The annual Iriji Cultural Festival of Owerre –Nkworji autonomous community in Nkwerre local government area was held on Saturday August 14 but abruptly ended in a discordant note as the self acclaimed Traditional Prime Minister, Nze Chinaka Henry Madukolam was alleged to have committed an abomination by slighting prominent sons of the area, politicizing the cultural festival and banned from organizing the traditional festival of the community.
Our reporter who covered the Irji Festival gathered that ,prior to last Saturday’s event, it was alleged that Madukolam always used his position as the Traditional Prime Minister of the community to organize similar events to which he invited prominent rich sons of Nkwerre for awards of honour.
During last weekend’s outing in which prominent sons of the soil were in attendance, including Rt Hon Ugochukwu Nzekwe a two time lawmaker and Special Adviser to the governor of Imo State; the town union president,Frank Amadi;Chairman of Nzenaozor, Chief Chijioke Tasie and Chairman of the occasion, Nze Luke Anaele,Nze Benneth Nwokejiogu and his beautiful wife were honoured as Duke and Dutchess respectively of Owerre Nkworji Community.Many view the title given to the duo as deserving but frown at the action of the organizer, Madukolam which was a calculated attempt to get at some persons.
When it was time for presentation of kola nuts, Madukolam breached the protocol by ignoring all the aforementioned leaders, including the Chairman of the occasion, Nze Anaele who ordinarily should have first received the Cola nuts before any other person.
The slight or neglect drew sighs and murmurs from people in attendance but which was later handled by the leadership of the Town Union. In their wisdom , they urged all stakeholders to be calm with assurance that there was going to be an emergency meeting of the town union the next day being Sunday to address the dust raised by Madukolam’s action which they agreed was targeted at slighting some of their sons.
Most of those who spoke during the occasion described the action of Madukolam as embarrassing and a slight to prominent sons of the community.
Majority of the villagers who spoke during the Town Union meeting described Hon Nzekwe as a political “Iroko tree” to his people who should not be taken for a ride,more so when he is an appointee of the present administration in Imo.
The Chairman of the occasion, Nze Anaele who is also the Lord Chancellor of Owerre Nworji and had attended the Town Union meeting disclosed that when a similar event was organized in his honour recently , “it was not politicised but a money rain for my people as I used my contacts to attract people to the event which is what we expected the organizer of last Saturday event to do and ensure accountability .”
Speaking at the venue of the emergency meeting on Sunday of which was covered by this reporter, some of the community chiefs argued that the Iriji festival should on no account be politicized.They added that the drama that played out was an embarrassment to Owerri Nkworji people.One of them specifically said, “the refusal of Maduakolam to accord Hon Ugochukwu Nzekwe, a Prince of the community who during his tenure as a lawmaker saw to the creation of three autonomous communities his due respect because he is not of PDP, shows how mischievous Madukolam could be”.
He accused him of always using every opportunity he has to serve the community to favour his political associates above others.
He said, development of the community should be rated high and paramount above any other primordial interests.”No doubt he is an Aide to Hon Jones Onyeriri but it is not enough reason to run others down just to impress his benefactors “, he added.
At the emergency meeting majority of the concerned citizens , including Hon Nzekwe questioned the legality of the position of Chief Madukolam as Traditional Prime Minister and among other things warned that the Iriji festival should not be politicized.
However, it was later discovered that Mdauakolam was at no time appointed the Traditional Prime Minister of the community which led to an outrage and condemnation.
At the end of the meeting the Town union resolved that henceforth Mdauakolam has been relieved of his position and barred from organizing such events in the community.
When contacted, Hon Maduakolam denied that he has been removed by the Town Union President, Chief Frank Amadi as traditional Prime Minister.
He said”, I have been organizing our new yam festival for the past 10 years.This year,we invited the Lord Duke Bennet Nwokejiogu,the Secretary to Imo State Government, Chief Cosmus Iwu and the Chief of satff, Barr Nnamdi Anyahie both of who represented the governor.Disregard the report.I am still the TPM of the Community and have served the community for 10 years.
He however acknowledged that Hon Nzekwe and other prominent sons of the community were not recognized or captured in his program and never gave any further explanation as to why it was so.