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Cardinal Arinze’s town in turmoil over PG election

*The traditional ruler of Eziowelle, Igwe Michael Okonkwo

By Vincent Ujumadu

Awka– UNCERTAINTY has enveloped the sleepy community of Eziowelle, the home town of a former top official at the Vatican, Francis Cardinal Arinze, following discordant voices in the area over modalities for the conduct of election for the next President-General of the town.

The first tenure of the incumbent President-General of the town, Mr. Titus Akpudo, is coming to an end and an election for a new PG had been fixed for June 30, 2018. Others challenging Akpudo for the position are Emeka Akukwe and Chijioke Iloka.

However, some people in the community had threatened to go to court to stop the exercise, if every adult in the community was not allowed to vote in the election. The community’s constitution provides that delegates from the various branches of the town union and age grades should be the qualified voters, but the group threatening to stop the election argued that there was need to change the system of electing the PG.

In a petition to the Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the group that calls itself ‘Concerned patriotic registered voting citizens of Eziowelle’ called on the state government to intervene in the matter by ensuring that every eligible voter participates in Saturday’s election.

The petition titled: Save Our Soul read: “Democracy is the order of the day the world over and Eziowelle should not be left out of such positive trend. Elections should be open and democratically done to give way for the most popular candidate to come on board in the leadership of Eziowelle. All members of approved age grades in Eziowelle should be allowed to partake in the EIU elections, to vote and be voted for.

“Our collective woes started several years ago when some Eziowelle elites illegally adopted an undemocratic constitution as a working document in the wisdom of their time and era. Times have, however, changed.

“All entreaties by persons of goodwill in several EIU general meetings for a review of this non-democratic practice have been resisted, resulting in breach of trust and erosion of confidence between the plural majority and the tyrannical minority.

“The present tension in the otherwise peaceful community between liberals and conservatives in the build up to the next election, if not checked, is poised to create anarchy and chaos.

Worried by the development in his domain, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Michael Okonkwo told South- East Voice that the position of the PG of Eziowelle surprisingly became a hot cake since a former PG of the town contested and won election into the Anambra State House of Assembly, adding that some people in his domain were feeling that becoming a PG could guarantee one a political office.

He said: “My worry is that there is the possibility of disrupting the peace we have been enjoying in Eziowelle over the years. This type of tension had never existed here since the over 25 years I have been on the throne and that is why I am disturbed. My fear is that there are remote hands causing the confusion in this peaceful community and their action is capable of disrupting the June 30 election.

“My advice is that those who have misgivings about the constitutional provisions for the election of our PG should wait until October when we shall have a convention during which they can push for constitutional amendment of our constitution to accommodate what they want.

“I do not like the idea of some people in the community heating up the polity because of the election for the PG.”

But an indigene of the community, Chief Anthony Chigbo, who threatened to use the court to stop the election, argued that the existing constitution of the town was not ratified, adding that it was made at a time the people felt that using delegates for the election could serve the purpose.

He said: “Today, that constitution can no longer serve the people. We think that every adult should be allowed to vote for the PG of Eziowelle. These are people who pay taxes and levies and belong to age grades and there is no need to disenfranchise them during the election.

“I remember that in the run up to the last election of the PG, I argued that it was wrong to deny people their right to vote, but they ignored me. We are in a democracy and Eziowelle should also practice democracy in the election of its leadership.”

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