Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
It was a blend of funfair and culture as well as colourful display of Igbo traditions, as a socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo in the southwest, inaugurated its newly executive officers, to pilot the affairs of group for the next two years.
The event, which took place at the Ogun State secretariat of the association in Abeokuta, was also used to launch youth educational endowment fund, to provide scholarships for indigent but brilliant students of Igbo extraction, across southwest.
The inauguration ceremony equally saw 15 prominent members of Ohaneze Ndigbo in the southwest, receiving awards of excellence for their immense contributions to the growth and development of the group.
People, dressed in resplendent traditional Igbo attires, who had converged on the secretariat to witness the event, were treated to electrifying display of cultural music and dances. Drums and other Igbo musical instruments, produced melodious tunes, to the admiration of the audience.
The Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, the Secretary to the Ogun State Government, Talabi, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Kunle Osota, were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
The Eze Ndigbo in Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Lagos and Ekiti states, accompanied by their entourages were also in attendance, to be part of the ceremony.
Meanwhile, the programme was officially kicked off with the breaking of kolanut, pouring of libation and offering of prayers by the Eze Ndi-Igbo in Ogun State, Willy Ejimnkeonye.
After the opening prayers, a minute silence was observed for the departed soul of the late President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Ogun State, Ichie Iwuoha Uzodimma.
Addressing the gathering, the out-gone president of the southwest Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prince Nathaniel Uzomah, said the zonal chapter had come to stay, noting solid foundation had been laid it four years ago.
While saying the body had been weaved strongly, Uzomah, however, charged the successor and his entire team to build on the foundation in such a way that it will be to all concerned and glorify the name of the Lord.
In his own remarks, the President-General of Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo Worldwide, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, commended the southwest zonal chapter of the group for keeping the flag of unity among the Igbo people in the southwest, flying.
Represented by Chief Udo Udo-Ugaranya, Nwodo, urged the new executives to carry on torch of unity and progress, passed on to it by the former exco.
He further implored them to design programmes that will stimulate growth and development among the Igbo people in the geo-political zone, just as he tasked the new members of the exco to continue to foster cordial relationship with their host states and communities.
Also addressing the new officials, the chairman of the event and the President, Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo in Lagos State, Chief Solomon Ogbona, said the zonal chapter had grown from strength to strength and added values to the lives of the Igbo people in the zone.
Ogbona, who was represented by Ambassador Obadiah Alugo, explained that “the formation of Ohaneze Ndigbo Southwest was for the purpose of integration of Ndigbo, peace, unity and cohesion, and to promote Igbo language as well as culture, which is believed in some quarters that it is going into extinction”.
He submitted that the immediate past executive committee of the group in the southwest had performed excellently and challenged the new executive committee members to work assiduously and surpass the achievements of their predecessors.
In his acceptance speech, after the swearing in of the 19-member executive committee of Ohaneze Ndigbo Southwest, the president, Chief Matthew Nwakwo, expressed gratitude to Igbo people in Ogun and the entire southwest, for giving him the opportunity to serve as the leader of the team.
He promised that he would not betray the confidence reposed in him by his people, saying he and his team will always be guided by provisions of the constitution of the group.
Nwakwo added that Ohaneze Ndigbo Southwest, as a part of worldwide Ohaneze movement, will join hands with the national body to move it in the right direction.
“I am very mindful of the task ahead. I accept this great responsibility thrust placed on my shoulder and I promise not to betray the confidence bestowed on me by my people in Ogun State. Please take note that we will all do it together.
“To the new executive committee members, I say congratulations and pledge to give you the required leadership. Please, let us join hands to move our people, Ohaneze Ndigbo in the right direction. We should not forget that we are part of the worldwide Ohaneze Movement”. The newly inaugurated president stated.
In his goodwill message, the OGHA Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo, lauded the association for preserving the heritage of the Igbo. While tasking them on the need to strengthen relationship with their hosts, the Speaker harped on the need to teach children how to communicate in local languages, in order to preserve various culture and traditions across the country.He further urged the new executive committee members to work for unity among the various tribes in their localities in order to promote understanding and harmony in the country.
The event, however, climaxed with launch of education endowment fund to sponsor 10 Igbo indigent students in the southwest geo-political zone.