By Sunny A. Ijomah
The industrial community of Nnewi, in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State was agog between December 28 and 29, 2019 for the celebration of the 56th Ofala Festival and 94th year Birthday of His Royal Highness Igwe Kenneth O. Orizu 111 CON.
The annual Ofala festival brings to an end the activities of the year; it is also a period that people are free to celebrate with their Igwe.
Speaking at the occasion, Igwe Orizu 111 advocated the return of the payment of five percent of the allocations of the local government areas to traditional rulers in the country to make them more independent and apolitical.
He added that the five percent is being paid in the other zones of the country except in the South East.
According to him, “during the Sani Abacha era, five percent of the local government allocation was earmarked for traditional institutions. This is no longer done today, especially in the South East. In the North, South West and even in the Midwest, they still pay the five per cent of the local government allocations to the traditional institutions. Down here, that is not the case.
“Traditional institutions carry heavy loads. For instance, every two weeks the traditional ruler, through the subs, that is, chairmen of families, chairmen of villages, can reach out to the people faster and better and they respect him more than the local government chairman.
“So, the sooner traditional institutions are given the recognition they deserve, the better for everybody. They are really the grassroots people. Often the palace here must buy a basket of kola nuts. Sometimes, it would not last up to two weeks. And each person who comes to the Igwe must be offered at least two kola nuts. And if you look at the peanuts that traditional rulers are paid, you see that, if it is somebody that is not strong (financially), he would not be able to withstand the financial stress of the throne” he added.
The revered Royal Father maintained that government must help shoulder the burden.
“So, I believe government needs to do more to lift the traditional institutions, considering their roles in the system. When there is crisis in the town, the institution is beckoned on to quell the crisis. There are things traditional rulers can do that even the chairmen of the local government areas cannot do.
“A traditional ruler, through the subs, that is, chairmen of families, chairmen of villages, can reach out to the people faster and better and they respect him more than the local government chairman. So, the sooner traditional institutions are given the recognition they deserve, the better for everybody. They are really the grassroots people” he added.
Hon. Chris Azubuogu, the lawmaker representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ekwusigo Federal Constituency also advocated the tapping of the tourism potentials of the Nnewi Ofala Festival and other cultural events in the state to create jobs and provide the much needed revenue.
According to him “we should pursue new strategy of tourism development that will make Anambra State a destination for tourists across the nation and beyond, we have the tourism potentials but need new strategy to attract external tourists and investors to Nnewi and the State in general.
“There should be an integrated tourism development policy for our state that will attract tourists into Anambra State during the yuletide and keep them busy, we should have a structured tourism policy that will tell the world why they should spend their holidays in Anambra State.
The occasion took off with a thanksgiving service moderated by the Bishop of Nnewi Anglican Diocese, Rt Revd Ndubuishi Obi.
Rev Canon Tochukwu Egwuatu of St Philips Anglican Church Okofia, in his sermon took his text from 2nd Kings 4:7 and urged all and sundry to embrace Christ as he pray for the monarch and the community.