The buildup was like that of a carnival. Ibeku people and their friends from multiple communities in Abia converged
from all directions to the Government House, Umuahia Abia State. While they were converging, a different group from the opposite direction surged to enter the banquet hall in the premises of the Governor’s lodge Abia State.
Governor Ikpeazu, the man popularly elected to pilot affairs in Abia State was sworn in 4 hours ago as the 5th democratically elected and was gearing to preside over his first banquet as was the custom on every May 29th, the much expected democracy day.
The carnival-like buildup with most Ibeku people festooned in their traditional attire in George wrapper, multicolored stockings cap popularly known as “Okpu Egwurugwu” and typical of Bende man’s dressing, the cap glittered on many heads. The youths took the front and dressed in many that was reminiscent of youthful age. Some wore jeans and tee shirts emblazoned in Ochendo fond words like ‘Ochendo 2015, Ochendo, Great Hero! The great man is back and all.
The women old and young were not left out. I was touched when I saw my Aunt, 70 years old maintaining the walking speed in the sun. Others dressed in their group and age grade uniforms with white, green, blue tops on George wrappers of different hues.
When I saw Mrs Adanma Ihieuwa, now Ugo Eze Akpunku, wife of the newly crowned Eze of Umuokoroduru autonomous kingdom in the great trek, I knew it was serious business.
The move, out of the Government House had a sluggish start as some prevaricated being in front or staying close to the exiting Governor’s SUV. The FRSC police patrol vans, Prison and the Army made a good job of crowd control, slowing the human cavalcade to accommodate any who wouldn’t have followed easily.
Soon we joined the Aba road traversing Ikot Ekpene Road, Azikiwe, Bende Road and many others. The ovation at the rail crossing popularly known as Isi Gate was tumultuous. Most market women left their wares, the hawkers made fantastic sales as they joined. The trek took its toll on the participants who snatched bottles and sachets of water. This scene would have presented a problem as it was difficult for the hawker to get paid. One happy Ibeku youth intervened and paid for all the purchase. Another of such scene was averted when a mother volunteered to help with gathering the sales.
The movement maneuvered the gate and veered into Lagos Street as they sang and danced popular tunes and gravitated to Bende Road from where they surged into the Orji family yard. Here, there was seat arrangement for the Ex Gov with multiple canopies numbering over four on the left, right and centre. In order to get close to Ochendo and wife, canopies on the road with musicians and sound boxes were ignored and the formal ceremony was started by Alozie Ndulaka, present DG of BCA who invited Chief Onwunaruwa, Onuoha, President General of Ibeku Ancient Kingdom. The Kola rituals were hurried and the business of the day began. Later the President General was approached and he had this to say. QUESTION
1- What led you to pull out such a big show within a short time planning?
ANs Ochendo as our son has tried, he performed and did not put us to shame. There is need for a hero’s welcome. There was acute consultation with Ibeku consultative Assembly within 3 weeks. Ibeku Eqgwu Asaa and stakeholders.
2- How did you avoid the ugly incidents of security to the extent that a trek that went through, Aba Road, Ikot Ekpene Junction, Azikiwe Road, Bende Road, Okwulehie, Crowther, Item, Ohafia, Abiriba, famous Isi Gate and Lagos Street was peaceful.
The disciplined Ibeku youths in uniform with other security agencies like the police, FRSC, Army, Immigration, traffic wardens, civil defence and others made it work.
1- No Ibeku has been so honored right from the award of Grand Patriot to the Hero’s welcome, why Ochendo alone?
2- Ochendo came, saw and conquered.
No Ibeku son has gotten to this height in recent times. Ironsi was actually the first military Head of state but we scarcely had time before he was murdered. IEADA is always ready to elevate and celebrate good achievements. Any other son or daughter who excels will be greeted with the same. Even adopted sons who were born in Ibeku Land will be accorded same support. IEADA is always ready to partner, respect any success as far as good governance is concerned. Ibeku will bless any son of Igbo land who does well in Umuahia.
4- Some women decorated Osinulo, What was the Message?
4- Behind every successful man is a woman. Ochendo did not work alone. She kept her house in order. Umuada Ibeku, the Elder‘s wing decorated and blessed her for if she did not run a good home, Ochendo may not have been so successful.
5- You gave a gift to Ochendo – a ram, why Ram? (Evule)
We said welcome, you did well. You came, saw and conquered; moved to Abuja, do more exploits. A white ram is symbolic in Ibeku culture. It symbolizes strength and achievement.
The Evule or Ebule in other dialects will always conquer. The machete was given as he went to governorship to clear his way, now up the senate, it will work for him as it did earlier. It will work for him for there are rivers to cross.
6- There were Cannon shots booming at strategic points who arranged that?
We arranged a total of 150 cannon shots at strategic places. This is symbolic in Igbo land tradition. It is a goodwill message. Our son who went to war is back with conquests.
7- The weather was cement all through,—– anything done to control the weather?
ANS—–Yes, we prayed that’s all. Laughs.