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For 8 years, Imo was under an intellectual barbarian—FFK

Former Minister of Avaiation and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Chief Femi Fani Kayode (FFK), Friday described Imo State as having been under the leadership of ‘an intellectual barbarian’.

Recall that the immediate former Governor of Imo State, was Chief Rochas Okorocha of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), who on leaving office, won the senatorial seat for Orlu (Imo West) district.

In his widely hailed remarks at the 2019 Ahiajoku Lecture Series held in Owerri, the state capital, Chief Kayode noted that “I am happy for Imo State. I want to congratulate Imo people. Because after darkness comes light. I have known [Governor Emeka Ihedioha] for over 20 years. He is a man who understands the complexities of governance.

“For the last 8 years, this state was led by a man who was an intellectual barbarian. I believe light has returned to Imo State with the revival of the Ahiajoku Lecture Series,” the former minister averred.

FFK Imo
Former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi-Fani Kayode making his remarks at the 2019 Ahiajoko Lecture, in Owerri, Imo State capital

Earlier in his address, Governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha said “Ahiajoku, in Igbo cosmology, as you may wish to recall, was part of the pantheon of Igbo gods and goddesses. She was the goddess of cultivation, fertility and harvest. Like the Pantheon in Rome was transformed into a Christian monument.

“Today, the Ahiajoku, while losing its pagan core, has been recreated to retain its social essence as a unifying factor among the Igbo. Certainly, the Festival is no longer about cultivation and harvest. It has indeed, metamorphosed into a pan-Igbo intellectual harvest of sorts. It seeks to spotlight the contributions the Igbo have made and are still making to culture, civilization and humanity.

According to him, “The Festival is the celebration that accords formal recognition to a culture which as Igbo people, we were almost in danger of losing. It further creates a context for serious reflection on the profound cultural values of the Igbo people.

“The Ahiajoku Festival is intended to provide a veritable platform for defining the core tenets of Igbo culture in relation to the larger corpus of Nigerian culture, Africa and world civilization. It also seeks to provoke and encourage scholars to undertake relevant researches on Igbo Culture in relation to the Igbo world view and overall human development.

Chief Ihedioha argued that “According to Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” At Ahiajoku, the Igbo people seek to examine their life, their fortunes and their culture. The Lecture Series, you would all agree with me, was and still is, the apex Igbo intellectual convention of our time. The light kindled during the discourses radiated far beyond the shores of Nigeria. Since the event was founded four decades ago, it has provided a veritable platform for intellectual and cultural “Ita Nti” or caucus, among the Igbos.  

The Governor revealed that “The 2019 Ahiajoku Festival, certainly, marks another milestone in the “Rebuild Imo Agenda” of the present Imo State Government. Less than a month into this administration, we successfully revived this important element of the Imo State Brand. It was elevated to the status of an Institute overseen by a Director-General. This is with a view to making the event a first class resource centre on Igbo culture and civilisation, like the Goethe Institut; the German cultural association and Instituto Italiano De Cultura – the Italian cultural institute.  We hope that with this structure in place, the Festival would now have an enduring institutional framework.” 

Delving into the current situation in the country, Chief Ihedioha reminded Imo citizens that “We are very mindful of the national and global exploits of our intelligentsia. What remains is for the fruits of these intellectual exploits to reach home. We are challenged to provide answers for the challenges of our time.”

Business Hilights recalls that since the Ahiajoku was instituted, many outstanding Igbo Scholars have answered the clarion call to lead the triumphal homecoming.

Prof. Michael JC Echeruo, then in his mid-thirties – gave the curtain raiser in 1979. Since then, it has attracted a constellation of stars. These include, Professors –

➢ Bede Okigbo

➢ Adiele Afigbo

➢ Anya o. Anya

➢ Donatus Nwoga

➢ Ben Nwabueze

➢ Pius Okigbo

➢ Michael Onwuejeogwu

➢ Anazionwu Okoro

➢ Mark Chijioke

➢ Alexander Animalu

➢ Romanus Ohuche

➢ Gabriel Umezurike

➢ Emmanuel Obiechina

➢ Victor Uchendu

➢ Cyril Onwumechili

➢ Emmanuel Emenanjo

➢ Rev. E.N. Onwu

➢ Michael Nwachukwu

➢ Inyang Ette

➢ Laz Ekwueme

➢ Chibuzo Ogbuagu

➢ Monsignor Theophilus Okere

➢ Chinua Achebe

➢ Barth Nnaji and

➢ Chinedu Nebo