By Gilbert Ekezie
Some leaders in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State met recently. Tagged Forum for a united Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA, the meeting was organised by the Eze Ndigbo in the area, Valentine Ezeugo Anyalebechi, during his annual New Yam celebration.
In attendance were representatives from Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and other nationalities. Those in attendance preached unity and peaceful co-existence among the diferent ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The event was full of fun and exchange of ideas. There were also traditional dances and cultural displays, as the Umuoji Anambra women and Awomamma Mmanwu masquerades entertained guests. The displays were followed by the official cutting of the roasted new yam that was eventually served to every attendee with spices. There were also award presentations to deserving Igbo personalities.
While welcoming the guests, Eze Anyalebechi said the ethnic groups must embrace peace and unity for Nigeria to move forward. He said nearly every part of Nigeria was represented in Ajeromi Ifelodun.
He said the gathering was not only to celebrate his annual new yam festival (EmumeIrijiohuru), but to also look into some of the issues bordering on unity and peace among the various ethnic groups in Ajeromi Ifelodun, Lagos State and beyond.
“I want to thank God for sparing our lives in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, which devastated the whole world. With the pandemic and the attendant lockdown, many things fell apart, businesses crumbled, people lost their jobs, as many organisations could not afford to pay salaries. Families could not feed well, and as a result, there is hunger and anger in the land.”
Anyalebechi commended the efforts of the government at all levels, as well as corporate bodies, religious groups and individuals that provided palliatives for people during the pandemic. “Though not everyone benefitted from the palliatives, it went a long way in relieving the pain of hunger and lack at that point in time,” he said.
Former Chairman of APC in the local government, Alhaji Bayewu (Ologbojo), expressed happiness at the gathering, which he said offered a great opportunity for reasonable discussion on how to ensure unity and peace among the residents. He called on all to exhibit the spirit of brotherhood, saying it would enhance progress in the locality.
Chairman of the South South Council of Chiefs, Lagos, Chief Vincent Ahui Osu Riurhobo commended Anyalebechi for creating the opportunity to discuss issues on unity among the ethnic groups in the local government.
“What Nigeria needs now is peaceful co-existence. The South-South people have many things in common with the Igbo. We have lived together in unity and love, so this is the time to join forces with our brothers to ensure that peace and unity reign in our country.”
Chairman of the occasion, Dr Princewill Ojiaku said the yam as the king of all crops in Igboland, explaining that it is celebrated by farmers and traditionalists. He said new yam festivals are usually huge in Igboland. He urged his fellow Igbo men to maintain their spirit of hard work and industry.
President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos State, Chief Solomon Ogbonna thanked Eze Anyalebechi for bringing Ndigbo in Ajeromi Ifelodun together.
He called on Nigerians to live in peace with one another, saying the nation was in urgent need of unity.
“Nigeria needs unity to make progress. Ndigbo also need to come together and remain peaceful. The usual tussle among them has to stop because we need to unite and be peaceful to move forward,” he said.
An Igbo leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area, Elder Emmanuel Iwuagwu thanked God for the lives of Igbo people in the area. Iwuagwu who was honoured by Eze Anyalebechi at the event for his leadership strides, also called on Ndigbo to be more united and focused, saying such would pave ways for further exploits among them.
“The division within Ndigbo in Lagos, especially among those in politics, is unbecoming. This is the right time for us to unite to get what we want in politics,” he noted.