Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
The Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council (ASTRC) has criticised Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s administration following the recent suspension of the traditional ruler of Neni kingdom, HRH Igwe Damian Ezeani.
Igwe Neni was among the traditional rulers who bestowed chieftaincy titles on the senator representing Anambra South senatorial zone, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, during the last yuletide season.
The Anambra State Government, through the state Ministry of Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, had suspended Igwe Ezeani, citing negligence of due process in awarding the titles.
Following the suspension, the council through its chairman, the Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, in a 14 point letter, criticised the dimension that was taken by the state government in the suspension of Igwe Damian Ezeani.
Igwe Achebe said he suspects that the suspension letter was an after thought as it was already trending on social media for over 24 hours prior to their receipt of the letter.
“I was embarrassingly inundated with phone calls and messages from traditional rulers and other persons seeking clarification from me as Chairman of ASTRC regarding a situation to which I was not privy.
“Your letter to Igwe Damian Ezeani was copied to the Commissioner of Police, and Director DSS, Anambra State, but not to the chairman of the ASTRC.”
The revered Onitsha monarch said the action of the state government has shown how traditional rulers of Anambra State are being treated and the measure of the worth the traditional institution has with the present state government.
He regretted that it has become unfortunate that the state government can apply the code of conduct without the involvement or reference to ASTRC, a body that worked to ensure that the law stands following the 2013 annual seminar of Anambra state traditional rulers where it was presented and adopted.
Igwe Achebe said it was out of place, for the commissioner to have discussed with him on 7th of January 2024 on the code of conduct for traditional rulers who conferred honorary chieftancy titles in violation of the code
He said that the Commissioner specifically mentioned Igwe Ojoto, who conferred an honorary chieftancy title on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah on 30th December, 2023, and the self acclaimed traditional ruler of Nawfia, who also conferred honorary chieftancy titles on 40 persons on January 4t, 2033.
Igwe Achebe said: “In the conversation, you categorically, did not mention, in any regard whatsoever, Igwe Neni who celebrated his ofala on the 29th of December 2023.”
He stressed that, “Nevertheless, it’s is very manifestly presented that no written directives from your ministry on conferment of Chieftaincy titles existed before 08 January 2024 when Igwe Neni was suspended.”
He further stressed that the referenced letter to a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as “one Senator Ifeanyi Ubah” is most disrespectful, offensive, and unbecoming of one holding a political office as a Commissioner, the traditional ruler thundered in his release.
He therefore maintained that the issue of code of conduct on Igwe Neni and the conferment of Chieftaincy title on Senator Ubah suggest that there may be other issues with either the Igwe or Senator Ubah, as is being stealthy ventilated in this present circumstance.
He however conculded that the way the state government has handled the matter of the honorary chieftancy titles is the apogee of the progressive dehumanisation and dismantling of the traditional institution of Anambra by the present administration.
He reminded the state government that the institution comprises the finest sons of Anambra State, who achieved sterling academic heights and professional/vocational attainments before been called to serve the people.
He also reminded that at the behest of their communities they took up the role of traditional rulers and as shining examples for selflessly giving back to their communities in particular and the society at large, and as custodians of culture and tradition of their people, their livelihood does not depend on selling chieftancy titles or the N175,000 monthly stipend from the state government, but on their own hard earned modest personal resources.
He further stated that “By their office, age, attainment and standing in society, they deserve far better respect and dignity, than being publicly bullied and unfairly shamed at every opportunity by people in the state government.
He reminded them also, that the Federal Government and other state governments hold the traditional institutions in high esteem, and wondered what has gone wrong in Anambra State.