It was a case of different strokes for different folks for 12 traditional rulers in Anambra State who paid a ‘thank you’ visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, during the week, in the Aso Rock seat of power, Abuja. While the president had poured streams of encomiums on them for being patriotic in honouring their leader, reverse was the case in their home stead, where the state governor, Willie Obiano, had poured invectives on them. The governor, rather greeted them with suspension from office for what he described as effrontery in not seeking the state government’s permission before that trip. ONYEKA AJUMOBI ONOCHIE reports
The suspension was announced through a circular titled “Suspension of Twelve (12) Traditional Rulers in Anambra State,” dated August 11, 2020 by Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr. Greg Obi.
The affected monarchs include: Igwe Alex Edozieuno of Mkpunando; Igwe Mark Anthony Okonkwo of Alor; Igwe Chukwuma Bob Vincent Orji of Ezinifite; Igwe (Engr.) G.B.C Mbakwe of Abacha; Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo of Nawfia and Igwe Nkeli Nelly of Igbariam.
Others were: Igwe Anthony Onyekwere of Owelle; Igwe A. N. Onwuneme of Ikenga; Igwe Simon Ikechukwu Chidubem of Umumbo; Igwe S. O. Uche of Ezira; Igwe (Dr) Emeka Ilouno of Ifitedunu and Igwe Peter Ikegbunem Udoji of Eziagulu Otu.
The suspension letter was copied to Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, as chairman of the Council in Anambra; the State Commissioner of Police and State Director, Directorate of Security Services (DSS).
Obiano warned they should stop parading themselves as traditional rulers and desist from discharging their functions in their communities.
The circular also revoked their membership of Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council and cancelled any appointment they may be holding in government committees until the suspension is lifted.
The government further said the suspension may be lifted at the end of one year, renewed or upgraded in the intervening period depending on government’s review of the conduct of the errant royal fathers.
However, three of the 12 suspended traditional rulers described the government’s action as unfortunate. The monarchs, who pleaded anonymity for security reasons, maintained Obiano was ill-advised on the matter.
They purportedly said Obiano had no powers in any extant law to suspend them for just trying to see President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to them: “It’s unfortunate and laughable that our dear Governor had to carry out this despotic action in a democratic dispensation.
“Why should a Governor of a state punish his subjects, especially, traditional rulers, for trying to see their President? This is laughable. The government said we didn’t get clearance from it before travelling outside the state. Don’t we have our fundamental rights of movement and association anymore? Are we in a state of emergency or war?
“We pray Obiano does not attract some kind of wrath upon himself because of his desperation to perpetuate the infamous government of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state. Though we are traditional rulers in our communities, we also have the right to support any political party or candidate of our choices.”
The royal fathers’ suspension may not have been unconnected with their open support for a popular billionaire businessman in the state, Chief Arthur Eze, who is a known political influencer in the state and overtly in support of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) government . Indeed, Arthur Eze was the arrowhead of the royal fathers’ visit to the president. He was even with them during the visit.
But as the monarchs were being humiliated by their state governor, the presidency was pouring encomiums on them, pursuant to their expression of gratitude to the president “for all he has done for the southeast, especially Anambra State.
They said they were in the Villa to praise Buhari’s work, particularly the projects executed by his administration in the South East, saying one of them so dear to their hearts was the Second Niger Bridge, that has, all along, appeared an impossible task by previous administrations, but now becoming a reality under “his keen watch.”
They also cited the the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway as another of Buhari’s demonstration of leadership excellence. They said, “The people of the South East are, indeed, grateful, as we have never had it so good, and on their behalf, we say DAALU (thank you).”
Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, who received them on behalf of his boss, told the monarchs that the administration would execute more projects. “As it is generally said in most parts of the country, when you thank a brave man for what he has done, he is encouraged, and does more.”
Presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, stated that the monarchs also hailed Buhari “for appointing Igbo sons and daughters into key positions in government”, a reason they opted to visit the State House to show their gratitude.
- Pix: Gov Willie Obiano of Anambra State