The peaceful agrarian community of Oza-Nogogo, in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, came alive on Saturday December 1, 2018, as it hosted unprecedented number of people who came from all walks of life, to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the great Oza people, on the occasion of the maiden edition of Oza cultural and thanksgiving celebration.
The event which took place at the sports field of Oza-Nogogo Secondary School, Oza-Nogogo, was held on the third day of the four days event to mark the historic celebration, which commenced on Thursday November 29, 2018 ended on Sunday December 2, 2018.
According to history, Oza-Nogogo is on the North-Western fringe of Ika Local Government Area of Old Bendel State of Nigeria. It is about 9.6 kilometres North-West of Boji-Boji Agbor, the population is traditionally sub-divided into chiefdoms. It is made up of six villages and the language is a dialect of Edo.
The Oza-Nogogo Chiefdom and a few small off shoots from it are surrounded by Ika speaking people. It is an Edo speaking community, the most distant from the Edo heartland. Oza-Nogogo might be considered even beyond the periphery of the Edo heartland.
In an address presented at the epoch making event, Mr. Henry Esele, the President General Oza-Nogogo Improvement Union, noted that the celebration would remind them of the rich culture their forefathers bestowed on them, saying, unfortunately, it is almost impossible for the new generation to know and appreciate the norms and values that brought peace, joy and unity to our forefathers.” He appreciated His Excellency Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta State, for the massive developmental projects of his SMART Agenda for the Oza-Nogogo community and Delta State in general.
Continuing, he solicited for more assistance from the State Governor for other projects in the community, such as, location of Kuolin processing industry and the tarring of the road leading to the Health centre where the Governor was born and upgrading it to a cottage hospital. He assured His Excellency of the absolute support of the Oza people to his outstanding performance, saying that they will ensure 100% vote for him, come 2019, emphasizing that the Governor has done them proud and they will reciprocate the gesture with their votes. The President General also appreciated the good people of Oza-Nogogo both at home and in the Diaspora for their wonderful contributions towards making the occasion a huge success.
In the same vein, Chief (Barr.) Ben Iberu Oriahi, the President Oza-Nogogo Elite Foundation, in his address, spoke on a new dawn for Oza-Nogogo, noting that History is replete with the reawakening of different people of the world to face the socio-political issues to be dealt with. Hence, to the Oza people in the 21st century, it is how to assert itself in the midst of more advanced neighbours with a different language. He noted that the difference in the economic empowerment of their neighbours was accentuated by the British Colonial masters that only developed places along their trade routes, while other towns and villages outside the European economic routes remained underdeveloped. Continuing, he stated that the government policy on free education in the eighties saw the emergence of the present new breed sons and daughters of Oza-Nogogo struggling to change the erstwhile narrative and occupy the political and economic space, saying that their efforts have resulted in quality engagement of successive governments in the state to the abject poverty and the need to change the fortune of the people.
Speaking further, Chief (Barr.) Oriahi disclosed that there is a new impetus in the annals of the economic development of Oza-Nogogo, occasioned by the presence of His Excellency Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, whom he stated has emerged as a genuine liberator of the oppressed people in the state, noting that with the opening up of the roads leading to Oza-Nogogo will unleash a new economic drive to the development of the town.
He appealed to the state government to effectively utilize the 5 blocks of 18 classrooms, 16 toilets and administrative facilities at Owuwu, Oza-Nogogo, urging the government not to allow the facility to rot away, as it can serve as a College or Faculty of any of the existing higher institutions in the state, suggesting that the place could also be used for open university or for Entrepreneurial Acquisition centre. Emphasizing that the facility should not be used for another secondary school. The community also appealed that the government should initiate a private partnership coordination of investors to genuinely exploit the large kaolin deposit in Oza-Nogogo. He advocated for the citing of a cottage firm in the area, and also appealed to the state governor, that the Ogisi of Oza-Nogogo, who is the paramount ruler of the community be considered for payment of monthly allowance by the state government, noting that the payment of the stipend will help the Ogisi in the administration of the community especially in the maintenance of peace among the various quarters.
In a brief speech, Mr. Emmanuel Bazim Chinye, the Delta State Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, who represented His Excellency Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Executive Governor of Delta State at the event, while appreciating the people of the community, said he was overwhelmed with the large turnout of persons for the event, saying that it really shows that Governor Okowa is working. Responding to the addresses presented by the speakers on behalf of the community the honorable commissioner assured the Oza people that the Governor who is well known for fulfilling promises made to his people, will grant their request.
Full of excitement, he told the gathering that he was happy to be in their midst in celebrating and thanking God with them, stressing that Oza people are indeed blessed in all aspect both in culture and natural resources.
The colourful event featured cultural dance from the various quarters of the community, Oza masquerade display, showcasing of some of their agricultural products and mineral resources like, Native chalk, large tubers of yam, large tubers of cassava, palm wine in kegs and heap of kaoline.
Some deserving members of the community, who have made their marks in the development of the town, were also honoured and presented with award of excellence.
In a related development, members of the Oza-Nogogo Youths Association also presented an award of merit and excellence to His Excellency Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa for his rapid transformation of Oza-Nogogo community and Delta State in general.
The day’s activities came to a climax with the fund raising and launching of Ogisi Palace. Some notable dignitaries at the event include, General Agbogun (rtd), Hon. Festus Okoh, Amb. Paul Alika, Mr. Larry Onyeche, Hon. Nonye Philips, Dr. C. Ugboh, Hon. Patience Agbomah, Rev. Fr. Augustine Abude, Elder J.A. Ogunbor Hon. (Mrs.) C. Agbi, Mr. Uche Ebu, members of Oza-Nogogo Improvement Union, both men, women and youth wings, members of Oza-Nogogo Elite Foundation and a host of others too numerous to mention.