Stories by UGOCHUKWU ALARIBE
ABA- It was a carnival of sorts at the palace of Eze Eberechi Dick, the traditional ruler of Mgboko Ngwa Amaise autonomous community in Obingwa Council Area of Abia State, as the state council of traditional rulers conferred a chieftaincy title on the Kano State governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
In the governor’s delegation to the chieftaincy installation ceremony were the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; Eze Ndigbo Kano, Eze Boniface Ibekwe; members of the Kano State Executive Council, members of the state Assembly and the Igbo Association in Kano.
Traditional dance troupes from Kano and the Ohafia war dance as well as the Abia State Council of Arts and Culture added colour to the event with their displays. The Hausa community in Aba led by the Chief Imam of Aba Central Mosque, Alhaji Bashir Idris and Sarkin Hausa in Abia, Alhaji Yaro Danladi, was on hand to lend support to the governor. Members of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, who had earlier threatened to stop the ceremony, were not seen at the event. The MASSOB threat may have led to the heavy presence of security agents at Mgboko Ngwa Amaise community.
Conferring the chieftaincy award of Agu na eche Mba 1 of Igbo land (Lion that protects the people), on Ganduje, Eze Dick who is also the chairman, South- East Council of Traditional Rulers, said the title is a mark of recognition of the governor’s efforts in protecting lives and property of Ndigbo residing in Kano State.
He said: “We, the traditional rulers in the East decided based on the report and plea of our people residing in Kano to honour the governor of Kano, Umaru Ganduje with chieftaincy title for the way in which he has been protecting their lives and property in Kano. So, we are honouring him with the title of Agu na eche mba of Igbo land. The title is significant because it will go a long way to show that we, the Igbos are united with our brothers in the north. We have so much wealth in Kano and the governor has done all in his power to secure our wealth, we appreciate it.”
While thanking Ndigbo for the title, Ganduje emphasized his commitment to support the continued unity of Nigeria, stressing that there is no discrimination between indigenes and non-indigenes in Kano as he appointed senior aides from major ethnic groups residing in the state.
He said: “I thank this great region for finding me worthy to receive title from you. I cherish events like this that aims to bring us together. It shows our unity despite our diverse cultures. It has always been my firm belief that diversity should not be used as an instrument of dividing people. I do not subscribe to the principle that differences in language, customs and laws divide people making it difficult for them to live as one people. On the contrary, diversity brings about richness in our culture which can bind us together as long as there’s understanding and mutual respect.
“On several occasions, I turned down offers from different traditional institutions to offer titles to me, but I couldn’t have turned this down because of the working relationship we have with Eze Ndigbo Kano, Eze Boniface Ibekwe, and other Igbo in Kano who are promoting peaceful co-coexistence not only with Ndi Igbo but with other ethnic groups in Kano. Our collective pursuit in uniting this nation underscores the fact that as long as we have a common purpose, we’ll find no obstacle big enough to stop us from marching on.
“I personally commit in my capacity as the governor of the most populous state in Nigeria to support all efforts in ensuring that this country remains united as one. It has been my personal conviction that everyone who chooses to come and stay in Kano should never be addressed as non-indigene. In ensuring that my vision is real, we appointed senior aides from major ethnic groups in Nigeria living in Kano. In fact, during the quit notice served by Arewa youths, I had to intervene by summoning series of meetings in the Kano Government House to foster peace. And I’m glad to say that based on my intervention, the Arewa youths withdrew the quit notice.
“I’m sure Eze Boniface Ibekwe and his people will attest to the efforts and the sleepless nights we had to curtail the escalation of the crisis. We have also introduced an annual inter-religious and community conference towards strengthening our community relations for harmony and peaceful coexistence and development of Kano State.
In his remarks, Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, expressed gratitude to the Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers for honouring the governor and called for more understanding among Nigerians. “I would like to on behalf of the people of Kano, thank you the people of Abia for this honour that you’ve done to our governor and our brother, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje with this title. We have said it many times and I’m happy we have the leaders of Ndigbo in Kano here.
Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emeka Okoro, commended the people of Kano for their brotherly love for Ndi Igbo. “We the people of Abia appreciate all the Ezes who are here today to demonstrate our love and desire for unity of our dear country. We promise to abide by this move made by our traditional rulers in keeping this nation peaceful and united. What has happened today will go a long way in making things better for us all as Nigerians. From this move, it’s obvious that from now henceforth, Kano is the home of Abia people while Abia will always be a home for the Kano people.”