A cultural celebration turned to campaign

For more than three years, the Igbo day celebration, which used to be a yearly event was not held by the Igbo in Bayelsa State.

The reason is not farfetched. There has been leadership tussle among the Igbo in the state as two Igbo factional presidents have been parading themselves as leaders in Bayelsa State.

One Chinedu Amakau is recognized by the state government and one Mark Nlem was appointed by the Ohanaeze National leadership as interim Chairman while a new election will be conducted.

But unfortunately that election was yet to be conducted. It is however on record that since the second tenure of the restoration the government headed by Henry Seriake Dickson, most of these groups have had leadership tussle starting from Ijaw Youth

Council (IYC) that has two presidents to Ijaw National Congress (INC) that doesn’t not have any leader for now and to Ohanaeze Ndigbo that have two factional leaderships with Chinedu Amaku’s faction being supported by the state government.

Since the last Igbo day celebration which was held on the 29th day of September 2015, where the state government came to  promise the Igbo N5,000,000 and a bus, there has been series of crisis rocking the group in the state, making it impossible  for them to assess the promises made by the  restoration government as it vividly noticed that they were in crisis.

Of course, the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Bayelsa State had asked Chinedu Amaku to stop parading himself as president.

President of the youth wing of the organization, Chinedu Arthur Ugwa, had insisted that the Mark Nlem-led committee remained the authentic leader and acting president in Bayelsa.

The youth wing President  maintained the election that brought in the Amaku-led executives was null and void, which led to

the setting up of a committee by the national body, where Mike Nlem was made the acting President.

He said then: “Yes, we have no leadership crisis in Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Bayelsa, because the national leadership has insisted that the state chapter must work with the Mark Nlem- led six-man committee set up by the National President, Nnia Nwodo.

Although that committee was set up some time in the past before 2019, nothing was achieved as the crisis lingered till Septemebr 2019 with the  with the socio cultural group still having two factions wasting their precious time without achieving anything collectively as group.

May be, because of the small stipends that will be shared during the 2019 Bayelsa State governorship election and because they felt this is when they will get some promises made by Dickson, they quickly initiated another peace parley to enable the governorship candidate supported by Governor Dickson to come around.

Just few days to the date of the Igbo day Celebration, a 20-man committee was   quickly set up to make sure this year’s celebration became a success.

At the reconciliatory peaceful parley held at Top Rank Hotel, Yenagoa, the two factional presidents were asked to step aside so that the Igbo day celebration will held.

The peaceful parley, which was spear headed by one Chief Hanson Nnaemeka Ogbuju, Eze Ndigbo in Germany, was well attended by the representatives of both factions as he pleaded with all the aggrieved persons to sheath their swords and embrace peace.

He said: “Please let’s look for a way to unite once again in Bayelsa. I don’t know any of the factions but I’m interested in the unity of the Igbo here. We gain more when we are united than when we are divided.”

Also, the president of Igbo youths council the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Arthur Chinedu Ugwa, said that he was happy with the reconciliation meeting, adding that, “I have been attending Isaac Boro day for the IYC. I also want them to come and attend my own Igbo day.”

Okwudili Oko, Special Assistant to the Governor of Bayelsa state on non- indigenes, said he was expecting the Igbo from all parts of the state for the celebration, something he said has not happened in the last three years.

Chief Ernest Uzoegbulam, president of seven South South Eastern states in Bayelsa, Prince Williams the chairman of GSM forum Bayelsa state; Paul Odurukwe the chairman of Igbo traders association among others all agreed to have a peaceful and successful Igbo day.

But as all agreed to the peace parley, another meeting was allegedly held somewhere the next day where all the plans were thwarted leading to another crisis that took the group to the office of Department of State Services,(DSS) where the two factional presidents were also told to step aside as agreed at the reconciliatory meeting, so that the celebration will go on smoothly.

But at the arena, Chinedu Amaku paraded himself as the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, may be, because he has the backing of the state government.

Meanwhile while they were still carrying long faces because of their leadership tussle, Senator Douye Diri, the Peoples Democratic Party and Governor Dickson’s candidate quickly used the 2019 Igbo day celebration held at Oxbow lake to campaign for his coming.

Diri promising to protect Igbo’s investments and described the Igbo as very enterprising, industrious and a pride to Nigeria.

He promised to maintain the existing relationship between them and the Restoration Government of Governor Seriake Dickson.

He also promised to give them higher positions in his government if elected the governor of the state.

He said: “When we are elected, we will work closely with you. We will ensure that your businesses and investments are more secured and safe.

“I decided to come here today to identify with you on this big occasion of your annual Igbo Day celebration. I am excited and I also want to express my appreciation to you.

“You are part of the success story of our state. That is why when we form the next government, you will have a bigger role.

“I know that the present administration earlier appointed one of you as Senior Special Assistant and later Special Adviser.

“My government will do more. If it can happen in some states, it can happen here. You people are a pride to Nigeria and so you deserve a better deal”.

He enjoined the Igbo in Bayelsa to always feel at home, stressing that they were stakeholders in the state and vowing to protect their rights and privileges.

  “I am one of those who don’t see you people as non-indigenes. Like I will always say that you are our brothers and sisters from other states. You cannot be a Nigerian and be referred to as non-indigene. It is wrong.

“So today, I wish to remind you that I am your friend and brother. There is no Igbo speaking state that I have not been to.

“Even in the National Assembly, most of my friends are Igbo people and we interact freely. That is how it should be.”

The youth wing of the group disclosed that it was yet to endorse any candidate, stating that it will not support any candidate that will not keep to promise.

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