…Residents celebrate president’s return from medical vacation
From: Ali Abare, Gombe
Residents of Gombe State, on Wednesday, poured into the streets of the state capital, to celebrate the return to the country of President Muhammadu Buhari after spending 104 days on medical vacation in London.
The residents, in their hundreds, displaying placards with different inscriptions, walked in a procession starting from the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) along Jos Road to the market roundabout in the city centre.
Convener of the rally and 2019 gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Habu Muazu said the rally, which cuts across party lines, was initiated to demonstrate the love of the people of Gombe State for the president.
Addressing the mammoth crowd at the market square, Muazu said the president meant well for the country and should be supported by all.
His words, “I sponsored this event to show our love and support for the president in Gombe State. Other states are demonstrating their love and support. I felt Gombe should not be left out.
“As you can see it is not a purely a party affair because President Buhari enjoys support across all the parties. But because he is from the APC the party was fully involved,” he said.
While decrying the alleged misplacement of priorities in governance in Gombe State by the PDP administration, Muazu said some projects carried out by government do not address the immediate needs of the ordinary people of the state.
He pledged to embark on projects that would ease the suffering of the common man in line with the policy thrust of the Buhari administration.
The APC gubernatorial aspirant also accused Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of short-changing the people of the state by embarking on projects that had no direct bearing on the lives of the people.
H”e continued, “On the surface it would appear as if Dankwambo is working, but he is only embarking on projects that would put money in his pockets, like some bogus roads network, while hospitals are suffering with lack of drugs and many government establishments are grounded due to lack of running cost,” Muazu said.
He also blamed the governor for allegedly taking Gombe resources to sponsor a rally against President Buhari and renovated a palace of a traditional ruler in exchange for a traditional title.
“It is a well known fact that Dankwambo was the core sponsor of the Resume or Resign agitation against President Buhari. He again took Gombe money and went to build a palace for a traditional ruler elsewhere, while our palaces in Gombe are in need of serious work,” Muazu alleged.
The activities of the pro-Buhari supporters grounded business activities and transportation within the metropolis as commuters were compelled to trek long distances to get to their destinations.
A total of about 81,200 Nigerian pilgrims will join over two million of their counterparts from around the globe that commences today.
The chairman/CEO of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Barrister Abdullahi Muhammad Mukhtar stated this at the pre-Arafat stakeholders conference which held at the Al-Raqiyyah Hall, Khhalidiyyah 2 in Makkah yesterday.
The NAHCON boss said number was arrived at as 65,000 pilgrims came through the states’ board’s and 16, 200 came through private tour operators.
He called on all stakeholders to put hands on deck to ensure a hitchfree hajj adding that no one should relent until the pilgrims carry out the haj rites and safely return to their families. He added that the commission will not rest on its oars in ensuring that all the pilgrims get the best services and attention during the exercise.
He said the reforms carried out by NAHCON has come to stay in orderto ensure that pilgrims get value for their money with a vow that no amount of threat, arm twisting, ill-motivated criticisms will stop the commission from achieving its goals. Muhammad Mukhtar disclosed that four Nigerian pilgrims have confirmed dead so far.
In his own contributions, the commissioner in charge of policy, personnel management and finance (PPMF), Alhaji Adebayo Yusuf Ibrahim charged tour operators to fulfil the promises made to international pilgrims on providing decent accommodation for them. We are committed to make sure that this year’s exercise is better that last year.
In his presentation, the head NAHCON medical team, Dr Ibrahim Kana said his team ranked among the best in the area of efficient service delivery to the pilgrims. He stated that Nigeria has 4 clinics and 4 outposts which are strategically located around pilgrims accommodation inMakkah.
According to Kana, the clinics are located Shara Hijrah, Shara Mansur, Misfallah and Kudai while the outposts located within Kaduna and Gombe pilgrims accommodation. He added that over 14,872 pilgrims have been attended to saying 1 in 5 Nigerian pilgrims has visited the National Medical Team clinics.
