From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
There was jubilation and celebration in Ogidi town in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State as the community elected a new traditional ruler after 19 years without a king.
Its traditional ruler, Igwe Amobi had died in 1998, making the community to remain like sheep without a shepherd until August 27, when the people elected Chief Alexander Uzo Onyudo, a pharmacist, as their new king.
Therefore, the community heaved a sigh of relief as the election has put paid to the 19 years struggle for the stool on who is the rightful person or family or clan to occupy the throne.
The community over the years has been embroiled in legal battle over the rotation of the royal stool by the villages that made up the community, the action the late traditional ruler’s family, Amobi had challenged over the years, insisting that the throne should remain in their family as its inheritance, which the court refused to grant them.
The election of Chief Onyudo as the new traditional ruler has brought back peace to the community which has overwhelming support of all the quarters and sections of the town.
The election, which was conducted at the community’s town hall, Ogidi attracted who is who, including the natives of the town in the Diaspora.
As the election was about to begin, a major contender and the only rival to the Igwe-elect, Chief Albert Obi Ezegbo, also a pharmacist, having read the handwriting on the wall and in order to allow peace to reign in his town, publicly grabbed the microphone and announced his discontinuation in the race as he stepped down for Chief Onyudo.
Thus Onyudo was declared the winner and immediately he was sworn into office by Eze Ani.
Igwe Onyudo was later crowned by the eldest man in the community’s shrine which authorized him to function as the substantive king of the Ogidi Kingdom.
The stepping down of Chief Ezegbo, it was gathered, brought about endless joy in Ogidi community as youths, elders, women and even octogenarians danced to the palace of the Igwe where the entire community who accompanied him, both on foot and in a motorcade, continued the celebration.
In his acceptance speech, Igwe Onyudo, thanked his subjects for calling on him to serve them and vowed never to disappoint them.
His words: “It is with deep sense of responsibility and humility that I stand before you all today to communicate my acceptance to hold the highly exalted office of Igwe Ogidi. I sincerely promise to discharge the duties of that office faithfully, zealously, conscientiously and to the best of my ability, to the glory of God Almighty and to the general welfare of Ogidi people.
“I must salute the courage and assiduty of the President General, Chief Chuka Onubuogu and members of the town union executives and various steering committees for planning and executing the election process successfully despite determined efforts by some disgruntled elements to frustrate and truncate the exercise.
“May I thank the generality of Ogidi people for the tremendous zeal demonstrated in this quest for the right monarch for Ogidi community as is evident from the massive turnout recorded during the electioneering period as well as the election today. With this, it can be confidently said without fear of contradiction that Ogidi people have spoken.
“To our highly respected illustrious son, my very senior colleague and opponent in this election, Chief Obi Ezegbo, permit me sir, to say ‘I am still loyal’. Your courage and perseverance throughout the election process was to say the least highly inspiring to all and sundry. We shall always seek your support and wise counsel as we continue to strive to move our great town forward”.
While entertaining questions from journalists in his palace, the Igwe-elect said that his first priority was to ensure that peace returned to the community, saying that he would meet all the warring villages to resolve all age-long disputes in the area.
He said that he never planned to be a traditional ruler, but due to the love his community has for him when they approached him to come and serve them, he obliged their request.
According to him, “there are so many expectations from my people. You know that due to the fact that there was no Igwe for almost two decades, there are crises, land disputes and inter-border disputes and the community has been in disarray, so I am going to resolve these crises and bring all the warring factions together in Ogidi within the shortest period.
“The people of Ogidi should stand by me and should not call me to serve and abandon me, I need their support always, I need their prayers, advice and encouragement to take Ogidi to the next level because only me cannot do it. So, I am calling on my brothers at home and abroad to join hands in building a new Ogidi. I am also appealing to the Amobi family who is from Uru community to accept the verdict of the court and the people since I am from Uru community which means their brother is still on the throne and they should support me to move Ogidi forward.”
On the package he has for the youths, the philanthropist turned traditional ruler said his reign as Igwe of Ogidi Kingdom would not tolerate hooliganism from the youths of the town, saying that when he is properly crowned, he would roll out his already written good script for the general good of Ogidi youths and the community.