(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-The ancient Upata kingdom in the Ahoada East local government area of Rivers State will be playing host to dignitaries from all walks of life between August 10 and 15, 2018 as they celebrate one year anniversary of King Felix Otuwarikpo on the throne as Eze Igbu Upata 111 of Upata kingdom.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Notable Outcome’s publisher, Iheanyi Ezinwo, after the August meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, in Port Harcourt, King Otuwarikpo, who is also a Fellow of NIPR, explained that, “Ukpata Kingdom will be celebrating his first year on the throne of their forefathers”.
The programme, according to the royal father commences on the 10th of September with visitations.” I will be visiting homes of my predecessors; the kings that have ruled before me, and then we visit the Eze Ekpeye 11.
“And then we have youth activities on the second day, Tuesday: The Upata youth day. There will be youth carnivals, talent hunt and launching of the Upata Go To School initiative. It is a scholarship programme that is targeted at assisting children from poor homes, to complete their studies. The statement we are trying to make is this: an Upata son or daughter will not drop out of school because his parents are poor. And so, we are mobilising resources to assist such persons. On Tuesday, we will launch the programme.
“ Wednesday, will be Upata women’s day. There will be a seminar on the topic: “The Role of Women in Community Development , the Upata Example”, and we are drawing women from the 21 autonomous communities to come to our ancestral headquarters in Edeoha where they will have the seminar to prepare them for the task ahead, because we have a new vision that everybody must key into”, the Eze Igbu Upata 111, who is also Chairman of Ahoada –East Council of Traditional Rulers disclosed.
Elaborating, he said: “You cannot sustain a vision if people do not understand the direction you are going. And so we are bringing them to sensitize them on the direction we are going. Then, Thursday is cultural day. There will be masquerades and traditional dances. We want to showcase our rich culture to the world. On Friday, we will be having the first Eze C .C.Nwuche Memorial Lecture to immortalize our late father, and we have invited a whole lot of people to come and witness it.
“The Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, Prof. N Lale will be presenting a paper, and we have invited Emir Sanusi of Kano(Sarki Kano) to be part of the event. We have invited the Akoka of Wukari; we have invited the Emir of Keffi; we have equally invited the Ooni of Ife and the Obong of Calabar; and of course, I have extended invitations to all first class traditional rulers in Rivers State. We are also dispatching that of second class traditional rulers and others.
“The Director General of Industrial Training Fund, Mr. Joseph Aare will be coming in as the chairman of the occasion. It will be a very big event, and we are contacting the Governor of Rivers State, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike to be the Special Guest of Honour. On Saturday, it will be the event proper. We roll out the drums”.
King Felix Otuwarikpo, PhD, also stated that the celebration will provide an opportunity to present score card of his one year on the throne on Wednesday, August 15 to the communities in Upata kingdom, even as he hinted of a planned retreat in Enugu to strategise on how to consolidate on the gains recorded so far and chat new courses to advance the development of Upata kingdom.
“ We will be going on retreat in November. The score card is also going to look at what we are going to do at the retreat. The retreat at Enugu is to chat a future for the Upata people. At the retreat we intend to come out with a 10 – year strategic plan for Upata kingdom.
“I am taking all my chiefs, the entire council; opinion leaders in Upata will join us, including the CDC chairmen and youth leaders. We will be going to Enugu to look at the future of Upata in the next 10 years. We shall be returning with a strategic plan consisting of responsibilities assigned to different groups”.
King Otuwarikpo said they are looking at the one week programme as an opportunity to let people know that the traditional institution is a veritable tool that could be channeled towards social development, and they are inviting all men of goodwill to the celebrations including the installation of chieftaincy titles on distinguished personalities from within and outside the kingdom.
Responding to a question, he said: “When you get it right at the community level, of course, you will get it right anywhere because most of those you call deviants in the society are products of communities. These communities have serious responsibilities to harness the potentials of young ones and to do that it is recognizing that traditional rulers should have some basic exposure to managing human behavior and that is where the Public Relations tools play a significant role.
“ When you are a Public Relations practitioner, it makes it easier for you. Already you understand how the human mind works; you understand how to create and manage relationships. You are conscious of the fact that a little mistake could damage the image of the kingdom, and so there are so many factors you guide against with basic knowledge of public relations’, the King, who is guided by Public Relations principles in ruling his kingdom concluded.