From Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
The serene atmosphere of Ogidi located in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, was recently altered as the town celebrated its yam festival and cultural day. Nigerians from all walks of life trooped into the agrarian community to savour culture in its raw best.
Troupes and masquerades from Benin, Calabar, Nupe, Bassa, Igala, Itsekiri, Ebirra, Oworo and Igbo, including the display of the fiery Yoruba Sango warrior gushing out fire from his mouth, embellished with gunshots and war songs from the Nike Art Gallery thrilled the audience.
The festival is usually an event to honour with chieftaincy titles eminent Nigerians, including indigenes of the community, who have variously in their chosen careers made indelible marks and impacted on humanity
Commissioner for Finance and Budget, Idris Asiru, who represented Governor Yahaya Bello, commended the community for its giant strides through communal efforts. He pledged that government would continue to support the community. He promised to rehabilitate the Kabba-Ogidi Road and lauded the people for living peacefully.
Asiru personally donated a motorised borehole to the community, which was commissioned that day. He also promised to give empowerment to 100 indigent members of the community under his Asiwaju Idris Asiru Foundation.
The Ologidi of Ogidi, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, said the festival was to celebrate the eating of the new yam and to usher in a new planting season: “The occasion is also used to offer prayers for next year’s bountiful farm harvest and for peace and tranquillity to prevail. It is also to draw the attention of government and meaningful individuals to the numerous plights of the community.”
President, Ogidi Development Union (ODU), Mr Kayode Raphael Eniolorunda, said: “The community is in dire need of social amenities like pipe borne water, hospital and good roads to uplift the living standard of our people.”
Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), General Buba Marwa,
said: “This is the joy, happiness, and excitement we desire and pray for every community in Nigeria. I will implore each of us to take a few minutes for sober reflection and pray for Nigeria.
“But for the relative peace in Kogi State, this festival would not have been staged in this grand way. There are several places across Nigeria where people and communities have abandoned festivals and other celebrations of their cultural heritage for years now because of the security situation in the country.
“The state of insecurity in the country calls for sober reflection. Our national life is now characterised daily by unprovoked attacks, senseless killings and other grave crimes.
“More than ever before, our country is seriously seeking to entrench peace and security. This reflects in the urgency and the magnitude of commitment devoted to tackling destructive manifestations such as banditry and Boko Haram insurgency as well as the strategic measures being employed by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to neutralise the enabling factors of insecurity.
“This is the backdrop to the NDLEA’s renewed war on abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs, identified as one of the major enablers of crimes and by extension, catalysts of insecurity.
“The dangers of drug abuse and drug trafficking stare us in the face, whether here in Kogi State, or farther in the East, or up North or in South West. Many lives have been wrecked directly by the abuse of drug and many homes broken and destroyed by addiction to drugs.
“We cannot quantify the pain and anguish that have been inflicted on families and communities by murderous groups and individuals who are emboldened in their nefarious activities by the psychoactive influence of illict drugs.
“From the vantage position I occupy, as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, I am very saddened and unhappy with what I am seeing. Let me share with you the worrying statistics of drug abuse in Nigeria.
“Today, no fewer than 14.3 million Nigerians, young people and adults from the age of 16 to 64 years abuse drugs, with cannabis being the commonly abused substance. At least 10.6 million people are addicted to cannabis in the past year. What is most heart breaking is that majority of them are young people who are initiated into cannabis use around the age of 19.
“There is also increasing use of other psychotropic drugs, especially heroin, again, by a growing number of young people who are mostly initiated at the age of 22 years. The more you unravel the statistics of drug uses in Nigeria, the more damning it becomes. And when you combine these damning data with the recent results of the activities of the NDLEA, then you begin to get worried.
“In the past four months, we have arrested more than 2,180 drug traffickers, intercepted and seized over two million kilograms of assorted illicit substances such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, tramadol and cannabis. Broadly speaking, the agency has been able to seize drugs and cash worth over N90 billion within the first four months of this year.
“We have filed over 2,000 drug cases in court. Over 500 have been sentenced and are now serving different jail terms. And we still have over 1,500 of the cases pending in court.
“With this reality, it will be ironic to expect peace, security and meaningful development in Nigeria. In truth, we are all victims of the consequences of drug abuse and trafficking, directly or indirectly.”
Personalities who received chieftaincy titles included Governor Bello, as Aare Olusegun of Ogidi; Marwa, as Aare Jagunmolu; Asiru and wife, as Basorun Amuwajoye and Yeye Basorun Amuwajoye respectively.
Others were member, representing Kogi/Koto Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Ibrahim Shaba, as Akorede and chairman, Ijumu Local Government, Taofeek Isah, as Friend of Ogidi Kingdom, among others.
Chief (Mrs.) Nike Okundaye, the Yeye Oba of Ogidi and proprietress, Nike Art Gallery was given a chieftaincy title by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi. It was administered on her by a delegation of traditional rulers from Yorubaland.