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The Anambra Government says it will upgrade the Ogbaukwu Festival of Owerre-Ezukala people in Orumba South Local Government Area to a state festival.
Sally Mbanefo, Commissioner for Indigenous Art Works, Daspora Affairs, Culture and Tourism in Anambra, made the disclosure when she visited the community to inaugurate the 2018 edition of the festival on Sunday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Owerre-Ezukala is the host community of the famous Ogbaukwu Cave and Waterfalls and a border town between Anambra, Abia and Enugu states.
Mbanefo said Owerre-Ezukala was pivotal to the realisation of the Anambra Government’s policy objective to use tourism and hospitality to turnaround the state’s economy.
She said that she would present the upgrade plans for the festival to one of the listed festivals on the state’s calendar before Gov. Willie Obiano and underscored the need for it.
The commissioner, who was welcomed by the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Thomas Ogbonnaya and his council of chiefs, lauded the rich cultural heritage of Owerre-Ezukala.
She said the cultural heritage of the people had huge potential to contribute to Anambra’s tourism sector.
Mbanefo also thanked Obiano for donating two 36-seater buses to the ministry to facilitate their activities and promised to apply them optimally for the growth of the tourism sector.
She said: “We are happy to be here to declare this year’s Ogbaukwu festival open, and we have had your appeal for the state to adopt this festival and make it their own.
“The presentation will be made to the governor and I can assure you it will be done, this is because Owerre-Ezukala is top on the governor’s priority list in his desire to develop the tourism sector; you are dear to him.
“Look at the bus that the governor gave to the ministry, it is branded with Ogbaukwu Cave and Waterfalls picture, that is to show you how seriously we are ready to work with you.”
She assured that the ongoing “Steps’’ works to ease movement in and around the Ogbaukwu Cave and Waterfalls would be concluded before the 100 days in office of the present administration.
Mbanefo said investors had shown tremendous interests to partnering with the government to develop the site but added that people should be patient as government was taking its time to select the best and avoid bad choices.
Speaking, Ogbonnaya thanked Obiano for the genuine interest he had demonstrated toward developing the natural heritage which the town was blessed it.
He said the Ogbaukwu festival was the festival which had bonded the eight villages of the town together as far back as its history.
He noted that the festival showcased the rich cultural heritage of the people and their native foods, adding that it attracted their neighbours from Oji River in Enugu and Isochi in Abia and beyond.
The traditional ruler said they were willing to cooperate and provide every assistance to make the government’s objectives for Ogbaukwu a reality.
He described it as a goldmine which when fully exploited could be a major revenue earner for federal and state governments with attendant benefits to Owerre-Ezukala.
The monarch led the Commissioner and her team to historical sites, including the Ishishi Square where the Ancestral Stones (Nkume Omumu) symbolising the Owerre-Ezukala and his original nine children making up the town is.
He also called on the state government to asphalt the road leading to the square from the expressway as it was the original dwelling place of their ancestor before he migrated to the Cave

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