Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, yesterday, said that Ebonyi State would not be part of the conference holding today in Enugu State because neither he nor any prominent stakeholder from the state was involved in the planning of the summit.
David Umahi, the state governor, while receiving the Igbo awareness group, Nzukor Umunna, said his reasons for the decision to opt out of the conference was because the organizers left out the people of the state from the plans for the summit.
The governor wondered why no “notable Ebonyi person” is in the committee organizing the event.
He said he received the delegation of the organizers of the summit, the Nzukor Umunna, group essentially because of the respect he has for the leader of the group, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, Managing Director of Capital Oil Limited.
‘Handshake across the Niger summit’ is a one-day summit of the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups with the prospect of reshaping age-long mistrust between the two dominant Southern ethnic groups holds today in Enugu.
The summit, which is being co-hosted by the apex socio-cultural Yoruba group, Afenifere and the apex socio-cultural Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is to prospect how the two groups could build on issues they hold in common towards redressing perceived frailties in the polity with some notable issues such as ‘Restructuring’, ‘State Police’ likely to be discussed strongly today.
Speaking ahead of the conference, yesterday, chairman of the Publicity Committee, ‘Handshake across the Niger Initiative’, Mr Yinka Odumakin, expressed confidence that the event will reverberate across the country.
Speaking with Vanguard, Odumakin said invitations have been extended to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, some traditional and political leaders, including the Obi of Onitsha and Ooni of Ife.
He said: “We are expecting leaders across the zones, from Yoruba and Igbo lands. A large contingent from the South-South is coming; delegates from the Middle Belt and the North-West are also coming. In short, Nigeria is converging in Enugu today and it is going to be the biggest event this year as leaders from across Nigeria will be in Enugu today.
“Invitations have been extended far and wide. We expect leading traditional rulers like the Obi of Onitsha, the Ooni of Ife and political leaders from both side of the divide and every part of Nigeria.”
The event which has already been tagged the biggest and most significant event of 2018 will have the crème la crème of both the Igbo and Yoruba in attendance. These include the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who shall be leading other members of the national assembly; the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who is also the Chief Host, Peter Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Willie Obiano of Anambra State, and Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.
The Co-Hosts are Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Leader of Afenifere, and Dr Nnia Nwodo, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The event which would be Co-Chaired by Brig Gen Olufemi Olutoye, rtd, and Prof Anya O. Anya, is expected to have the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Oba Dr Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe, the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, birth place of the late Lt-Col Francis Adekunle Fajuyi and Eze Ibe Donatus Aguiyi, Oforndu II of Ndume Autonomous Community, the birth place of former Head-of-State, Maj Gen JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, in attendance.
Guest speakers at the event include Chief Alban Ofili-Okonkwo, Prof Banji Akintoye, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa and Dr Olusegun Mimiko, the immediate past governor of Ondo State.
Other guests are Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Prof Pat Utomi who is the Chairman Board of Trustees of Nzuko Umunna, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Charles Ogbu, Yinka Odumakin, Sen Chris Anyanwu, Chief Olu Falae, Lady Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, Chief Mrs Bola Doherty MFR, Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, rtd among other eminent personalities. Leaders from south-south and the middle belt of Nigeria are also expected to grace the occasion.