Alor traditional stool: More trouble for new king

By KayCee August 15, 2014 07:01

Since June 24, when Governor Willie Obiano issued certificate of recognition to Chief Chinedu Okonkwo as the traditional ruler of Alor, the community has known no peace. Every day, challengers to the stool are springing up and throwing brickbats at him, but Okonkwo does not give a damn.

First was Chief Emeka Ikegwuogu, Agujiegbe Alor, who claimed that it was wrong for a man whose father was still alive to be crowned king, saying that the caretaker committee that selected Okonkwo erred in its action.
Ikegwuonu was not alone in this agitation as he is joined by Chief Benson Chinedu Igwe, Idi Omeka Ozueluoha of Alor, who was also an aspirant to the throne.

The traditional stool of the Alor community in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State became vacant as a result of the demise of the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe J. C. Nkwoka.

But trouble started in the town after the state government instituted a 12-man caretaker committee which selected one of the aspirants, Mr Okonkwo alias Elibe-Agwuagwu and the government issuing him with a certificate of recognition.
In this interview with Oriental News, Chief Igwe, insisted that Alor was yet to elect its monarch, describing what the caretaker committee instituted by the state government did on the replacement of the late Igwe as unconstitutional and void.
He gave the background of the crisis in Alor. Excerpts:

Your community Alor is presently embroiled in crisis, what is happening and what is the cause of the crisis?
Alor community comprises two traditional sections, namely: Ezi and Ifite sections. Ezi section is made up of three villages in Alor: Umuoshi, Etiti and Ebenesi-Okebunoye villages, while Ifite section is also made up of three villages in Alor: Uruezeani, Ide and Umuokwu villages. The stool of the traditional ruler of Alor rotates between the Ezi and Ifite sections. The procedure for ascending to the throne is contained in the Constitution of Alor Peoples’ Convention. However, the constitution of the community is not being followed, it is not being respected, as such, the whole process of electing a new traditional ruler now is devoid of due process.
If Alor people want to fill the Igweship stool, the procedure as stipulated in the Constitution of Alor community is: first, to put in place a democratically elected town union government which comprises the President-General and Vice, Secretary-General and other elected officers of the town union exco; members of the former Igwe-in-Council, (now the Regency Council), which is 18 traditional Ichies from the 18 kindred units in Alor; the representatives of Idi Alos which is one Idi Alo from each kindred unit, totaling 18 Idi Alos; hononary chieftaincy title holders who are Alor indigenes, and we have 21 high chiefs in our community; three elected delegates (two men and one woman) from each kindred unit, which is three multiplied by 18 kindred units which is equal to 54 delegates; one representative from the established Alor Development Union (ADU) branches, and so far we have about eight ADU branches; one representative from each of the known age grades in Alor community, we have about six or seven established age grades in our community; chairman and secretary of Nze na Ozo Council, and so on. If you add up all these, you will have between 130 to 140 individuals from Alor community who would be saddled with the responsibility to midwife the process of selection of our traditional ruler in accordance with our town union constitution.

Second, after the one year mourning period for our late traditional ruler, the President-General of Alor community would convene a general meeting of the town comprising those I mentioned above and announce to them the vacancy of the Igweship stool and charge the section, in this case, Ifite section, whose turn it is to produce the next traditional ruler to go and select a suitable person for the position.

Third, when this is done, the section, in this case Ifite section, will make their choice and now present the person to the general meeting of Alor Peoples’ Convention for screening. If and when that individual passes the screening, then he would be declared the Igwe-elect of Alor community by the full convention and not by any caretaker committee, like in this case the 12-man caretaker committee.

But assuming without conceding that we are to accept the caretaker committee doing anything in our community, then they are the equivalent of the town union executive committee, but even the elected town union executive committee does not have the powers to pronounce anybody the Igwe-elect, it is the full town union members (Alor Peoples’ Convention) that has the powers. Thereafter, the town union government would kick-start arrangements for the coronation of the new Igwe.

After the coronation, the president-general and the town union exco, the newly installed traditional ruler with his cabinet would then go for presentation of the new Igwe to the state government and then the
governor satisfying that due process was followed and has the general acceptance of the community, he would then issue the new Igwe with the certificate of recognition. Unfortunately, this was not the case in what happened in my community.

In the case of Alor my community, for some time now, precisely, since February, 2012, the affairs of our town union is being run by 12-man caretaker committee set up by the Anambra State government comprising people without the mandate of Alor people. Setting up of caretaker committee in many communities in Anambra State was the hallmark of Mr Peter Obi’s administration. His Excellency, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, OON, Onwa, is from my town; that’s why Mr Peter Obi instituted caretaker committee in our town with the connivance of our Abuja brother. This is a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. But this should not be about Senator Ngige, it is about the custom and tradition of our people, it is the good people of my community that are suffering this injustice not the Senator.

Peter Obi at the twilight of his administration reconstituted a 12-man caretaker committee to run the affairs of our community for a three-year tenure which purportedly commenced on 3rd March, 2014 and will expire on 3rd March, 2017. This is totally against the principle of the interim administration.

Interim government is temporal, so it is supposed to be not more than three months, but renewable for another three months if the condition that brought it into being still prevails, but three years in one fell swoop?
It’s not acceptable. The vague term of reference given to the committee in the letter of appointment was: “To put in place relative peace and stability in the community and conduct peaceful (town union election). My brother, there is peace in my community. Go to Alor and find out for yourself.

