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• As Eze Idigo marks 188th Ovala festival
From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Since the November 18, 2017, governorship election in Anambra State, the people of Aguleri have been deliberating on how best to honour their own, Governor Willie Obiano. They have been looking for a way to ventilate their joy.
Therefore, it was a day of victory celebration in Aguleri ancient kingdom on January 6, 2018, when the traditional ruler, Eze Christopher N. Idigo IV (Ogalagidi IV) and his subjects, staged the 118 Ovala Aguleri, which the kingdom used to thank all those who contributed to the re-election of Obiano. To demonstrate how they cherished the victory, Eze Idigo gave the theme of this year’s festival as “Ovala Chukwuemelie.” Meaning; God has won, referring to Obiano’s victory.
As they celebrated, they singled out the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s widow, Ambassador Bianca, for the conferment of the chieftaincy title of “Ugo eji eje mba,” to celebrate her numerous achievements, as well as thank her for the role she played in the re-election of Obiano.
Ojukwu, who was the spiritual leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), has been a dominant factor in the Anambra politics as the people have always followed his trend. Indeed, as the campaigns for the election reached feverish level, Bianca traversed all the local government areas with Obiano as she pleaded with the people not to let Ojukwu down by voting massively for APGA and Obiano.
The 118th Ovala Aguleri, which also marked the 23 years of the reign of Eze Idigo witnessed the conferment of chieftaincy titles on four other prominent sons of the state, including Obiano whom the community added another feather to his cap with the “Ebubedike Aguleri” as he is already has “Akpokuedike Aguleri” title.
Other personalities conferred with titles included Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku (Aka-Ji-Omumu of Aguleri); Chief Joseph Ukeji of J.I. Ejison (Ukpaka-Na-Agbalu-Ora of Aguleri) and for National Secretary of APGA, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi (Enyi-Ora of Aguleri).
Notwithstanding the large crowd that graced the festival which had all the trappings of a carnival, one could easily locate the “Ugo Eji Eje Mba” as her beauty radiated everywhere in the arena. Conferring the title on Bianca, the monarch described her as a role model for the younger generation, noting that she was an epitome of humility and true defender of the Igbo cause. He recalled how Bianca stood firm behind her husband until he died, as well as her continued strong belief and support for APGA.
Former National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, said: “The title Aguleri people conferred on Iyom, (Mrs) Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu is an honour and title well-deserved. Since the passing on of the husband, our revered siege, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, Iyom Bianca Ojukwu has never diminished the esteem of her husband. She has continued to carry on with her duties as the wife of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu with dignity. She has also stepped up her roles eloquently passing on the message of her late husband to Ndigbo generally and so we are happy that she is being honoured today and it is a thing of great joy to all of us.”
A cabinet chief in Aguleri, Chief Ralph Igwa, said: “You may wish to know that before Aguleri gives a chieftaincy title to any person, there must be something significant that person has done either for Aguleri or for the larger human community. As you know, the woman in question is Mrs Ojukwu, the wife of late Ikemba Nnewi, the Igbo leader. The fact that she is the wife of the late Igbo leader is even significant enough for us to recognize her.
“But besides that, her humility, in her personal capacity, remember she was at one-time the most beautiful lady, but that did not get into her head as she remained humble and unless you are told you will not even know that she is the wife of the revered Ikemba, Eze Igbo Gburugburu because of her humility, and Aguleri appreciates that, she is humble. I think she should be a model to many women.
“People may not even know also that in her own personal capacity, she was a daughter to the late C.C. Onoh, former governor of Enugu State and C.C. Onoh was a prominent Igboman, here is his daughter, but you may not know, so her humility is exemplary, that is one of the reasons.”
Chairman of Aguleri Royal Cabinet, Chief Paul Nnamah, said before anyone qualifies for the conferment of a chieftaincy title in Aguleri the person must have distinguished him or herself in his of her chosen career: “For instance, the only lady member invested with a honorary chieftaincy title today is Ambassador Iyom Bianca Ojukwu nee Onoh. Of course, you know she was the immediate past Ambassador of Nigeria to Spain that is an excellent career pass. You know that she has been the pivotal facilitator of APGA cause and Aguleri is privileged to be the only community in Anambra North that has produce a Governor under APGA and Bianca Ojukwu played prominent role in each of the campaign arrangements in 2013 and 2017.
“If you watch her speak at the Ekwueme Square in Awka live last time, she was like the mother of Anambra State, she was like the woman that made the difference in Anambra State, she spoke, she cried, she sang, she danced for Anambra State.”
Also, Mrs. Benedeth Anyanwu, a member of Out Iyo Cultural Group, said: “We are happy that she came to take this title because when you do it, it means you have come to the top echelon in womanhood; for it is not everybody that can be honoured this way.”
Former Majority Leader, Anambra State House of Assembly, Humphery Nsofor, told Daily Sun that the conferment of the title by the Aguleri monarch was not only an honour to the Nnewi people, but also to the entire Anedo:
“We are proud of her, she is a woman of substance, a woman the Bible described as virtuous woman, a woman who though her husband is no more has stood her ground to defend all the good ideals the great Ikemba of Nnewi stood for.
“She is a great woman and her role in the last governorship election was so unique and we are not surprised that one the most respected monarch in this state is today honouring her with a chieftaincy title, ‘Ugo Eji Eje Mba.’ We are proud of her and we are here in our number to congratulate her and rejoice with her.”
President General, Nzuko Ora Nnewi, Sir Ugochukwu Udemezue, said: “We came here today to stand with our wife, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, the wife of our late brother and Igbo leader, Eze Igbo Gburugburu, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. We thank Eze Aguleri for considering our wife for this honour during this Ovala festival. I am here representing Igwe Kenneth Orizu, Igwe Nnewi who could not come because of one of his daughters is wedding today, I am also here as the leader of Nzuko Ora Nnewi, so representing the entire Nnewi town.
“I see this honour to her as an acceptable one that all will praise because they have seen all the husband did in Igboland and the woman kept the legacies of the husband by being humble and taking everything concerning Ndigbo at heart and also helping our governor in seeing that Anambra State is developed and moving forward. She merited any honour bestowed on her, Eze Idigo did not make a mistake and we thank him immensely.”
In a chat with Daily Sun, Bianca commended Ovala of the ancient kingdom of Aguleri: “This was an Ovala with a difference. Aptly titled Ovala Chukwuemerie, it provided a great opportunity for the people of Aguleri to appreciate those who contributed in one way or another to the ‘hurricane’ victory of their true-born, Chief Willie Obiano, during the Anambra gubernatorial elections.
“I want to thank specially the large crowd from my twin communities of Nnewi and Ngwo that stormed Aguleri to celebrate with me, several ladies groups and other associations, APGA party stalwarts together with all the dance troupes that they brought to the event.
“My profound appreciation goes to our hardworking governor, Chief Willie Obiano for his support.”