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Hope and Sherry Gbagi: Garlands for Igiedesiri, Abohosiri of Ughievwen Kingdom



Oginigbo is indescribably beautiful! A bustling rural community in Otujeremi, Ugheli South Local Government Area of Delta State, it sleeps and wakes up with nature. As you are separated from the chaotic, staccato noise of the hustle and bustle of Warri and bid goodbye to the misty air, the after-effect of gas flaring, one of the menaces in the crude oil production process, which continues to underscore the many contradictions of Nigeria’s bipolar history, the cleansing process begins in and out of your physical system.

Not only that your eardrums secure some form of freedom from the heavy assault of human and machine noise, but your lungs and other internal organs too. They witness some burnishing and gradual regeneration leading to massive relief.

Welcome to the countryside. Observe that even the earth itself appears quite enchanting. Notice that unlike the red earth that creases the air with dust, leaving the firmament discoloured and ugly, the white sand, like the seashore of the beach, one of the features that strikes an observant eye as you hit Effurun in the city of Warri, stretches all through down to the hinterlands.

Then Oginigbo, the resplendent community hits you as you travel further. As a first timer, it might be a further advantage to decline a car ride. Accept to travel in keke, or okada to enable a better view. You may have many things to thank nature for when you savour the complete effect. The lush greens from the mangroves leave you breathless, especially if you are lover of trees and the flora.

The effect of this thick vegetation could mean that erosion might not be a problem, just as it might serve as a buffer to wedge flood damage on the freshly-tarred road running through it. You simply feel the panorama like lullaby serenading the soul as you speed through and as your eyes strain to capture the much they could. No wonder this place, they say, is another stronghold for trees, wildlife and even highly-prized ornamental animals.

There might be the debate yet as to between the bright lights of the skyscrapers, the complicated bridges and road networks, the hustle and bustle, and other concomitant features of the big cities, and the caressing quietude of the countrysides, which is preferable. In fact, the late Owelle of Onitsha, Nnamdi Azikiwe, advised some areas must be left in their natural states and that not everywhere should be developed. To demonstrate that he left his Inosi Onira Retreat in the busy city of Onitsha, to take residence at his Onuiyi Haven in Nsukka, a nondescript, lonely and quiet ambience in the university town. To the present day naturalists, Oginigbo emphasises this as man’s best friend. The Owelle, went on to live for 96 years, far more than others who chose otherwise. Perhaps, he could have lived more, if the development he feared had not met him in his chosen abode.

Tucked between these lush vegetation and exquisite ambiance, in Oginigbo, the country home of Sherry and Hope Gbagi, seemed to introduce a different dimension of how modernity and nature could cohabit in a marriage of conviviality. Both appears to not only, compliment, complement, but actually celebrate each other by exacerbating the beauty of both sides.

It was the point of convergence on this day, as a flurry of activities marked the preparations for one of the major events the community would witness in 2021. The pair had made the list of the candidates to be conferred with traditional titles at the grand finale of the activities marking the tenth coronation anniversary of Okobare of Ughierwen Kingdom, Mathew Ediri Egbi, Owahwa 11.

The event, scheduled for Thursday, December 9, must met what one of the participants in the beehive referred as The Gbagi Standard – perfection.

But for many of the visitors to this ancient community, especially those from the cities, where the environment presents a different picture, it was not all about the stream of activities, but more of what nature had on the offer. It was pure bliss watching the sunlight cascading down the firmament, offering an enchanting vista as the night met the day in the dimming shade. Early risers were lucky too to witness the exciting display of picturesque scenery created by the rising sun in-between the trees of the mangrove.

Behold culture and tradition! It was a different demesne, decked in kaleidoscope of colours and concepts, at the palace of the Okobare.

Lined up on the dais in front of the Ogwan Uririn Ughievwen, Ughievwen Memorial Pavilion on this particular were the traditional power of the ancient stool. Decked in dominant colours of red and white, they exuded all the powers of the traditional institution common in rural African communities.

Accentuated by gaily-dressed men and women, who came in their best outfits and titled men and women, the atmosphere created a galaxy of rich colours and beauty.

Then, came the cultural displays that took the centre-stage at different times, intermittently to give the crowd, especially the visitors more than enough to cheer. They included the dance of the maidens – young, adolescent girls, who put their innocence on display in their natural state, to underscore the untainted purity and pristine lifestyle usually required as part of the development of women before marriage in typical African societies. Young men flipping into the air and balancing on the ground in beautiful acrobatics that synchronised with the music and other acts, telling unique stories by their costumes and dance-steps were on hand. They served as just teasers that kept the crowd pretty occupied even before the emergence of the monarch.

