From Chidi Asonye, Umuahia
The third deputy chairman, Abia State Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Godfrey Chinedu Onwuka has urged Nigerians to promote their culture in order to generate employment opportunities and boost Internally Generated Revenue, IGR for national development.
The traditional ruler who was speaking who was speaking in his palace of Justice at Umutowe autonomous community, Olokoro, Umuahia South L.G.A, of Abia State, during the Opoko festival of Umuoparaozara and Amuzu Olokoro, called on government at all levels to strive to increase its investment and exploits in the arts and culture sector for the economic prosperity of the State and its citizens.
Eze Onwuka who harped the need for the government to enhance the potential of creative practitioners and boost the Internally Generated Revenue of Nigeria, said that promoting cultural activities by various ethnic nationalities would not only promote peace and unity but would also generate employment and boost the revenue base of the country.
He disclosed that Opoko festival is celebrated once in every twenty (20) years, adding, “Opoko means a young palm frond. We saw our fathers celebrating it, so we inherited it. It is been celebrated once in twenty years but because of certain factors it lingered up to thirty-eight years”.
Eze Onwuka however called on his people to follow the trend of modern era as things have gone digital, so that the festival could attract investors and tourists, if made colourful and remove some restrictions attached to it.
Interacting with newsmen also in his residence at Amuzu, Hon. Chibueze Onyemachi, a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, the Abia State Governor on Grassroots mobilization harped the need to boost culture in order to generate revenue and employment.
He described Opoko festival as not fetish, rather a festival inherited from the forefathers, which will not also die in their lifetime.
Onyemachi revealed that people from Canada, USA and other parts of the world came to witness the event and pointed out that if harnessed properly, could attract tourists and investors and in turn boost the IGR of the state.
His words, “In Olokoro, we celebrate Eke festival, Enyi, Ogbanelu, Abonkwu, Opoko among other festivals. So, it is a thing of joy to witness the Opoko festival for the second time. I witnessed the last one, which was celebrated in 1982 at a tender age”.
Interacting with newsmen, the immediate past Vice Chairman of Umuahia South L.G.A, Hon. Ikechi Nnanta who is from Umuajata village in Olokoro clan, lauded Umuoparaozara and Amuzu people for co-hosting the festival and pointed that, “our cultural heritage keeps our memories alive of how beliefs and cultural expressions have contributed to the development of our society”.
Victoria Ogboso from Umuoparaozara, who was excited, said, “It happened 38 years ago. Our locality is our identity. Opoko ukwu Ndi Umuoparaozara Olokoro, Umuahia South, Abia State is still bubbling”.