The current face-off between Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, and 13 traditional rulers, who he had suspended since July, 2020, is deeply rooted in political disagreements, zoning debate and 2021 governorship election permutations.
When Governor Willie Obiano at the last week of July 2020, suspended Igwe Peter Uyanwa, the traditional ruler of Ukwulu community, in Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state, the governor’s political opponents alleged that the action had deep political roots. The royal father was suspended both as the monarch of the community and as the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council, Anambra Central Senatorial Zone.
Announcing the suspension, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, had said the action was based on several petitions by the people of the community and beyond, against the monarch.
Some other traditional rulers in the state openly frowned at the governors’ action leading to threats and exchange of hot words. The matter deepened as the feud became linked to the frosty relationship between Obiano and Prince Arthur Eze on one hand and the 2021 governorship election permutations.
Since Igwe Uyanwa’s suspension, the matter has heated the political temperature of the state as the leading political parties and their leaders have openly taken sides even as some youths of the concerned communities have expressed anger.
Perhaps, because of the political dimensions, what started late last month as a simple misunderstanding between the governor and one of the state’s royal fathers has assumed an alarming dimension as Obiano, on Wednesday this week, suspended other 12 traditional rulers who openly sided Igwe Uyanwa and who travelled to Abuja, with Arthur Eze, to see President Muhammadu Buhari on some alleged political differences that are considered by some stakeholders as the root causes of the feud.
The suspended monarchs, according to the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr. Greg Obi, are Igwe Alex Edozieuno of Mkpunando, Igwe Mark Anthony Okonkwo of Alor, Igwe Chukuwma Bob Vincent Orji of Ezinifite and Igwe Engr G.B.C Mbakwe of Abacha. Others are: Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo of Nawfia, Igwe Nkeli Nelly of Igbariam, 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.”
Reacting to the suspension, the concerned monarchs described the action as “a charade and abuse of power.”
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, HRH Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo, Igwe Nawfia, who spoke on behalf of the others said, “We state categorically that we have not committed any act to warrant being suspended. This is to say the least an abuse of power and high handedness by the Igwe in connivance with the state government that has become increasingly desperate as the Governor Willi Obiano administration winds to a close.”
As a form of retaliation, the concerned monarchs also announced suspension of the Obi of Onitsha.
Allegations and counter allegations
There have been allegations and counter allegations by the major actors in the three-legged face-off. While the State Government, led by Governor Obiano, accused the suspended royal fathers of allowing themselves to be used by Prince Arthur Eze to disobey and ridicule the state government, the traditional rulers said the action of the governor is unconstitutional, abuse of power and deliberate move to ridicule the traditional institution of Anambra State. Also, some supporters of Arthur Eze’s and his followers accused Governor Obiano of refusing to conduct local government election in a bid to select his successor in 2021.
“We know that the suspended monarchs travelled with Prince Arthur Eze to Abuja to report Governor Obiano over the delay in conducting local government elections. Is this not ridiculous,” queried a source close to the Government House in Awka. The source said the state governor is right to frown at the monarch’s involvement with Arthur Eze.
Commenting on the development, Oliver Ifeanyi, who described himself as an associate of Arthur Eze, said, “The excuses for suspending the royal fathers are disturbing. He also alleged that the disagreement between Governor Obiano and Prince Arthur Eze draws from their beliefs on how the successor of the governor would emerge.
Other stakeholders have also expressed concern over the development. Chief Basil Ejidike, Chairman of the APC in Anambra, after the suspension of Igwe Uyanwa said, “As a people of culture, our traditional institutions and rulers are sacrosanct and should be treated as such, the recent imbroglio between the government and some traditional rulers in the state is a clear pointer to this fact.”
Whatever is the truth, one thing is certain, the development has left the impression that 2021 election may be the actual bone of contention in the current multiple face-off involving Obiano, Arthur Eze and the traditional rulers
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