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Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe

Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe

HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, mni, CFR, Obi of Onitsha (Agbogidi) and Chairman, Diamond Bank Plc, recently marked his 73rd birthday with the launch of two books titled, His Majesty Nnamemeka Achebe: A Ten Year Milestone and Onitsha at the Millenium: Legacy, History and Transformation.

In his opening address, chairman of the event, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, GCVO, CON, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, said that the 14th of May has always marked memorable milestones for Igwe Achebe, noting that he was celebrating his 73rd birthday as well as the launch of two historic books this year.

He also lauded the efforts of the editor on the brilliant prose and rich artistic illustrations of Onitsha throughout the work.

The reviewer, Professor S.J.S Cookey, Professor of History, Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port-Harcourt and Former Pro-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, praised the books as rich and well documented histories of the Igwe and the metamorphosis of Onitsha from a native town to a modern metropolis.

Cookey noted: “The volumes contain the intent, vision and mission of the Igwe and answers the question he asked himself when ascending the throne of his fathers, ‘Why do I aspire to lead my people?’ Igwe Achebe saw an opportunity to serve his people selflessly and give back to the community that has given him roots. It exposes the workings and thinking of the ‘Ime Obi’ and answers those who question the relevance of traditional institutions.

“Of particular interest is how the Obi has resuscitated the annual Ofala festival during which he gives his annual state address announcing the achievements of the past year, current challenges and future projections to keep the indigenes are abreast with the common vision. Traditional rulers play a crucial role in espousing trust and respect for their people. They are a readily accessible face of government and the Igwe has travelled extensively, meeting and exchanging ideas with his people,” he added.

In his congratulatory message, Dr. Alex Otti, Group Managing Director and CEO, Diamond Bank PLC, said that, “The Obi is a quintessential leader who has contributed immensely to the growth of Diamond Bank. The entire Diamond Bank family wishes him more fruitful years ahead.”

In his response, Igwe Achebe said he was overwhelmed by the huge turnout of friends and family that had come to celebrate with him. He noted that the 14th of May was significant to him because asides being his birthday, he got admitted into both secondary school and the university on that date. He also ascended the throne on 14th May 2002.

He added, “I have always preferred to spend my birthday in quiet introspection but last year I took ill on my way to London and God spared my life. This is why I am celebrating this year.”

He continued: “The books were bore out of a discussion with the editor, Prof. Nkiru Uwechia Nzegwu, on the role of women in the political discourse of Onitsha. She suggested a compilation of the notes she had taken and after close scrutiny I accepted. I would like to thank the author and her daughter, Azuka, who was the project manager. Diamond Bank provided some funding for the project for which I would like to thank them. I would also like to express appreciation for their contributions as corporate citizens in transforming Onitsha into a modern metropolis.”

Dignitaries at the event included: Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos who was the Royal Father of the Day; Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives; Mr. Pascal Dozie, Founder Diamond Bank PLC and Chairman, MTN Nigeria; Aremo Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State; Erelu Abiola Dosunmu; Mr. Phillip Oduoza, GMD/CEO, UBA Group; Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank PLC; Professor Pat Utomi, founder, Pan Atlantic University; Ms. Ama Pepple, former Head of Service of the Federation; and representatives from many Onitsha socio-cultural institutions.

Other dignitaries represented include: The Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade; the Sultan of Sokoto, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III and Chief Willie Obiano, Governor of Anambra State.

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