Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Confusion pervaded the air in Alor community, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, recently, when some elders of the community crowned Chief Ebelechukwu Chukwumesili as the new traditional ruler of the town.
Chukwumesili, according to the elders, was crowned to replace Igwe MacAnthony Okonkwo, who was suspended alongside 12 others by the state government for visiting President Muhammadu Buhari with Prince Arthur Eze a few weeks ago.
Before then, Igwe Okonkwo had reportedly been at war with some elders of the community, including the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who rejected his ascendency to the throne of their forebears.
According to the elders, Okonkwo was foisted on the community by some influential figures about seven years ago. They said he did not meet the requirements of their constitution and as such did not qualify to rule them.
After his crowning, he was subsequently issued a certificate of recognition by the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, at a brief ceremony at Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia. In fact, Okonkwo prided himself as Obiano’s ‘first son,’ as he was the first monarch to be issued such a certificate by the governor not long after the latter’s inauguration as the state’s helmsman.
For those seven years, those opposed to his kingship were relentless in fighting for his dethronement. In their reckoning, the community had no monarch all through the years, until the event of October 17, 2020.
Again, the town’s union government of the community was polarised. While those in support of the embattled monarch, Okonkwo, queued up behind Alor People’s Convention (APC), the other camp had their Alor People’s Assembly (APA).
On the day Chief Chukwumesili was crowned, there was a town hall meeting presided over by the president-general of Alor People’s Assembly, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa.
It was at the meeting that the people of Ifite section of Alor presented Chukwumesili as their candidate to the throne. He was thereafter adopted as the Igwe-Elect by the community. He was introduced to the assembly by Dr. Carl Nwudo-Odenigbo, popularly addressed as Dikeora Alor. Dikeora told the people that their candidate was properly scrutinised by the people and he met all the requirements for the stool.
A motion to declare Chukwumesili as the new Igwe was moved by Ichie Ngene and it was seconded by the chairman of Ndi Nze na Ozo, Chief Elobenze Ejiofo, and was subsequently adopted through a voice vote.
Chukwumesili was later crowned by Chief Edwin Ezeoke of Uruezeana village, while the traditional staff of office was handed over to him by Eze Ofo of Alor, Chief Gibson Onyekaonwu (Idi Ugonwammadu), of Umuoshi village.
The meeting where Chukwumesili was adopted was held at a hall located in the community, while the crowning and other activities took place at his residence in Uruezeana village.
There was jubilation in his compound when he arrived with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Ngige, and other elders of the community.
The minister and the others danced to traditional music, circling in the open space in the premises. They were visibly excited for ‘dethroning’ Okonkwo and enthroning Chukwumesili, who they had said met the requirements of Alor’s constitution.
President-general of APA, Igbonwa, said Okonkwo was erroneously issued a certificate of recognition by the state government as he was not enthroned by the people. He said the new Igwe fulfilled the requirements of the constitution and was, therefore, crowned the Eze Di Ora Mma III of Alor.
“You can see the joy on the faces of the people of Alor London. The village whose turn it is to produce the Eze Di Ora Mma III has done it. This morning, I was going to the meeting, not knowing what was in stock.
“The people said that they must present their Igwe today, that enough is enough; that eight years of trouble was enough for them. Then, I said ‘okay, I am your chief servant.’ What can I do? I yielded to their quest.
“We went through the constitution. We did everything that was supposed to be done and here, behold, the Eze Di Ora Mma III of Alor. He is a pastor and Alor people need somebody of his calibre. In fact, the people of Alor have made the right choice”, Igbonwa said.
The new monarch, Chukwumesili, said: “I am going to work with everybody. Everybody is subject to me now. I will carry everybody along. Peace is my first motto. Peace will reign in Alor from today. I advise the people of Alor to join hands with us to work for peace in our community. We should look up to God.”
Ngige, in his speech, commended his people for their peaceful conduct throughout the process of selecting a new Igwe. He expressed confidence that the new monarch would rule the people well, restore peace and build bridges of friendship among his people.
“You can see the mood of the town’s people; joy all over the place, because it was a tortuous journey but I told them to abide by the rule of law. Alor people spent seven years in court to get their town’s government legitimated.
“And the town’s government put in process the election of a new Eze Di Ora Mma, in accordance with the constitution of Alor people. We are all members of the council; so, we all voted today.
“In the past, we have not been voting, but today, I exercised my franchise and we have elected Chukwumesili as the Eze Di Ora Mma III of Alor,” the minister said.
Reacting to the development, the embattled monarch, Okonkwo, dismissed his dethronement with a wave of the hand and insisted that he remained the traditional ruler of the town. He described Chukwumesili’s enthronement as a sham.
Igwe Okonkwo told Daily Sun that he was unperturbed about the development and his relationship with the state government was still cordial.
“Ngige brought an evangelist and said that he has made him a king. I still remain the Igwe of Alor. The whole world knows that. I am not sacked and I am not dethroned yet.
“What the government said is suspension. It suspended me for one year with 12 others. When someone is suspended, it does not mean that another Igwe should be crowned.
“He (Chukwumesili) is not with any certificate. He is not an Igwe and can never be Igwe of Alor. It is impossible. We have only one Eze Di Ora Mma III, which is me,” Okonkwo said.