…Honours Ikpeazu, Orji, Daily Sun editor, others
By Magnus Eze
natives of Item community of Abia State, reputed for commerce and industry, held the nation’s capital spellbound at the weekend as they held the symbolic Iri Ji (new yam) festival. The event was also used to honour distinguished friends and members of the community.
Notable award recipients were Abia Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, his immediate predecessor and senator of Abia Central, Chief Theodore Orji, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Deputy Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Dr. Cosmos Ndukwe, Former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian Flour Mills Plc, Dr. Emmanuel Akwari Ukpabi; Editor of Daily Sun, Onuoha Ukeh and popular rap musician, Nigga Raw, among others.
The colourful ceremony, which had large dose of cultural exposition, received kudos from numerous guests, who particularly applauded the organisers, for promoting the culture of their origin.
For Governor Ikpeazu, Item people had through the event showed that they had not lost their identity.
“Item people should be celebrated and not their people celebrating themselves. They have made Abia proud. Item people are very hardworking people. I could remember their exploits those days in Aba. They have been involved in any progress made in Abia State. So, we would continue to identify with them,” Ikepeazu, who was represented by Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Chikwendu Kanu stated.
He, therefore, urged them to continue to partner with the state government by contributing their quota, promising to increase government’s presence in the town by way of more infrastructural development and political appointments.
Similarly, Senator Orji extolled the virtues of the Item man describing the community as blessed and strategic in the scheme of things in the state, adding that “they possess qualities of hard work, dedication, honesty and trust.”
He enjoined them to always think home especially by getting involved in peace building in the state.
President, Item Union, Abuja, Stephen Ukeje in his welcome address praised Gov Ikpeazu for showing close relationship with Item people by the calibre of representation sent to the event.
Though the traditional new yam ritual had long been observed in their homeland and other parts of Igboland, Ukeje said the rare festival would no doubt help Item children and indeed, the younger generation in Abuja, to appreciate their culture in the face
of treat to indigenous cultures.
“This celebration reminds us of our identity and origin; Nde Item are known to be great farmers who plant and harvest in due time. It is a known fact that Item is a great community with rich cultural heritage as you will be witnessing today. We have a lot of cultural attractions acclaimed nationally and internationally,” he said.
In the contemporary world of entertainment, the president said the community had produced the music sensation, Mr. Raw Nwanne and the late comic merchant, James Iroha, popularly called Gringory Akabuogu.
He also said his people are hospitable, naturally hardworking, creative, reliable and always aiming to be independent.
“With this mindset, we are committed to the progress of our community, Abia state and Nigeria in general,” he declared.
He listed building of a resource centre, scholarship foundation, annual medical outreach and annual donation of free books to schools in Item, as the projects and programmes the community was embarking on.
Responding after receiving his award as “Item Political Light,” Abia Deputy Speaker, praised the immediate past and current governments in the state for carrying the community along.
As the highest political office holder from the community, Ndukwe assured that he would use his position to better the lot of his people beginning with a primary healthcare centre and empowerment scheme for 200 youths that would be inaugurated by December.
In his own response, Editor, Daily Sun, who was honoured as “Mighty Pen Item”, expressed surprise that the community recognised his modest contribution.
“I have received many awards but this one stands out. If you have not been recognised by your people, it means you have not started. I have been doing my thing quietly but didn’t know you were seeing all these.
“I will just continue to do all those things that brought this recognition,” Ukeh stated.
A brief citation on Ukeh had described him as a “peace loving gentleman, who is an epitome of determination and excellence, with great zeal to assist and develop those he finds around him.”
Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, who was represented at the event, tasked Item Community not to relent in promoting their culture.
To show his endorsement of the occasion, he sent the Atilogwu Dance Troupe from NCAC, which no doubt, further electrified the place to the admiration of guests.
The popular Ikpirikpe Ogu (Ohafia war dancers) also mesmerised guests with their spectacular display.