Saturday, August 26, was another historic day for Onitsha people worldwide. And, it will remain evergreen in their memories!
In fact, it was a day that was even more spectacular for the proud people of the historic community, who are residents in Lagos, as they trooped out in company with their friends and associates to celebrate Onitsha Day.
With the presence of His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnayelugo Alfred Nnameka Ugochukwu Achebe, the 21st Obi of Onitsha, Anambra State, South East Nigeria, in their midst, rhythmic dancing, singing and sounds of drumming that glittered the occasion were deafening.
And the people responded with glee, sharing jokes and displaying splendid costumes that cut across age grades in a most accomplished manner.
The Daily Times observed that the Nigerian Police College Field, Ikeja, Lagos, venue of the Onitsha Day 2017, organised by the Onitsha Improvement Union, OIU, Lagos Sate Chapter, led by its President, Sir, Andy Bosah Chukwunwike Ekweogwu, had been thronged by the enthusiastic indigenes and their well wishers since the early hours of the day, many of whom stayed there till the later hours the ceremony lasted.
Indeed, representatives from each zone in the state, such as, Ipaja Alagbado Ijede, mixed freely with their kins and kits from such other units as Umudei 1 Village, Umunede, etc.
The roll call of dignitaries at the ceremony, tagged: ‘#Ife Ejiabu Onicha Erika,’ was highly impressive.
His Royal Majesty, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe (Agbogidi); Chairman of the occasion, Nnabuenyi I. K. Osakwe; Chief N. Jibunoh; Mrs. Ifeanyi N. Obiozor, (Mother of the Day); President General OIU, Mr. Chinyelugo Osi Anionwu, and a representative of Lagos State government.
Faces at the occasion also included, the organizing committee members of the OIU, Lagos. They were, Chairman, Mr. Earnest Obiajulu Onyejekwe; Mrs Uju Ifeoma; Mr. Augustine Areh; Mr. Victor Enweazor; Mr. Eddie Abuah; Mrs. Felicia Udemba; Mr. Okey Enwonwu, Emeka Okwudinka; Achuta Emenike; Mrs. Adiba Ekweogu; Ikem Nwadioghu and Mr. Patty Chukwura.
The well-attended ceremony, started shortly after the arrival of the Obi of Onitsha, at about 12.05 pm, followed by opening prayers and the traditional breaking of kolanuts, which was ministered by His Royal Majesty, who was splendid in his traditional costumes – cap, beads around his neck and wrists, among other paraphernalia depicting his office.
Indeed, the kola was shared and eaten immediately among the chiefs who sat under a canopy located to the far right of His Royal Majesty, who, instructively, sat alone in his well-adorned seat.
In his welcome address, Sir Ekweogwu described the occasion as the 4th in the series of the programmes organized by his chapter. He said it was designed to raise awareness among Onitsha indigenes, host communities and neighbours.
He said it was also to raise funds for developmental purposes, and added that the day could aptly be described as Cultural Day, going by the trappings of singing, dancing, match past by elders, age grades, presence of masquerades and the various kinds of dressing/costumes.
Speaking at the ceremony, His Royal Majesty, commended the Lagos State Chapter of the union, and urged the people to continue to forge a common front for the development of Onitsha City.
Speaking also at the occasion, National President of the union, commended the Obi of Onitsha for honouring their invitation. He also thanked the Lagos Chapter of the union, led by Sir Ekweogwu for the initiative and vision in organizing the event.
The chairman of the occasion, Nabueyi Osakwe, said Onitsha has developed far beyond what it was 20 years ago.
Speaking with The Daily Times, President General of OIU, C. Anionwu, thanked the Obi of Onitsha for his presence in their midst.
He said Onitsha is noted for excellence, adding that the city has produced eminent scholars and intelligentsia, such as, Chief Loius Nbanefo; Nigeria’s First President, late Dr. Nnadi Azikwe. Anionwu stated that there was the need for a paradigm shift in the city to prepare for future challenges of development.
It was also time to honour the awardees. Among those honoured/recognized were, Prof Charles C. Okany; Chief Patrick Orakwue Egbunike; Mr. Nwachukwu Enwonwu, Deputy Commissioner of Police; Mr. Akuwata Ejoh Ojiba; Chief Chris Oranu Chidume; Hon Linda Ikpeazu, Member House of Representatives; Venerable Paul O.J. Enwonwu;
Mr. Patrick Agha, Chairman, Onitsha North Local Government Area; Amb Chigozie Nwolisa; Mrs Rita Melifonu; Dr. J Nnameka Onwuta; Nwakibie Egbuniwe; late Barrister Obiekwe Okwusogu, SAN; late Enyi, Mrs. O.M.O. Onyejetekwe (Post humus awardees); Dr. Emmanuel Okoloji (Ibga Jesus) and Henry Onukwuba.
While celebration continued into the late hours of the day, sumptuous meals/drinks were served to assuage the biting hunger of people; just as the generator that provided electricity to the occasion did not disappoint the enthusiastic audience.
Onitsha people are proud of their ancestry, going by Sir Ekweogwu’s account. He said, “Basically, Onitsha is known as a commercial center and gateway to the South East.
It may also interest you to know that most big business operators in Onitsha are not Onitsha people. Our people are basically civil servants. We are more inclined to education than to trading. However, the situation is fast changing now.
“Historically, we, Onitsha indigenes, migrated from Benin, some of us also came from Idah, Benue state. We consist of nine core villages – Onitsha Ebe Itenani,” Sir Ekweogwu concluded.