The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, is concerned about the increasing crime and insecurity in the region.
During Friday’s festivities, Achebe delivered the following ofala message: “The country is at a dangerous crossroads politically, economically, socially, and security-wise.
“In the Southeast, we have the fallout from the last general elections; the complex and protracted security situation involving kidnappers, political thugs, state and non-state actors, etc., all masquerading as unknown gunmen; and the suffocating economic strangulation of the Southeast arising from the insecurity and the ill-advised sit-home protest that has cost Ndi Igbo incalculable losses in finances, properties, and lives.
“Our neighborhood is not exempt from the problems mentioned above. A lot of our people are suffering as well. Consequently, while the Ofala is still a time for joy, we have decided to scale back the event this year to reflect the somber climate in the country.
We anticipate that things will improve to the point where we can resume the event as planned in the not-too-distant future.
Achebe commented on the impact of insecurity on Onitsha, saying, “Like other significant cities in the country, Onitsha had its own share of security issues throughout the last year.
It is nearly hard to protect our town from the overall security situation in the urban labyrinth, as we are at the center of a large metropolitan sprawl of adjacent settlements.
Also, as the city’s economic hub, Onitsha has become a magnet for young people from outlying areas who are looking for work and a better life.
Youth unemployment, gangsterism, touting, homelessness, petty and armed robbery, cultism, drug addiction, child prostitution, rape, etc. are therefore still among our greatest difficulties.
He said that even the native population had to deal with the negative effects of urbanization, and that his council has a hard time keeping the peace.
He went on to say that the city’s security is handled by the Anambra State Vigilante Group (AVG), which has 25 operatives and is commanded by the state government, and the Onicha Ado Community Vigilante Unit (OCVU), which has 59 operatives and is commanded by him.
Several age groups, notably the titled men of the kingdom, put on colorful performances at the 2023 Ofala.