Posted by News Express | 1 January 1970 | 5,350 times
The event has come and gone but the memories are bound to remain for a long time. It was indeed a memorable occasion as Igbos in the South-South states of Rivers and Bayelsa converged in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Sunday (Nov. 18) to celebrate this year’s Igbo Day.
The event, which was used to showcase Igbo culture, was equally used to honour some distinguished Igbos as well as friends of Ndi Igbo, and to formally set up both the Council of Chiefs and Patrons. Though described as low key by the organisers, who said they are still mourning their late leader, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi and Eze Ndi Igbo gburugburu, the event was full of fun.
It was a day on which a non-Igbo stole the show, as the event was used to celebrate Tonye Princewill, a Prince of the Kalabari Kingdom, leader of the Princewill Political Associates (PPA) and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Prince (as Princewill is otherwise known) was the Special Guest of Honour and sent a powerful team of numerous PPA leaders that included over 20 Pastors. The delegation was led by Princewill’s Legal Consultant, Barr Soalabo West, who delivered his speech at the event.
In his speech, The Prince urged Igbos not to be deterred by seemingly unfavourable circumstances and the shedding of their precious blood in their efforts towards building a virile, progressive and prosperous Nigeria. He said that though he was a young boy during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70, he learnt of the millions of Igbos killed during the war. He said he is also aware of Igbos being constantly killed in parts of Nigeria on flimsy excuses but pleaded with Ndi Igbo not to give up on Nigeria as they have demonstrated unalloyed love for the nation.
The Prince stated that if other tribes in Nigeria could emulate the Igbos in their efforts towards nation-building the country would have advanced ahead of China and other developing nations in the world.
He recalled that he was privileged to liaise with and collate the position of Igbos on the plight of the Niger Delta region while serving as a member of the Presidential Technical Committee on the Niger Delta. He acknowledged the support of the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo leadership and former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Okwesillieze Nwodo, in the satisfactory performance of this duty.
The Prince disclosed that it was Chief Ben Obinali, a former Commissioner of Commerce in Imo State, who taught him the rudiments of business early in life when he started out as an ICT consultant. Apart from Chief Obinali, he mentioned the Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka A. Achebe; Senator Ben Obi; Nze Akachukwu Sullivan; Chief Olisa Metuh; Chief Dubem Onyia; Chief Goddie Ikechi; Chief Chima Ibeneche; and his Media Chief, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, as some of his mentors and political associates from Igbo land.
Princewill assured Igbos of his unflinching support in any capacity and pledged to work towards the award of a plot of land to enable them build a befitting place for future hosting of the Igbo Day. He sent the gathering into a frenzy when he made some donations to the Igbo Community, the Igbo Community wing of the Princewill Political Associates and the National Association of Igbo Students.
The climax of the event came when the National Association of Igbo Students honoured the Prince with their prestigious award of the Most Distinguished Friend of the Igbos in the Niger Delta, after which the entire community assured the Prince of their total commitment towards his political ideals and his continuous humanitarian efforts in Rivers State and the entire country.
Among dignitaries at the event were Chief Engr O.I. Ezenekwe, President General of the United Igbo Community; Chief (Barr) Obinna JK Chukwu, Secretary General of the union; Prof. Ndi Eke, a Consultant in the Surgery Department of the University of Port Harcourt; and His Royal Highness, Eze Adiele Maduagwu, Eze Onunekwuru Igbo III of Rivers and Bayelsa states.
The event was chaired by Chief Ben Obinali, Princewill’s business mentor and one-time commissioner in neighbouring Imo State.
•Photo: Prince Tonye Princewill.
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