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The Big Masquerade In Nigeria’s Cultural Arena

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Eagle Square was brought alive on the closing day November 25 by the creativity and seriousness of the Rivers State contingent. The state’s float had taken a new touch that left others looking stale. In a show of superior artistry, the float came on stage with a fish in the massive jaws of the moving crocodile. The audience could not hold back their applause.

Three years of Abuja Carnival have revealed a new fact about Rivers State. It is that the  state is Nigeria’s big masquerade on the cultural arena. It has a lot to offer the nation and other visitors who care about cultural assets, eco-resources and family entertainment. The carnival is a national cultural festival sponsored by the Federal Government every year in the Federal Capital. Since 2005 the results from the competition each year have brought the state to the front row, out of 36 competing states. Nigeria is gradually acknowledging that Rivers State is emerging as the leader in certain aspects of the cultural life of the nation.

The state’s contingent each time had presented itself as a strong contender for top honours in several events. The float, costumes,  carnival King and Queen, masquerades, Food Fest dishes, arts and crafts as well as regatta events at the carnival, continue to catch the nation’s attention. They have become mirrors to project the creative depth of the cultural symbols of the state, their variety and what have made them to stand out. For instance, in 2006, the state won the top prize for the carnival’s King and Queen contest as well as the float. It secured the second position in the regatta competition. In 2007, the carnival’s King and Queen category was suddenly reduced to a no­ contest event. But Rivers State was not to be shaken. The state went ahead to capture the spotlight  nonetheless. It took the first prize in both the float and costume events. It also claimed the first prize in the regatta event, a prize that eluded it last year. This time, it was even more competitive. Nine states fought for honours in the regatta event at the Jabi Lake venue in Abuja. We had five more, than the four states that vied last year in that category. At the end of the carnival, Rivers State came home as the overall best.

The support of the Governor, His Excellency, Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, made it possible for the contingent to participate in the carnival at all. It was an indication that the administration is more likely to redefine the culture and leisure sector of the state in a qualitative manner. This will unlock the huge tourism potential of Rivers State which has been begging to be developed.

Backed by careful planning, the state Ministry of Culture and Tourism set to work for Abuja Carnival 2007. Good coordination of several committees set up earlier, saw to it that the state had a sound plan for the carnival. It made it relatively easy for the ministry to deal with the challenges of fund and logistics. Members of the committees included top professionals in relevant areas. As the countdown began to the carnival, the ministry pulled together all the inputs from the committees. From there it quickly mobilised a contingent around one focus: Go make Rivers State proud. The contingent leader,  Dr Tobias S. T. Toby and top officials of the ministry became cheer leaders to prompt participants in each event to go the extra mile for their state.

The opening day on November 22, was a warning shot from Rivers State. As each state filed past with its float and contingent in colourful costumes, the audience at the Eagles Square seemed to watch in amazement. Would it choose the tortoise float, the one with a man on horse back or the float built like a white bull among other eye- catching contingents? Then the Rivers State float entered the arena. It was heralded by the shout of an audience that found a crocodile in the parade, a big work of art as a float. Unlike most floats, there was creative discipline in making the crocodile’s body work cover every trace of the platform that carried it. It was indeed a big masquerade in its own right, the “opu owu” of the arena, followed by a contingent that was relatively well organized. The float became a fitting cultural statement of the swamp land, creeks and river environment which define the 23 local governments of Rivers State. The same level of applause greeted the state’s contingent during the art and crafts exhibition or the carnival Food Fest.” It was pure drama as dishes from Rivers State were cleaned out by an excited audience. Yet the best was ahead.

The masquerade display (November 23), was a rich treat. But the regatta event (November 24) won a different level of attention .. It left no one in doubt that the state’s contingent had come prepared to do battle and to win clean. While others entered one· regatta boat in the competition, Rivers State had the ceremonial regatta (alali aru or gig) and the war canoe (omu aru). Both were fitted out in appropriate costume and decorations. Then the dancers (Abara troupe) and masquerades took the arena by storm. It was the ogwein and Peri-Angala’s inspired performance that forced the crowd to rush to the edge of the lake in disbelief. In every sense, the state’s regatta artistes, showed they were the true masters of the river. An impressed then Vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Jonathan led the applause for Rivers State.

Eagle Square was brought alive on the closing day November 25 by the creativity and seriousness of the Rivers State contingent. The state’s float had taken a new touch that left others looking stale. In a show of superior artistry, the float came on stage with a fish in the massive jaws of the moving crocodile. The audience could not hold back their applause.

