By Julius Oweh
Since the dawn of civilization, democracy and monarchy are always at daggers drawn because of the different concepts and their impacts on the welfare of the people. Monarchs are known to be authoritarian and theirs words are always laws. The people under their authority are regarded as subjects and they contribute little or nothing in the run of governance. Only one of the blue blood in the family is expected to be crowned one day as king. In the case of democracy, the power resides with the people and they exercise that periodically. The people are regarded as citizens and their impacts and contributions are paramount in the affairs of the society, state or nation. Everybody in a democracy, in the words of Jesse Jackson, a leading American civil rights leader, is a crown prince and could be a president, governor, council chairman or legislator one day.
In the present Nigerian political arrangement, there is no constitutional role for the traditional rulers but they are often regarded as custodians of tradition and known for preservation of culture. The local government authority pays the traditional rulers some stipends. Despite these settings, traditional rulers once in a long while, bless those seeking elective positions. And recently in Delta State, some traditional rulers of Delta North senatorial district gathered together and endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for a second term. According to the royal fathers, they are so impressed with the performances of the governor that they could not keep sealed lips. In a meeting at the palace of the Obi of Owa, HRM Obi Emmanuel Efeizomor II, about 60 traditional rulers under the aegis of Delta North Traditional Rulers Forum passed a vote of confidence on the governor.
The traditional rulers in an address read by the Ogene of Ibedeni, HRM Jonathan Kanegede observed: ‘We are not surprised that your massive people oriented programmes are being recorded and appreciated by many through numerous awards and since you are not tired of seeking the people wellbeing and progress, we unequivocally pass a vote of confidence on you Governor Okowa and your administration. We, the royal fathers, the sixty-three traditional rulers representing the various groups in Delta North, on behalf of our chiefs and the entire people are happy with your SMART AGENDA, the massive road construction across the state, Youth Agricultural Entrepreneur Programme, and many others too numerous to mention.‘
And not too long ago, a prominent traditional ruler in Delta Central Senatorial district also shared the sentiments of the traditional rulers in Delta North. The Ovie of Ughelli kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oharisi III explained that Okowa was keeping to his campaign promises to the electoral. This is the royal remark on the governor: ‘Our governor,m Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the governor of Delta State is trying to measure up with his campaign promises in the area of development. Recently, he inspected the Oteri Ughelli road which has been completed and also supervised the Afiesere /Ofuoma road which is on-going. The governor has also awarded the dualization of the Sapele /Amukpe road and other roads at Asaba are under construction. All these are signs that the governor is not a one sided governor but a governor for all Deltans. I am also impressed with the different appointments given to my sons in Ughelli kingdom. Youth empowerment is another area where our governor has done well. So many youths are undergoing training which will be source to them. In my own way, I will score him 80 percent. He should do more ‘.
From Delta South Senatorial district, a royal father of Ijaw extraction argued that the governor should be commended for his developmental stride. The Ebenawei of Iduwini Kingdom in Burutu Local Government Area, HRM Bosu Dio Ayamabolou maintained thus: ‘I commend, the Delta State governor for his developmental strides so far. The governor has done well in the area of political appointment which can be seen as a form of empowerment. I also commend him for his efforts in the area of educational development particularly in the primary and secondary schools in Burutu Local Government Area and for the appointment of a Board for the College of Marine Technology. I believe that the Governor‘s SMART AGENDA is on course, though I urge that more effort should be made to spread the benefits of the agenda to all parts of the state, especially to us in the rural areas‘.
Speaking in the same vein, a traditional ruler from Effurun lauded the pan Deltan agenda of the governor and the spread of democratic dividends to the three senatorial districts. The Orovworere of Effurun-Otor Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Johnson Enemuadia Yovwino Duku advised all Deltans to continue to support the governor. Hear his views: ‘First, I will say that His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is a man of indefatigable quality. It is not often you find a governor of a state inspecting infrastructural project across the three senatorial districts but our governor does it seamlessly on a regular basis. Okowa is a meticulous politician who is engineering the development of the state with such sagacity to the envy of all. It is not often you find a governor who masterfully follows his electoral promises but our governor has been doing it with dexterity`.
The Olaraja of Koko, Chief Victor Nana observed that despite the economic recession facing the nation, Okowa has managed the resources prudently. Nana observed: ‘It is too early for me to start assessing Senator Ifeanyi Okowa administration. This is because of the economic downturn in the country. All I know is that work is in progress. It is not an easy task to give attention to the various ethnic groups in the state at the same time. I am absolutely positive that the governor is making sure that the Koko/Ogheye road is completed during his administration‘.
The Ogbelani of Illah in Oshimili North Local Government area of the state, HRH Akazue Gbemudu praised the developmental efforts of the governor and advised him to tackle the Fulani herdsmen menace. He counseled: ‘The governor has been able to pilot the affairs of the state amidst the lean financial resources at his disposal. Government should watch the activities of the Fulani herdsmen. In fact, with the progress made so far, I think we will have cause to rejoice afterwards. ‘
It would be recalled that in the various town hall meetings held across the state, the governor also harped on the importance and relevance of the traditional rulers and solicited their continued contribution in the peace building efforts. In one of such meetings the governor harped on the royal fathers’ relevance. He explained the import of the traditional institution: ‘I thank the traditional rulers for providing an enabling environment for my government to execute its programmes, a lot is being done and more will still be done, we will achieve more as a united people, as a government, we will try as much as possible to remain focused and my respect for the traditional rulers will never be weakened. I am very excited with the level of activities of our traditional rulers, when we share ideas; we are better positioned to our commitment to give our people the best. If the traditional rulers fail to cooperate with the government, that government is bound to have crises. We have had town hall meetings where we discussed issues affecting us. Delta North had been largely peaceful, the peace in the area is very important for me because when Delta North remains peaceful, I will find it easier to preach peace in other senatorial districts. ` No other testimony could be better than the views of the traditional rulers of Delta State as regards a cordial relationship between the elected leaders and custodians of peace, culture and tradition.