BY: Vitalis Ugoh, Calabar
Joyfully, the Barrister Kingsley Kalu led Executives of the Igbo Community Calabar, never left any stone unturned which saw the huge success as the ceremony came to a climax as planned.
It was colourful. It was fun. It was splendid and glarmours so to say. This was evident from the radiating faces of both Igbo Chief, Nze Na Di Ozo, Profs. Business men and women, children as well as landlords and invited guests.
Truly, the Igbos are industrious, loving, peaceful, enterprising any where you can find them across the globe. The same spirit manifested again as they celebrate their annual Iriji ceremony in Calabar, Cross River State capital, at Management Development Institute (MDI).
The essence of the celebration is to thank God Almighty and the “gods” of the land for a good harvest this year before actually eating the “yams” harvested from individual farms.
The Igbo culture demands that it is the traditional rulers or Ezes that should be the ones to officially “Ewa Ji ofor” as it were before sharing it to the members of the public.
This segment of the programme was traditionally observed as the representative of the Eze Igbo, His Royal Highness, Eze (Sir) E. A. Ezenwenyi, Eze Igbo Cross River who doubled as Royal Father of the day, Chief Livinus E. Ihezie(Ksm), Onowu Ndi Igbo Cross River State, performed the function with Ndi Nze Na Ozo as well as other chiefs.
It followed the normal protocols as he invited the “gods” to bear him witness having recognized them.
Earlier, the President of the Igbo Community, Barrister Kingsley O. Kalu, had officially presented “cola-nut” before it was moved according to Igbo tradition and rites. There was no mistakes. The cola-nut journeyed and landed very well.
The landlord, the Muri Munene of Efut, His Royal Majesty, Prof. Itam Hogan Itam who was represented by Chairman, Muri Cabinet of Efut oNation, His Royal Highness, Muri Francis Efa, poured libation seeking the acceptance of the cola-nut/drinks presented by the Igbos in Calabar. He prayed that the gods should protect and guide them while in the land doing their businesses.
“What a confirmation of acceptance from the landlord community. This actually signified total approval to the occasion of Award Giving/Iriji of Igbo Community Calabar.”
The Onowu Ndi Igbo had graciously welcomed the owners of the land, guests and all the various communities present at the occasion with the “cola-nut” saying the Eze Igbo has sent his greetings and prayers that should protect and guide all that have come to honor this invitation in Jesus Name Amen.
The easy, calm President of Igbo Community, Barr. Kalu, in his welcome speech, extended gratitude to the government and people of Cross River State for providing enabling environment for us to operate.
“This, he said, has gone a long way in creating peace and tranquility in the body polity of the Igbos in the state. He thanked His Excellency Sen. Ben Ayade for his magnanimity and love for the Igbos during his tenure as governor. We appreciate your financial assistance to the Igbos in the past. We are full of expectations that His Excellency will continue to do more for us”.
He welcomed the invited dignitaries and awardees who spared time to be present. It is your presence that gives meaning to this occasion today.
“The Igbo Community Calabar has concluded plans to put up an ultramodern community house and civic center in Calabar. This will help reduce the challenges faced due to the dearth of existing infrastructures available in the city of Calabar “.
Kalu applauded the native traditional institutions in the state capital, the Obong of Calabar, the Ndidem of the Quas and the Muri Munene of the Efut for their presence which had added colour to this memorable occasion.
“This is an indication of peaceful co-existence amongst us and other non Indigenes within their domains, he further added”.
He lauded the effort of Ezeigbo Cross River State for his wonderful contribution towards bringing Igbos together in the state and making sure that the government and the people, non-indigenous population speak with one voice. This peaceful legacy would remain indelible in our history”.
Kalu thanked and appreciated his executives for working very hard for the realization of this objective.
He expressed delight and gratefulness to the Governor Ben Ayade for honouring the occasion. We appreciate and wait for your generous contribution.
The chairman of the occasion, Chief, Hon. Sir Chukwuemeka A. Egwuonwu (Ochubaradikeoha of Orumba North and South), CEO/MD A.C. Peterson Nig. Ltd, had welcomed all diginataries and awardees to the occasion..
“He said, we have come as Igbos living in Cross River State to celebrate our culture of “Iriji/Award ceremony which is done annually.”
This event brings us together as one united community and people living together peacefully with our landlord communities.
Therefore, “it is my prayers that God will see us through peacefully as we celebrate, dance and eat out food in Jesus Name Amen. He prayed that the grace of God shall not depart from Cross River State land. Whatever we do shall prosper. The land shall continue to be fertile always.”
Chief Egwuonwu advised that”in as much as things are becoming so difficult, there is hope. By February 2023, God should have answered our prayers towards salvaging this country from its present wrought.
He urged the Igbos living in Cross River State to always be peaceful with one another especially with our landlord communities as h declared the event open.
The occasion recorded the presence of Rt. Hon. Daniel Ausquo, labour party Senate candidate for Southern senatorial district, Governorship candidate for Labour Party, Comrade Ogar Osim Ogar and the governorship candidate for the All Progressives’Congress (APC), Sen. Bassey Otu, who was represented by Ayade’s Aide, Hon. Timmy Tom.
They however, in honour of their love and appreciation, danced round all the canopies greeting members as the respond with joy and cheers of “obident, obident”.
The five states from the South East Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo came with their members as they sang, danced and shared their food and drinks in joyful moods.
Some of the communities captured include, Ideato Cultural and Welfare Association, Nzuko Ndi Abia, Ogbako Anambra, Nzuko Ndi Imo and Orsu Welfare Association amongst others.
Present at the occasion was the President General Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Cross River State, High Chief, Festus Odoemena (Agunecheibe) who used the opportunity to wish them success as the celebration goes on.
The award recipients are, Chief Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma(CON, COE, Innoson Motors, Compt. Sir. Anthony Okechukwu Udenze (Ksm, JP, Dr. Tonna Nwabueze, Sir, Obiora Samuel Oyeka, Chief Chijioke Ugochukwu, High Chief Desmond Oko and Ogbuevi Emmanuel N. Okechukwu,(Ikpe malu Eziokwu of Aguleri).
Others are, Hon Okey Maduekwe, Mr. Nnamdi Madubuko, Dr. Sir Okechukwu Ukweh, Mr. Jeremiah Ezeagu, Mr. Echefuns Nwosu, Chief Engr. Pius Nwankwo and Mr. Festus Mbonu.
Earlier, the chairman central planning committee, Sir. Ken Okpaleke, had thanked all invited diginataries as well as the governor of Cross River State Sen. Ben Ayade for honouring the occasion and prayed God to grant them journey mercies on Jesus Name Amen.