THE aphorism that “when beggers die there are no comet seen, but Heaven blaze the death of Princes” was the scenario last weekend (Jan. 5) as His Royal Majesty, Igwe Michael Ositadimma Okoye, the Okpaligwe I Nke Amawbia embarked on an eternal journey after effective forty-two years of kingship of Amawbia Community in Awka South local government area of Anambra State.
Aged Ninety-three hyears, Igwe Michael Okoye mounted the Igweship throne in 1976 and effectively managed the custom and traditions of the town for 42 years, bowing out in January 2, 2018.
Though the town had been in mournful mood since his earthly departure, his last ofala ceremony which commenced on Wednesday, January 2nd, with an interdenomination service through the last ofala day (Saturday) drew a mammoth crowd of highly placed Nigerians who thronged the town to pay their last respect to the royal father.
On hand was His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano represented by His Deputy Dr. Nkem Okeke, members of the Federal House of Representatives, traditional rulers from across Anambra State, the clergy, Hausa community in the town among others who rallied to celebrate and bid farewell to the Royal father.
Not left out in the celebration were Age Grades, villages and town associations, market trades who closed shop to join in the event, and various masquerade groups and cultural displays which made the event memorable.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Willie Obiano represented by Deputy Governor Nkem Okeke, commended the leadership of the town and all cultural institutions in the town for keeping faith with traditional ruler despite his age and incapacitation.
Said the state government desires peace in all communities in the state and respect to traditional institutions in order to sustain stability in the state.
He urged the regent of the town, Ozo Arc Nnaemeka Maduka to ensure that the peace, stability and development consciousness in the town is sustained and to ensure a peaceful selection/election of a new traditional ruler in the town.
In his speech, the Regent of Amawbia, Ozo Arc. Nnaemeka Maduka thanked all who assembled to celebrate and bid the departed Royal father farewell, adding that his reign brought absolute peace in the town and assured that the selection and election of a new traditional ruler for the town will be done peaceful, without bitterness and rancor, and then declared the end of ofala festival for the late Royal father.
In his condolence message to Amawbia people on the death of Igwe Okoye, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano said inter-alia, “It is note-worthy that Amawbia people are exemplary in the respect they uncompromisingly accorded their ruler throughout, even at the height of his frailty of age. His contributions will be surely missed at the state council meetings.
It is therefore worthy of emulation by communities that in Igbo tradition that respect for the Igwe of a town is unreserved.”
In his own tribute, National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Ozonkpu Dr. Victor Ike Oye said among other things, “The last five years of his earthly sojourn brought out the best out of him as a truly altruistic and persevering leader. Though in a deep state of pain at the time, he still exuded charm and welcoming mien. His capacity for expiation min the face of adversity and vexation made him my leader for life. Only a few persons of his ilk would have borne his kind of cross with such unfazed and unequalled adroitness.”
In his tribute, Rt. Hon. Anayo Nnebe, member representing Awka North and South constituency in the House of Representative, said “Okpaligwe’s sterling leadership qualities and unwavering commitment to the ideals of Amawbia community gives the people a sense of pride. He was an instrument of peace and a facilitator of community development for which his subjects are deeply grateful.”
The traditional ruler and Ezeudo II of Umuawulu, HRM, Igwe Joel Egwuonwu, in his tribute, said, “Okpaligwe, you lived a fufill life full of challenges and victories. The devil lost the battle with you long before you slept as we wish you Goodbye on your sweet journey home, we pray God to grant you eternal rest till we meet to part no more.”