Awake, take up your rightful position, Chimezie Kingsley tells Ndigbo

It is with a heart filled with joy and gratitude that I gladly welcome you all to this auspicious occasion, the public presentation as well as unveiling of our ever refreshing, highly educative and exceedingly entertaining two products: News Echo newspaper and News Insider magazine. Whereas News Echo was sensationally launched into the market in August last year, News Insider has just dramatically hit the newsstand this morning.

Just for the sake of emphasis, News Echo is a regional newspaper circulating in the South East and some parts of South –South, including Asaba, Rivers and Bayelsa areas. Our vision is to pioneer new ways to serving the public and providing credible reports across all media platforms with the mission to inspire and promote exceptional journalism, encourage innovation and promote excellence through a quality newspaper which is reliable, accountable and responsive.

Our distinguished guests, News Echo and News Insider came into being in August 2020 when the global economy was completely and suddenly shutdown – that is, the world was brought to its knees by the raging and deadly pandemic which ultimately came to be known and addressed as covid -19 or corona virus. Recall that all activities in the world from sports, businesses, education, aviation, religion, indeed, all local, national and international ways of life were abruptly collapsed in what was later nicknamed lockdown.

Since Ndigbo believe in their Ikenga Spirit and in their never- say- die characteristics, I did not look back in setting up this newspaper at that point in time when other investors were closing down their establishments. It was a great risk taken with a positive mind, affirmative action and optimistic vision. As a Christian, I always have the abiding faith that any odd, challenge, opposition or difficulty will also pass away. The team I gathered to pioneer News Echo worked assiduously and effectively interpreted my dream and today, I am very proud to gather you, my leaders, spiritual and temporal, for this grand occasion even officially presenting these two products namely, News Echo newspaper and News Insider magazine to the public.

Today, while it is true that Imo State is experiencing security challenges, we have again taken the bold step of bringing Ndigbo here in Owerri. Our aim is to prove to the outside world that Imo State, particularly Owerri, is safe, in fact, very safe for businesses and habitation in spite of all recent shootings and killings. We are not unmindful of the assassination and murders that have occurred here thereby giving us a word in the lexicon – UNKNOWN gunmen! With your coming to Owerri, my dear brothers and sisters, we have collectively achieved a milestone – by this great action of today, we have doused tension all over the world concerning the security situation in Imo State. Mark my word, after today, business activities in Imo will get doubled; investors will be back again; economic and commercial activities will start bubbling once more and our sons and daughters outside South East will now be encouraged to visit home as some of them have been quite afraid because of the present odious news items flittering from Imo and other South East states.

It is at this point I make bold to state that News Echo and News Insider are out to serve as veritable tools for the complete and comprehensive revival of Ndigbo. Since after the war in 1970 when my generation were still toddlers, Ndigbo have, understandably developed cold feet about everything Nigeria. Sadly, Ndigbo are lagging behind in the Nigerian project. For the first time in democratic Nigeria, an Igbo is not the president, not the vice president; an Igbo is not president of the senate, not deputy senate president; an Igbo is not the house of representative speaker, and not deputy speaker. Even, things are so politically bad for Ndigbo that the national chairman of the ruling party is not an Igbo. We actually want to use News Echo and News Insider to re-launch Ndigbo into the socio–political economic orbit of Nigeria.

Yes. Though I have not come here to lament or cry over a split milk, it is still necessary and important to remind us that our noble forbearers led by the legendary Zik and supported by other iconic minds like M.I.Okpara, Nwafor Orizu, Mbaonu Ojike, Akanu Ibiam, Alvan Ikoku, Mbanefo, Mbadiwe, Mbazuruike Amaechi, Sam Mbakwe, Raymond Njoku and few others led this country to independence. Let me say it with every sense of pride and dignity that in sports, Ndigbo have set admirable records. For instance, the first indigenous Super Eagles coach was our own pathfinder, Dan Anyiam who later moulded Rangers into both national and international champions. About four years before independence, undergraduate boy, Emmanuel Ifeajuna had put Nigeria in the global map of sports when his jump of six feet seven inches won gold in the Vancouver Commonwealth Games. Of course, the first full blooded African to be so honoured in the field of boxing was the great Dick Tiger Ihetu was so accomplished in the rings that he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and was also recognized by the influential magazine, The Ring Magazine. Rangers International Football Club were the first club in Nigeria to qualify for the first ever CAF organized club competition in 1975, five years after the civil war, but they lost gallantly to Hafia of Guinea.

We equally remember that Christian Chukwu was the first Nigerian to lift the African Cup of Nations just as coach Chris Udemezue took the country to her first ever FIFA organized football competition when he qualified the Flying Eagles to the 1983 U-20 FIFA World Cup Finals in Mexico. As we gather here, the exploits of both Kanu Nwankwo and Chioma Ajunwa at the Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games are still evergreen. And we also chronicle that Enyimba remain the only football club in the country ever to have lifted the once elusive CAF Champions League.
You see, those who are very much conversant with history will tell you that the first indigenous vice chancellor Nigeria ever produced was an Igbo called Prof K.O. Dike who transformed what was regarded as University College Ibadan whose certificates came from Ibadan into an international and award winning university. Again, the second vice chancellor in Nigeria was Prof Eni Njoku who built UNILAG into a glorious university.

It is sad to state here that some years ago when UNILAG celebrated its 50th year anniversary, the authorities never deemed it wise to include their pioneer VC in the brochure! In the army, the late General Aguiyi Ironsi was the first GOC of the Nigerian army and fate would have it, he emerged as the first head of state. Between 1959 and 1966, Ndigbo were in the commanding height of Nigeria’s hold. Look at this: Zik was the governor general and later president, Orizu was the senate president, Aja was the speaker of the house of representatives and Ironsi was the army commander. This was how the Igbo started. But right now, we are nowhere. This is the task News Echo and News Insider has chosen to lead. We want to provide a platform for Ndigbo to express their political, social, cultural and economic opinions.

As professionals, we want our people to come together to identify our differences, solve them and create a platform for restoring and re-launching themselves into the national consciousness. We therefore call on our politicians, businessmen, captains of industry, traders, sports men and women, religious leaders and the academia to identify with these two products whenever they want to talk to Ndigbo, any time they want promote their businesses or each time they want to read anything about the South East in contemporary Nigeria.

Finally, I frankly call on all Igbo wards no matter where they are to be a part of this invigoration process of finding everlasting security in South East. This goes to say that all of us must put hands on deck to defeat the present insecurity challenges in our region. This ugly incidents of shootings and killings must stop. Two, our political leaders must also ensure that Ndigbo are accommodated accordingly in the scheme of things at the federal level. To this end, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo is hereby challenged to provide an effective guide Ala Igbo’s growth and development. For it to actualize this noble dream, it must work harmoniously with both the traditional rulers as well as the political class in Igbo nation.

We thank all our awardees including Chief Chekwas Okorie who came all the way from Enugu. I appreciate all our bishops here. Many a thanks to all the traditional rulers that made out time to identify with us today. Inspirational Dr Vivian Okoromma who flew in from Abuja, we appreciate your sacrifice. Of course, we are grateful to associations like Diamond Dynamics, All Stars, ASEF, Imo Angels and sports writers association. Really, we welcome all of you to this special occasion. We pray God to grant you safe journey back home.

Thank you very much and may God bless you.

Being an address presented by the publisher, News Echo newspaper and News Insider magazine, Chief (Dr) Chimezie Kingsley, Ebubemba Ikeduru, June 11, 2021, in Owerri, Imo State on the occasion of the launch of the two products.

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