Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere and its Igbo counterpart, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, have said that the planned joint celebration of former Head of State, Major-General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi and former Western State governor, Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, who were both killed in July 29, 1966, counter-coup, is put together to open a new vista in Igbo-Yoruba relationship.
The celebration tagged, â€œHandshake across the Niger,â€ organised by a Think-tank group, Nzoko Umunna, under the auspices of Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to hold January 11, in Enugu, is expected to witness the biggest gathering ever of Igbo and Yoruba.
The planning committee for the event headed by Mr Yinka Odumakin, Senator Chris Anyanwun and Biodun Sowunmi, said this at a press conference it addressed in Lagos, describing both Ironsi and Fajuyi as gallant officers that deserved to be celebrated, having demonstrated a bond that passeth all understanding which still lived years after they had died
Speaking on behalf of the committee, Odumakin, while recalling how both Ironsi and Fajuyi were killed by the coupists, said it was â€œdifficult to celebrate one without mentioning the other as they became one inseparable spirit in their last hours on earth.â€
According to him, dignitaries expected at the event include governors, prominent Nigerians, traditional rulers, among others.
â€œThe event will hold under the joint chairmanship of former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe and the Olu of Ido-Ani, Oba (General) Olufemi Olutoye.
â€œThe chairman of Southern Governorsâ€™ Forum and Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode; Chairman of South -East Governorsâ€™ Forum and Ebonyi State governor, Chief David Umahi; Abia State governor, Chief Okezei Ikpeazu and the Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, are special guests of honour expected at the occasion.
â€œThe Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, will be royal fathers of the day.
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â€œThe leader of Afenifere, Chief R. F. Fasoranti and President- General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, will receive guests in the Coal City. We look forward to a big celebration of friendship, harmony and inter-ethnic understanding in Enugu, on January 11, Odumakin said.
Noting that the wrong narratives over the years had been the defining points of Igbo-Yoruba relationship while playing to the background this finest moment of the uncommon bond, Odumakin said it was now a new day as the best of Yoruba and Igbo gathered to celebrate Ironsi and Fajuyi as well as construct the East-West bridge of understanding.
It will be recalled that Ironsi was in Ibadan as guest of Fajuyi to address natural rulers which he already did when the coupists stormed the Government House, Ibadan, arrested the duo, took them to a village near Lalupon, killed and buried them in a shallow grave.
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