He said there have been 84 referrals to Saudi hospitals with 22 pilgrims on admission in Saudi hospitals. He informed that there has been a case of one miscarriage and one delivery and four deaths from Adamawa, Kano and Kwara States.
Sam Nwaoko reports the celebration of the 2017 edition of the Udiroko festival of the people of Ado-Ekiti, which turned out to be somewhat unusual given the new realities in the community.
The 2017 Udiroko Festival of the Ado Ekiti people had two incumbent governors, two incumbent deputy governors, two former governors and numerous other dignitaries in attendance. Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, his Gombe State counterpart, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo; deputy governor of Ekiti State, Professor Kolapo Olubunmi Olusola; his counterpart from Rivers State, Dr. Ipalibo Gogo Banigo; former governors, Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and Dr Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State were all present as the people of Ado Ekiti celebrated. Also present was the member representing Remo Federal constituency in the National Assembly, Oladipupo Olatunde Adebutu, amonong many other dignitaries.
The turnout was so impressive that the chairman of the occasion, Chief Afe Babalola, declared the 2017 edition as “a glorious day and the most successful Udiroko celebration in recent history.”
Aare Afe Babalola did not hinge his verdict on just the huge, impressive turnout of the people of the community and the dignitaries. The legal giant, who is also a son of Ado Ekiti, noted with joy, the impressive physical development of the Ewi Ado’s palace by Governor Fayose, Dr Babangida Aliyu, Governor Dankwambo and their friends and submitted that they have helped the Ado people to vastly improve their palace and the celebration.
Babalola, who thanked Fayose and described him as “young, dynamic, sincere and prudent governor of Ekiti State,” also shared him to “continue with what you are doing to develop Ekiti State and Ado Ekiti in particular.”
The effusive gratitude to the Fayose administration was rampant on the occasion. The Ewi, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III capped it all in his speech. But the President-General of Ado Progressive Union (APU), Chief Obafemi Ojo, who spoke on behalf of Ado sons and daughters in Nigeria and in the diaspora, said in an address that “Governor Fayose is one of the good things that have happened to Ekiti State and in particular, Ado Ekiti.” according to him, “he is not only a phenomenon, he is an oracle among other human beings. He is a personality that is not easy to analyze because he means different things to different people.”
The unusualness and reinforced joy of the 2017 celebration was also captured in the speech by APU’s Chief Ojo. For instance, he noted that the community had struggled for years to complete the amphitheater at the Ewi’s palace, saying the project “has been completed by Governor Fayose.” He also noted that Fayose had renovated the office of the Ewi and his palace staff, saying “the renovation of the office has put the Ewi and his officers in the category of his counterpart Obas who are special in Nigeria.” The two-term APU president also noted with gratitude that “Governor Fayose has built a special hall the will contain about 1,000 persons at a time with all conveniences and fully air-conditioned.” He described the hall as “one of its type in Ekiti or South West states.”
While also not losing sight of the ongoing construction of a modern market in the town, as well as an overhead bridge, the APU said “the love and regards accorded to Ewi and his council led to the special award of excellence among governors to Governor Fayose.”
Indeed, Governor Fayose, Governor Dankwambo, his wife Adama; the member representing Remo Federal Constituency in the House or Representatives, Oladipupo Adebutu and his wife, Adenike Omolola, had received various chieftaincy titles from the Ado Ekiti people through the Ewi, in the course of the weeklong celebration of the 2017 Udiroko. Fayose was crowned Chief Apesin (Apogun P’Òtè) of Ado Ekiti; Dankwambo and his wife became the Akinmuagun and Yeye Akinmuagun of Ado Ekiti respectively while Adebutu and his wife were made Ajirosola and Yeye Ajirosola of Ado Ekiti respectively.
Also before the grand finale at the packed amphitheater at the palace grounds, the Ewi had announced that the Udiroko was significant to the people of the Ado Ekiti because it marked the beginning of their new year. He said when they migrated from Benin in the ancient times, the people traversed through Idoani to Agbado to Iluomoba. The oracle, which dictated their route, Oba Adejugbe stated, told them that they were yet to arrive at their Eldorado.
