By Vincent Kalu
The Enachioken of Abiriba Kingdom, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu, has called on Abia State politicians to respect the Abia Charter of Equity, signed by the founding fathers of the state on power rotation.
In an interview with Daily Sun, the monarch, who would be called to the Nigerian bar today, said, the challenges of the throne drove him to be well-adjusted and prepared for the present and the future.
How do you feel being called to the bar?
I am indeed very happy to be called to the Nigerian bar. It’s an honour. I give God all the glory.
What informed your going back to school at this stage?
A combination of factors led me into this academic pursuit. These include my love for education and my quest to be well informed in order to serve my people better and more effectively. Again, the challenges of the throne drove me to be well-adjusted and prepared for the present and the future.
How were you able to combine the enormous responsibilities/challenges of ruling Abiriba and the rigours of academic work?
Coping was not easy at all. The challenges were enormous. But I succeeded due to my vision, dedication and hard work.
Again, my lieutenants were very helpful. They supported me in no small measure. I’m grateful to HRH Eze Uche Benjamin Agu (Effa of Agboji-Abiriba), HRH Eze Eme Uguru Ikpoka (Ukpaghiri of Amogudu-Abiriba), HRH Eze Ukiwe Otisi Ukiwe (Alioke of Ihungwu – Abiriba) and all the 17 village heads of Abiriba Kingdom. They and others too numerous to mention here were very helpful each time I left the kingdom for school activities. I’m eternally grateful to all of them. They are part of this success story.
I also acknowledge God’s grace and the support and motivation by Chief Leslie Ebueme Ezikpe (Dike Eji Ejemba of Abiriba) and Chief Jackson Agbai Abbah (Kukunda of Abiriba).
What next, are you going into private practice or the bench?
I am going into practice. I intend to contribute my quota in the area of human rights and alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Meanwhile, I will not stop in my quest for further education. I have already been admitted to pursue my master’s degree in law (LLM) in Abia State University, Uturu.
With this new feat, what more should Abiriba expect?
Abiriba people are also part of this story. They should expect more informed decisions from the palace in furtherance of our over 500 years’ administration of justice system. They should expect more purposeful and God-fearing leadership in the kingdom.
About 11 years ago, Abiriba was embroiled in a tussle for the throne; how were you able to unite all parties for the progress of the community?
I take no glory in what is happening now in Abiriba. We as a people return all the glory to the Most High God. He is our God and we trust him always.
There was a time Abiriba indigenes had a good percentage of industries in Aba. What are your plans to make Abiriba people think home towards industrializing the community so that, if a state were created, your people would not find their investments in another state that may not be friendly to them?
We recall with nostalgia the glorious years of industrialisation in Abia State championed by Abiriba people. In spite of the current challenges, we still have a crop of young entrepreneurs that are prepared to continue the legacies.
To bring some of these industries back home to improve the economic fortunes of the kingdom is a work in progress. The discussion is on the front burners of current issues in Abiriba and we believe that something more visible will be seen in this direction.
Among its neighbouring communities, Abiriba seems to be the only community whose rich cultural heritage and traditional values have not been very much eroded. Why?
It’s very true that we have held to our cultural heritage and traditional values for more than 500 years. Within this period, it has been a running battle with modernity in various ways.
However, we have sustained these values through the instrumentality of two major institutional frame works, to wit: Age grade system and the matrilineal system. Today, unfortunately, these two systems are under intense attack by enemies of the kingdom, within and outside. It’s indeed the last fight and we shall conquer. But a lot of work is required for us to maintain a sustainable tradition and custom in the kingdom.
Why is Abiriba nicknamed, ‘Small London’?
The name, ‘Small London’ was given to us by the Great Zik of Africa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Owelle of Onitsha). This happened in the 1950s, when he visited Abiriba on a campaign trail. He was pressed and requested to ease himself. He was shown a convenience room. When he got there, to his surprise, it was a water cistern.
He immediately recalled that it was only in London that he had seen a similar cistern. In awe, for seeing such in a place like Abiriba at the time, he openly called Abiriba ‘Small London’. This is the thread of history behind the name.
What is it that makes Abiriba people successful in every endeavour, especially in trade and commerce?
Abiriba is a kingdom of great entrepreneurs. It’s really in our DNA.
By 1752, Abiriba as a people had already developed a guild of blacksmiths. They were known to have produced several implements like hoes, knives and machetes. This was achieved through the ‘Nkuma Asaa of Abiriba Kingdom.
Since then, Abiriba people have produced several entrepreneurs in all areas of trade and commerce. This entrepreneurial spirit from our forebears is at the root of our success stories. And it is sustained by the guild system, the age grade system and mentorship scheme introduced by our fathers. This combination has remained effective in sustaining the success stories in this regard.
Are you not worried over the security in the country, and what is your solution to the problem?
The security challenges in the country are a bad omen. I have made my position known in a number of fora. The government needs to step up in this direction. To start with, they need to be proactive in dealing with security issues in the country. Secondly, violent criminals and terrorists should be called what they are to be treated accordingly. There is no need in giving them baptismal names of bandits, herdsmen or unknown gunmen.
Then again, it is very helpful and important that the President and leaders of the country should not be speaking from both sides of the mouth. Finally, I suggest to the Nigerian government that this is a time for dialogue and not the time of acting tough. Let us jaw-jaw, instead of war-war.
There is said to be Abia Charter of Equity on rotation of governorship in the state. For 2023, which area should produce the governor?
Abia State is built on a strong and sustainable foundation of equity. Anybody that has the love of the state at heart must not be seen to do anything that will touch on this foundation negatively. Our political class should be careful not to do anything that will directly or indirectly affect this foundation.
The Abia Charter of Equity has served us well and I therefore align my self with the position of many elder statesmen like Ezeogo Dr. Anagha Ezikpe.
Since the inception of the current democratic dispensation, Abia State has been peaceful. The governorship position has rotated among the senatorial zones in an unwritten gentleman’s agreement. This started with Abia North, then to Abia Central and finally Abia South.
Since the three zones have taken their turns, it is important that it starts again from Abia North. This is the sensible thing to do for the enduring peace that have prevailed in the state to continue.
I believe in our political class. They will not like to upset the peace in the state. They will do the right thing at the right time. God bless Abia State, the God’s Own State.