When royal fathers renewed handshake across the Niger

SINCE Thursday, January 11, 2018, when the people of south-east and South-West geo-political zones met in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, to brainstorm and chart a way forward for the two zones, little has been heard of an open gathering of royal fathers from the southern Nigeria.

Among the top dignitaries at the January event were the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who was duly represented; Chief Olu Falae, Chief John Nwodo, Chief Ayo Adebanjo,  ex-governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Professor Banji Akintoye, Senator Femi Okurounmu, ex-governor Jonah Jang of old Plateau State, Professor Pat Utomi, Governor of Enugu State, represented by Uwakwe Azikiwe; son of the late Owelle of Onitsha, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe while Ebonyi, Anambra, Abia and Imo state governors were represented by their deputies.

Also present were Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe represented the ex-deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; former military governor of Akwa Ibom State; Idongesit Nkaga represented Chief Edwin Clark from the South-South region; Chief Bola Doherty, Dr Joe Nworgu and Professor Joe Irukwu.

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The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo (Jnr.) and the leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti; were lauded for championing and blessing the event described by many as “historic and symbolic.”

History indicates that brotherhood and friendship between the Ndigbo and the Yorubas did not start on January 18 as illustrated by the memorable friendship of duo of Adekunle  Fajuyi and Ironsi. Indeed, in June, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, broke the ice when he received  Igwe Cyprian Maduabuchukwu Nevobasi, Ezeani 111 of Agunese Mmaku in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State at his palace.

It was learnt that the meeting was to strengthen relationships among traditional institutions across the two zones. Little wonder, the Ooni commended the Igwe Nevobasi.

“By this visit to Ife ancient kingdom, Igwe Nevobasi of Mmaku kingdom has cemented the relationship between Yoruba and Igbo people. It is a memorable event to have Igwe Nevobasi in Ile-Ife this day. We appreciate the love you have for us. The handshake across the Niger should continue. We are happy with your cultural heritage. We are the real aborigines of African race,” Ooni of Ife stated.

Oba Ogunwusi  also applauded the philanthropic activities of Igwe Nevobasi, adding that  he had not only lifted the waning spirits of the oppressed and the less privileged, but had also helped in promoting peace in Enugu State.

Recently, Igwe Nevobasi donated two Hummer buses worth N25million to Enugu police command as his way of supporting what Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration is doing to ensure security in the state, as well as appreciate the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State and his officers for their achievement in the area of security.

Earlier in his speech, Igwe Nevobasi said the visit was a royal handshake across the Niger and to identify with the Ooni’s project of maintaining national unity and cohesion among the people of Nigeria.

He promised to work with the Ooni to sustain the existing peace and cultural affiliation between Yoruba and Igbo people.

“I will work with you. You are a moving train and you have proven to be one, moving to many places preaching peace. I also ask for a return visit,” Igwe said.

The visit was a demonstration of culture as different dance groups entertained the audience. The Igwe was also presented with a portrait of a talking drum.

The Igwe had earlier made a stopover at Benin, Edo State capital, to felicitate with the Commissioner of Police Mohammed Dan Mallam for a successful conduct of elections in the state, and to thank him for the dexterity he displayed in Enugu State while he held sway as commissioner of police.