Hope Uzodimma, Mbaise, PDP, Iriji Mbaise , Imo,
It took the maturity, popularity and peaceful disposition of Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State on Tuesday to stop what could have been a complete disruption of the Mbaise New Yam festival by miscreants hired by the governorship candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Samuel Anyanwu.
The event which held at the Aboh Mbaise local government area stadium was progressing peacefully until Anyanwu and his army of urchins stormed the venue, welding dangerous cudgels with which they planned to unleash mayhem on the guests and the people of Mbaise in attendance.
Unfortunately for them, Governor Uzodimma was already on the podium and was on the last leg of his remarks and sensing danger, appealed to all and sundry to shun violence and tow the path of peace as the only panacea for development.
That singular appeal by Governor Uzodimma for Mbaise Nation to be united and pursue peace for growth and development melted the heart of all the important dignatories from there and their friends who graced the occasion.
It pricked their consciences so much that his numerous supporters from the three local government areas who turned out in their numbers started chanting solidarity songs in total support for the Governor, such as “Onwa, Onwa Ka anyi ga eso, ma ona ejeje, ma ona ala ala, Onwa Ka anyi ga eso ooo,” which literally means, their resolve to follow the Governor through and through, come rain, come sunshine.
Sensing danger themselves, Sen. Anyanwu, those who accompanied him to the venue to supervise the intended mayhem and their shameless supporters, retreated to a side of the Stadium looking like fowls beaten by the rain.
It took the call by the master of ceremony for the national anthem to be sung for them to realise that the event had ended and that their plan to unleash violence in the place had hit the rocks.
Earlier, Governor Uzodimma harped on peace, unity, brotherliness among the Mbaise people, noting that no society develops where those features were absent.
He thanked the organisers of this year’s Iriji Mbaise National Festival for inviting him again this year as part and parcel of the Mbaise Nation and assured that he will always avail his presence because he is involved.
Last year, Governor Uzodimma was invested with the chieftaincy title of Enyi Oma Mbaise.
Governor Uzodimma used the opportunity provided by this year’s event to advise the leadership of the people of Mbaise to do what is in their powers to ensure that the area is peaceful and devoid of rancour, decrying the spate of killings and violence not before associated with the area.
In his welcome remarks, the Chairman of the event, Sir Stanley Amuchie recalled that Mbaise Nation is made up of prominent sons and daughters all over the world who are hardworking and contributing their quota for the betterment of the society.
He admonished them to continue to be hardworking and to see the festival as a unifying factor for the growth and development of not just the Mbaise Nation but the society at large.
He profusely thanked Governor Uzodimma for finding time out of his very busy schedule to honour the invitation as Special Guest of Honour and appreciated the governor on behalf of the people of Mbaise for the ongoing reconstruction of the Owerri-Mbaise-Obowo-Umuahia and the quality of roads he is restructuring in Imo State.
Amuchie however pleaded with the governor to give attention to the Okpalla-Aba brach road which he said straddles most of the local government areas of Mbaise, noting that doing so will help to enhance economic activities in the area.
Chairman of the Central Planning Committee for the 2023 Iriji Mbaise Cultural Festival, Ezeji Prof. T. Uzodimma Nwala in his welcome address recalled the origin of the event and said it was an activity handed over to every Mbaise son and daughter to help them remember their roots.
He welcomed all who came from far and near for the ceremony, particularly “Governor Uzodimma for finding time to join us in this great event.”
Governor Uzodimma later joined the President General Ezeji Mbaise, Ezeji Gregory Ikeagwu, to cut and eat the symbolic new yam, witnessed by other titled men and key government officials, to a rousing applause.
Among those who graced the occasion with Governor Uzodimma were the Deputy Governor, Prof Placid Njoku, the Secretary to State Government, Chief Cosmos Iwu, the Chief of Staff, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, Eze Imo, HRH, Eze EC Okeke, the Chairman of Imo Elders Council, HRH Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, the APC deputy governorship candidate for Imo State, Lady Ihuoma Ekomaru and the husband, other top government officials and important personalities from Imo State.