The burial rites of the late internationally acclaimed writer, Chinua Achebe, has begun with the arrival of his body at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja yesterday morning.
The rites will climax with his interment tomorrow, in his hometown, Ogidi, Anambra State.
The body of the late writer arrived in Nigeria at about 8am on board an Overland Airline jet.
A Service of Songs was conducted in honour of the late literary icon at the airport before an Igbo traditional dance group performed outside the venue.
But the pageantry that was envisaged at the arrival of the body in Abuja was not there, although hundreds of people were at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to receive the body of late literary giant, Chinua Achebe; even as major burial plans scheduled to involve top Nigerian government officials were shelved.
The late Professor’s body, which arrived in the early hours of yesterday aboard a British Airways flight was received by the Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, and the Minister of State for Abuja, Olajumoke Akinjide.
The programme of activities for the burial had suggested that Achebe’s body “will be received upon arrival by a delegation of Nigerian leaders. Diplomatic and cultural representatives from African nations shall be in attendance to pay their respects. Cultural troupes from different parts of the African continent shall perform at the airport reception”.
But at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, most government officials were not in attendance. The only cultural troupe that performed at the reception was from Achebe’s kinsmen, the Ogidi Union Nigeria, Abuja chapter.
The only notable programme that took place at the Airport was the prayers offered while Sen Anyim spoke briefly eulogising Achebe and what he stood for.
Thereafter, one of the sons of the late Professor, Ike Achebe, thanked all who attended the event, and expressed the family’s gratitude for “the warm welcome and reception” since arriving the country earlier in the morning.
The programme had also stated that after the Airport reception, Achebe’s body will be conveyed to the National Assembly, Abuja for another reception.
However, shortly after the performance by the Ogidi traditional group and light refreshment for guests, no effort was made to convey the body to the Senate as scheduled.
Instead, Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, was seen frantically trying to make arrangements for a flight to transport the body to Enugu.
The governor succeeded in getting the body back into the Overland Airline and the body was flown to Enugu with no explanation from any quarters as to why the National Assembly reception was shelved.
However, sources close to the family said that the family felt embarrassed by a media report which showed displeasure by some family members and friends at a seeming government hijack of Achebe’s burial allegedly for pecuniary gains.
Achebe was a major critic of government ineptitude and failure at providing basic necessities of life. He also condemned the corruption in Nigerian governance.
Friends and family had questioned why his family would allow the same government Achebe roundly criticised to take charge of his burial.
A family source said the family was so embarrassed that it decided to limit to the barest minimum, the Federal Government’s involvement in the burial.
The body is expected in Awka, the Anambra State capital, today preceded by a border reception at Amansea by a cross section of Anambra people.
This would be followed by a short service for him at the Alex Ekwueme Square also in Awka.
The body would arrive in his hometown, Ogidi, the same day for a funeral service at St. Phillip’s Anglican Church, Akpakaogwe, Ogidi, to be followed by interment today.
NCWS Hails RSG’s Steps Against Illegal Refining
The President of the Rivers State Branch of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Princess Mariam Tolofari, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for taking decisive steps against illegal oil refining, air pollution and environmental degradation in the state.
Speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt, state president of NCWS maintained that Wike’s physical visit to some sites of the illegal refineries, mandating and supporting the state security agencies, local government chairmen and chiefs to swiftly end illegal refining has significantly reduced the menace of soot and its attendant environmental degradation and health hazard in the state.
Tolofari said that the governor’s resolve to end the soot in the state was heroic and valiant, while also backing the governor’s call on the Federal Government to respond to the issues giving rise to the soot epidemic in the state.
“We appreciate the governor for taking the bold initiative against operators of illegal refineries and the hydra-headed monster of black soot in Rivers State. We pledge to sustain and support a Green State that is healthy and beneficial to us all”, she said.
She further urged women to restrain their children and wards from joining persons engaged in ‘Kpo fire’ activities and ensure they stay focused in the pursuit of academic excellence and genuine business goals not associated to crime.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
Join War Against ‘Kpo Fire’, Monarchs Tell Rivers People
Some traditional rulers in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area have called on Rivers people to support the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on the war against illegal oil bunkering.
