Raymond Ozoji, Awka
It was jubilation galore at the Governor’s lodge Amawbia, Awka-South local government area of Anambra state as Governor Willie Obiano presented certificates of authenticity and recognition to three traditional rulers of Ideani, Ugbene and Osumoghu communities respectively. The authentication of these new monarchs brings the number of traditional rulers successfully certificated by Governor Obiano to 53.
The traditional rulers of Ideani, Igwe Steven Onyekwelu Ezeji in Idemili North council area, Igwe Samson Chimakwa of Ugbene Awka North and Igwe Elochukwu Mbanefo of Osumoghu in Ihiala Local Government Areas were the monarchs whose families and friends witnessed the epoch-making event while expressing profound gratitude to God and to the governor for responding proactively to the wishes and yearnings of their respective communities.
Governor Obiano however cautioned the new monarchs and their colleagues to be fair and just in the administration of their respective communities as well as refrain from aiding and abetting criminalities in their domains while ensuring the protection of the traditional institution. The governor emphasized that the existing peace in the state was sacrosanct and should not be truncated by their actions or inactions. He also enjoined the new traditional rulers to work in harmony with the town unions for the betterment and progress of all and sundry.
The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Greg Obi stated that the new traditional rulers were elected in accordance with the constitution and customs of their respective communities.
Obi emphasized that with the presentation of certificates to three more traditional rulers, Obiano had certified 53 Igwes since he became the governor, adding that it was the highest ever done by any governor in Anambra state.
Also in a similar development, Mr. Greg Obi said that the certification of 53 traditional rulers was the first of its kind since the inception of Anambra state and that Governor Obiano had handled more dicey igweship tussles including those he inherited from his predecessors and eventually arrived at amicable resolutions in all the cases.
Obi explained that the state government did not interfere with the selection or election of any traditional ruler or town union executives; that it was the prerogative of the communities to take such decision and present consensus candidates for government ratification.
He said, “It is on record that the government of Chief Dr. Willie Obiano has certificated more traditional rulers in the state than any other administration since the inception of Anambra state.
“As a matter of fact, he has certificated more than his predecessors and even the person before him and that is because we simplified the process of studying the traditional rulers’ certification in Anambra state for achieving that goal.”
The commissioner also informed that the process for traditional rulers’ certification was simplified such that if one met the criteria for becoming an Igwe, nothing else was done but to certify the individual. He therefore noted that one of the criteria was the constitution of the community as it concerned production of the traditional ruler.
According to the commissioner, “When it is clear to us that this person is the choice of the people, following the constitution, then you get your certificate. But very often, the processes are tied up in court and when that happens, we respect the wishes of the court because the judiciary is an equal separate arm of the government.
“It is on record that this governor sees the traditional rulers on the certification ground because we follow due process hook, line and sinker. Let me read out some of the traditional rulers in those 53 communities. Igwe MacAnthony Okonkwo of Alor in Idemili-South, Igwe Victor Chukwuemeka Awogu of Osamala, Igwe Lawrence Nwofia of Ezi-Aguluotu Aguleri, Igwe Johnson Mbanefo of Mkpunando Aguleri and a host of others. It is important to note that the traditional rulers’ institution is the bedrock of stability in the society.
“The government cannot impose traditional ruler on any community; we follow the constitution and we respect the wishes of the people. Sometimes political opposition skew the news to suit their whims and caprices.”
The commissioner however maintained that the government of Chief Willie Obiano followed due process in the issuance of certificate of recognition to igwes, noting that it was only last year that the government untangled the igweship tussle of Umudioka in Dunukofia council area which he said began since 2007 under Peter Obi’s administration.
He also made mention of the fact that the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice would issue legal opinion on the case of Awa community in Orumba-North local government area because of the legal ramifications involved in their case to enable government to proceed further.