NNEFIOHA: Cultural Festival of Unity, Commuality, Peace - Council Boss

By Celestine Okeh, Abakaliki

The Executive Chairman, kwo Local Government Council Barr. Sunday Nwankwo has described NNEFIOHA as an age-long cultural heritage cum festival meant to showcase the unique identity, unity, peace and Commuality of Ikwo people.

Barr Sunday Nwankwo stated this at Ekpelu, the ancestorial home of Ikwo during the celebration of 2023 NNEFIOHA festival, which according to the Council Boss, marks not only the end of famine season and beginning of harvest but also the first day of a New year in Ikwo lunar calendar.

"So, it is always a celebration of our communality, unity and brotherhood. Together and in unison, we offer prayers, share and or, exchange gifts and make resolutions that renew hope's and expectations".

Barr Sunday Nwankwo explains further, "we're gathered here to do what we called "OYE OSE UKPARA'. It is one of the genesis or preliminaries of celebrating our annual  Nnefioha, which culminate in the eating of new yam. It is not indeed, the eating of the new yam itself, but a process. If you heard His Excellency, the former Governor, Chief Martin Elechi when he was talking, he said, it is like a bridge, you cross one, you get to the other till destination".

The Chairman noted further that the festival holds great impact for the people of Ikwo and the state in general as it adds to the cultural feathers of the state.
"Great impact. Culturally, it is adding to the cultural feathers of the state.  Every clan has their own. This is our own. And today's engagement is like expanding the social scope of Nnefioha to capture modernity along side tradition".

The Council Chairman expressed optimism that the traditional new year will ursher in bumper harvest, peace, joy and other manner of goodies for the people.
"The traditional new year holds peace, Joy, holds bumper harvest and holds all manner of goodies. Our prayer is that whatever didn't go well in the last traditional year, by our prayers today and commitment, will be a thing of the past and look forward to a greater traditional year".
He explained the reason for change in the venue, "Last year, there were issues we couldn't resolve. When I came onboard as the Executive Chairman, I was determined to resolve it. Part of the resolution was to preserve the sanctity of where we call 'ILI NOYO', which is a traditional spot. We're saying, this is a social aspect of Nnefioha, don't mix it up with traditional aspect so that Reverend Fathers,priests, and true Christians will not be scared about fetish things and refuse from joining tradition.We have now adopted here as a place for Oye Ose Ukpara'. 

Barr. Nwankwo urge the good people of Ikwo Noyo Clan to use the celebration to express the ideals that the festival represents.
"As we celebrate this year's New yam Festival (Nnefioha) , let's resolved to renew and reenact all the ideals that the festival represents at both individual and community levels". 
The event witnessed the influx of dignitaries from all walks of life, among whom is Her Excellency, wife of the state Governor and the daughter of the Ikwo clan, Chief (Mrs) Mary-Maudline Uzoamaka Nwifuru, The Representative of the State Governor, Prof Emmanuel Echiagu, who is the chief of staff to the Governor, The former Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Nwanchor Elechi and her Wife, The member federal house of representatives Rt. Hon. Chinedu Ogah, The speaker of Ebonyi State House Of Assembly Rt. Hon Moses ije Oduwa, The National President, Ikwo Development Union, (IDU) Elder Dr Sam Egwu, Association of Local Government Area of Nigeria (ALGON) chairman Ebonyi State Hon. Ogodoali Nome, The father of former deputy Governor of Ebonyi State Chief Igwe Eric, traditional rulers, Youth Groups, women Groups among others.
There were also various cultural display, masquerades and cultural dance from various communities.

In a separate speechs, stakeholders at the event, who spoke with Ebonyi Times News expressed joy over the celebration, assuring that it will help to deepen the peace and unity and further strengthened the cultural heritage of Ikwo Noyo clan.
Those who spoke with our reporter include, the member representing Ikwo and Ezza South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Chinedu Ogah, Businesses mogul, Architect Christian Asaga Nwali, the immediate past Commissioner for project monitoring, Chief Clement Nweke, immediate past Commissioner for capital City, Chief Celestine Nwali and the Chairman Central planning committee, Chief Daniel Ogiji. Others include Commissioner for Culture and tourism, Hon. Stanley Ifeanyi Ogbuewu, Commissioner for Border Peace and Conflicts resolution, Dr Donatus Ilang and the member representing Ikwo North Constituency, Hon. Ifeanyi Nwakpu. Our Reporter equally spoke with a philanthropist cum businessman, Elder Silas Orawo, Special Assistant to the Governor on solid minerals, Jideofor Okorie, Special Assistant to the Governor on Internal Security (Ikwo LGA) Hon. Desmon Edeke. Others include the APC Chairman, Ikwo Local Government Area, Hon. Sunday oƱuzu and a legal practitioner, Prince Sunday Opefi, national president, Ikwo Noyo youth consultative forum Dr Onyechi Nwankwo, Commissioner for Aviation and technology, Dr Ngozi Obichukwu among others.
The event was used to lay a foundation for an ultramodern Hall building. Thee we're also presentation of tuber's of Yam, Kolanuts , cow and Cash gifts and lot's by the Ikwo council chairman Barr. Sunday Basil Nwankwo and other stakeholders.
The Chief host, Barr Sunday Nwankwo commended the unity of purpose displayed by the stakeholders, the central planning committee led by Chief Daniel Ogiji and the entire Ikwo people, assuring that the lesson from this year's NNEFIOHA will be consolidated upon for a better outing next year.

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