Not a few communities in Igboland and other climes across the nation have been irredeemably and irreconcilably torn apart and destabilised owing to debilitating consequences of deep rooted bickering, antagonism and acrimonies associated with the seemingly knotty issue of hitch-free succession to any vacant chieftaincy throne or installation of a new king.
Indeed, many towns in the South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria have lived without peace and tranquility and several others intractably starved of meaningful progress and infrastructural development except unending intra-communal skirmishes and conflicts as a result of unhealthy rivalry in the race to the vacant throne by contending aspirants in the quest to become a royal father.
Worse still, the heat gets terribly hotter when some overzealous elements try or succeed to circumvent the process or laid-down guidelines to superimpose their favoured candidate against the wish and popular choice of majority of the stakeholders, otherwise natives of the concerned community which usually breeds protracted and perpetual confrontation that could snowball to collapse of law and order with concomitant anarchy, impunity and bloodletting. All these and more atrocious scenario may arise from mishandling of the uphill task of filling vacant chieftaincy thrones after the demise of the reigning monarch. Such feud or vicious contest for succession could disrupt public order to the extent that the government at various levels may be compelled to intervene in such unending chieftaincy dispute through the constitution of a judicial panel of inquiry or any other approach deemed fit to nip the trouble.
It is axiomatically said that the grass suffers when two elephants fight, hence, people in crisis-ridden communities disintegrated by chieftaincy disputes are actually at loss without peace and order. Across the length and breadth of the state and country at large, exist cases of lingering enmity and rivalries by interest groups which sadly pitch kiths against kin, and the situation has caused more harm than good to otherwise peaceful communities, just because of the contest for succession to vacant chieftaincy thrones.
Amawbia town, in Awka South local government area of Anambra State, now stands out as one of those communities that have seamlessly succeeded in crowning a new king devoid of many hiccups, and the town deserves commendation for that enviable feat which portrays the community as a role model worthy of emulation by others seeking to enthrone a new royal father without bitterness. The uniquely democratic and orderly manner the people perfected their act by setting up a Screening/Electoral Committee with Chuka Obele Chuka as chairman and Ezeudo Emmanuel Nwokoye as secretary, charged with the onerous task to conduct an election for the natives to vote for their choice candidate out of five aspirants in the race for the vacant throne, who would be successor to the late Igwe Michael Okoye (Okpalaigwe I), who joined his ancestors and celebrated his last ‘Ofala’ in January 2019.
Nze Chinyelu Nworah Muolokwu, a Port-Harcourt based business mogul, eventually emerged to be crowned the next Okpalaigwe II of Amawbia during the election held on Monday, December 30, 2019, which was also contested by Ozo Emmanuel Ifeanyi Okonkwo, Professor Ifedioramma Eugene-Mary Nwana, Ozo Mike Akubud and Ozo Eddy Nwokoye while the electioneering exercise involved 13active age grades in the town. There was a consensus that only Umueze Village would field candidates for the race, under a standing zoning formula in the constitution of the town. He polled 244 votes to beat other contestants while Ozo Eddy Nwokoye scored 227 votes followed by Ozo Mike Akubude garnered 51 votes, etc.
As a prelude to his coronation to become the Okpalaigwe II, Igwe-elect Muolokwu had between Thursday and Monday (16th – 20th January, 2020) undergone the rigorous processes of his initiation into the prestigious Ozo title society of Amawbia, being a compulsory requirement to be a full-fledged qualified person to mount the throne of his ancestors. Candidly speaking, the presence of some of the unsuccessful aspirants who had lost the battle at the polls, in their full chieftaincy regalia throughout the period of the colourful event eloquently attested to the spirit of good sportsmanship and general acceptance of the Okpalaigwe-elect as popular choice of the people.
Truly, in tandem with the acronym of Anambra State as the ‘Light of the Nation’, the high degree of maturity, discipline, conviviality and brotherliness exhibited by the peace-loving and development-conscious Amawbians confirmed the uncommon knack for decency, decorum and orderliness by the people of the community. And here lies the essence of this discourse as a case study on the best solution to resolving chieftaincy disputes in the state, nay Igboland as a whole.
Among prominent and notable highly-placed titled indigenes of Amawbia whose participation throughout the duration of the initiation ceremonies of Igwe-elect Muolokwu lent credence to his popularity and compatibility for the coveted throne included the traditional Prime Minister of Amawbia, Ozo Arc. Emeka Maduka (‘Onowu Osojeze’), as well as the head of the chieftaincy group, Ozo Dan C. Maduka, as well as Ozo Mike Akubude, Dr. Theo Obiajulu Nwokoye, who is the MD/CEO of Ticon Limited, Ozo Felix Nzeamalu, Prince Son Owelle Okongwu, Chief Ibekwe and Elder Christian Nwokoye, a British-based professional town planner, both of whom paid homage and glowing tributes to the new monarch and wished him very long, successful and resourceful reign.
Okpalaigwe-elect, Muolokwu also told journalists that he was overwhelmed with the solid, unflinching and widespread popular support by the people and pledged to always strive to carry everybody along in the years ahead.
He also observed that with the initiation into the Ozo title institution, he had fulfilled all the basic requirements before his final coronation as Okpalaigwe II of Amawbia. As part of the Ozo title initiation ceremony, the Okpalaigwe-elect, on Monday, observed the age-long customary ‘Izu Afia Ozo’ which involved a royal procession through all the villages in Amawbia and terminated at Eke Main Market, Amawbia, to observe his last open shopping as he would not traditionally be allowed to buy anything from the open market after his coronation as a new king or royal father.
Also speaking to the press, the wife of the Igwe-elect, Lolo Justina Chinyelu Muolokwu, a professional nurse, thanked God for the peaceful and orderly manner the people conducted the election that produced her husband as the new monarch of the town. She reaffirmed her keen interest and determination to mobilise the womenfolk towards a new wind of change to sweep across the community under the leadership of her husband. Lolo Muolokwu underscored the necessity for meaningful engagement of the female members of the community in gainful skills and self-reliant ventures.
Lolo Muolokwu passionately urged Amawbia people to be united and join hands with Okpalaigwe II by coming up with good suggestions on the best ways to move the town forward.