Twenty years ago, Elder Christopher N. Chukwurah, now an Area Authority Seventy in the Africa West Area, was baptized in the Ogbor River here. On Feb. 23, 2002, he stood within view of that site with others for the groundbreaking of the Aba Nigeria Temple.
More than 2,000 people — including members, Church leaders, state and local governmental leaders, and tribal chiefs from throughout southern Nigeria — gathered for the long-awaited occasion, coming by special bus, local transport and on foot. Under the direction of Elder H. Bruce Stucki, Africa West Area president, who also offered the dedicatory prayer and addressed the crowd, the groundbreaking ceremony occurred at the temple site on Okpu-Umuobo Road, just north of the Ogbor River. The service was conducted by Elder H. Ross Workman of the Seventy and first counselor in the area presidency. Other speakers included Elder R. Conrad Schultz of the Seventy and second counselor in the area presidency, and Elder Chukwurah.
"The mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to invite the children of God to return back into His presence," Elder Stucki told those gathered. "We believe the best way to accomplish this is to teach the people how to improve themselves both temporally and spiritually. We encourage them to perfect themselves. The buildings we build and the people we guide and strengthen will long stand as monuments to our commitment to assist in the building of this great country."
In his remarks, Elder Schultz said: "This temple will be a great addition to the community, the state and the nation. It will be a symbol of God's love to the people of Nigeria. Those who gather here to worship and covenant with God, will be peace loving, law abiding and patriotic citizens."
The temple site is situated on high ground overlooking the surrounding valley and the Ogbor River on the outskirts of Aba and will be visible from many directions. It is reached by traveling along a dirt road presently being improved by the Church and will soon be paved. The Church is also constructing a concrete bridge over the river assuring dependable access to the temple regardless of weather conditions.
Following the remarks and dedicatory prayer, many of the local dignitaries and Church members were invited to participate in the symbolic turning of the first shovelfuls of soil. State and local governmental leaders and tribal chiefs also participated in breaking the ground.
Other local Church leaders present were Elder Emmanuel O. Opare, Area Authority Seventy; David W. Eka, president of the Nigeria Lagos Mission; President Robert Nally, Nigeria Enugu Mission; President Jimmie A. Sanders, Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission; Georges Bonnet, Africa West Area director of temporal affairs; Howard E. Station and Russell Tanner, Temple Construction Department; President Loveday Nwamkpa, Aba Nigeria Stake; and President Nduka B. Ojaide, Port Harcourt Nigeria Stake.
Providing music for the occasion was a 100-voice combined choir of the Lagos and Port Harcourt stakes under the direction of Felix Nwaubani, accompanied by Charles Ekwonye.