From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The New Year celebration was a splendid one at Ufuogbo autonomous community, Enugu-Ezike, Igbo-Eze North Local Government area of Enugu State, as the traditional ruler, Igwe Benedict Eze marked the Uyo Afa/Ofala festival
The occasion also marked his 14th anniversary on the throne. Many dignitaries, including royal fathers and traditional rulers, were in attendance.
Ufuogbo autonomous community, created in the year 2006, comprises three communities of Ufodo, Umuogbo-ulo and Umuogbo-Ekposhi.
The traditional ruler, Igwe Benedict Eze described Uyo Afa as a dialectical coinage peculiar to the Enugu-Ezike people or people of Nsukka extraction which simply means annual thanksgiving to God for a new year and rich harvest.
He noted that some people call it Ofala festival while others describe it as New Yam Festival depending on the season it holds.
Igwe Eze described his 14 years on the throne as eventful, even as he expressed gratitude to three successive governors of Enugu State – Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, Sullivan Chime and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for the invaluable roles they played in the traditional institutions in the state.
While Nnamani approved the creation of about 400 autonomous communities in the state and gave him a certificate of recognition, Chime increased the salaries of traditional rulers and bought cars for them. He praised Ugwuanyi for making the welfare of traditional rulers a priority.
“His grant of N10 million to every community in Enugu State out of which N5 million has already been accessed by every traditional ruler to execute any project of their choice in their community is an eloquent testimony to the Governor’s uncommon magnanimous disposition towards us.
“The Ufuogbo community has been devoid of any crisis despite the fact that it is a combination of three communities. We speak with one voice and my prayer is that what binds us together would continue to remain strong,” he prayed.
The traditional ruler also appreciated his wife, Lolo Maria Ifeoma Eze, a retired Director of Schools and presently Supervisory Councillor for Education, Igbo-Eze North Local Government.
During the Uyo Afa festival, various personalities were recognised by the traditional ruler with chieftaincy titles.
Dr Simon Atigwe, the lawmaker representing Igbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal constituency in the House of Representatives was honoured with the traditional title of Ochiagha of Ufuogbo Autonomous community. Senator Ayogu Eze was also honoured with the title of Akaraugo (Mark of the eagle) of Ufuogbo.
Deputy Chief Whip and lawmaker representing Igbo-Eze North 1 in the Enugu State House of Assembly, Ethel Oyibo Ugwuanyi was also recognised as Mmilidoloedo na eju aru oyi (The clean water that delights the body) while former President of Nigeria Institute of Management, (NIM), Dr Sally Adukwu-Bolujoko was also honoured with the title of Ezinne (Worthy mother) Ufuogbo.
The chairman of Igbo-Eze North Local Government, Prince Ejike Itodo was made the Ezinwaanamuruoha (The worthy precious child born for all) of Ufuogbo. Commissioner for Rural Development in the state; Prince Emeka Mamah was made Ebube-Agu (The lion’s glory) of Ufuogbo even as Chairman of Ferotex Construction, Chief Festus Oshaba-Onuh also bagged the title of Ochendo (The one who provides succour for his people) of Ufuogbo.
Also honoured was an Assistant Director with the National Orientation Agency and Secretary to the Cabinet, Chief Abel Idoko was honoured with the title of Onye Fee Eze (The humble servant that is exalted) of Ufuogbo while Dr Marcus Arji a consultant Ophthalmologist and Michael Uche Adonu, state Director of Investigation, Public Complaints Commission, Enugu were also rewarded with the title of Ugomsinachi (The glory from God) by the royal father.
In a note of appreciation, Chairman of Igbo-Eze North Local Government area, Prince Ejike Itodo, who is from a royal family, said the traditional title given to him by the Ufuogbo kingdom was the first in his life and would always be cherished.
He said every community, including Ufuogbo, would not be neglected in the development drive of the administration, noting that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had already set the pace.
Chief Abel Idoko commended the traditional ruler for recognising his modest efforts in serving the old Essodo kingdom for 16 years and serving the present Ufuogbo kingdom for the past 14 years.
He advised the youths to emulate the virtues of humility and pay their deserved respect to the elders, even as he pledged his continued loyalty to the traditional ruler whom he recognised as his mentor.