It’s all lies upon lies, pure politics. My community has become a political ping pong. The caretaker committee, in my community, we refer to them as Boko Haram of Alor, but I called them the undertakers of Alor community. God Almighty will not allow this tiny cabal of no more than 13 people  in our community to continue in their thirst to destroy our community. Instead of adhering to their so-called term of reference by putting in place a democratically elected town union government, the caretaker committee delved into selection of the new traditional ruler, and that exposed them to the outside world. At the Ifite section, I am from Ide village, which is one of the three villages in Ifite section, and in Alor constitution, every qualified person from the three villages is free to contest.
However, the 12-man screening committee disqualified me citing that I am from Ide village which produced our first Igwe, the late Igwe S. N. Okonkwo, Ezediohamma 1 of Alor. My question here is; is the Constitution of Alor Peoples’ Convention being followed?
The answer is capital no. Therefore, my rights have been abridged.

In other words, they knew that they would exclude my village, thus disqualified me because I hail from Ide village, from the Igweship contest, yet they made me pay N20, 000 for expression of interest form, they also made me cut short my annual vacation abroad to return home for the screening, though I traveled back to Europe to continue my vacation with my family two days after the screening. The screening committee of Ifite section was supposed to submit their report to the general meeting of Ifite Forum for debate; instead the screening committee hurriedly declared Mr Chinedu Okonkwo the Igwe-elect.

Before Chinedu Okonkwo got home to his Umuokwu village which is five minutes away from the screening venue, people were already dancing, eating, drinking, shooting guns in the air from his father’s home, and displaying.
How can at the screening committee level of one section of Alor (Ifite section) declare someone Igwe-elect without the input of Ezi section? Is that proper?

The answer is capital no. This is pure aggression against the people of Ezi section and the good people of Alor community. I recalled that during the selection of our late Igwe in 1993 from Ezi section of Alor, he was presented to the Alor community through the town union (Alor Peoples’ Convention), before he was declared Igwe-elect.
So Ifite section of Alor had their say in the process that produced our late traditional ruler. Ifite people were never denied their right to participate during that period. Why would this be different? Please let us remove the monkey finger from the soup pot before it turns to human finger.

Mind you, on the day of the so-called screening, the Obi Ifite key keeper, the venue of Ifite Forum meetings and screening was not notified that there was going to be any activity in the Obi Ifite.

How can a screening committee declare a boy whose father is still alive Igwe? This is abomination and a taboo. This is exercise in futility. All we know about this boy, Mr Chinedu Okonkwo is that during the recent elections, he would come to campaign for one politician or the other.

His father is a building materials merchant at Ogidi market, and his father is well-to-do financially, but that does not qualify him to be Igwe of Alor.  Alor Peoples’ constitution was involved in the process because there is no town union government in my community for now. It was only the “Okolos” (people without any traditional titles) who were in the so-called selection process; again, a taboo. Not even to talk of the Nze na Ozo Council that would partake in the screening of the candidate’s ability and character which any would-be Igwe of our community must pass through.

As if this is not enough, the caretaker committee hurriedly forwarded the name  Mr Chinedu Okonkwo to the state government as the Igwe-elect. Towing the line of his predecessor, Governor Obiano quickly issued certificate of recognition to Mr Chinedu Okonkwo who was yet to be presented to the people of our community for acceptance or otherwise and subsequent coronation by the community. The ceremony for certificate issuance was done at the Governor’s Lodge at about 10:00p.m in the night of 24th June, 2014, and no member of our traditional institution (Regency Council) was in attendance.  Where is the transparency in this?

It’s a cruel hoax. Governor Obiano is a high chief in his Aguleri community, he knows what Igweship stool means to any community, why would the governor want to destroy the peace and cause civil strife in my community because he is a governor. You just don’t do things because you can do it. The governor is the Chief Security Officer of our state Anambra, he should rise above politics of pettiness and destruction. But it might interest the governor to know that Alor community has rejected this young man with his certificate. The community was said to have given him matches, “NSUM” as it is called. It is not in every community that one will ascend the throne of traditional ruler like that it cannot happen in Alor. As far as the community is concerned, we have no Igwe at the moment. It is not certificate that make somebody Igwe of his community, it is the community that crowns somebody their Igwe.
Thereafter, certificate of recognition may follow, not the other way around as in this case of Alor my community.

What do you think can be done to bring about relative peace and normalcy to your community?
What will bring peace and normalcy to our community would be for those backing this flawed procedure to allow due process to be observed in this community by first withdrawing his support from the caretaker committee of Alor.

The members of the caretaker are his lackeys; if our Abuja brother instructs the caretaker to write the state government that they are ready to go, Alor people will conduct the election of their town union government, the Alor Peoples’ Convention.
Then the convention which is constitutionally responsible to midwife the selection of our new traditional ruler shall take charge and everybody, myself inclusive, will fall in line. Whosoever emerges the Igwe- elect, we shall support. Things must be done the right way, especially serious matter such as choosing a traditional ruler for a community, and must be done in accordance with the Constitution. If I lose, I will support the winner, though I am very confident that my community will select me if we follow due process. The other aspirants are no match to me. God willing, I will still be Igwe of Alor, Ezediohamma the 3rd.  But 12-man handpicked caretaker (undertakers) committee and bribe eaters, who are incompetent to supervise the selection process. If this is allowed to continue, it is capable of splitting my community into two sections: Ezi Alor and Ifite Alor with two separate traditional rulers. Just recently, the Catholic Reverend Fathers of Alor indigenes about five of them, led by Rev. Father Marius Obiagwu initiated a peace move. They co-opted about four or five Anglican priests from our community and I think two Pentecostal pastors. They invited members of the caretaker committee, the member of our traditional institution, i.e., the Regency Council. Before the meeting was to begin, the men of God held a closed-door meeting to discuss modalities I guess.

Source: The Sun



By KayCee August 15, 2014 07:01