For many indigenes of the South Eastern region of Nigeria, the yuletide period is a time to return to their homeland. It is somewhat a taboo for an Igbo to mark the Christmas and New Year festivities outside the land of the Rising Sun.

From Lagos, Abuja and even far flung places like London and Washington DC, Igbos resident in those places return in droves to their homeland to celebrate the yuletide with their kits and kin.

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The festivities may last for about a week but the Igbo do not count the cost or hazards. For them, the yuletide presents the excellent opportunity to reunite with kinsmen, launch or appraise or embark on developmental projects. The people are known for self-help efforts to provide amenities in their communities.

Some are also drawn by the green vegetation, serenity and peaceful ambience of the countryside. They simply love and have strong affinity with their communities.

Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wife of the Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, is one person whose love for her ancestral home, Emeabiam in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State is palpable.

In spite of being married outside her homeland, Mrs. Akeredolu keeps spending time during the yuletide at Emeabiam. Some years ago, she and her children had to sleep on the road owing to the traffic gridlock at head bridge in Onistha in Anambra State. The unsavoury experience didn’t deter her from the annual homecoming.

Speaking with newsmen on Thursday, December 29, 2022 at her Ogbakoro Ada Owere residence in Umuikea Emeabiam, Mrs. Akeredolu said celebrating Christmas at her community makes her feel good.

She added that Christmas home-coming is a big deal for the Igbos, stressing that it seems to be ingrained in the Igbo DNA.

In her words: “Home-coming, particularly at Christmas, is a beautiful experience for us as Igbos. It is a feeling that one cannot possibly explain. Coming home every Christmas is one of the best decisions I took when I married. I come over with my family every December, even when my parents were alive. Though my parents are gone, I always come, despite the traffic stress we used to suffer at Onitsha.

“I had slept on the road with my children in the 80s as a result of traffic. So, when I had a smooth travel this time, using the new second Niger Bridge, I said may we continue to experience this kind of development. It’s quite remarkable that I arrived in Imo State before 12 noon, having left Owo at dawn. We really need to develop infrastructure in this country to make life worth living.

“My village is very dear to me, essentially for its peculiar environment. It is serene, green and peaceful. No dirty gutters. I call it my small London. People travel overseas for holidays and seasons like this but I feel good here. I prefer here to travelling abroad.”

She canvasses maintaining the serenity and lush green ambience of the community even as modern infrastructure are being provided in the community.

Talking about provision of infrastructure, Mrs. Akeredolu is poised at contributing her own quota. She had been able to get the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC to award the contract for the construction of Ihiagwa-Eziobodo-Emeabiam Road. Work has already started on the road and it is hoped that the construction of the road will soon be completed.

Mrs Akeredolu is a very focused person. She keeps her eyes on the ball in spite of momentary setback.

In 2022, she had sought the ticket of the All Progressives Congress APC for Owerri Senatorial District.

She threw everything into race. She trasversed the nine local government areas, mobilized different women and youth groups and consulted with party executive and delegates.

On the primary poll’s day, she had expected the party lords to walk the talk of allowing a level playing ground. But that was not to be.

She was pissed off by the manipulative tendencies of the powers-that-be and had to storm the party secretariat in Owerri to voice her indignation over the sheningan of the party lords.

Though they eventually had their way by doling out the ticket to their anonited nominee, they still live today with the thought of ‘this woman is no pushover”.

The first lady says she had put the jickery-pockery that trailed the Senatorial contest behind her but she is not yet done with the politics of Owerri Zone and Imo State.

Many would have thought that having been denied the Imo East Senatorial ticket, the Ada Owere 1 would have been sulking at a corner or discontinued her quest for an enhanced well being of the zone.

Hear her; “The road I attracted for my people is a felt need which must be completed. There may be a lull now owing to the change of minister in the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry. But we are not giving up. The road must be completed.

“I am still very much relevant in Imo State politics and of course, in Owerri politics. I am fully with my people. It is not over until it’s over. I did not contest for the fun of it. I contested so that I can improve on the quality of life of my people and my constituency that has for so long been neglected.

“I have put the senatorial ambition behind me though, but my participation in Imo State politics is not over yet. I have an inalienable
portion in Imo State, in Owerri zone and of course, in Emeabiam.”

The governor’s wife said her spirit cannot be dampened by the outcome of the APC primary poll. According to her, the socio-economic progress and human capacity development of the people of Owerri is of utmost importance to her.

Mrs Akeredolu added: “The challenge was necessary. Like I said, it’s not over. Otherwise, I would not be here. My agenda for the people of Owerri and, by extension, Imo State, is beyond the Senate. Not getting the ticket is not the end of the road for me politically. However, Owerri zone has to put their house in order.”

She has been using the festive period to oil her structure. She feted different groups at her hometown. December 29, 2022 was a very busy day for the First Lady as she interacted with the Okada Riders Association in Owerri zone, otherwise called Ada Owere Ambassadors.

She also met with the Local Government Coordinators of Ada Owere Campaign Organization and held a parley with members of the Imo Newspaper Publishers Association, INPA. Other journalists also were at the parley.

The cyclists were stunned by her magnanimity. According to them, she is the first and only person as at that date to fete them in spite of not holding any party’s ticket.

The Chairman of Akabo Unit of the Motorcyclists Association, Moses Unanka described her as a very wonderful person. He expressed surprise that a person who did not clinch her party’s ticket would still be concerned about their welfare.

According to Unanka, anyone in Owerri Zone that opposes Ada Owere 1’s aspiration to represent the zone in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly is a sabotuer. He prayed God to continue to strengthen Her Excellency even as he enjoined the people of the zone not to cast votes along party lines but for individuals who could deliver the goods.

Mrs Akeredolu disclosed that she had been able to identify among her coordinators/followers those who could take up elective political leadership positions at different levels. She hinted that her organization might support such persons to angle for those positions having imbibed her political philosophy so that her welfarist politics will permeate all strata of the society.

Hear her,;”It’s not only about me only. I have identified among my coordinators those who could be legislators, councillors, chairmen, etc. We are going to encourage them. Being of my school of thought, when they get in there, things will begin to happen in a positive direction.

“Politics has for long been played by chalatans. This has to stop. The chalatans only think of their selfish interest. They are not concerned about the society. We are building up a new crop, a special breed without greed to change the narrative.”

Clearly, the Ondo First Lady is a force to reckon with. Those APC chieftains who stood like the rock of Gilbrata to her quest for the party’s ticket know in the inner recesses of their minds that she is an emerging political tornado.


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