For lovers of seafood and other local delicacies, the event also provided an opportunity to taste the best. Locals displaying trays of well-spiced edible worms, prawns, snails, made brisk businesses as they moved in different directions, selling their wares to caress the taste-buds and satisfy the desires the people.

Underscoring the fact that here in this kingdom, nothing seems to happen out of sync, everything appeared to follow a predetermined sequence of traditional order.

So, as the music blasted from the different dance troupes, as the chiefs of the kingdom did their thing, while expectant candidates waited to join the exclusive class of title holders, the door to the pavilion opened, heralding the emergence of the monarch.

At exactly 12.35 pm, the Okobare, Owahwa 11, stepped out with the the flourish and regal splendour, emblematic of the measured gait of an African royalty. Five minutes later, at 12.40pm, the chiefs, including the ones waiting to be conferred, went to pay homage.

In a short message, he greeted his subjects and visitors, wishing them well and gave his royal blessing. He emphasised that his kingdom welcomed everyone, irrespective of individual leaning and political persuasions. “Whether you’re APC, PDP, APGA or any party, you are welcome to my palace,” he said.

Stressing that the Ughievwen kingdom was known for peaceful and harmonious relationship with other kingdoms in the state and the country as a whole, he called on investors to take advantage of the peaceful nature of the kingdom to invest in the area.

Echoing the message of the monarch, Sam Oyevbaire, former Minister of Information and Culture, and a high chief in the kingdom, said the ceremony was to honour outstanding sons and daughters of the land, who had made the community proud.

He explained that the reason for the recognition was not all about the wealth, but the recipients must add the virtues of untainted records of good character, exemplary leadership and contribution to the overall well-being of the land.

They must not only strive to conquer outside and bring laurels back home, they must also serve as the beacon to illuminate the way for people by the symbolic lifestyles they must be associated with, adding that the recipients had discharged themselves in this regard.

So, at exactly 1.45pm Hope Gbagi, Head of Sales (HOS) at the Intercontinental Distillers became the Igiedesiri of Ughievwen kingdom. After lacing his body with powder (in place of native chalk), signifying purity, and spraying him with perfume to signify magestic aroma of high class, he was handed the certificate by the traditional ruler.

After about an hour, it was the turn of madam, who was equally conferred with the title of Abohosiri. Both titles were meant to depict the reflections of what the two represent in the community. Igiedesiri literally means the Road to Blessing, while Abohosiri, means the Hand of Blessing. The apt expression is that through the hand of blessing, the road to the blessing of the kingdom, had been paved.

Thereafter, all road once again, led to Oginigbo, for a grand reception and entertainment of guests. There, apart from the well known foreign and Nigerian dishes, were the local Urhobo delicacies. for many of those who had heard of the wonders of Owoh soup and starch as one of the best dishes there is in Nigeria since the discovery of fresh fish pepper soup and plantain, it was time to join in the dabate. Many of them indeed, gave the testimony in the affirmative.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets like Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

These lines, from the late legend, Martin Luther King, could have been directed at Hope Gbagi, who is no stranger to traditional titles – the Aare of Akorede of Okaland in Ondo State, the Erhukugbe of Ughelli, and the Ajiroghene of Olomo Kingdom – not only for doing his job well, but for his love for fellow human beings and the society at large.

Highly elated at the recognition, the quintessential professional, humanist and avid sportsman, who is currently the Chairman of the Tennis Section of the Lagos Country Club (LCC-TS), Gbagi said the gesture would push him more into what he sees as a natural course of events – to contribute positively to the society.

Memories are sure to linger, especially for the visitors, after the first class hospitality of the Gbagis during the event. But more, there would be memories of wonderful Urhobo cusines, of the rich culture of the people – the flip dancers, edible worms and seafood delicacies. Above all, there would be memories of Oginigbo, a community that sleeps and wakes up with nature.

Posted by  Sunny Igboanugo |  1 January 2022

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Osun political battle: Assembly didn’t reverse Adeleke’s executive orders – lawmaker



There is no truth in the assertion that the Osun State House of Assembly, ever sat on the inaugural speech of the Governor, Ademola Adeleke, let alone reverse his pronouncements he made on Sunday, including reversing the name of the state from State of Osun to Osun State.

