Reverence is the cable that catapults the traditional institution to its enviable and elegant heights the world over. It is to retain this awe impeded in the institution that England and other civilised countries of the globe, which practice monarchism, have over the ages upheld a mono monarchical establishment.
In Igboland in general and Abia State in particular, the reverse is the case; the institution has been grossly balkanized and bastardized that in some autonomous communities, palm wine tappers, hunters and even roadside mechanics are now traditional rulers. The majestic grandeur is no longer there and it is that bad.
Disturbed by the trend, the traditional ruler of Okahia community and chairman of the traditional rulers’ council of Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State, Eze Okey Ananaba, spoke to Daily Sun on the proliferation of traditional stools: “Without being too economical with the truth, the number of communities and traditional rulers we have in the state are much. If I should have my way, if my advice is sought, I would advise we do a systematic reduction of the communities. Systematic in the sense that we will be looking at those communities whose monarchs are late, look at their viability and then look at the communities nearest to them with a view to finding the possibility of collapsing some of them”.
He is afraid of the political implications since, according to him, any government that tries it would be seen as against the people: “But the problem is politics because any government that does that might not have it good with the people. That’s where the problem is, but, as a matter of fact, that is what it should do. Like you go into an ancient kingdom or particular ward where you have about nine autonomous communities and in these nine autonomous communities, you might have four or five communities whose Ezes are alive, so, when you look at the other communities, you discover that, in a particular community, you can hardly get somebody of substance that can handle that responsibility.
“So, in my opinion, the best in the circumstance is to do gradual collapse of these communities, merge an unviable community with the one nearest to it so that way, the thing will over time be reduced”.
Eze Ananaba said it would be inadvisable for government to collapse a community where the traditional ruler is still alive due to the problem it might bring between the Eze of the community being collapsed and the other community. “So, the best is that once the Eze of a particular community dies, you do an assessment of that community, find out whether the community has the capacity to stay on its own, if it doesn’t, collapse it into the nearest autonomous community, that is what I think government should have been doing all these years and by now we should have been having fewer number of autonomous communities and traditional rulers in the state”.