Umuahia the Capital of Abia State is noted for its serenity. Ibeku land houses the Capital city and its neighbouring entities like Ohuhu, Olokoro, Ubakala, Nsirimo, Oboro, Ariam and many others share a common cultural practice with slight changes and dialectal shifts. In these areas listed, respect is paramount. The Ibeku person cannot as a matter of rule call an elder by his name. There is always the prefix of Dede for the males or Dada for the female elder followed by the profuse greetings of Nma- Nma, in the morning, afternoon or evening. It doesn’t matter how many times in a day.
Like other places located in Igbo land, the indigenes take a break from August to September after the hectic farming season and the accompanying harvests and engage in cultural exercises. For the Ibekus, the new yam is celebrated with great fanfare featuring dances, masquerade rodeos. At home, guests are pampered with gourmet’s dishes, drinks and show of deep affection. It is equally a period of reconciliation as you could see estranged brothers, sisters and families exchange gifts of farm yields, money and food. Before the advent of Christianity, sacrifices were made to the deities, especially the Ahianjoku, the yam deity.
In this period, if an Ibeku man feasts his friends, neighbours, and family strings like in-laws and all, you would wonder if he became a millionaires overnight as he would lavish you with lumps of dried meat alongside the local sauce and the traditional melon cake. The Okazi soup served would be crammed with meat and dry fish of assorted fishes congesting the soup and tasking the finger in space to operate. Even those in cities would not want to be left out as they would use the period to rush down to the village and show off their new cars, flaunt their new houses or even take new titles and new wives. That was what stunned me as a stranger in my first five years, neither quarrels nor tantrums.
Even with the distortions exhibited by the youths today who instead of dancing in village squares, take to the streets brandishing knives, these are seen by the elders as aberrations and not part of the culture and equally not acceptable in civilized communities. Sadly, the Ibekus this 2020 are mourning their illustrious sons now in the morgue and should be in deep sobriety complicated by COVID 19 protocols.
I was shocked when I read in the news that a certain chieftain of Ibeku land who once sponsored a book on the origin and culture of the Ibeku people and should know the culture, seriously desecrated the practice and its rule of non-violence and quarrels and took to the airwaves in castigating his brother, a man accredited as the most achieving personality who went an extra mile to appoint three of his sons in many capacities even in a managerial posts.
According to a release from the office of Senator T. A. Orji published in the Authority Newspaper which condemned this unprovoked attack and unable to see any reason for the unwarranted spasms placed B.B. Apugo and Sen. T. A. Orji side by side in comparison, and further questioned his audacity. Not bothering the obvious, you will see that there was no basis for comparison if you look at these and I quote!
‘Are you sure you are normal or has your terminal disease degenerated into dementia?
What is your Igbo first name? No genuine Igbo goes without first names. Who was your father?
Where did you school and certificates obtained?
Who have you helped or mentored except thugs that you used and dumped?
Have you ever given out scholarships, or trained people in skills or dished out equipment and tools for sustenance?
Even in recent times of the pandemic did you issue anything to widows, orphans or the vulnerable?
Do you ever see the level you have sunken? You were on first name terms with Late Awoniyi, Ibrahim Mantu and Atiku Abubakar altogether in DBN, a defunct party. These gentlemen moved up the national political ladder but the only time you tried the position of PDP party chairmanship you failed woefully.
Please Leave Ochendo alone for you cannot compare with him in many aspects and come to think of that, he is not your mate but has achieved so much for Ibeku Land if you look at these.
He Ochendo, reached the peak of the Civil Service as Perm Secretary and worked creditably in many departments under military and civilian governors in Imo and Abia.
He was Chief of Staff for 8 years from 1999 to 2007.
He was the Governor for 8 years from 2007 to 2015 with visible achievements in policy and infrastructure too numerous to list here.
He is now a two time senator from 2015 to date. It is very obvious that you are not even good enough to unlace his shoes. No amount of lies, calumny and falsehood will bring Sen. T. A. Orji down from the reputation he has earned. He has moved from strength to strength God being with him.’
Other groups Like Ibeku Elders and Stake Holders forum and Abia Mandate Group joined in this verbal affray puffing harsher words in warnings to Apugo. To tell how annoying and unacceptable it was to the Ibeku people, heavy weights like Chief G O Onyemobi, second republic legislator, Chief Charles Ogbonna, two time commissioner and former deputy Chief of Staff, Engr. Emma Nwabuko, multiple time commissioner, Hon Chidiebere Nwoke, former commissioner and a three term legislator who functioned as the majority Leader and Deputy Speaker. Added to these heavy weights, is the Chairman of the Association of all Presidents General in Abia and a PDP stalwart Chief Uche Akwukwaegbu, all condemned the unbecoming stance of a supposed elder Statesman.
You may be surprised if you learn that the author of this piece is not an indigene of Ibeku land. Believe it, I am concerned that I have lived in Ibeku land for 30 years and my children are all born in the land and by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they can claim indigenship of Ibeku.
Let us have peace, let the elders teach us good ideals and show examples too. Oga B B, enough of such tantrums and hate speech. According to Harry Emerson Forsdick, ‘hating people is like burning your own house to get rid of a rat.’