Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
This is as stakeholders from one of the clans, Izzi clan, have rejected the alleged endorsement by some traditional rulers from the clan of Speaker Francis Nwifiru as the clan’s consensus candidate.
Ikengaonline gathered that Umahi had called a stakeholders’ meeting of both Izzi and Ezza clans, two out of the three major dominant clans in Abakaliki bloc.
The Abakaliki bloc consists of Ebonyi North and Central senatorial zones.
While the Izzi can be found in three of the four local governments in Ebonyi North, the Ezzas are dominant in three of the four LGAs in Ebonyi Central.
In 1999, Ebonyi North produced the first Governor in Dr Sam Egwu but he is from Mgbo/Izhia clan in Ohaukwu LGA, seen as a minority clan population wise as they can be found in one half of the council only.
Egwu handed over to Martin Elechi, who hails from another majority clan of Ikwo in Ebonyi Central. Elechi in turn handed over to Umahi who hails from Ebonyi South otherwise known as Afikpo bloc.
With the three zones having had their turn, it was expected that a new power rotation will start from Ebonyi North but the two political parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), decided to zone the position to the entire Abakaliki bloc meaning that all the clans in the two zones can contest.
This decision did not go down well with the Izzi clan which has continued to allege that it is a ploy to deny them of their turn to produce the next Governor.
Umahi in a reaction last month urged the two senatorial zones not to heat up the polity over the governorship position.
He explained that whichever clan that did not get the position in 2023, should be patient as they would definitely do so in eight years time.
In a bid to ensure a peaceful primaries in his party, APC, the Governor last week called for separate stakeholders’ meeting of the two clans.
During the meetings, it was gathered that the governor ordered the two clans to go and meet and agree on two candidates each as their consensus candidates for the governorship position.
It was gathered that the Ezza clan quickly met and nominated Dr Kenneth Ụgbala, who is the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Senator Julius Ucha as their two candidates.
In contrast, Izzi clan stakeholders could not come to an amicable agreement on the matter.
It was gathered that one of the aspirants, having noticed that the stakeholders were not favourably disposed to his candidacy, secretly ordered his boys to disrupt the meeting.
His boys, Ikengaonline reliably gathered, invaded the venue and shot into the air leading to the dispersal of the meeting.
Same day, some traditional rulers from the clan hurriedly met and announced Speaker Francis Nwifụrụ as the choice of the clan for the governorship position.
The endorsement has continued to generate ripples across the state with stakeholders of the clan faulting the endorsement of Mr Nwifiru by the monarchs.
The stakeholders expressed their rejection of the endorsement in a statement signed by 16 persons drawn from different segments of Izzi clan.
They are: Michael Udenwe, Godwin Nwode, Nick Ochigbo, Uchenna Nshii and Benjamin Nwoba.
The signatories also include: Joseph Nwovu, Abraham Chima, Henry Onyebuchi, Alex Oshim, Jerome Onyeka, Michael Egbedike and Reuben Nwankwo among others.
According to the statement, the alleged endorsement of the speaker by the traditional rulers is clear violation of the directive issued by critical stakeholders and leaders from Izzi clan urging them to stay away from partisan politics.
The stakeholders noted that at a meeting of Izzi stakeholders held at the house of Sen. Chris Nwankwo, on Sunday, April 3, that a decision was reached that traditional rulers from Izzi should stay out of politics and shun any call or plans to drag them into partisan politics.
The statement said that the decision was taken in order to absolve the royal fathers from needless distractions and to enhance their political neutrality as the politics of 2023 drew closer.
It further noted that involvement of the traditional rulers in active politics, in any form whatsoever, including endorsing aspirants for the forthcoming elections would distract them from their role as fathers and leaders of the various communities in Izzi.
The statement reads in part: “The attention of stakeholders from Izzi clan of Ebonyi has been drawn to a purported statement issued by some traditional rulers of Izzi at a courtesy visit to the Director General of Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation (EBBC), Chief Timothy Nwachi.
“The royal fathers had on Monday, April 4, during the visit endorsed the embattled Speaker of Ebonyi House of Assembly, Mr Francis Nwifuru, for the position of governor.
“The action of the selected traditional rulers was against the advice of these critical stakeholders not to involve themselves in partisan politics.
“By endorsing one aspirant in a contest where many prominent Izzi sons under the platform of the APC are also vying for the same position goes against the ethics of their traditional functions, equity and fair play.
“That the traditional rulers by their purported endorsement have created a situation capable of causing a breach of the peace in Izzi and Ebonyi in general, especially at this time of heightened security tension in the country.
“That since Izzi stakeholders are still deliberating on the issue to make recommendations to the governor, it is not only wrong but calamitous for the traditional rulers to endorse an aspirant.
“That we wish to remind the traditional rulers that their primary duties are to be the custodian of the culture and traditions of the people; carter for the welfare and progress of their people, adjudicate on disputes in their communities and to work to secure them.
”That we call on the traditional rulers to recant and retract their statement and tender apology to the Izzi people publicly through the media.
The group urged the state government to call the traditional rulers to order and direct them not to be involved in politics.
They said that further interference might result to breach of peace among the Izzi people and Ebonyi in general.
However, a stakeholder from the clan, Sunday Nwoke, backed the action of the monarchs.
While painting out recent endorsements of aspirants across the country by monarchs, Nwoke said the traditional rulers have the right to endorse any aspirant
He said: “Part of the major functions of the traditional rulers is that they play useful roles in mediating between the people and the state, enhancing national identity, resolving minor conflicts and ensuring peaceful coexistence among the people.”
“Where were most of you when 65 Oba’s led by Oba Lasisi endorsed Tinubu as the most qualified candidate for the presidential position?
“Or when some traditional rulers of Enugu State led by Harford Agana endorsed Ike Ekweramdu and poured their blessings.
“When you wash your hands properly and do the right thing, you will attract the blessings of the elders and possibly dine with them in merriment”, he said.