By Cyriacus Nnaji
Eze Ndigbo of Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government Area, His Royal Highness, Eze Valentine Ezeugo Anyalebechi has called on ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to cultivate the culture of harmonious coexistence.
Eze Anyalebechi made the appeal in his Welcome Address at the Annual New Yam Celebration/Forum for a Better Ajeromi/Ifelodun, Lagos, which was held in his palace on Saturday 7th November, 2020.
Titled For a better Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government, he said the LGA accommodates almost every ethnic group in Nigeria and therefore stressed the need for peace. “I titled my Forum For a Better Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government due to the need for unity and peace in our area, which accommodates almost every ethnic group in Nigeria. It is not disputable that we have been tolerating one another in the past, despite all odds, it is therefore important that we do not relent, so that unity, love and peace amongst us will continue to reign, says Anyalebechi.”
He advised the Igbos especially to remain peaceful and go about their business without fear “I call on Ndigbo to remain peaceful and law-abiding and go about their normal and genuine businesses without fear of intimidation.”
Speaking on the Covid-19 pandemic which brought hardship and pain to many families across the globe, Eze Anyalebechi said “I want to thank God for saving our lives at the heat of Covid-19 pandemic which devastated the whole world. In Nigeria, the case was an eyesore, and one unforgettable experience we had was due to its effect on families, corporate bodies, religious groups, educational institutions, the government service givers and individuals.”
Eze Anyalebechi expressed pain that while the country was about overcoming the tragedy occasioned by Covid-19, the issue of EndSARS resurrected itself. “Unfortunately, as Nigerians were struggling to survive the effects of covid-19, EndSARS protest, another serious issue came up. Hoodlums hid under the protest, which was initially peaceful to kill, loot and destroy properties. During the period, there was insecurity, many died, properties worth billions of Naira were destroyed and businesses were shot down for weeks due to the curfew that was put in place. Both tragic events had negative effects on the nation’s economy, but we are grateful to God for taking care of us during and after the tragic periods.”
He said yam, as a crop like others, is given a special status and regard in Igboland and has been celebrated long time ago.
Chief (Dr) Solomon Ogbonna, President Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos Chapter, on his part, expressed joy that the Igbo culture is promoted in every part of the world. “I have said it time without number, Igbos are not thieves, they are not arsonists, but the allegations we face in Nigeria, is rather bringing the Igbos prosperity and progress, such falsehood end up opening doors for the people. Anywhere the Igbo find themselves, once the land blesses them, they also bless the land. We know how Lagos was. A plot of land is now N680million, it is Ndigbo, Ikoyi is N400m, Admiralty Way N400m, it is Ndigbo, some live in Epe now but when you ask them they say they live in Lekki, it is Ndigbo. What I am telling Ndigbo now is how we can be united, because if you go to police stations in Lagos, if you have 100 cases, 80% is usually Igbo versus Igbo, so we must stop that kind of thing.” He thanked organizers of the Iri ji in Ajeromi/Ifelodun.
High Chief Vincent Ahui Osu Riurhobo, Lagos State and Chairman South-South Council of Chiefs, Lagos, said the country needs peace and progress “What we need is progress in this nation, where freedom exists at all levels. We have a lot of things in common with the Igbo people, ‘Up’ is enu in both Igbo and Urhobo. We have lived together in love and it is time to join forces with our brothers to ensure peace in our land. He thanked Eze Ndigbo of Ajeromi/Ifelodun for organizing the new yam festival.
Dr. Princewill Chukwuma Ojiaku, Ugochinyeremba 1 of Orlu, former lecturer and Chairman of the Occasion said he is especially happy because iri ji Ndigbo is not only done in Igboland but also in the Diaspora. He said “Yam is the king of crops in Igboland, we are here to celebrate with our brother as a farmer who has made immense harvest and to tell him that God has blessed him.
“Today is a day of fashion show, young ladies would carry out parade in their best attires, catwalk; masquerades of all shades would come out; people would roll out drums, spectacular shows, boys and girls, that is our own celebration. It is not a minor issue, it is really big.
“In Igboland we fetch firewood and water for the host; that is how it was done in Igboland, not that he will go and buy water or firewood, we support him. But if we don’t have all those things, if we have 1000, we can give him to support what he is doing.” He advised Ndigbo to continue to be hard-working and ensure they are never idle.
Elder Emmanuel Obioma Iwuagwu, Igbo Apex Leader, Ajeromi/Ifelodun LGA, said he was happy because he who works must eat. He said “Among all the Ezes in Ajeromi, Eze Anyalebechi is the only Eze that has found me worthy for a chieftaincy title, even when I told him I don’t want a Chieftaincy. He honoured me for piloting the affairs of the Igbos in the LGA”
He decried the unjustifiable factions observable among the Igbos in Lagos, saying “Some say they are coalition, this one Igbo Vision, Some Igbos in APC, while others call themselves Stakeholders.” He called on all Igbo to be united under one umbrella.