Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The rich culture of the people Ochuche-Umuodu community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State stipulates that if their traditional ruler dies, the people must mourn him for three years. Within the period, the stool will remain vacant until the late Igwe observes his last symbolic ofala.
Recently, they rolled out the drums and crowned Igwe Vincent Osita Ijomah (Eze Okubata Ifeadi, Onye Chukwu Nyereze 1 of Ochuche, after the ofala of his predecessor, late Igwe Paul Agaba, who died in 2015 and was buried in 2017.
Ijomah, lawyer and retired public servant, is the fourth traditional ruler of the community after late Igwe Stephen Akpati, late Igwe Obitube and Igwe Agaba.
Generally endorsed by the community for his impeccable character, humility and wisdom among other sterling qualities, Ijomah was crowned by Chief Olisa Nwanti Okpa (Idoga of Ochuche-Umuodu) in line with the custom and tradition of the town.
The kingmakers, elders and community leaders had gathered at his compound as early as 7am to perform the traditional rites and crown him on that eventful day.
The new monarch danced round the villages with the elders, community leaders and youths to show himself to the entire community and to announce the beginning of his reign in the area.
Addressing his people afterwards, Ijomah thanked them for finding him worthy to be their Igwe despite the array of other immensely qualified indigenes of the community.
He said that he never dreamt of becoming traditional ruler in life but had to honour his people’s call to serve because it was a divine call God.
Igwe Ijomah said: “It is not on my own volition to be Igwe and the promise I’m giving to my community is this; I will walk on the way of truth, all those things people were deprived of, their rights shall be returned. We should think of better ways to reposition our youths, we should think of better ways to improve our community.
“The leadership by immunity is being buried today in my community with my emergence as king and it will never come up again. From today, the rule of law will continue to guide this community and by the special grace of God, I will make sure that my reign will be all inclusive for the entire community and nobody would be excluded. Everything we are going to do in this community will be for the benefit of the community. We don’t care how highly placed you are”.
He added that the community is blessed with enough natural resources needed to be harnessed, saying: “There are a lot of things government can earn from this community, all we need is to partner them and they will help us and the state to grow. So, we need the state governor to visit us and we tell him our problem. I know he is a listening governor and he will help us out. It is wrong for you to ascend on this thrown and you have to exploit your people. We have to work as a team to attract more things for the community.”
One of the cabinet members in the community, Chief Francis Ojini (Ikanga Ogbaru) described the crowning ceremony as the people’s wish due to his character, stressing that there was no election because the community collectively endorsed him and crowned him with full support of the entire three villages that make of the community.
He noted that Ijomah had been holding the Oduah title before now, which qualified him to be Igwe.
“We have kingmakers in this community called Okeanidinma, Oleke, Agamankwo and we have three villages-Okoroigbo, Olukonu and Umuasama and there are people that are meant to be Igwe and Igwe Ijomah who hails from Okoroigbo happens to come from the lineage. The Igweship rotates among the three villages. We are going to present our new Igwe to governor for issuance of certificate of recognition and staff of office because the traditional aspect has been done,” Ojini stated.
Another kingmaker and also an Oduah title holder, Izuchukwu Nworji (Okpala Ji Odu n’Akuma) said that the coronation was the confirmation and fulfilment of the decision of the elders and community leaders who picked Ijomah as the new Igwe because of his pedigree and character.
“He is God fearing, he has wisdom and good character that is why we decided to make him the Igwe because we don’t conduct election for Igwe. There is no family that owns the royal seat in this community; the seat rotates from one village to another.
“The person that crowns king in this community is called ‘Anijinwa bu Akaofu na Ochuche na Odu’, on behalf of the elders of the community. I became the Odu title holder because I inherited it from my late father who lived for 115 years before he died and after which I took over the title and after three years another person will take over,” Oduah Nworji said.
A close associate of Igwe Ijomah High Chief Augustine Enebeli Aniche (Oduah III) who hails from the neighbouring community of Akili Oziza, described Igwe Ijeoma as committed hardworking man who served diligently at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
The retired customs officer who said both of them served at the airport appealed to the community to stand by his friend and support him to excel on the throne.