By Philip Nwosu
President General of Awka Development Union of Nigeria (ADUN), Chief Amobi Nwokafor, has given reason the community removed its traditional ruler, Eze Uzu of Awka, Obi Gibson Nwosu. According to the union’s leader, who is also one of the kingmakers in Awka, there were breaches in the code of conduct.
There is a raging controversy about the dethronement of Awka traditional ruler. What is your take on this?
I must say that a traditional ruler is father of all. Like President Buhari said that he belonged to no one but to all, a traditional ruler belongs to everybody and belongs to no one. If that is the case, the President General is a subject of the traditional ruler because he is a member of the town and the traditional ruler is a traditional ruler of the town. So, everybody must give him his right of place and as PG I work with him to achieve the aims and objectives of the town because a town is just like an individual; it has to exist and because it has to exist in perpetuity, it has to have laudable objectives and plans on how to achieve them
Having said that, I must emphasise that for you to become the traditional ruler, you must have accepted to serve the people and you are equally the custodian of the customs and tradition of the people. So, as you know, when there is problem in the town, to the extent that the traditional ruler is dethroned, that is a sign that things have gone too bad. If you look at the issue raised by the kingmakers in Awka, as reasons for dethronement, you will see that they are correct because I, as citizen of Awka, I see the breaches of these provisions there is code of conduct, which the traditional ruler signed upon ascending the throne and the code of conduct has all the dos and don’ts. If he violates any of them, he is breaching the code.
For instance, before you become the traditional ruler of Awka, there is another institution you have to belong, called Ozo Awka. Ozo Awka has been in existence from beginning. If you are from Awka, you will meet Ozo Awka. My father was one of them and if you are a great man from Awka, the only way to show it is for you to take the Ozo Awka title. So, the traditional ruler must be a member of Ozo Awka for him to qualify to be the traditional ruler. So, if he now decides to form a parallel Ozo Awka, in any name and in any form, you have denounced the membership of the traditional Ozo Awka and in doing that, you are no more qualified to be the traditional ruler.
That code of conduct has 10 provisions. Our traditional violated all 10 provisions of the code of conduct. For instance, the 10th provision of that code provides that the traditional ruler must be religiously neutral and should not be seen to belong to any religion. But this traditional ruler is a knight of St. Mulumba and the traditional ruler had been backing a certain President General of ADUN, thereby creating a parallel PG different from the choice of the people. And this PG that the traditional ruler is backing is the head of that command where the traditional ruler is a subject. So, in that circle, they take decisions that the traditional ruler must obey. Assuming that they take decision that are anti-Awka, the traditional ruler will not be in a position to correct it, he may only agree with them.
What is your conclusion?
I think the traditional ruler did not perform well, as he should do because we expect the traditional ruler of Awka, being the capital city of Anambra State, to rank as number one or among the best that you have. Unfortunately, in Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, his voice is not usually heard. This man cannot really raise his head above the other traditional rulers in that council. And for Awka as capital city, it is not expected to be so; we expect our traditional ruler to be number one at all times and not to play the second fiddle to anybody.
What’s the place of ADUN in all these?
You know that there is time for everything. It is only God that knows why this is happening when I am the PG of ADUN, but we can only support the decisions of the kingmakers; they have dethroned the traditional ruler and we can only support them because they have proved to us that that is the right thing to do to salvage Awka from the abyss that it is about falling into. The kingmakers do not need to consult anybody before the dethronement.
Could you give us the historical perspective to this?
Generally, in Igboland there was nothing like king and that is our normal tradition. So, asking us to have one is new. In Awka, kingship has been with us, even before the Civil War and I remember that we had the Ichie of Awka before the Civil War and when the position became attractive several people in Awka became jealous of the Ichie and he was not totally given his due, but as at today he is recognised as the first traditional ruler of Awka. It had not been easy because the period the Ichie reign was very turbulent, but at the end of the day Awka people came together to scrap the name of traditional as Ichie and adopted the Eze Uzu as the name the traditional ruler would be called. This is the second Eze Uzu since that arrangement and just like the way Awka shares things, it rotates between Ifite and Ezi.
Awka had and election and elected a presidential general, whom the current Eze Uzu refused to recognise. It was part of the reasons for his dethronement because the kingmakers cited it. There was no reason for a traditional ruler not to accept a president general that was duly elected by the people.
Could you tell us about the position of President General of ADUN?
Awka as a town came together and realised that the distribution of population was not even, as some villages are bigger that the others. In order to have a balanced way of sharing things, the town was divided into two sections. Now, the 2008 constitution of the ADUN provided that each section of Awka will have the PG’s position for six years. Within the six years, the constitution envisaged that two PGs would emerge, given one term of three years per one PG. This means that each section will produce two PGs within the period of six years.
Peace and development in Awka
No country, no town, no village, no family grows in an atmosphere of uncertainty and wars and Awka is not an exception. We have taken the side with the kingmakers. Ordinarily, I will be the last person to support the dethronement of a traditional ruler, but looking at Awka situation, doing so is the solution to the Awka problem. We have a regent now. In the next six months, we will have another traditional ruler because the reagent will reign for six months, after which we will have another traditional ruler.
For now, we do not know how the new king will emerge and the kind of condition to be placed before him. But definitely Awka is in the right direction because we want to be together and we want a traditional ruler that will bring everybody together, agree with the concept of Awka and tradition and customs without any division.
In this crisis period, other towns are emerging and taking the place of Awka; even the government itself is not helping matter; rather than sorting out the problems in Awka they took sides and that means that the problems will be prolonged.
What is the way forward?