—-As Item community honours Sun Editor
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – GOVERNOR Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, weekend, stated that imposing a curfew in Abia State at the wake of the declaration of Python Dance by the military in South East zone was to safe the lives of over 11.6 million people from the zone living in the North.
The Governor said that his action saved the state from impending crisis because of the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Ikepeazu, who was represented by the speaker, Abia state House of Assembly, Chikwendu Kanu at a New Yam Festival organized by the Item Union, Abuja, branch said Item people had through the event shown that they had not lost their identity.
He said, “Item people should be celebrated; and not their people celebrating themselves. They have made Abia proud; Item people are very hardworking people. I could remember their exploits those days in Aba.
They have been involved in any progress made in Abia state. So, we would continue to identify with them.
Speaking on the recent security situation in the state, especially during the time the military deployed its troop to quell uprising arising from the declaration of Biafra Independence by the IPOB, he explained why curfew was imposed in Aba, the commercial city of the state.
According to him, “If the governor had not taken that decision, Abia state would have witnessed the worst crisis we had ever heard of.
The governor took the decision then because of our people that are living in the north; inclusive of you. I am told and I verily believe it that we have 11.6 million Igbo living in the northern states of the federation.
“And if anything had happened to northerners living in Abia state, we would have lost about 11.6million Igbo and we didn’t want that to happen.
“That was why he imposed the curfew and today we are celebrating everywhere we are,” Ikpeazu stated.
He therefore, urged them to continue to partner with the state government by contributing their quota, promising to increase government’s presence in the town by way of more infrastructural development and political appointments.
Also speaking, the former Governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Orji extolled the virtues of the Item man describing the community as blessed and strategic in the scheme of things in the state, adding that “they possess qualities of hard work, dedication, honesty and trust.”
He enjoined the people to always think home especially by getting involved in peace building in the state.
Earlier, the people expressed gratitude to the array of dignitaries that had come from far and near to honour the occasion.
President, Item Union, Abuja, Stephen Ukeje in his welcome address praised Gov Ikpeazu for showing close relationship with Item people by the calibre of representation sent to the event.
Though the traditional new yam ritual had long been observed in their homeland and other parts of Igboland, Ukeje said this rare festival would no doubt help Item children and indeed; the younger generation in Abuja, to appreciate the their culture in the face of threat to indigenous cultures.
He said “This celebration reminds us of our identity and origin; Nde Item are known to be great farmers who plant and harvest in due time. It is a known fact that Item is a great community; with rich cultural heritage as you will be witnessing today. We have a lot of cultural attractions acclaimed nationally and internationally.”
In the contemporary world of entertainment, the president said the community had produced the music sensation, Mr. Raw Nwanne and the late comic merchant, James Iroha, popularly called Gringory Akabuogu.
He also said that his people are hospitable, naturally hardworking, creative, reliable and always aiming to be independent, adding, “With this mind set, we are committed to the progress of our community, Abia state and Nigeria in general.”
He listed building of a resource centre, scholarship foundation, annual medical outreach and annual donation of free books to schools in Item, as the projects and programmes the community was embarking on.
The highlight of the occasion was the Special recognition of the Editor of The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Onuoha Okereke Ukeh