By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA — The air was filled with excitement in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra state as Governor Willie Obiano bagged an honourary title of Agunechemba (Lion that watches over the city) from a socio-cultural group, Nzukora Old Aguata Union, NOAU, during their annual cultural fiesta/prize giving day.
Two other prominent personalities, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo and Cyprian Umeh who are from Old Aguata Union, comprising 45 communities of the the present Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South Local Government Areas of Anambra state, also bagged honorary titles of Obinwanne OAU and Ebekuedike OAU respectively.
Other awardees who bagged the title of Excellent Leadership Award at the event included Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Hon. Ifeanyi Ejikeme, Anambra state Commissioner for Environment; his Health counterpart, Dr. Josephat Akabuike; Commerce, Trade and Industry commissioner, Mrs. Uzoamaka Ilobi and Housing/Urban renewal commissioner, Engr. Frank Emeka Offor.
Different categories of awards were equally bestowed on Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, the Igirishi of Igbo land who incidentally performed the traditional cutting of the yam, as royal father of the day; Engr. Barth Nwibe, a prominent business mogul and politician from Aguata; Chief Sampson Umejidike and Mrs. Eucharia Azodo, the legislator representing Aguata constituency in the House of representatives.
Speaking at the ceremony, Coordinator of the event, Sir Peter Okala noted that contrary to speculations that the award to governor Obiano was a mark of automatic endorsement of his second by the OAU, the award was in support of his ability to manage the security situation and political tension in the state.
Okala noted that by the next convention of NOAU coming up next year, they would decide whether to endorse Obiano for a second tenure or not, as according to him, it is too early to take such a decision by now.
Earlier in a welcome address jointly signed by the Chairman and Secretary of NOAU, Chiefs Ebere Udoh and Peter Okeke respectively, as well as Chairman and Secretary of Local Organizing Committee, LOC, Sir Jason Nwaozor Uche Umennakaenyi respectively, NOAU had made a passionate appeal to Obiano to come to their rescue from the constant threat of erosion menace.
Udoh, Okeke, Nwaozor and Umennakaenyi lamented that the entire Old Aguata areas have been constantly ravaged by erosion menace, which has forced some into exile, while others became refugees in their own villages and have never slept any day with both eyes closed.
Cutting the roasted yam to perform the symbolic cultural ceremony, Ezeonwuka noted that it is the turn of Old Aguata to produce the next governor, after Obiano’s regime.
Ezeonwuka commended NOAU for organizing such an event and recognizing their illustrious sons and daughters who have excelled in their various fields of human endeavour.
In his own speech, the leader and gubernatorial aspirant of the People’s Progressive Alliance, PPA in the state, Mr Godwin Ezeemo who was one of the awardees at the occasion and a major sponsor of the event, described the much publicized endorsement of Gov Obiano for a second term in office by the people of Anambra state as a political scam.
Ezeemo said the so-called endorsement by some people loyal to All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA does not reflect the aspiration and wishes of people of Old Aguata in particular and the entire state in general.
The industrialists who got an award of excellence in service to humanity also faulted Obiano’s security feat, noting that the current security measures in Anambra State was a smokescreen because of high rate of unemployment in the state.
According to him, “Anambra needs permanent security measures which will guarantee jobs for the people particularly youths who are roaming the streets without hope for jobs in near future”.
The Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Akabuike who represented Obiano at the event and also received an award for both himself and Obiano, explained that they were not in doubt of the endorsement of Obiano by the Old Aguata Union for a second term in office.
He noted that Obiano’s administration has a blue print for developing Anambra State which has brought security to the state, increased the State’s rice production to 280,000 metric tonnes and introduction of Universal Insurance Scheme, which would be launched in the state very soon.
He therefore commended the group for their commitment in reviving Igbo culture, which he said was very important because, “if you don’t take care of your own it will get lost”, even as he described Igbo race as special in the world.