The Ikwuano Council of Traditional Rulers ,have commenced the 2020 New Yam festival (Iri Ji ) with an advice on government to do more to promote, support and enhance cultural development as well as to bring more development to the rural areas so as to reduce pressure in the urban cities .
Interacting with Newsmen shortly after the event at his Palace in Amizi Oloko in Ikwuano local government area of Abia state, the chairman of Ikwuano Council of traditional rulers ,His Royal Majesty ,Eze Dr Ndimele ,lamented that most cultures in Igboland are dying principally because of multiplicity of faiths saying that government can do a lot to maintain ,support and enhance the culture by encouraging the traditional rulers and the chiefs in various communities .
According to him , ” the government is trying ,but more needs to be done in the area of taking special interest to see that traditional rulers are taken care of, so that they can stay in their communities and maintain peace and promote the culture, noting that a group of people without a culture is dead,any place that does not have culture is a dead place” he maintained.
He lauded the Abia state government ,led by Dr Okezie Ikpeazu for his efforts so far, but pointed out” that there are still work to be done in some areas for example ,we do not have electricity here for months ,the light we have here is self generated energy ,you can see our roads are in very bad condition ,so many rural roads here are like that ,we need government presence here ,we have a standard clinic here which was done by self effort ,the Ikwuano council of traditional rulers do not have a vehicle for Ndi Eze ,unlike other local governments ,although we have applied ,no body is looking towards that direction, but we keep praying .” he said.
He however ,appealed to the government to give attention to the rural areas in terms of appointments and employment ,revealing that there are many people in the rural areas that are talented ,who need government attention, urging that ” it is only by so doing that the government will encourage people to stay in their communities and help develop them .People can not go to their communities when their communities are not attractive. So effort should be made by every government to make policies whereby the rural areas will be properly captured, so that the pressures in the urban areas will be reduced ” he pointed out .
In their separate reactions ,some of the dignitaries that graced the ceremony, aired their views about the new yam festival in Igbo land .In his speech, the Chairman of Abia state Primary Health care Agency and provost of medicine Gregory university ,Abia state ,professors Awa Madu ,said ” new yam festival encourages people to be involved in farming ,it also helps to keep the tradition and the people together, unite them as well as keep Igbo origin and identity “while for professor Joy Chioma Nwabueze ,the Deputy vice chancellor, Michael Okpara university of Agriculture Umudike ,” The Igbos celebrate New yam, when they see another round of harvest and planting season .It is a great thing .There has to be thanksgiving both in church, in the local and family setting. It is very important to celebrate the new yam” . She further advised the traditional rulers to influence the festival ,”if there is anything that is fetish done in those days ,let it be by-gone ,right now ,everything should be to the glory of God ”
In his view , HRM Eze Stephen Emmanuel Onyenkwere Onwualimba ,Eze oha III of Ariam Osaka ancient kingdom ,said ” the new yam festival started in Igbo land for long ago .Yam is one of the chief crops in Igbo land, that is why we celebrate it .Farming is one of the things we know how to do .We love farming and some of the challenges we face in the production of yams in large quantity are lack of fertilizers,sponsorship ,lack of government support among others ” while according to HRM Eze Joseph Obaji ,Agu I of Agumba Ariam Osaka, ” when we celebrate new yam, we invite the priest to come and pray .Many people misquote and misinterpret the bible and they mislead others in the name of religion: even when you organize development projects ,they will call it ritual gathering .Let people preach the gospel of Christ which is love and stop bringing in division among the community members “
In a similar vein , the chairman council of traditional rulers Umuahia ,His Royal Majesty ,Eze Stephen Ihuoma ,frowned at the present Igbo youths who can not get involve in farming ,describing the situation ” as painful,while recalling that during the time we were growing up, it was part of our duties to assist our parents in the farm and even at this age ,I still farm ” while for HRH Eze Ambrose Nwagwu ,Eze I of Arian Osaka ,” we are here to celebrate bountiful harvest of the year .We are here to thank God for sparing our lives .Every year ,we celebrate harvest abundance. It is a great ceremony in Igbo land “
Meanwhile, the peak of the ceremony was the award of chieftaincy titles to sons of the community ,who have contributed in one way or the other in the development of the community. Some of the recipients include :Sir chief Sam O .Ekpo ,who was given a chieftaincy title .He expressed his happiness ,saying he has been helping the community .He described their Eze as a hardworking and God fearing leader .And Chief Egbiri David Ochuwa who was also given chieftaincy title, commended HRM Eze Dr Ndimele for his fairness in leading the people of Amizi Oloko.He thank God for keeping him alive to receive the title.