Raymond Ozoji, Awka
January 4, 2020 is the official date slated for the very first Ofala festival of Eze Michael Idigo, traditional ruler of Aguleri community in Anambra-East local government area of Anambra state.
All is set for the colourful event, intended to bring the rich cultural heritage of Aguleri ancient kingdom, where the state governor hails from, to the fore. But in spite of the preparations for the ground-breaking ceremony of the maiden Ofala festival, there seems to be a cog in the wheel of fortune.
This cog is reflected in the 6-point press statement jointly signed by Prince Fidelis Idigo and Sir Ema Chiatula, Chairman Iruokechi family Worldwide, made available to journalists yesterday by Prince Chinedu Idigo.
The 6-point press statement where a faction of the Idigo Royal Dynasty expressed its reservations about the forthcoming Ofala festival of Eze Michael Idigo reads, “Our attention has been drawn to the announcement signed by one Mr James Eze, Press Secretary to the Governor of Anambra State, about a purported Ovala festival Celebration in Aguleri, planned for the 4th of January 2020.
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored such an announcement as anyone is free to hold a carnival and call it Ovala in Aguleri, but for the mention of Idigo Royal Dynasty, being involved.
“We want the general public to note that:
1. The Idigo Royal Dynasty and the extended Iruokechi Royal Family are not part of the so called Ovala festival.
2. That traditionally, it is not up to one year the last Igwe joined our Ancestors. An Ovala ceremony therefore cannot be held so soon.
3. Additionally the propriety of giving certificate of recognition to someone who is not the family’s choice as Igwe, is a matter before the State High Court for determination.
4. The Press Secretary to the Governor is not a member of the Royal Family nor an indigene of Aguleri so has no business announcing the Ovala festival for the Idigo Royal Dynasty.
5. Ama Igwe which they claim as their venue, is a private property and our approval for the use of the same was neither sought nor given, so the action is a deliberate attempt to provoke and trespass.
6. We have it on good authority that they wish to repeat what they did in March 2019, when they forcefully collected the remains of the late Igwe from the Mortuary at Enugu, invaded and locked down the Palace and Palace grounds with security operatives, to conduct the burial for him, preventing the Royal family from taking part.
“We would like to state however that ‘Mmadu Aburo Chukwu’ (No man is God), every government has an end and that the impunity being perpetrated on the Idigo Royal Dynasty will not last forever.”
James Eze, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, did not respond to several phone calls made to seek his reaction to the issue. At some point, he replied with a short message service, “I will call you back.” But he never did.
Also, it was an effort in futility trying to get the Chief Servant of Aguleri community, Chief Hipo Chibuzor Onwuegbuke, as well as the Public Relations Officer of the town union to speak on the issue raised by a section of the Idigo Royal Dynasty. None of them responded to multiple phone calls.