A New Lease of Life Beckons for Ebonyi Indigenes as Cultural Day Holds Today

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Mary Ekah

There is likelihood that soon the indigenes of Ebonyi State residing in Lagos especially and elsewhere in the world, may start moving en mass back home to embark on a new lease of life. This was the indication given by some indigenes of the state during a press briefing to announce the 4th edition of the Ebonyi Cultural Day in Lagos being organised by the Ebonyi State Development Association (ESDA). The event billed to hold today, Friday, November 18 by 9am at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, is expected to be graced by Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

Addressing newsmen in Lagos, Ebonyi State Liaison Officer, Lagos State, Mrs. Ogechi Anaso–Kalu, said this year’s Ebonyi Cultural Day is unique in the sense that it will be the first time Governor Umahi would be attending the event and most especially because he is coming to rub minds with the indigenes of Ebonyi in Lagos and also not just to celebrate with them their cultural day heritage but to also proffer solutions to the many problems they have faced in diaspora.

“There have been issues with Ebonyi residing in Lagos as regard streets hawking and the present government led by Governor David Umahi has developed programmes to ensure that such stigma on his people will soon be a thing of the past,” Anaso–Kalu noted.

She explained further that one of such strategies initiated by the Umahi to curb such degradation on his people, is a programme tagged, ‘Street to Skill’, which aims to encourage Ebonyi sons and daughters in Lagos and elsewhere, to leave street hawking and come home to learn trades. This is particularly for teaming Ebonyi youths in Lagos who take to hawking various wares in the Lagos traffic, especially as the Lagos State government is clamming down on street hawking in Lagos State.

Apart from that, she revealed that the governor is also investing in huge infrastructure development in Ebonyi State, so that indigenes who decided to return home will find the state conducive to invest in one business or the other. The Ebonyi State Liaison Officer noted that there are also agricultural projects being initiated by the Ebonyi State governor. “We have hectares of lands to cultivate rice, cassava, maize and other agricultural produce in the state and in the next few years, Ebonyi State will be feeding the whole of Nigeria as result of the present government’s huge investment in agricultural development. He has put everything in place to ensure that Ebonyi State goes back to its former glory of being not just being major rice producing state in Nigeria but also other major farm produce in Nigeria.

“All of these boys you see hawking on the streets of Lagos came as result of the fact that agriculture was no longer yielding money and so they rushed to Lagos as to make ends meet through legitimate means instead of going into negative ventures. So we are telling them now that we should go back to our land and start cultivating what we know how to do best because the present government has put everything in place for us,” she noted.

Through all these initiative, Anaso–Kalu reemphasised that the governor has given the indication that Ebonyi is more improved and conducive for every son and daughter of the state to develop his or her economic and social life. And this is one of the messages that the governor is bringing to Ebonyi indigenes residing in Lagos, during the cultural day ceremony – a message that Ebonyi is no longer what it used to be. She therefore encouraged Ebonyians to come out en mass for this landmark event.

President of the Association, Mr. Paul Ikele revealed that the annual Ebonyi Cultural Day in Lagos had seized to hold for a long time until he assumed duty as the president of the association. “I felt it was pertinent we celebrate this very important day like we have done in the past because this is an avenue for us to meet, bring to bear our culture, bond together and also plan on how to improve on our lives. So it is very important that we come together at this event that will also afford us the opportunity of meeting and rubbing minds with our governor”, Ikele said.

A Management Consultant and Chairman, Education and Training Committee of the Association, Prof. Williams Olughu was of the view that even though the cultural day of Ebonyi State Development Association (ESDA) has held in the past, this particular edition is very cogent in the sense that the Ebonyi sons and daughters have been downgraded and disregarded and it was high time they put things right.

“Every Ebonyi person is regarded as a street trader who constitute nuisance on the streets of Lagos but we have said that is not true because Ebonyi people are hardworking and great people. May be the growing ones do not realise who they are but we feel that when we hold this cultural day, we would be able to re-indoctrinate our youths and also induce pride into them,” Olughu said.

Ebonyi people, he stressed, are highly enterprise people and while others may want to beg on the streets of Lagos or rob innocent people, the Ebonyi people will rather work hard doing any legitimate job to earn their living and that results in street hawking most times, adding, “but this is an avenue for us to project this issue and many others as they affect us.”

Speaking further, Olughu said, “We have a governor who is very dynamic and is presently transforming Ebonyi State into something desirous and we believe that as we use this occasion to rub minds with governor, he will understand better the needs of Ebonyi people and thereby do more to see that we live fulfilled lives.”

More so, the Ebonyi people are going to display their various culture and traditional attires on the day as well as display various dishes of the Ebonyi tribes.

Speaking on how prepared the association is to host the event which is expected to host a huge number of Ebonyi sons and daughter in and outside Lagos, Williams said, “I want to tell you that we are sitting on top of the situation. There is nothing we have planned to do concerning this day that we do not have the finance and I want to tell you that a group of young Ebonyi wealthy people has made huge donations for this event and I am happy to tell you that the state government has also keyed into this project. So we have been empowered to make necessary arrangements for this event to be a successful one. As such, we are going to make available buses in all major cities in Lagos to encourage our brothers and sisters residing anywhere in Lagos to make effort to be present at the function.”

Reiterating that this year’s edition of the Ebonyi cultural day is unique in the that it is the first time the present governor is attending, he added, “We have tried to make him see how timely it is now for our people to begin to understand who really they are. “The cultural day is unique because it is a day you meet your people. We are going to come out in our best cultural attires. It is going to be very colourful, it is going to be very friendly and it is a festival and a forum where people will come out and begin to see themselves in a different light and not just people who will carry water on the ahead and run after vehicles in the traffic. This is an event that is going to do a lot for our people,” Olughu noted.