean of the Cathedral. He organized the first fund raising ceremony and the foundation stone laying ceremony. The Planning committee for these ceremonies were Chaired by Prince Dr. Sir Emeka Eze and co-chaired by Chief Sir G.U. Okeke and Sir Okey Agbasimalo with Dr. Lady Ngozi Agbasimalo as the Secretary. The foundation stone laying ceremony of the Auditorium was laid by the Rt. Rev. Ken S.E. Okeke on Sunday September 24th 2006 and the successful ceremony was witnessed by a massive crowd of people.
To further strengthen the machinery of work at the Auditorium, Ven. Owen Chiedozie Nwokolo, on 20th August 2008, reconstituted and enlarged the Auditoruim Building committee made up of the underlisted persons:
1. Pharm Uche Apakama – Chairman
2. Arc. Sir Emma Ndefo – Deputy Chairman
3. Sir Emeka Nwose – Secretary
4. Barr. Sir Tagbo Anieto
5. Engr. Sir D.C. Nweke
6. Godwin Ezeanochie, Esq
7. Prof. Sir Law Onyekwe
8. Sir Obiora Oranu
9. Mr. Alphonsus Chukwubuike
10. Lady Joy Emegakor
11. Mr. Chris Omeili
12. Mr. Ken Okeke
13. Lady Uju Ezenekwe
14. Sir A.A. Onyeji
15. Dr. Sir A.C. Ofoche
16. Pharm Chris Ukachukwu (Sub-Dean’s Warden)
17. Mr. Paul Ojekwe (Cathedral Treasurer)
18. Mr. Charles Nsofor (People’s Warden)
19. Mr. Rowland Omemgboji (Site supervisor)
20. Arc. Chiemela Uzoije (Consultant)
21. Arc. Geoffrey Njoku (Consultant)
The reconstituted committee resumed the construction with renewed vigor. With the funds realized from the fund raising ceremony, work progressed earnestly to the level of fabrication and installation of the steel roof structure done by Oucen Engineering. On 29th September 2008, the contract for the roofing of the structure was signed and a high quality oven baked Aluminium roof was installed by Best Aluminuim Ltd. In addition, the installation of the Aluminium glass windows and other works were done and completed professionally by His Glory Aluminium.
In 2010, Ven. Owen Chiedozie Nwokolo was elected Bishop on the Niger to succeed the retiring Bishop Ken S.E. Okeke and in 2011, Ven Dr. Emma Ekpunobi resumed as the Sub-dean of the Cathedral. He continued dedicated work of the construction of the Auditorium complex and achieved several milestones. Specially designed foreign doors were installed. Sanitary and electrical works as well as lots of internal works were commenced and substantially done. The main Auditorium was ceiled and all the three Hall were tiled. Drainages were constructed at the upper part of the building. The basement hall now known as Holy Innocents Chapel (used for children’s service) was completed and fully equipped with functional split unit air conditioners. The Chapel was commissioned by Rt. Rev. Dr. Owen Chiedozie Nwokolo Bishop on the Niger on 30th of October, 2011. In 2013, The Very Rev. Dr. Emma Ekpunobi (now the Provost of the Cathedral) completed and put into use the Banking Hall of the Auditorium. The Banking Hall is presently housing the Akuchukwu Microfinance Bank Ltd of the Diocese on the Niger.
The Very Rev. Dr. Emma Ekpunobi retired in 2014, and was succeeded by the vibrant, Ven. Obiora Uzochukwu, the present Sub-dean of the Cathedral. Ven Obiora Uzochukwu mobilized funds, human and material resources and completed 3 Halls and an executive conference chamber in the Auditoruim. The Executive conference chamber is within the precincts of the foyer. The three completed halls are:
1. The Presidential hall located adjacent to the foyer. It is fully air conditioned and has been furnished with 400 custom foldable conference seats.
2. The Royal hall located on the first floor. It is also fully air conditioned and has a capacity of 300 seats
3. The classic hall located on the ground floor of the Auditoruim beside the Holy Innocent Chapel. It is also fully air conditioned and has a capacity of 300 seats.
In addition, a dedicated transformer was installed to power the auditorium, and quality Italian marble slabs were installed in the entrance foyer, staircases and other major thorough fares in the complex. Interlocking and land scapping works commenced and progressed effectively.
A major modification was done in the structure of the main bowl of the Auditoruim complex. Another level (a tiered mezzanine floor) in the ample void over the main sitting area of the auditorium main bowl (not previously in the drawing) was included, designed and constructed by CE Squared Engineering Services. This floor has a capacity of 1000 seats which increased the total capacity of the Auditorium main bowl to 4,000 seats. Diocese on the Niger through the Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo facilitated this major modification through a donation of N5million and other subsequent donations to the project.
