It wasn’t the usual boisterous ceremony at Mbaise for the new yam festival, Iri-ji Mbaise. It just managed to hold, but was a shadow of itself.

But General Lincoln Jack Ogunewe (rtd), captured the essence of the ceremony with the pervading sobriety, taking the ceremony home to his expansive palatial country home.

Ogunewe, gubernatorial candidate for Action Alliance (AA), couldn’t see himself celebrating the new yam outdoors while the body of the Eze  who himself was  Ezeji that should have superintended over the ceremony, lay cold in the morgue. He therefore made a sombre ceremony in his family compound to host relations, friends,  associates and numerous supporters.

His Royal Highness, Eze James Nnamdi Durujiaku, Uboma II, the traditional ruler of Nguru Nweke autonomous community in Mbaise, was shot dead in his palace on July 14 by still unknown assailants.

Arriving Mbaise for the Iri-ji, Gen Ogunewe and his convoy headed straight to the palace of Eze Mirioma to condole with his people. Ogunewe described late Mirioma as an honest man, not given to sophistry like so many and speculated that it  may have been what cost him his life. He described the murder of the late Eze as a thing unheard of in Mbaise. 

Wife of the deceased, Ugoeze Nkechinyere Nnamdi, amidst tears, replied that the fortrightness of her late husband must be the cause of his murder. She enjoined everyone to join her in prayers. 

At Umudim, Akpadim, Ezinihite, Mbaise, it was as if history had kept an appointment with Gen Ogunewe. His late father, Col. David Sunday Ogunewe, the 34th commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army, was made the traditional ruler of his community upon his retirement, in 1976.

Though sombre, the ceremony at the Ogunewe compound had all the elements of the Iri-ji. The roasted tubers of new yam were there, together with other local cuisine; the Ezejis were there to  thank God for the new yam season; the Ezurezu Mbaise, apex social cultural organization  of the Mbaise nation was there  life led  by the President General Chief Cyril Anyanwu. 

Representatives of the various clans in Mbaise as well as other communities in the state were all there.

Without much music and dance as the mood of Mbaise nation dictated, the Iri-ji Mbaise was accomplished in it’s essence at Gen Ogunewe’s house. His people gave him a hero’s welcome. And his associates addressed him as in-coming governor.

Ogunewe promised that if he came into power, the insecurity that had pervaded Imo State for years now would give way to prosperity. He assured that it was easy for him to handle, since there are no ideological hangers underpinning the restiveness in Imo. He said he would dialogue with all the disaffected youth, address their grievances and usher in peace and prosperity into Imo State.