This much was confirmed by Adewumi Adeyemi,  representive of Obokun State Constituency, while reacting to the spokesperson for the Assembly, Moshood Akande, who claimed on Monday that the lawmakers took decisions after reviewing the address.

“The State of Osun House of Assembly, having reviewed the inaugural speech of the Governor and the activities of the inauguration, hereby resolves as follows:

“The usage of the State Anthem, Crest and Flag is an enactment of law and as such, its usage is a matter of law and not choice. The enactment, ‘State of Osun Anthem, Crest and Flag Law, 2012’ assented to on the 18th of December, 2012 contained in Schedule I, II, III, IV and V, which carefully details every component of this law, is not in ambiguity.

“Schedule I is the State Anthem, Schedule II has to do with the State Crest, Schedule III is the symbolic significance of the elements in the Flag. Lastly, while we are aware of a court judgment in effect recognising ‘Osun State’, the Assembly, pending the determination and exhaustion of all legal means, would not be drawn into this matter. However, the State shall and will continue to be described as the State of the Virtuous (Ipinle Omoluabi),” Akande had said.

But Adeyemi, while insisting that he had been attending plenary regularly, adding that at no time was Adeleke’s address discussed by the lawmakers, however, encouraged the lawmakers to continue working together and support the new government.

“My attention has been drawn to a statement which reportedly emanated from the Osun State House of Assembly and was signed by Hon. Moshood Kunle Akande.

“In the said statement, it was stated that the Assembly reviewed the inaugural speech and activities of the inauguration held on Sunday, November 27.

“As a lawmaker who attends plenary very well, I hereby state unequivocally that the Assembly has not met after the governor’s inauguration. It is also worth noting that there was no place the resolution was passed by the Assembly. The public, especially Osun people, are hereby advised to take note of this,” he said.

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NBC’s MPI index:  Ikpeazu’s vision resonating on Abia SME’s prime rating



In January 2018, 30 shoemakers left Aba, the industrial capital of Abia State and by extension, the South East for China to acquire the skills and secure the modern machinery in the industry. That did not just happen, but was the result of a well-planned programme of action based on the maximisation of the core competencies and areas of comparative advantage of the people Abia State.

One man was at the head of it. Early enough, Okezie came into government without taking his eyes off the ball. Among the varied programmes and policies, one of his priorities, was the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) as the base of economic development of Abia State – the major industry of the people.

The mantra was on his lips wherever he went. Right from the blast of the whistle in 2015, when he came into power, he began the full mobilisation for the project, which took him to Lagos, Abuja and other places where the people of Abia were domiciled to share his vision with the people.

The result of the combination of the multiple efforts the governor has put in this vision, became evident, when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), released a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) survey report that measured deprivations related to education, health, and living standard of the people and Abia was among the top states.

This positive result from the highest rating body in the land, not only provides an indication of the future of the Abia economy and how it would look like in the coming years, but proves that the foundation laid and the seeds planted in those years of the beginning by the governor could not have been less visionary by a leader desirous of the economic and social emancipation of the people.

Nobody in Abia State can comfortably say that Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as a Governor has done it all but the NBS publication has shown that after all, Ikpeazu’s promise of delivering a better life for the people of the state is a clear reality.

Abia is a state where people are well known for their industrious lifestyle and hard-working nature. It did not start under Okezie Ikpeazu but the coming of Ikpeazu became a catalyst for rapid growth and development of all those involved in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Aba.

One concrete influence Ikpeazu had on SMEs in Abia State is his becoming their Chief Marketer, changing the narrative about made in Aba products. The Governor completely rewrote the age-long story of Aba shoemakers, and other designers and made them proud to say their products were made in Aba.

He vowed to wear only made-in-Aba products throughout his stay in office. Not only did he do that but he also took their products to important government agencies like the army, police,  National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the Nigerian Railway Cooperation, thereby creating serious and available markets for them.

When he noticed the lack of modern equipment available to Aba shoemakers which will not allow them to compete favourably with the rest of shoemakers over the world, he set up the Enyimba Automated Shoe Company (ENASCO) where individual shoemakers can bring their designs and have them produced by advanced machines.

The government equally went ahead to launch an online business directory for small and medium businesses in the state, a men’s that currently boast E-commerce in the state making it possible for customers all over the world to buy products in Aba.

Ikpeazu exposed SMEs in the state to the world because the Abia SME directory contains business names, addresses, telephone numbers, locations, contact information, the type of service or products the business provides, and the number of employees among other things.

