Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
It was a cultural explosion in Obosi community, Anambra State recently when Nigeria’s erstwhile Aviation Minister and former Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Chief Osita Chidoka marked his tenth chieftaincy anniversary and annual new yam festival.
Chidoka, holder of the chieftaincy title of Ike Obosi, played host to national and international dignitaries in his country home during the two-day event that has remained the talk of the town days after.
Among the dignitaries were the immediate past President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) and former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Peter Obi, President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, former governor of Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Senator Ben Obi, Anambra State chairman of the PDP, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, Chief Obiora Okonkwo, various traditional rulers, and Obosi high chiefs.
The host is an apostle and advocate of physical fitness, hence the event kicked off in the early hours of Saturday with an early morning jog within the Obosi community.
It was a beehive of activities the next day, beginning with a thanksgiving church service with family and friends at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Obosi.
Ven. Ikechukwu Ihemtuge, Arch-Deacon/Vicar of the church, while delivering a sermon enitled “Oh God our help in ages past”, said only fools say in their heart that there was no God.
Ihemtuge thanked God for giving Chidoka the grace to come and show gratitude to God on his volition. He urged parents to train their children so that they could be people they would be proud of in the future.
“We thank God for what he has done in your life. Not everybody has the attitude of gratitude. Most people see themselves as self-made. Only fools say there is no God.
“As a young man of 38 years, Osita was recognized as a Chief in Obosi Kingdom. Not everybody gets such rare honour, people carry money about looking for where to buy it.
“As a young man, you were the biggest officer in the Federal Road Safety Corps. As a young man you retired from active service when people are changing their names over and over. You also became a minister as a young man.
“The joy of all these is that the good things are happening to him before the eyes of his father and mother. Parents are encouraged to train their children so that they can witness the success of their children.”
The cleric counselled Chidoka not to take the grace of God for granted, even as he declared that all that Chiodoka has achieved so far was just the beginning of what God has destined for him.
For the new yam festival proper, activities took off at a nearby primary school field so as to accommodate the large number of guests.
Series of cultural performances took centre stage even as more than 30 masquerade and dance groups thrilled the audience.
Chidoka said the event was organised to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Obosi and Igboland. He said he remained grateful to God who helped the people to record bountiful harvests, especially the yam which is regarded as the chief crop in Igbo land.
“We are here to thank God for His Grace this year to celebrate new yam festival. As you can see, we are happy that our farm produce, especially yam, which is our major crop, is bountiful. I look forward to a situation where we can observe this festival at the state level to further showcase our common cultural heritage,” he said.
Chidoka also expressed great appreciation to his father, Chief Thomas Chidoka whom he disclosed consented that he should be given the chieftaincy title 10 years ago. He described his becoming Ike-Obosi as one that came with so much blessings and also attendant burden as well.
“My father supported me and agreed that I be made Ike-Obosi. That title made me to be the head of the family. But 10 years after, he is still here with me.”
Guests at the yam festival took turns to eulogise the former minister whom they described as a goal getter with innate qualities to deliver in any assignment, a passionate believer, lover and custodian of Igbo culture and pride.
The five villages that make up Obosi, including Umuota, Ire, Ugamuma, Mmakwum and Urowulu all left the venue of the ceremony in a joyful mood as Chidoka donated one cow each to them. There were also several items for each guest as take home gifts.