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Igwe Alfred Achebe, Agbogidi who is the Obi of Onitsha, on Saturday described his 20-year reign as the traditional ruler of the historic town of Onitsha as a journey of leadership charged with the sole purpose of fast-forwarding an ancient traditional society to the 21st century.
In an address at his 2022 Ofala Festival of Igwe Achebe, he said that there is no end in sight for that role because change is a continuous process.
According to him, “We have to anticipate and be apace with change, else change will overtake us. On ascending the throne, I defined a personal ruling philosophy of “Peace and Reconciliation based on Truth and Transparency as a foundation for sustainable development.
‘’Drawing from this philosophy, we have shaped a vision of re-inventing and re-positioning the Onicha Ado N’Idu kingdom. We have applied modern management and leadership principles to traditional governance and the progressive evolution of the culture of our people.
“The basics of the re-invention and re-positioning involved the rebuilding of trust amongst the populace, resolution of long-standing disputes within and between kindred families and villages, engendering general reconciliation, and reformation and re-focusing of our youths’ aspirations and energy.
“Others include the palace redevelopment as a symbol of change, the re-definition of our community as physical and virtual, and the promotion of self-pride and the spirit of Onicha-ness.
“The vision was pursued through various initiatives over several years, and this involved the youth development workshops, physical and virtual town hall meetings, think tank strategy sessions, engagements with Onicha indigenes outside of the homesteads, and annual conference”
Igwe Achebe explained that the objective has been further enhanced by the endorsement of the Ofala by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation,NTDC, as a major Nigerian festival, thus boosting ,their plans of bringing the world to Onitsha to experience their rich cultural heritage, and enhancing the growth and development of our community.
He also disclosed that the second reason why this year’s Ofala festival is distinctive, is because he ascended this throne of Ezechima, the founding father of Onicha Ado N’Idu, twenty years ago on May 14, 2002, which coincidentally was also his 61st birthday.
According to him, ,”I have chosen to formally mark this milestone anniversary with the 2022 Ofala festival as the pedestal for thanksgiving and celebration. This milestone provides an opportunity for some reflection, as follows.
“Following the outbreak of the Covid -19 pandemic, we formed the
Onicha Community COVID-19 Response Team, OCCRT, to tackle local huge health, economic, and social challenges for the world and our country.
“Working closely with the Anambra State Government Ministry of Health, the Onitsha Traditional Council, on April 9, 2020, set up the Onitsha Community COVID-19 and under our Response Team, OCCRT, we created a strong team of our indigenous medical,communication, and other professionals at home and abroad, and anchored on the ground by a committed and youthful team of “Wellbeing Ambassadors” and their supervisors.
“This was the first of such community responses to the pandemic in the State. Our response moved rapidly through three stages, Volunteer Scheme: 35 unemployed youths were trained as Wellbeing Ambassadors, and 7 supervisors were recruited; Palliative Support: Four thousand, five hundred and forty-nine, 4,549, neediest persons received palliatives of various food items in several phases; Preventive Support, Outreach Support and Covid-19 Testing and Vaccinations: Under the initiative, not less than a hundred, 100, tests and 3,435 vaccinations were administered.
‘’Soon, however, it became imperative to re-focus the remit of the OCCRT towards addressing the medium and long-term health, economic and social consequences of the pandemic on the community.
‘’This gave rise to an Economic Empowerment Planning and Implementation Committee comprising a large number of our accomplished indigenes of varied professional backgrounds, who worked virtually from different parts of the world on a pro bono basis.
“The team was charged with developing and implementing a plan of action “to support the struggling and budding entrepreneurs in our domain in weathering the post-Covid-19 economic and social challenges”.
The team successfully established an Economic Empowerment Programme in line with our strategy of taking Onitsha through the 21st Century. It was agreed to utilize the already existing Onitsha Advancement Foundation, OnAF, as the platform for action.
Governor Chukwuma Soludo in his address said that this is the first Ofala he is attending as Governor and the third that third time he has attended Igwe Achebe’s Ofala and the interesting thing is that he attending with his wife.