Ikpeazu restored the Abia SME and equally became a pacesetter in human capital development in Aba, the commercial hub of the state, a situation that has given youths impetus to go ahead with production.

Abia under Ikpeazu became the first state to have the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development that serves as a clearing house for all SME-related activities. The ministry forms the catalyst for business development, marketing and empowerment. Abia is also the first to establish an SME bank tailored towards helping small businesses thrive. These achievements are among the reasons why the rating of Abia has improved in many ways.

The Abia SME bank on its own is Microfinance Bank meant to meet the needs of Abia Small and Medium-sized Enterprises owners that are currently not being met by numerous commercial banks.

The bank is specifically providing micro-credit to SMEs to enhance economic growth in line with the Ikpeazu-led administration macroeconomic policy of empowerment and wealth creation for Abia people and others doing business in Abia State.

What makes the Abia SME Microfinance Bank located at No 17 Ngwa Road, Aba very unique is that despite providing micro-credit to Abia State SMEs, it equally offers efficient and innovative financial services and products to the economically viable SMEs segment.

Today, many areas of businesses in Aba in particular are having specialized clusters where their businesses are meant to thrive without restrictions, as the government equally says it will construct more roads with economic importance to ease trade and commerce in the state.

Perhaps, the efforts of the current administration in Abia State in SMEs will be appreciated more when one visits the Cameroun Park through the Powerline axis of Ariaria International Market to see how people from Central and West African cities like Bangui, Libreville, Bamako, Malabo, N’Djamena, Bioko and Kumba come to buy made in Aba goods for their numerous customers back at home in their countries.

Undoubtedly a rich nation by every standard, one third of over 200million population size of Nigeria citizens are terminally poor confronted with existential challenges, which to ameliorate, the Federal Government introduced a poverty reduction template, targeted at lifting 100 million Nigerians from poverty belt zone by 2030.

Though the government says is attainable, if stakeholders play their expected roles effectively, poverty continues to balloon in the country rather than receding, with a poverty report released last week by the NBS – Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), underscoring the stark realities.

According to the NBS’  MPI, 63 per cent of persons  living within, Nigeria ( about 133 million people) are multidimensionally poor, meaning that poor people in Nigeria experience over one-quarter of all possible deprivations.

It is against this backdrop that the feat achieved in Abia, through the deliberate policy of Ikpeazu to focus on the core areas of the Abia economy by lifting the small businesses and maximising the opportunities therefrom, must be situated and the reason he deserves a lot of accolades. Certainly, things will never be the same again. Abia is now on the move.

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Pomp, as Ihiala community celebrates New Yam, sets up education programme



Determined to improve the educational standard, the Ihiala community in Ihiala local government of Anambra State has instituted a special Award for Excellence for first class graduates.


The traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Thomas Obidiegwu, who announced this during the annual Iri ji (New Yam Festival) of the community, also announced the introduction of scholarship for exceptionally brilliant indigent students.

The monarch who bemoaned the worrisome level of cultism as well as drugs and substance abuse in the community said measure would be put in place to curtail the unwholesome behaviours which he said were totally strange to the community.

“This year’s celebration is unique as it will mark the beginning of some innovative programmes aimed at behavioral change in the attitudes of youths and the young ones.  We are launching today a serious campaign against drugs and substance abuse as well as cultism

“We believe that unless a decisive step is taken to curtail this dangerous trend, we will lose our young ones to drugs and substance abuse. Also worrisome is cultism and its ugly consequences.”

He said he will soon announce a committee to midwife and develop a blueprint for the implementation of the programme.

Chief Ody Chukwube, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, enjoined Ihiala people to join hands with the Oluoha in eradicating drugs and substance abuse as well as cultism.

He announced the plans of the community to construct a permanent Central Palace for the Oluoha soon, which he said would among other things, have a museum for the protection of relics in the monarchy which has lasted over 700 years.

The Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Mr Paschal Agbodike in his speech noted that the Igbo of the South East should embrace agriculture, adding that over-dependency in crude oil had made the country a monolithic economy.

Agbodike, urged other communities to borrow a leaf from the Ihiala Community in exemplary celebration of Iri ji festivals. He urged them to access soft loans from Agricultural banks to improve food production in the country.

Those present at the occasion include the governorship candidate of Zenith Labour Party ( ZLP), Chief Obiora Okonkwo, Chief Akachukwu Nwankp  of African Democratic Congress and the running mate to Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressive Grand Alliance ( APGA), Dr Onyeka Ibezim.



Posted by  Editor |  15 September 2021, 01:34am

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