Commentary: Christmas Celebrations In Anambra State

Those who have spent Christmas in Anambra state in the past eight years would testify that it had always been awesome. A returnee, who had been away from the state for years, once attested that he could still recall the very first one in 2014; the first under the Willie Obiano administration in the State. The Governor, having set Anambra on the part to social, political and economic renaissance, crafted a strong ‘Aku Luo Uno’ message targeted at Ndi Anambra in the Diaspora.

The best way he did it was to throw a big party at the Dr Alex Ekwueme Square and invited the whole world, especially Ndi Anambra who heeded the home coming call. The maiden Anambra Jam Blast musical jamboree was privately sponsored by corporate organizations and friends of Ndi Anambra and featured Patoranking, Phyno Fyno, Slow Dogg and other acts. The open air concert, the first of its kind in the state, lasted into the morning and had Ndi Anambra attending from their various communities across the state.

That same year, towards the end of December, Ndi Anambra converged on Okija for the Face of Okija Cultural Pageant. The now yearly franchise, sponsored by Dr. Ernest Obiejesi (Obijackson), brought the best in Nigerian entertainment to Okija, and the world took notice. Anambra was on the rise and Ndi Anambra now had social and cultural events to look forward to every Christmas when they visited home. This was not the case before Governor Willie Obiano assumed the mantle of leadership.

Whereas annual homecoming had always been a way of life for Igbo men and women sojourning outside Igbo land, the practice slowed tremendously, especially in Anambra State during the dark years of incessant kidnappings and armed robberies in the state, when many of our people chose to celebrate traditional weddings and other family milestones in Lagos, Abuja, London and other cities where they reside.

All these are in the past now. Ndi Anambra in their millions now come home to spend Christmas. They use the time to re-connect with friends and family, commune with Ndi Umunna, rejuvenate for the challenges of the coming year and revel in the several feasts, festivals and events that simultaneously take place across the state. No wonder Sir Willie Nwokoye, a native of Amawbia and Principal Secretary to Governor Obiano likened life in Anambra State during Christmas as “one large uninterrupted social and cultural feast and extravaganza”.

On the traffic jams during the period, that is to be expected due to the influx of thousands of vehicles during Christmas. Added to that are the vehicles from friends and well-wishers visiting their Anambra friends and attending one function or the other. For consolation, the traffic situation is eased by the good road network that Anambra enjoys as it is easy to connect from one town to another.

Above all, the Anambra International Passenger and Cargo Airport, which became operational from December 7, 2021, eased movement of Ndi Anambra to their state and back to their base.

More so, men of the Anambra Traffic Management Agency (ATMA), FRSC, the police and other security agencies are always on hand to help the flow of traffic, especially at major traffic flash-points. Some Anambra communities have also devised their own local solutions to managing the traffic situation to complement government efforts. For example, Enugwu-Ukwu Community Development Union (ECDU) introduced Volunteer Traffic Marshalls, who were trained and commissioned by ATMA, just for the Christmas season. This is commendable.

Many communities are now organizing music festivals, Ofala and masquerade festivals, carnivals and other events to entertain their people, especially those returning home. These collectively contributed to the overall fun and mood of celebration Ndi Anambra experienced.

No doubt, Christmas in Anambra in the last eight years has been memorable and Ndi Anambra continue to hope for, and look forward to celebrating many more peaceful Christmas seasons in their state. Kudos to Governor Willie Obiano and his team, the security agencies and all those who collectively worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that Anambra continues to remain peaceful and secure, thus making it attractive for its indigenes and their friends to want to always come back home.

Delighted with the peaceful way Ndi Anambra celebrated this past Christmas, Governor Willie Obiano, through a message issued by Mr C-Don Adinuba, the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, commended intelligence and security agencies in the state and some state-owned agencies for providing impressive security in the state, especially during the Christmas and New Year fiesta.

As we thank God for His abundant blessings and for granting our brothers and sisters who returned from the Diaspora journey mercies, we look forward to celebrating the 2022 Christmas season in Anambra State, and hope that it will continue to be as memorable and as colourful.

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