Eze (Dr) Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu (Igbo 1), Eze Ndigbo of Lagos and Chairman Council of Ndieze on Saturday, November 14, 2020 gathered all the Igbos in Lagos at the Igbo Community Centre at Okota for the singular purpose of celebration of the New Yam Festival, CYRIACUS NNAJI reports.
Iri Ji ceremony is globally acclaimed to be synonymous with the Igbos both at home and in the Diaspora and that is the reason the Igbo Community Centre which has become the epicentre and custodian of Igbo tradition and custom made it an annual ritual to gather all the Igbo people in Lagos, their friends and well-wishers to celebrate the Yam Festival.
The Iri JI day is a unique occasion mapped out by an Igbo community to celebrate the yam as the king of crops in Igbo land; it is also designed for the people to eat together, drink and make merry. Not just that, it is a day the people showcase their cultural heritage in the form of masquerade, dance, songs, beautiful attires, food, in fact when things have not falling apart, it was an opportunity for men and women to find their suitors because the people came out in their best attires and mannerisms.
No wonder Igbo Community Centre under the indefatigable Leadership of Eze (Dr) Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu as usual hosted the entire Igbos in Lagos for this year’s Iri ji Festival.
Speaking to a crowd of Journalists, Nwachukwu disclosed that Igbo Community Centre has been fully recognized by the Lagos State Government as a house of Tradition and Custom. “The Igbo Community Centre is the house of tradition and custom, we are here to perform our cultural heritage which is the Iri ji, that is the New Yam Festival and it is also a day for the commissioning of Igbo Community Centre by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who sent the Director of Ethnic Community to commission the centre, today, Saturday, November 14, 2020.”
Eze Nwachukwu used the opportunity to express gratitude to the Lagos State Government for recognizing the centre as the house of tradition and custom especially for mediation and maintenance of peace between ethnic communities. “We thank the Governor, we thank the Chief of staff; we also thank the Director that came to commission the centre. This place is now purely recognized by the government of Lagos State, that all Igbos in Lagos State should attend functions, events, and seek redress on any issues that bring about disagreement among them and between them and other ethnic communities in Lagos State, we have the Hausa community, Igbo community and Yoruba community, our host community. We have a relationship that is built over many years now under Governor Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, followed by Governor Fashola, Ambode till our present able Governor, His Excellency Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.”
The event which was graced by illustrious sons and daughters of Ndigbo in Lagos including Hon. Jude Chukwuemeka Idimogu, the lawmaker representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency 2 in the Lagos House of Assembly, also played host to Sariki Hausa, other ethnic communities as well as representatives of Government at all levels.
High point of the celebration was the coronation of some illustrious sons and daughters of Ndigbo in Lagos, who have excelled in their various fields of Human endeavors. “We have Ada Igbo 1 of Lagos, she is a good lady, the second is a police DPO, we crowned her Ocho Udo 1 of Ndigbo for her effort in resolving the crisis that emanated during the last election, she played a very vital role and brought back the two tribes having misunderstanding and she arrested the situation and assisted the person who supposed to be the injured man and saved life, so with that we saw her as a problem solver who made that peace to come at that point in time. Therefore we gave her Ocho Udo 1.
“Another one is DC Ops, he is an Assistant Commissioner of Police Lagos State, he also assisted to have mobilized the CP and AIG to come down to Oba of Isolo where we gathered and arrested the situation. All the communities were there, and we resolved in principle that everyone should now go and take care of his community and there was peace. So based on their contributions and crime fighting intelligence, they brought peace between the two communities, we appreciate them. The DC Ops we gave Dike Ndigbo na Ala Igbo because he played a vital role.”
Speaking on his relationship with Igboburuotu Social Club of Nigeria he said, “Igboburuotu is a very big association, a respected one for that matter in Lagos State. They have really played a pivotal role in mobilizing for many businessmen and women; they exist by helping themselves and helping people the less privileged. The association president, Chief Chika Nwokedi is my relation who is very honest and determined person. As a God-fearing president he helps those members in their businesses, so I am their patron. Igboburuotu and Igbo Community are working hand in hand, as patron and president.”
Eze Nwachukwu thanked the indigenes of Lagos for creating an atmosphere of peace and an enabling environment for business to thrive. “We thank the indigenes for given us this chance of relationship.”
Nwachukwu used the opportunity to sympathise with the people and government of Lagos State over the EndSARS crisis. “We sympathise with the government of Lagos State, we sympathise with Ashiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, we sympathise with all the affected areas, organizations, businesses that had issues during the EndSARS protest in Lekki, also we have assured the government and party that Ndigbo are not behind all the issues, we have also assured the governor that the Igbos will stand by him and his government in his policies and programmes, we have a common understanding with Lagos State government and we believe in one Nigeria.”
Advising the Nigerian youths, Eze Nwachuwu said that the youth should see their protest as an honest demand from the federal government but that they should also apply caution. “God never leaves any man alone, it is only patience, endurance, forbearance that is the key in life,” Nwachukwu advised.