Sunday, February 07, 2016

‘Igbo needs a national leader’

Obu Umunri palace at Nkwo Enugwu-Ukwu was filled to the brim. In attendance were the crème de la crème of the society. They include men of power and influence corporate titans, political juggernauts, business tycoons, educationists and religious top brass.

The occasion was the 58th Igu Aro of Enugwu-Ukwu in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State and the 5th of their monarch, His Majesty, Igwe Sir Ralph Obumnemeh Ekpeh; the Okpalanakana – Ukabia Nri IV.

The annual event, which paraded a weeklong list of activities before the actual Igu Aro day, afforded the people of the community the opportunity to assess the past year and bless the New Year; even as their prominent sons who have contributed to the growth and development of the town and the society at large are honoured with chieftaincy titles. The planning was coordinated by some members of the Igwe's cabinet, including Chief Dennis Anekwe, Omenyi, the Traditional Prime Minister; Chief Clem Nwafor, Odu, the Deputy Traditional Prime Minister; Chief Frank Nwokike, Ugogbuzuo, the Cabinet Secretary; Chief Tony Okeke, Akalanri, the Defence Minister; Sen. Chief I.G. Abana, Ochikota, the Special Adviser on International Affairs; Chief Mike Nkwoji, Okpataozuora, the Special Adviser on Culture and Traditional Matters and Chief Hero Okoye, Udonri, the Treasurer.

First was the Mmanwu Festival, which was the display of the various masquerades from the 18 villages of Enugwu-Ukwu, and others from the visiting communities, and followed by the visit of the monarch to the town's historical sites, namely: Obu Okpalanakana located at Uruekwo village, believed to be the ancestral home of Nri, the founder of Enugwu-Ukwu; and Mkpume Onyilienyi which is Nri's shrine. Next was the 2nd Umunri Colloquium lecture series. At the occasion chaired by the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke, the Nigeria's former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji spoke on the theme: Anyukoo Nwamili Onu: Sustainable Development of Ndi-Igbo in the 21st Century as the keynote speaker. The 2016 Igu Aro, organised in partnership with MTN Nigeria, saw many people winning prizes including microwave oven, standing fans and others from the telecommunication giant.

The Iguaro event started with presentation of kolanuts to the Igwe by the Otu Odueze, wives of cabinet members, led by Ocheze Lady Dorothy Ekpeh, the Igwe's wife. The Igwe then poured libation and called on the spirit of Nri the father of Umunri Clan-Enugwu Ukwu, Nawfia, Enugwu Agidi and Agu Ukwu and many other towns with Umunri traits to come and bless his people and provide for them in the New Year.

The Igwe thanked God for blessing the community in the past year and prayed for bigger packages in the New Year. He specially appreciated the efforts of a prominent indigene of the town, Sir Chris Okoye, Obunakueze, a former President General of the town union, for attracting MTN Nigeria to co-sponsor the event.

The first class monarch also advised the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, to put her house in order and stop the "cacophony of disgrace they heap on us by their constant disagreements and altercations," insisting: "A national leader for the Igbo is overdue. Igbo should install or recognize someone as our national leader who is to speak for us. The scenario where every Igbo sees himself as the mouth piece of the Igbo should stop. It breeds indiscipline and in the end, nothing is achieved."

He expressed sadness over the continued subjugation of the Igbo by successive Federal Governments, saying: "The marginalization of Igbo people at the federal level must cease so that the nation under Buhari will know peace. If some states are not treated at par with others for the single reason that they did not vote for him, the way forward is to treat them well to enable them vote for him in the next election." He requested Anambra State government to commence action on the construction of Enugwu Ukwu Bye-pass , to ease traffic on the old road.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Igu Aro Commission, Chief Peter J.C. Nwokafor, noted that given the premium placed on the festival, his team left no stone unturned to ensuring that they had a smooth celebration.

Also speaking, the President-General, Enugwu-Ukwu Community Development Union, Chief (Barr) Mike Nkwocha, while raining encomiums on their traditional ruler, pointed out: "Igu Aro festival is very significant and dear to Enugwu-Ukwu kingdom.

It is during this period that the monarch rains blessings on his subjects and the land for productivity."

In his speech, a member of the House of Representatives for Njikoka, Anaocha and Dunukofia federal constituency, Hon. Ferdinand Dozie Nwankwo, extolled the leadership qualities of their king.

A former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh also eulogized the monarch for his "uprightness and trustworthiness."

Highlights of the event include the conferment of chieftaincy titles on Chief (Dr) Chris Anayo Nworji, Chief (Dr) Francis Owoh, Chief Emma Okafor and Chief (Sir) Jude Ebelechukwu Ekpeh and their induction into the traditional cabinet of the community.

When interviewed, the media and PR consultant to the Igwe and cabinet, Mr. Sam Ekpe, observed that Enugwu Ukwu Iguaro is assuming more importance and attaining greater heights, having attracted the sponsorship of communication's giant MTN. He stated that it is their expectation that the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism will eventually include Iguaro Enugwu Ukwu in the nation's cultural calendar. On the conferment of Chieftaincy titles on non Enugwu Ukwu indigenes, he stated that it was in recognition of the awardees contribution to state and national development. For instance, he said Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Group of Companies

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