Agbogidi Calls For More Attention To Social And Infrastructural Development In The Metropolis.

     -2020 Ofala Onicha holds in line with COVID-19 Guidelines.

Against the background of the ongoing construction of the Second River Niger Bridge, the commencement of operations at the Onitsha River Port, and the imminent completion of the Anambra International Cargo Airport, His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, Agbogidi, has called for  attention to also be paid  to social and infrastructural development  within the greater Onitsha metropolis such that these would be in tandem with the new projects. His Majesty was speaking during  the 2020 Onicha Ofala which was held on October 11, 2020.

He observed that  ‘’whist the  Second River Niger Bridge, the ports operations, and the Anambra Airport, would lead to increased economic activity and prosperity in the metropolis, as well as in Anambra and the other South East States, they will also put pressure on an already dilapidated infrastructure in the metropolis.’’   

His Majesty therefore called for the  ‘’design and implementation of  a massive urban renewal plan for Onitsha metropolis based on an updated UN Habitat 2009 Structure  Plan  for  Onitsha  and  Satellite  Towns.’’ He added that “the plan will  not only address the current  lack of city planning, high level of environmental pollution, and the absence of a well-designed sewer and waterfront and channelization system but will also help manage the outcome of the developments that would arise from the new projects.’’ He suggested that “such an ambitious plan would best be executed through the creation of a Greater Onitsha Development Authority, encompassing the city and its neighbouring towns”

This year’s low-key Ofala is  in line with the decision of the Onitsha Traditional Council  that the community would  fulfill its  annual traditional and ritual obligations in a modest way to comply fully with the Covid -19 safety and hygiene protocols. The decision took account of the general mood of the country and was a mark of respect for all persons in Onitsha and around the world who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

The Ofala, which is  the highpoint of Onicha Ceremonial Cycle, was held  this year  without  the usual display of  royal dances, tributes, parades, music, and art, in addition to other associated events, which have come to characterise the beauty and elegance of the festival. Rooted in deep spirituality, the Ofala is primarily a celebration by the  monarch and his subjects to mark the monarch’s annual emergence from seclusion, during which period he has successfully negotiated the fortunes of the kingdom.

A proclamation issued on June 18, 2020  by His Majesty, which provided the rationale for the decision, stated that “based on current projections, the coronavirus is unlikely to be brought under control, and the country fully opened up, before the end of August and into September”. The proclamation also observed that  “the adverse consequences for the economic and social lives of the country, will naturally have serious impact on our own community life in Onitsha”. His Majesty has recently announced a community-based Economic Empowerment Programme  as part of a strategy for   medium to  long -term sustainable interventions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

The low-key approach  was very evident in the celebration of  the earlier festivals on the annual ceremonial cycle. These are Ajachi  on  June 29,  Umatu on August 1, and  Owuwa Ji,  the celebration of the new yam harvest, which commenced on September  26 and will end on October 17.

Based on governments’ review of the Covid-19 crisis, and  consultations with the community constituent groups, His Majesty has issued another proclamation, with effect from  October 18, to allow  gradual resumption of   communal traditional and social life whilst complying with the extant Covid-19 protocols on hygiene and safety.