Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Greg Obi, announced the suspension of the 12 Autraditional rulers. But the embattled monarchs dismissed the suspension, insisting that the state government does not have the right to suspend them as according to them, the suspension is against their constitutional right of association and freedom of speech.
They further announced the suspension of the Obi of Onitsha, Obi Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe as Chairman of Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council and enthroned a new leadership chaired by Igwe Peter Uyanwa. Though Obi Achebe has not reacted to this development, the chairman of Anambra North Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Roland Odegbo of Nteje Community dismissed the report of a parallel Traditional Rulers Council. He contended that there is no division among monarchs in the state. “There is nothing like a parallel Traditional Rivers Council in Anambra State.
We only have one and it is led by our chairman, Obi Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha. Anybody parading himself as chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council is only thriv-ing on illegality and it cannot stand. “Anambra State traditional Rulers are one and we have implicit confidence in our chairman, the Obi of Onitsha. He is educated, well connected and a sound man and so far, he has been managing and running the affairs of Anambra State Traditional Rulers effectively,” Odegbo explained..
The royal father further noted that issues concerning the 12 traditional rulers would be resolved in due time, adding that traditional rulers should be mindful of their actions in order not to overheat the polity. His words: “This is not good and it amounts to overheating the polity and we as traditional rules should be mindful of our actions in order not to overheat the polity.
While we make efforts at resolving the issue as traditional rulers, the 12 traditional rulers remain suspended by the state government and members of the general public are hereby urged to discountenance anybody or group of persons parading themselves as Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council or chairman of such a body.” But the spokesman of the factional Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo of Nawfia Community, in his response to the impasse, said: “We have made it clear that the Anambra State government does not have any right whatsoever to suspend a traditional ruler and we remain traditional rulers of our respective communities.”
He added: “I do not need any permission from anybody to travel because I have freedom of movement and association which is in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What government is doing is to create division among the traditional rulers and this is unfortunate and saddening because this division will not help us but the government has chosen to factionalize the Traditional Rulers Council.” Special Adviser to the governor on Political Matters, Barr. Ifeatu Obiokoye, however, told reporters that the 12 traditional rulers remain suspended by the state government.
He said: “Somebody came out to address himself as the chairman Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council with his cohorts claiming that they are now in charge and suspending the Obi of Onitsha. At what point did traditional rulers started getting involved in politics? “The Community and Elders Council elect a traditional ruler and present to the state government which issues him with a certificate and staff of office, confirming him as the traditional ruler and without that certificate he cannot lay claim to that throne and cannot discharge the duties of a traditional ruler.
“In the event of misconduct or taking actions that are unbecoming of a traditional ruler or breach of the law or the laws of the country or Anambra State Law for Traditional Rulers 1981, the state government reserves the right to withdraw his certificate or suspend him.
“Traditional rulers are custodians of our culture, tradition and all that we hold dear and sacred and they should be seen as such. But when traditional rulers start meddling into politics and challenging constituted authorities, then it is unbecoming of such monarchs and government will not hesitate in invoking the full laws of the land to serve as a deterrent to others in future. So, until the 12 of them purge themselves of their actions, they remain suspended.”
Anambra State has in the time past had its own share of government, traditional ruler face off, when former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju had issues with the then monarch of Awkuzu Community, Igwe John Nebolisa as well as the then monarch of Umueze Anam Community, Igwe John Emeka over issues that had to do with the recognition of traditional rulers of some communities, thereby creating factions across board. But unknown to most people, the recent chieftaincy tussle has everything to do with the forthcoming gubernatorial election the state, which is a prelude to ensuring that Governor Obiano does not install his successor. But the governor seems to be enjoying his relationship with Buhari, President who was reported to have urged Eze to go and make peace with the governor as Obiano is doing well for Anambra people and that the people love him.
This clean bill of health has indeed added yet another feather to Obiano’s cap and a new impetus to relish his position as governor. It is being canvassed that with such a pass mark from the presidency, the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State has gained a strong political mileage ahead of 2021 gubernatorial election.
Strange as it may appear, the sudden romance between Governor Obiano and former Governor Chris Ngige, now Minster of Labour and Employment sends signals as to what might play out in the 2021 election. A school of thought posits that Obiano appears to have a godfather in Aso Rock following the role Ngige allegedly played in stopping the visit of the 12 traditional rulers led by Eze hence questioning the state of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state ahead of the 2021 poll.