With the desire to complete the Auditorium complex comprehensively, a second fund raising ceremony was organized. The ceremony was hosted by Rt. Rev. Dr. Owen Chiedozie Nwokolo, Bishop on the Niger and chaired by His Royal Majesty Igwe Sir Ralph Ekpeh (Igwe of Enugwu Ukwu and Eze Nri). The Planning committee was Chaired by Chief Sir G.U. Okeke and co-chaired by Prince Dr. Sir Emeka Eze and Sir Okey Agbasimalo with Dr. Lady Ngozi Agbasimalo as Secretary. The event was well attended and to a large extent, successful.
Thereafter, the Bishop gave 30th April 2016 as a new date to dedicate the auditorium. The Chairman Auditorium Building Committee Pharm Uche Apakama in view of this, requested that members of Cathedral Committee and more persons with technical know-how should join Auditoruim Building Committee to quicken the completion of the auditorium, if the auditoruim is to be dedicated on the said date.
Members of Cathedral Committee 2015 that joined Auditorium Works Committee on 26/1/2016 were
1. Ven Obiora Uzochukwu – Sub-dean
2. Ven Emma Mbanugo
3. Rev. Samuel Ezewudo
4. Rev. Mike Okoh
5. Rev. Bar Emma Ezeugo
6. Rev. Ifeanyi Akonobi
7. Rev. Dr. Chinedu Nnatuanya
8. Rev. Chibueze Orji
9. Dr. Lady Ngozi Agbasimalo – Secretary
10. Mr. Anene Nonso – Asst Secretary
11. Sir Obiora Oranu – People’s warden
12. Sir Chika Aghasili – Subdean’s warden
13. Mr. Ndubisi Udemezue – Treasurer
14. Dr. Lady Uju Ikegwuani
15. Sir Eugene Obiokoye
16. Comrade Willy Anika
17. Mrs Edith Okeke
18. Mrs. Rose Umeh
19. Mr Inno Nwokolo
20. Mr. Maxwell Olisa
New members of the Cathedral Committee 2016 that joined in February were
1. Rev. Johnson Iwuamaeze
2. Rev. Dr. Canon Samuel Uzodinma
3. Surv Obiora Onuselogu
4. Barr Sunday Udemezue
5. Dr. Lady Jessie Obicheta
6. Evang Christy Okpagu
Other members of the Cathedral Congregation that joined were
1. Sir Onochie Ikegwuani
2. Engr. Steve Ezenwa
3. Arc. Dubem Olisa
4. English Mbachi
5. Ifeanyi Asika
6. Evang Ifeanyi Olisaeke
7. Mr. Uche Okeru
The expanded Auditorium Building Committee set to work. Funds generated from the ceremony were ploughed into the final lap of the construction of the complex, the completion of interlocking and landscaping works, the installation of granite in the main bowl, POP ceilings, electrical fittings, installation of the specially designed iron hand rails, the installation of physically – challenged access in the main bowl, the mounting of echo dampening wood panels in the main bowl, the installation of the Aluminium cladding at the main entrances and the painting of the walls.
To the glory of God the construction of the Archbishop C.J Patterson International Auditorium complex took 14 years to complete. It gulped a whooping sum of approximately N500million.
With the completion, the Auditorium complex (compared to other auditoria in the South East of Nigeria), has facilities of international standard namely: Special press stand, workshop/seminar rooms, a good office space for planners, large reception room, display rooms for resource persons, restaurant/eatery, sufficient conveniences and the main bowl for visual equipment. The iconic edifice is an excellent arena for international conferences, events ranging from wedding receptions to religious, state and national conventions of any magnitude.
The International Conferences will attract resource persons and materials world over. Everyone will be opportuned to meet experts from different fields from all over the world. Luxury bus owners, taxi owners, Hoteliers, businessmen and women will be at a great advantage. Thank God the name of the Archibishop C.J Patterson is not forgotten but now written in gold.
The Archbishop C.J. Patterson International Auditorium Complex was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Owen Chiedozie Nwokolo Bishop on the Niger on Saturday 30th April, 2016.
To God Be the Glory.
Members of History Sub-committee of Auditorium Dedication Committee
1. Ven Obiora Uzochukwu – Sub-dean
2. Dr. Lady Ngozi Agbasimalo – Chairman
3. Bar Sir Tagbo Anieto
4. Chief Sir G.U Okeke
5. Prince Dr. sir Emeka Eze
6. Pharm Uche Apakama
7. Sir A.A. Onyeji
8. Sir Emeka Nwose
9. Dr. Emma Oyeka
10. Sir Chris Ukachukwu
11. Sir Jerry Onyegbaram
12. Mr. Inno Nwokolo
13. Mr. Anene Nonso