The traditional rulers include the Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, the EzeRisi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, and the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu.
The monarchs, who spoke in their palaces on the issue, said the war against ‘Kpofire’was a collective one as the situation has reached a dangerous point.
They also dismissed the claim that unemployment was responsible for the menace, adding that there was no society in the world where government employs everybody.
They also noted that the stealing of crude oil did not start today.
Speaking, Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, said the situation has taken a serious pitch, adding that a lot of lives were being lost as a result of the soot.
Ihunwo also described the action of the governor as timely.
According to the Woji monarch, those in the business of illegal oil bunkering do not know the health hazard they were causing to the people.
Ihunwo said that, in 2018,he invited the youths to his palace and mobilise them against operators of illegal refineries using Woji as conduit channel for evacuation of illegally refined products, and stressed that because of the collective understanding and collaboration of all stakeholders, Woji has not recorded any such criminal act within the community.
He, therefore, challenged other monarchs to emulate the Woji example.
The monarch also acknowledged a reduction in soot in the atmosphere in the state capital, while the amount of oil spill on surfaces of water has also reduced.
Also speaking, the Eze Risi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, said the intervention of the governor has saved the people of the state from series of health challenges.
Wonodi said it behooves the people of Rivers State to give their maximum support to the governor to succeed in eliminating the scourge of the soot pandemic in the state.
He also advised the youths to desist from the nefarious act and find other legitimate means of eking out aliving.
Wonodi also said that his kingdom has started sensitising the people against involvement in illegal oil bunkering.
On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu said Wike has shown that he has the capacity to solve societal problems.
Worenwu said that Iriebe community would comply fully with the governor’s directive to stop illegal oil bunkering, and warned those who may want to delve into the illegal business to stay away from the community.
While describing the governor’s action as welcome, the Iriebe monarch said the war against ‘Kpo fire’ needs the support of all members of the society, including the security agencies.
By: John Bibor, Oribim Ibama
ABOLGA Boss Declares Zero Tolerance On Oil Bunkering Activities
The Chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Hon. Daniel Daniel has thrown his weight behind the ongoing war against soot in Rivers State, assuring that his administration would do everything humanly possible to smoke out the criminal cartels involved in the illicit business.
The chairman, who declared that his administration would not condone activities of artisanal crude oil refineries in Abua/Odual, said he would demolish all illegal oil refining sites in the LGA, as directed by the state governor.
Speaking after visiting one of the uncovered artisanal crude oil bunkering sites in Odau Community, Daniel commended the efforts of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his relentless pursuit towards bringing to an end the menace called soot, which was threatening the very existence of the people in Rivers State.
He added that the practical steps taken by the governor within the last few weeks was yielding results.
Daniel used the opportunity to caution those who play politics with the fight against soot in the state to desist forthwith.
He further added that it was not proper to politicise this all important issue, which was causing harm to the environment and killing the people slowly.
The chairman called on all indigenes and residents of Abua/Odual Local Government Area to join forces to nip the danger posed by the soot the bud.
The ABOLGA chief executive alsosaid that anyone with useful information onthe locationsof the sites and names of operators where illegal oil bunkering activities are taking place within the area should report with immediate effect, to him or the DPO of the Abua/Odual Divisional Police Command for necessary action.
He disclosed that as the chairman of council, he has knowledge of all forests/communities in the LGA, adding that his administration would leave no stone unturned in implementing the directives of the state governor.
The site visited in Odau Community has over 15 boiling pots and occupies an estimated geographical area of over one hectare of land.
The Tide learnt that the site is bounded by communities from Ahoada-West LGA of Rivers State and Ogbia LGA in Bayelsa State.
Those who accompanied the chairman on the enforcement visit are the DPO of the Divisional Police Command and his men; the C4i LGA commander and his team of gallant men.
Others are the Chief of Staff to the Chairman, Hon. Okpokipoiy Peters; Supervisor for Environment, Hon Vincent Reuben Obu; and his works counterpart, Hon. Zinami Fyneroad Iwariso; Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs to the Chairman, Hon Alex Walters who is an indigene of the Odau Community, among others.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
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