By Peter Nwasike
Umuchukwu Town in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, marked her 2018 New Yam Festival, with excitement and resolution to advance into commercial agriculture for self sufficiency in food and economic empowerment of the natives.
The occasion had a four-day programme which started last Thursday of September, with Iwaji Ceremony at Igwe's Palace. Then on Friday for the Community with masquerade display, on Saturday, General Meeting and on Sunday, Thanksgiving Service in Churches, as the town is a Christian town, with abolition of idol worship.
Speaking on the occasion, the President General (PG), Mr. Sunday Obi-Obiefuna, described New Yam Festival as the tradition of Igbo people to rejoice with gratitude to God for guiding them with health and prosperity to reap bumper harvest. He said that the ancient people regard life as precious, and as food is the source of maintaining life for longevity, it became imperative to work hard to acquire prosperity so as to care and sustain life. He thanked the Federal Government and Anambra State Government, for counseling and guiding the people for lucrative venture in Agriculture, as seen in their financial intervention for tractors, irrigation machines, improved seedlings, to farmers to improve in their productivity.
Mr. Obi-Obiefuna said that although he is a businessman based in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, he is favourably disposed towards diversification of the economy towards agriculture. He recalled how some years ago, before he became President General, his people informed him of a system of Agriculture known as “FADAMA3” being directed by the Federal Government, through the State Government, which demanded counterpart funding by the natives, to attract Government's participation.
He readily supported them with interest-free loan of One Hundred-Thousand Naira, with which they used to kick-start the project, in fish farming. He regretted that the project has turned into “abandoned property”, and resolve to resuscitate it. The PG asserted that the Iwaji ceremony is an encouragement into commercial agriculture, so that people could be self-sufficient in food supply and also economically prosperous. He resolved that by subsequent years, he shall organize the farmers for competition, with generous prize for the “Best Farmer of the Year”.
Mr. Obi-Obiefuna paid tribute to Governor Obiano, who gave them Twenty-Million Naira, from the State Programme, and they used it to build “Primary Health Centre, and Government staffed it with nurses and midwives, which has made the Health Centre, functioning, with their babies being delivered their, and elderly people being attended to medically. He testified that they had applied for the second batch of Twenty Million Naira and Government has given approval, and expressed confidence that they shall judiciously appropriate the fund.
He also paid glowing tribute to their illustrious son, Prof. (Dr) Godwin Maduka, who built many development projects, which have transformed their rural village into a township. He enumerated some of the projects to include Police Station and Barracks to ensure security of life and property. The High Court with Judges Quarters, Magistrates Courts, Schools, Specialist Hospital, Churches to mention but a few.
The National Auditor of the Union Mr. Chigozie Ottah, said that they attach great importance on the New Yam Festival and that is why he returned from kaduna, where he is based as a businessman. He commended Anambra State Government for constructing tarred roads to connect their neighbouring communities to Owerri-Ezunaka, Ogbunka, Nneato in Abia State.
He also commended Dr. Godwin Maduka for manifesting philanthropist par excellence, in developing their town single-handedly.