By Jude Atupulazi
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo, has described the chieftaincy title given to Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, and wife, Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu, as good for the bridge building process the country badly needs at the moment. The chairman of Ohaneze, Anambra Chapter, Chief Damian Okeke Ogene, stated this in a chat with Fides, reports Jude Atupulazi.
Last week, a history of sorts was made when the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Dr Rufus Aladesanmi Adejugbe, conferred the title of Aare Amuogun of Ado-Ekiti on Governor Willie Obiano and Erelu Amuogun of Ado-Ekiti on the wife, Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, in Ado Ekiti. It was the first time such a huge gesture would be conferred on a serving governor from the Southeast.
Reacting to that, Ogene said it was heartwarming as it was the greatest indication that all hope was not lost for the unity of a country increasingly disintegrating along ethnic and religious lines.
He said it was what Ohaneze had been championing, realizing that it was the only way the nation could achieve her potentials faster.
He congratulated the first citizens of Anambra State on the chieftaincy titles, describing the it as a recognition of the governor's contributions towards national cohesion, as well as a recognition of his leadership qualities. Ogene urged other sections of the country to emulate the example of the Ekiti people, pointing out that it was one sure way of healing wounds and enthroning unity.
For his part, the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Chief Willie Nwokoye, expressed little surprise at the action of Ekiti people, whom he described as intellectually liberated, owing to their level of education.
Said he, 'In my ordinary life, I have related more very easily with Ekiti persons. The Igbo have shared common fate with Ekiti people since some significant things occurred during the Nigeria-Biafra War. So this chieftaincy to the governor and wife has a historical resonance and a bearing in the future of collaborative ethnic politics.'
For Okey Anarado, media aide to Gov Obiano, it is political savvy on the part of the governor to have accepted recognition from the traditional institution in the South West. He believed that apart from facilitating the much vaunted but less realized hand shake across the Niger,Gov Obiano's political sagacity and predilection for cultural practices attracted great recognition and respect for Anambra people doing business in the country.
'He deploys culture as a tool for socio-political mobilization and as an instrument for national cohesion amongst Nigerians.
'Ndigbo who enjoy the widest spread in Nigeria benefit immensely from the warmth inherent in this cultural fellowship,' Anarado averred.
For another media aide, Mr Ifeanyi Afuba, the title was a recognition of Obiano's leadership role. He said the stability and strides recorded by the state in the past five years were largely a function of good leadership.
'Politically too, Gov Obiano stands out, not just as the leader of Nigeria's third largest party, but for his courage and vision. When other Southeast governors chose to play safe, it was Obiano that hosted the Ohaneze Summit on Restructuring in 2018.
'His engagement with President Buhari has brightened the chances for an additional state in the Southeast and delivery of the Second Niger Bridge,' Afuba said, noting that as an advocate of a just and united Nigeria, it was easy for Obiano to be considered for such an honour.
Fides gathered that Governor Obiano and his wife were received by the wife of the Governor of Ekiti, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, on arrival, before proceeding to Ewi's Palace.
Some members of Anambra State Executive Council; members of the Anambra State House of Assembly; top government functionaries; APGA stalwarts, including the National Secretary, Mr Labaran Maku; among others, attended the event, while Obi Alfred Achebe of Onitsha led other notable traditional Rulers in Anambra to the event.
Governor Obiano in his speech said only peace and belief in the unity of the country could enthrone enduring peace and development.
He urged Nigerians to maintain harmonious co-existence, noting that cross fertilization of culture, tradition, among others, would salvage the Nation from its present state.
He tasked ndi Igbo living in other parts of the country to respect the laws and traditions of their host communities, even as he appreciated the people of Ado-Ekiti for the honour.
The wife of the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Ebelechukwu Obiano, appreciated the Ewi for the honour, the Igbo people in Ekiti, especially Anambra people living in Ekiti, and prayed God to bless and promote Nigeria.
The Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was represented by his wife, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, who applauded the honour and prayed that the budding relationship between the people of Ekiti and Anambra would continue to deepen. She expressed happiness over his victory at the Supreme Court, assuring that he would use his position as the new chairman of the Nigeria Governor's forum to put the interest of the people ahead of his personal interest.
The Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Dr Rufus Adejugbe, explained that in Ekiti, chieftaincy titles were not just bestowed on the highest bidder, but on deserving people.
He described Obiano as a man of the people whose hard work, creativity, selflessness in service and accountability, were among his virtues, adding that he was a true Nigerian and great crusader of a united country, as well as a pillar for the sustainability of the country's sovereignty.
He lauded Obiano's leadership potentials and the humanitarian services of his wife through which she had touched many lives.
Some Anambra indigenes who felicitated with the Governor and wife included the Commissioner for Lands, Chief Nnamdi Onukwuba; Commissioner for Works, Engineer Marcel Ifejiofor; the ManagIng Director of Anambra Advertisement Agency, Chief Jude Emecheta and the Executive Chairman of Anambra Physical Planning Board, Barrister Chike Maduekwe. They all described the honour as well deserved.
The Deputy Governor of Ekiti, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, also attended the ceremony, while the Ooni of Ife offered special prayers for Governor Obiano and wife.