Anambra election

This concludes the article first published yesterday, in which the author berated Anambra royal fathers for embarking on a ‘shameful visit’ to Abuja

By Comfort Obi

BEFORE then, it was with one of Nigeria’s literary pride, Chimamanda Adichie, who protested the treatment given her Abba Community by Eze, who she accused of annexing the community’s land and market.

There are a few such complaints of land annexation by other neighbouring communities against Eze. Now, he it is, who is behind the suspension of the 13 traditional rulers in Anambra. What is the problem?

From what I gather, the problem is rooted in politics. It has something to do with who becomes the next governor of Anambra State in 2021 after Obiano. Eze has an interest, as he does every four years.

The youthful Chief Tony Nwoye used to be his favourite candidate. I don’t know whether he still is. The governor wants it in a particular zone, in the spirit of rotation. Eze disagrees. He, allegedly, wants the zoning arrangement discarded.

The governor felt Eze was interfering more than he was comfortable with. Eze had given him a bloody nose with the siting of the Zonal Police Command in his community(another reason neighbouring communities should be more afraid), instead of at the state capital, Awka which is an unwritten norm.

One speculation is that Obiano wanted it in his Aguleri community, but he underrated Eze and his influence in the Villa and the Force Headquarters.

Or, hasn’t the governor seen Eze’s siren-blaring, long convoy, and the number of police personnel attached to him. The governor was not very happy, and made moves to see if the zonal headquarters could be relocated to Awka. It didn’t work.

Eze decided to hit Obiano on his soft belly. He remembered local government areas. He rightly accused the governor of not holding local government elections; of, for years, using caretaker committees; of dipping his hands in the till of local government funds. Now, these are illegal.

But Obiano has not done anything most governors in the country are not doing. They are the same. So, why pick on him ? Convenient, to put the governor in his place.

Most people think this ugly power-show has everything to do with the governorship election of 2021, and flowing from that, the presidential election in 2023. Eze, they say, wants to be in charge and, in good stead, to deliver the state to whoever President Buhari would back – South-east or not.

What to do? He plotted a coup with the 13 traditional rulers. With money, he got them cheap. He got them to rebel against the governor.

He told them he would take them to Abuja to see the President, much like the children’s rhyme of pussy cat going to London to see the Queen.

Their mission, according to them, was to go and thank the President for the good work he is doing in the state. They point at the slow, but on-going River Niger Bridge. They point at the completion of Zik’s mausoleum after many years.

They point at a couple of roads. They talk of the appointments given to Anambra sons and daughters. And, can you imagine, in this era of COVID-19, and the efforts to protect the Villa, they set forth.

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The questions to ask are: when has it become the job of a billionaire businessman to lead traditional rulers on a thank you visit to the President?

Whatever happened to the governor, National Assembly members, the minister and other top presidential appointees from the state?

Where was the Chairman of the State’s Traditional Council? And, excuse this cliché, to add insult to injury, they left the state without as much as informing the governor.

Aliko Dangote is the richest man in Africa. He is from Kano. He is, without doubt, one of the most influential men in the world, Africa and Nigeria. I doubt if Eze is as close to the Villa as Dangote.

The question to ask Eze is: Has Dangote ever tried to intervene in the politics of Kano, or lead traditional rulers on a thank you visit to the President? When he intervenes in Kano, or anywhere, it is to make peace, and to provide for the people.

The same question goes to the other money men in Igboland, who are not politicians per se. There are the Femi Otedolas, the Mike Adenugas, the Jim Ovias, the Tony Elumelus, the Dantatas, the Abdul Samads Ishaku Rabius, and many more. None of them harasses their governors.

And none would, even in their worst nightmares, not to think of leading a delegation of traditional rulers to the Villa. They are busy empowering their people, improving their states and playing at the international level.

In Imo, my state, there is a very quiet billionaire, who has no time for such things. He just empowers the youths, widows, the less privileged, and generally lifts his state. His name is Leo Stan Eke.

There are a few others like him in Imo, as there are a few like some of those Anambra billionaires, but they are not as brazen. I cannot imagine any traditional ruler in the North, for example, who would allow himself to be dragged by the nose by a billionaire businessman, or be enmeshed in politics.

He would be deposed. Ask the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. He was deposed on a mere suspicion of dabbling into politics.

I watched a video of the 13 traditional rulers.  And, when I compare them to the traditional rulers I see in other parts of Nigeria, I shake my head. That is the level some of our traditional rulers have descended to.

I, however, blame state governors in the South-east, past and present, for this shameful situation. For political reasons, they create autonomous communities as if they are going out of existence.

Every village, every hamlet, is given an autonomy, and a traditional ruler appointed. Our people like titles; so, every Tom, Dick and Harry, becomes a traditional ruler. The South-east has more number of traditional rulers than any zone that I know of.

Everybody is a traditional ruler. In Imo State alone, there are about 700 autonomous communities, and, many more are angling for it. This is why, unlike other zones, we don’t actually have many traditional rulers whose names we can flaunt outside.

I can only think of the Obi of Onitsha, and just a few others one can count on one’s fingers. Yet, it is the same Obi of Onitsha that one of the suspended Anambra traditional rulers says has over-stayed as Chairman of the Anambra Council of Traditional Rulers.

He says Obi Nnaemeka Achebe’s tenure has since expired. Perhaps, he wishes for one of them who went to disgrace the Igbo in Abuja.

I know meeting the Chief of Staff to the President is a big deal, but it speaks of the seriousness with which these traditional rulers were taken, that after being herded to Abuja to meet with the President, they ended up not meeting with him.

A delegation endorsed by Obiano, Anambra NASS members, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, other presidential appointees, and led by the Obi of Onitsha, would have seen the President.

The appointment would have been at a better time, not during the period of COVID-19 when not many people are allowed a meeting with the President.

The trip to Abuja, arranged for the traditional rulers, by billionaire Arthur Eze is an aberration. It has belittled the Igbo. It was in bad faith. It was meant to cause crisis and division in the state.

It was disrespectful to the Anambra Government and Anambra people. It was, also, disrespectful to the traditional institution of the state, and Igbo land. Traditional rulers should carry themselves with more dignity than has been exhibited in the instant case. And what they did should be dismissed in one word: Disgraceful!

Obi is the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of The Source (Magazine),  Email: [email protected], [email protected]


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