From Henry Umahi ([email protected])
The cultural vibrancy of Imo State was put on display by the Omenimo Troupe recently as the group performed various renditions of the rich culture and traditional music of Ndimo, in terms of content and character. The drumming was deep, delivering innuendoes and messages as if communicating with the gods. What about the dancers? They displayed exquisite and energetic dancesteps with a touch of creativity. At a point, the dancing became war-like in the manner of the famous Ohafia war dance. And, somehow, some of the dancers infused the azonto and shoki dance styles to the enchantment of the audience. The icing on the cake was the distinct African flute resonating with complex themes and emotions. In African folklore, such sounds used to wake the dead. Indeed, memories are made of such performances.
The occasion was the grand reception of the Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Dr. Acho Ihim, on his emergence as President, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), African Region. A carnival of sorts, the event was grand in every aspect. The air was electrified, right from the Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport, Owerri. Traffic was particularly high around the airport as commercial and chattered flights landed at a higher frequency even as siren-blaring convoys were seen leaving the VIP lounge. Inside the capital city, everyone headed to the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), venue of the reception.
It was Acho’s day, his day of glory. From far and near, very important personalities and ordinary people came to celebrate the man of history. Some of the guests came from outside the country to be part of the event.
Acho was the first person from this clime to occupy the position hence the government and the people rolled out the drums in honour of their son whose worthy head was wearing a glittering crown.
The 7,000 capacity hall was ablaze with colours. It was filled with rows of VIPs and important-looking men wearing flowing agbada, chieftaincy regalia and the attire called senator in local parlance. Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Senator Ken Nnamani, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha, Mr. Demetrius Ngalami, Secretary Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Africa Region, and Eze Madumere were some of those who graced the occasion chaired by Masari.
Although the hall was filled to the brim, a sizeable crowd still competed for space on the grounds outside with cultural groups and exotic cars. The profusion of activities around the arena attests to the fact that Acho was a man of the people. Different groups in uniforms were singing and dancing among other things. A local newspaper captured it thus: ‘Imo agog for Ihim’.
The state government took the opportunity to showcase its achievements since coming into power. In a presentation, the deputy speaker, Hon. Ugonna Ozuruigbo, spoke on Imo Legislature and Executive – A Working Partnership. While he spoke, the achievements were displayed on a big screen. In a nutshell, the deputy speaker opined that the executive and legislature enjoy a robust relationship, resulting in infrastructural development of the state.
In his goodwill message, Tambuwal said that the legislature and executive were able to deliver dividends of democracy to Imo people because of the cordial relationship between the two arms. Urging other states to emulate Imo, the former speaker House of Representatives said: “You cannot have a democracy without the legislature, no matter the system of government.” According to him, there must be synergy and respect for one another.
Volunteering that “the celebrant has made us proud, and now an international figure,” he urged Acho to lead by example. “I am sure you won’t let us down.”
Explaining that the CPA exposes parliamentarians to what obtains elsewhere to make them grounded in their legislative duties, Tambuwal showed his other side as he signed out in Igbo language. And the audience was excited.
On his part, former Senate President, Nnamani, preached rancor-free relationship between the executive and the legislature. Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State lightened the atmosphere perceptibly with his wisecracks. Describing himself as Chief of General Staff to Okorocha, who is the chairman of APC Governors’ Forum, he said that “all APC governors must come through me” to see the chairman. He thanked the Imo State House of Assembly for the support it has rendered to Okorocha even as he wished Ihim well as he pilots the affairs of CPA, Africa Region.
Looking confident with a winsome smile on his face, Acho was full of life as he stood on the podium. Perhaps, because he went to Mauritius, saw and conquered, he chose to wear an Igbo traditional war dance cap. Intermittently, different women groups sang in his honour, interrupting his speech as he rededicated his life to service of humanity. He said: “I’m humbled beyond words. It is quite humbling that, for the first time in Imo State, Governor Okorocha is hosting my presidency. Owelle has not even celebrated himself but he decided to celebrate my humble self. He rolled out the drums and brought eminent personalities to Imo for my sake.”
Pledging not to let Imo State and the country down, the CPA president said: “I promise to make Nigeria great. The light given to me shall not extinguish in my time; it will blossom, blossom and blossom.”
Acho was full of praise for his colleagues in the Imo State House of Assembly for choosing him to lead them and offering him unwavering support since his inauguration. On behalf of the legislators, he promised that “we shall not let Imo people for who we speak down.”
It was an opportunity for Okorocha to exhibit his oratorical skill and he did not disappoint. “It is the desire of an ageing father to see a rising son,” he started. Then he made reference to the Bible with regards to the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist and what happened afterward, describing the speaker as his beloved son in whom he is well pleased.
He said: “This gathering is to give honour to whom honour is due. He has proven himself. The joy of every leader is to raise men. Acho Ihim, today, a new chapter has opened in your life.”
Someone noted that despite Acho’s outward show of sophistication and eloquence, he is actually at home with the common people hence they came out in their number to celebrate him and/ or celebrate with him.