Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Monday, urged traditional rulers in Delta North Senatorial District to declare every Easter Monday as “Anioma Day” worldwide.
Okowa made the call in his remarks at the 18th Anioma Cultural Festival organised by the Organisation For The Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC), in Asaba.
He clarified that it was the traditional rulers, and not the state government that would make a declaration to set a day aside for annual celebration of Anioma people and culture.
Okowa, who therefore, urged traditional rulers in the area to get together and make the declaration, remarked that the 2023 festival with theme: “Preserving Our Cultural Heritage” was apt.
He lauded OFAAC for its commitment to the propagation and advancement of Anioma culture over the years, and said “today’s event is the 18th in the series. Eighteen years is a year of maturity and I belive that this is a very special day.
“I thank the president and members of the organising committee for keeping this cultural festival alive for 18 years. I believe that the president and the traditional institutions at every event, have truly enriched this because rightfully, they are the custodians of our culture.
“The festival has become a yearly thing during the Easter period and I think that it is already established. I heard our brother talk about the need to ensure not only sustenance, but the fact that we need to declare it an Anioma Day.
“It is not the government of Delta state that has that right to so declare. So I hope that our traditional rulers will sit together and be able to make a joint pronouncement. And, once that is done, obviously, that day truly becomes an Anioma day.
“So, we thank you and all those who have contributed to the events that we come here to witness on a yearly basis in order to keep hope alive and to keep our culture alive and make us have much fun during the Easter season.”
The governor used the opportunity to thank the people for their support for his administration in the last eight years, adding that his administration tried to reach out to every ethnic group, every ward and every local government across the state.
He said that his administration had done so much to maintain peace in the state and called on the people to continue to give support to the incoming administration.
“There is no limit to what we are able to achieve in bringing our people together. The unity of the Anioma race is unquestionable. And, there is the need for us to keep hope alive; this is one of the ways to do that.
“Our strength lies in our unity. Therefore, I urge our traditional rulers to continue to keep this cultural festival alive. You are the ones that will give it strength.
“In the last eight years, I have been governor of Delta state. We have come to realise that though our tongues may differ, we are one people in Delta State.
“The unity of this state is one thing we must strive to give strength to by having a united Anioma, Urhobo nation, Isoko nation, Ijaw nation and Itsekiri nation.
“All we need to do is to ensure that we keep ourselves together and we will have a united Delta state. And ensure that development gets to every part of Delta state.
“It is impossible for one administration to do all that the government needs to do in Delta State. But I believe that if we continue with the pace of development, Delta will become greater and greater for it.
“When I leave office from next month, one thing I will most appreciate, is the support I received from all; the young and the old, men and women, even our traditional institutions.
“I truly must thank all Deltans; whether we like it or not, Delta state is one of the most peaceful state in this nation. Delta is a state that is growing much faster than people can imagine; especially Asaba the state capital.
“It is the fastest growing state capital as at today in the country, and I thank God for everything. I also thank the Asagba of Asaba and all our traditional rulers who have supported the peaceful process that has enabled development to come to this place,” Okowa added.
President of OFAAC, Mr Kester Ifeadi, thanked the Governor for his support for the advancement of Anioma culture, and said that the people of Anioma were proud of his sterling accomplishments with state-of-the-art infrastructure that dotted nooks and crannies of the state.
He said that no fewer than 170 groups were participating in this year’s celebrations and called for the declaration of every Easter Monday as Anioma Day Celebrations worldwide.
The annual cultural festival which was attended by Secretary to the State Government, Chief Patrick Ukah; Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Lawrence Ejiofor; Chairman, Oshimili South Local Government Council Dr John Ezenyili; “Desert Warrior”, Chief Newton Jibunoh and traditional rulers, featured cultural dances, wrestling and flute competition among others.