By John Ighodaro
CALABARâ€”Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Mr.Â Efiok Cobham, has called on Efik people of Calabar to ensure that they revived the glory of their forebears by repositioningÂ themselves positively.
He spoke at the inaugural anniversary lecture of the first anniversary of the coronation of the Obong of Calabar and Grand Patriarch of the Efik Kingdom, His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, in Calabar.
Citing what he identified as the seeming backwardness of the present generation of Efik people, he challenged them to cast their minds back to the exploits of their forebears and try to emulate those qualities that made the Efik man stood out in the past.
He warned that if this was not done, Efik people might be relegated to the background on the Nigerian platform.
He argued that part of what made Calabar the firstÂ administrative headquarters of Nigeria was the availability of Efik people who had distinguished themselvesÂ in their respective disciplines, professions and vocations in the country and therefore could be entrusted the with the responsibility of high office.
Mr. Efiok CobhamÂ however commended the Obong of Calabar for his personal efforts to reposition the Efik kingdom.
He was full of praise for the Obong for his humility and sense of judgment which had made it possible for him to work towards uniting the Efik people and resolving disputes amicably.
The Deputy Governor expressed the opinion thatÂ if all other traditional institutions in the state were heldÂ by a personality like the Obong of Calabar, there would have been no need for his office to have a department for conflict resolution.
Speaking, the Efik monarchÂ urged all sons and daughters of Efik to pray God to show mercy to them just as they should show greater love, oneness and understanding toward one another so that together, they could build a greater and better Efik kingdom.
His words:â€œWe are saying Efik son or Efik daughter was the first to this or do that. We are always saying, was and not is. What is happening now?
â€œSo, we have to go back to God for Him to take us back, forgive all our sins and restore us to our esteemed positionâ€.
Early on, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and chairman of the occasion, Obong Ufot Ekaette said the role of traditional rulers in national developmentÂ was indispensable in the attainment of a stable societystressingÂ that as custodians of the culture and traditions of their people, they were in a better position to adjudicate and determine communal disputes.
His words:â€However, I do acknowledge that the level of indiscipline in our society today, the near breakdown of moral values and the resort to criminal tendencies by many, are in themselves, serious challenges to our traditional institution.
â€œIn the Niger Delta for instance, the breakdown of moral values and lack of respect for constituted authorities culminated in a frightening dimension of crime which triggered the ugly situation in the region.
â€˜It is against this background that I want to urge traditional rulers to use the instrumentality of their offices to sanction erring members of their communities and strengthen the bond that once united our people, kept crimes at bay and promoted community development and cohesionâ€, the minister said.
He further observed that the reign of the Obong has â€œindeed brought stability to the Efik kingdom within this period largely by his preaching peace and uniting the people to speak with one voiceâ€.
The occasion also witnessedÂ the presentation of the anniversary lectures with the theme: â€˜Traditional Institution: Yesterday, Today and the Futureâ€™ by the publisher and Chief Executive of THISDAY Newspapers, Prince Nduka UgbagbenaÂ who was however represented by a former Minister of Health, High-Chief (Dr.) Emmanuel Nsan, a paper on â€˜Traditional Institution: The Past, Today and Tomorrowâ€™ by a University lecturerÂ with the Cross River University of Technology, Dr.Susan Etim and the cutting of the anniversary cake.â€