ALTHOUGH Gov. Willie Obiano promptly rose to the occasion and averted what was clearly stampeding Ukwulu town in Dunukofia Local Government Area to anarchy, the issue still exposed big blights in traditional institutions in Nigeria, especially in Southern parts of the country.
The problem is huge. The fact that it took Gov. Obiano’s prescience to nip such subterfuge in its bud neither made it a child’s play nor reduce its stature. It is now the stock-in-trade of some monarchs and their cohorts to create instability in their communities and the larger society.
FROM the way they rose to throne to the way they reign, many traditional rulers leave a lot to be deserved. Yes, this may not be first time an ignominy of such stature had reared up its head in Anambra State through ascendance of sacred traditional thrones of some communities by self-serving potentates.
But acting now to stave off more of such desecrations and save communities at the mercy of bad leadership is, at least, a good direction. Indeed, what gummed the Ukwulu infamy in level-headed people’s throats is not only the misrule and avarice of a royalty but their sheer temerity and double-speak of the suspended monarch, Igwe Peter Uyanwa.
IN one fell swoop when Uyanwa was feigning ignorance of the serial left-handedness which brought the governor’s hand down on him, he still went on ramping more dregs into the chaos he knew – or should know – he was creating in the town. While he was expected to call his community together for sober reflections on his recent conducts, most of which will drive exuberant adolescents green with envy, Uyanwa was busy stoking sisterhen solidarity, naively enlisting himself as protegee of godfathers in neigbouring communities.
THE corollary was that he activated more blitzkriegs around the whole thing believing, as it were, that such shenanigan could blush or pale true essence of his exuberance even by an iota. Seeking to hide his serial misdemeanor under the facade of pseudo-political affiliations, name calling, grandstanding and dodging major issues is like hiding behind one’s finger. Truth is that his rise to the stool is being help as suspicious whilst there are many cases of land grabbing, bullying and conducts unbefitting of kings. These, he knows, but chose to play the ostrich.
In the end, Uyanwa shot himself in the foot and got entrapped in his own wire mesh like an amateur hunter. He was suspended from his position as monarch of Ukwulu and chairman of Anambra Central Council of Traditional Rulers and heavens are still intact in their positions. Yet, rather than waving the olive branch, by wooing victims of his indiscretions for genuine stock taking, Uyanwa rashly found solace in a certain money bag who thought that money cleanses every blemish no matter its acridity.
THERE may be a temptation to ask how Ukwulu came to this sordid state despite being home to illustrious citizens of Anambra State who excelled in different fields of endeavor, such as erstwhile Vice Chancellor of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Prof Fidelis Okafor and many others. But no matter the premise from which any enquiry kicks off, it may home in not only on Uyanwa’s antecedents in same way as how he went on tearing on Ukwulu’s customs and traditions this long without any leash from those who know more than him.
WHEN a monarch’s name consistently crops up among well-known swindlers and con men, fleecing unsuspecting people of their hard earned money in fraudulent land transactions and other shady deals running into millions of naira, daring his victims to do their worst, something must have gone terribly bad. When the same name is a regular cuisine in menu list of violence and cover-ups, as well as similar sinister dynamics, water has certainly risen above bridge. And, unless fire answers fire, things may get out of hand.
That is where the governments action on Uyanwa is apt and very necessary or which state governor will fold his hands and watch while someone who, if not for throwing his weight around because of retainerships or liaisons with money bags who specialise in recruiting gullible characters to foment trouble, should symbolise peace and stability in his community transmogrify to a menace? Not when there are mountains of petitions from those who had fallen prey to the monarch’s ruthlessness, by losing their limb or resources.
PERHAPS, this is why not a few in Ukwulu and elsewhere in Anambra State advise Uyanwa to thank his stars that a governor as fatherly as Obiano is at the helm. Otherwise, they insist, Uyanwa could not have got away with just one-year suspension. For people in this camp, Gov. Obiano should wield the big stick and liberate Ukwulu totally.
THEY contend that only so doing may keep other potentates within their supposed royal track. In a way, those in this camp may not be out of sorts because unless these few bad eggs in authoritative control of communities are contained, they may corrupt even the many good monarchs who have symbolised royalty and decorum in service to their kingdoms and domains.
After all, since March 17, 2014, Gov. Obiano had not only religiously kept faith with regular monthly subventions to Anambra monarchs, he has continued to carry them along in his globally commended community development policy, particularly the grassroot-oriented Choose-Your-Project initiative which has now advanced successfully to its third phase.
WHILE we may not subscribe to going after Uyanwa with a once-and-for-all recipe except he continues in his recalcitrance, some grouses of moment among his opponents in Ukwulu are things nobody would want to sweep under the carpets for the sake of political correctness.
For instance, is it true that the community didn’t hold – even till date – the last Ọfala Festival of the late Igwe T.C. Tagbo who joined his ancestors in 2015, before Uyanwa made for the crown? How many cases are pending before state and federal high courts in Ukpo, Awka and Abuja in which Uyanwa is standing trial in their criminal and civil jurisdictions?
Does this malfeasance redound or retract from his profile as a human being, more so a monarch? Given his duties under Chieftaincy Law of Anambra State, where then did Gov. Obiano err in trying to bring Uyanwa to order, albeit in the most brotherly manner, as Uyanwa and his wealthy sponsor are peddling lies and embarking in the media frenzy they orchestrate around?
WE are not unaware that every person or group of persons has right to freedom of movement as provided in section 41 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. But when it comes to herding people into Abuja hotel rooms in anticipation of a phantom visit of President Muhammadu Buhari, as the media was awash last week, recommending a bit of stock taking may not be out of place.
LITTLE wonder, the president said his itinerary was too tight to accommodate even a second with loafers who may only have intended to catch a glimpse of Presidential Villa.
FOR those monarchs who are the misdirected money bag’s and Chief Uyanwa’s cohorts, particularly those that joined in the Abuja misadventure, what their actions simply suggest is that most monarchs don’t have the interest of their communities at heart. Rather, they are just there to use the position for self aggradisement.
Otherwise, how would one explain that a monarch collects his symbol of authority or certificate from one(government) and turns around to undermine the same authority without minding if the action destabilises the state? Assuming their communities were not part of those benefitting from the Community-Choose-Your- Project initiative of the current Anambra government, among other developments they enjoy in Anambra unlike other states, wouldn’t they lose sleep? What if the state becomes insecure as a result of their action?
A popular Igbo adage says, okenye adi anọ n’ụlo ewu amụa n’ọgbiri. It is high time certificates and veracity of the monarchs were looked into.
WE therefore call on government through relevant agencies like the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters to look at the conducts of all the traditional rulers involved in the Abuja trip and call them to order. It is also time to verify the political interests of people who aspire to communal stools in the interest of the people.