According to him, at Agbado, the elders in the migration decided to settle there, refusing to continue in the journey and this gave rise to the name “Àgbà Adó” which is now known as Agbado. At Iluomoba, he said some of the princes in the migration also decided not to continue and settled at the community now known as Iluomoba. Agbado and Iluomoba are both in Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
Oba Adejugbe narrated that when the people eventually settled in Ado Ekiti, the usually had their gatherings under Iroko tree at Olorunborun Day, picked by the Ewi for the warriors and hunters to pay homage and bring their post-war reports. “The assemblage of the people under Iroko tree in Ewi’s palace on Olorunborun day for the ceremony later became known as ‘Odun Udi Iroko’ from which ‘Udiroko’ was abbreviated,” the monarch stated. He added that “on the day, prayers are said in every home in the town and in the evening of the same day, the entire members of Ado community would assemble at the Ewi’s palace to receive his blessings as he is believed to have powers to make the heavens to accept his prayers.”
The Ewi, on the day was grateful to God, the state government and the security agencies for the peace in the state and the community. He however, noted that to ensure sustainable peace and security, the government must find a way to motivate the younger people to embrace agriculture. “Government at all levels must find a way of motivating our people to develop interest in agriculture which is our speciality, the main occupation of our community.” According to him, “apart from solving the immediate food requirements of our teeming population, excess food produced from our farms can enhance the industrial take off of our community.”
To the thousands who had trooped to the palace for the celebration, the fanfare after the Ewi’s prayers is unfettered. They dance, eat and drink and make merry in various ways. Chiefs pay homage and so are various other groups, including non-indigenous groups, honourary chiefs and traditional groups. And it is still being modified, modernised, expanded and juxtaposed for greater effect and mileage, all for better celebration and conviviality.
The Alareerin of Oke Ila, High Chief Olatunji Obayemi, noted that the Udiroko is evolving with the times, “and that’s why programmes such as Jumat prayers, health talk, visit to the sick and the aged by chiefs; games like draught and ayò olópón; the Ewi Football competition, youth carnival, book launch, etc are introduced to the weeklong events.”
Chief Obayemi agreed that the 2017 edition was unique in the sense that the amphitheater was now ready and the palace grounds was now better prepared for the huge crowd that attend the programmes. He said the chiefs were mainly to offer support to the Ewi in his administration if the town and helps him in ensuring peace and harmony in Ado Ekiti.
The Udiroko is celebrated with walnuts. That, the people said was the common traditional food at the grounds. And they had lots of it in the 2017 edition. When the Ewi had left the arena, cooked walnuts were flung around the grounds in non particular fashion. The seeds fall in various parts of the grounds and people picked and ate them in joy. The walnuts that fell at one the musicians’ tents were picked and eaten by the musicians, even whole they played. Children used the hard seeds as weapons as they hunted themselves and threw them at one another. This was part if the story of Udiroko, a story the children would tell when the years have rolled by.
For the dignitaries, it was another opportunity to show their love for Ado Ekiti. For the politicians, who were also on hand, it was an opportunity to display themselves. And Fayose, in his speech seized the moment to solicit for more political support from the people. Governor Fayose said he appreciated the 31,000 votes difference with which he won the governorship election in 2014 but said he wanted more from the people.
He said: “Now that I’m a chief of Ado Ekiti, I’m seeking your support. Ado people will vote for your flyover, Ado people will vote for your modern market. Next Udiroko, I want to come here with the new Ekiti State governor to celebrate with you. I want 101,000 votes this time.”
He said the jobs he had done for the community spoke for themselves and assured that “all ongoing projects in the state would be completed before the end of my tenure. I will hand over the market to the Ado Ekiti people. The flyover would be completed by December. We will completed the high court complex and all the other projects.”
He said he had earned the support of the Ado Ekiti people and called for their continued support for his administration, and expressed appreciation that “the Ewi, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe and the other traditional rulers in the state for their roles in peace-keeping in the state and keeping Ekiti as one.”