(By Iheanyi Ezinwo, Publisher)-The story of Upata kingdom in the Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State is being re-written by King Felix Enene Otuwarikpo, PhD, who was intalled Eze Igbu Upata 111 of Upata kingdom a year ago by his people.
Speaking at the first anniversary of his Coronation last Saturday at Edeoha, King Felix Otuwarikpo was full of praises for Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State “for his thoughtfulness in correcting decades of injustice against Upata Kingdom, through the upgrade of the stool of Eze Igbu Upata from Second Class to First Class on Saturday, 16th September, 2017”. He also thanked his people for giving him “the opportunity to shepherd the activities of the kingdom, vowing that the trust reposed in him would not be compromised.
His Royal Majesty, who is also the secretary of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, listed the achievements recorded in the last one year of his administration to include the Upata “One Youth, One Skill” programme, which, in his opinion was intended to re-channel the energy of young people to productive uses. ”So far, we have trained 68 Upata sons and daughters in different technical and vocational trade areas”, he said, adding that another 30 are undergoing training while moves have been made to have 50 of their sons and daughters trained as sea farers in Norway, and be subsequently absorbed in the Norwegian shipping industry.
To ensure peace in the kingdom, Eze Igbu Upata 111 and chairman, Ahoada East Council of Chiefs said they have secured of approval for a Police Division in Edeoha, and that the permanent structure is at about 85 percent completion level. He said efforts to achieve unity in Ekpeye ethnic nationality yielded positive returns in the last one year with the merger of Uzugbani Ekpeye and Uzugbani Ekpeye Logbo, declaring with satisfaction that Ekpeye nation now speaks with one voice.
King Felix Otuwarikpo, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations further disclosed that his palace has awarded 48 scholarships to indigenes of Upata in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, provided other forms of educational assistance to students, grants to businesses startups and micro businesses and that the construction of a palace for the Eze Igbu Upata in Edeoha town has also commenced. He stressed that the palace would not be a personal property but would serve the current and subsequent rulers of the kingdom.
The one year anniversary of the coronation of Eze Igbu Upata 111, King Felix Otuwarikpo spanned three days, and featured traditional dances, flag off of Upata Go To School Initiative, Memorial Lecture in honour of Chief Clifford Nwuche which was delivered by Prof. Ndowa Lale, vice chancellor of University of Port Harcourt and installation of titled chiefs as well as Adaunwo and Orlunwo Upata. Among the recipients of the chieftaincy titles was Chief Frank Tamuno – KoKo, chairman, Board of Fellows of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.
Speaking at a reception in Port Harcourt, Chief Frank Tamuno-Koko, who is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, thanked NIPR members in Rivers State for their solidarity. He was also full of praises for King Otuwarikpo and the entire people of Upata kingdom for the honour and pledged to contribute towards the realization of the vision to keep Upata kingdom on the path of sustained development.
The event was attended by traditional rulers including Alhaji Shehu Chindo Yamusa 111, PhD, Emir of Keffi, people from all walks of life and members of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations among others.