The Governor of Imo State, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, says cultural heritage of any nation is a key factor that unites the people and guarantees progress.
Governor Emeka Ihedioha, described the 2019 Iri Ji Mbaise (New Yam) festival as one that must be sustained, not only in Mbaise nation but other parts of the state. He noted that the wide acceptability and intimidating audience the Iri Ji Mbaise festival witnessed could be leveraged on for socio-economic gains for the state.
Ihedioha disclosed this at the 2019 Iriji Mbaise (New Yam) festival of his people Mbaise, a clan in Imo which is made up of three local government areas; Aboh/Mbaise, Ezinihitte/Mbaise and Ahiazu/Mbaise Local Government Areas of Imo.
The Iriji Mbaise (New Yam) is a yearly festival of the three LGAs which is meant to signal that the people could begin to eat new yam of the year.
Gov Ihedioha revealed that the festival triggers bountiful harvest for farmers and general prosperity for the people. He also noted that the celebration often serves as a bond for the Mbaise nation.
He said Igbo culture remained one of the strongest means of uniting the people, which according to him should not be allowed to fissile out. He regretted that civilization and technology were fast killing most traditions of the people.
“Our tradition and culture are going down every day and the custodians of our culture are not doing much to save it. “We must rise to the occasion and keep our tradition alive because, to me, it is the strongest way to unite the people,” he said.
He said the 2019 Iri Ji Mbaise festival was very unique because he attended it as a governor. “As the son of the soil I want to say that this year’s new yam festival is unique because your son is now the governor of Imo.
“I assure the people of Mbaise that the block vote they gave me during the governorship election will not be in vain because soon I will bring government presence down to Mbaise.
He, however, called on Imo people to remain steadfast in his “Rebuild Imo Agenda” adding that soon everybody in the state would smile.
Many notable political leaders in the country have praised the rich cultural heritageof the Mbaise nation in Imo State, insisting that one cannot be divorced from the culture and tradition of his land.
The governor of Sokoto state, Rt Hon Aminu Tambuwal, has said the Iri Ji Mbaise, Festival of Mbaise nation is a culture, if harnessed of its riches, will make Imo State a tourist destination within and outside the country.
Tambuwal, a special guest of honour at the 2019 Iri Mbaise Festival held on 15th August, 2019, , urged the people of Imo State to support Gov. Ihedioha. Tambuwal, who is a former speaker of the National Assembly, described Gov Ihedioha as a man who is result oriented and dedicated to restoring all that the state lost in the past.
Meanwhile governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu state described Mbaise nation as a peace loving and hospitable people who have been consistent in sustaining the age long Iri Ji Mbaise tradition.
He said this, while addressing the mammoth crowd at the Iri Ji Mbaise festival held at Mbaise Secondary School Field. The governor noted that Mbaise nation had shown great desire in hoisting the cultural flag of the Igbo tribe with regularity and passion.
Among the dignitaries that attended the occasion were Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, Gov. Aminu Tambual of Sokoto state, Hon. Gerald Irona. (Dep. Gov. Imo State) Hon. Udo Uko. (Dep. Gov. Abia State) Chief Achike Udenwa. (Former Gov. Imo State) Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN) an illustrious son of Mbaise, Representatives of Delta and Anambra governors. The famous King Jaja of Opopo, revered Obong of Calaber, His Royal Majesty the Amayanabor of Okirika, Eze Imo- HRM Agunwa Samuel Ohiri, HRM Eze Cletus Ilomuanaya, among others, ndi Eze in Mbaise and many others.
The Iri Ji festival also had the presence of the State Chairman of Imo PDP, Chief Barr. Charles Ezekwem, Honorable Commissioners in the State, top Government officials and host of other prominent Nigerians.
Mbaise is a region in Imo State in southeastern Nigeria. In the heart of Igboland, the region includes several towns and cities. It is a group of indigenous clans, connected by intermarriage. With a population density of over 1,000 people per square kilometer, Mbaise is West Africa‘s most densely-populated area. Mbaise women are noted for their fertility. To be able to celebrate an eghu ukwu, a woman must bear at least 10 children; some women have given birth to as many as 15. the Iri Ji Mbaise festival comes every 15th day in August.