But it was nothing compared to the joy of realizing the dream which came with the announcement of results on November 25. Rivers State flew high at the Eagle Square Abuja. The contingent found themselves enjoying a media attention that was the first of its kind. Their star performance at the carnival was brought home to the public in the state as the carnival was in progress through coordinated television and newspaper stories. On the contingents return, a back page photo splash and news feature greeted them in the November 30 edition of  the Hard Truth, a Port Harcourt based weekly publication.

The state government then took the stage. On December 10 in Port Harcourt, the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was presented with the laurels won by the contingent. The Governor was represented by  the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Engineer Tele Ikuru, who received the trophies from the leader of the delegation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism,  Dr Tobias S. T. Toby. The Deputy Governor expressed government’s appreciation that the contingent had won respect for the state as the nation’s premier theatre of culture. He then announced the Governor’s welcome package for the contingent. It was the first time the state was showing gratitude this fast to its contingent to the Abuja carnival. It is yet another indication that the state government will consolidate Rivers State’s position as the big masquerade on the nation’s cultural arena.

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Anambra Community Moves To Fight Crime, Declares Operation Know Your Tenants

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Following a rising wave of crime, Uke community in Idemili South Council of Anambra State has declared what it called ‘operation knows your tenants.’
The community said the move has become necessary since it was discovered that some of the criminal elements in the state are non-natives.
It would be recalled that the state government and police had said they have intensified the fight against criminal gangs in the state, and now carrying the fight to their hideouts across the state.
The Publicity Secretary of Uke Development Union (UDU), Mr. Ubaka Onwuanibe, in a statement, made available to newsmen in Awka, yesterday, said the community has now made it compulsory for all houses, shops and land owners to ensure they know the identity and occupation of those they rent their property out to occupy.
The statement said: “It is with every sense of responsibility that UDU Executive Council reassures of total commitment to ensuring safety and security of life and property in Ukeland.
“It is also imperative to sound a serious note of warning to every household in Ukeland to be very mindful of strangers admitted and accepted as tenants in their shops, stores, houses and compounds.
“In no distant time, format of such admittance and accommodation shall be made available to all village Chairmen and strict adherence to the guidelines is expected.
“It is pertinent to remind ourselves, again, of the need for all hands to be on deck in everything concerning security in Ukeland.”
Commenting on the recent kidnap and rescue of their son, Mr. Chukwudiebube Modu, the union’s secretary thanked their President General, Mr. Peter Onyejegbu and the traditional ruler of the community, HRH Igwe Charles Agbala, for the synergy that moved security agents to act promptly.
IN another development, the state government, yesterday, announced that it has restored peace among the Nkwelle Ezunaka community in Oyi Local Council of the state after over eight years of crisis.
The Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr. Collins Nwabunwanne, who brokered the peace during reconciliatory meeting with the warring factions in his office at the Government House Awka, commended members of the community for allowing peace to reign.
Nwabunwanne reminded them of the need for peaceful coexistence, insisting that he reconciled the factions for progress and stability to return to their community.

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Court Remands Men In Bonny Over Cultism

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A Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate Court in Rivers State presided over by A. O. Amadi Nna has remanded four members of Yoruba Community in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State in the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre over charges of cultism and conspiracy offences
The four accused persons remanded by the court last Thursday in Port Harcourt included Aboluwge Sunday, (aka Douglas), Tope Alaska, Tao Feak Olayiwola and Bore Ayodeji
The presiding Chief Magistrate had on April 11, 2022 adjourned the matter to Thursday for bail considerations.
However, on the resumed date, Chief Magistrate, Nna declined to grant the accused persons bail after hearing the arguments from the counsel in the matter and ordered that they should be remanded in the correctional custody and directed that the case file be sent to DPP for legal advice .
The presiding chief magistrate later adjourned the matter to 25th of May, 2022 for DPP’s advice.
Speaking to journalists after the court sitting, the complainant and Chairman of Yoruba Community in Bonny said what the group wanted from the matter was justice and added that the accused persons and their gang members were hounding members of the association in Bonny.
He said most of them had relocated their families from Bonny to Port Harcourt because of various threats to life by the groups operating in Bonny Local Government Area and urged the state government and Bonny Local Government Council to ensure that those cult gang groups operating in the area were dislodged.

By: Amadi Akujobi

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Hotel Management System | Hotel Management Software

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