One thing reminiscence of the Rescue Mission administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State is the
systematic introduction of novelty in governance and in administration of various institutions of the government.
Ironically too, the government has the posture of being in a hurry to achieve its vision and mission and therefore flaws due process as it is in tandem with bureaucratic bottleneck that hampers her commitment to speedy transformation and developmental efforts.
When this administration came on board in May 29th, 2011, one institution it demonstrated her political will and courage to reform and sanitized is the traditional institution being managed by the State Council of Traditional Rulers and with only State government recognized traditional rulers from the various Autonomous Communities in the State as members.
Governor Okorocha to justify his commitment in transforming, sanitizing and repositioning the State Council of Traditional Rulers he renamed the position of the Chairman of the council to be Eze-Imo. He even gave it constitutional backing as he directed the State House of Assembly to rectify same as contained in Law No 6 as amended for the State Traditional Rulers Council.
As if this was not enough, the government introduced what was nationally said to be fourth tier government which he equally gave constitutional backing through the instrumentality of the State House of Assembly as Community Government Council (CGC) with traditional rulers of each of the Autonomous Communities as an automatic head of the rural government.
This actually restored sanity and contained rift usually exist between the President General of the various Autonomous Communities and their Traditional Rulers over the claim for supremacy of power and authority.
Sincerely speaking, Governor Okorocha empowered the State traditional rulers, improved their welfare, built palatial paradise on earth golden Obi, residential quarters and administrative office complex for Eze-Imo, the council and their Staff. The furnishing of Eze-Imo office, Obi and official residence is better described as splendor and for the first time, the Chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers exhumed confidence, dignity and royalty.
Governor Okorocha probably as part of his strategy in strengthening the council in June 2011 appointed HRH Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri (Obi of Obi-Orodo in Mbaitoli Council Area) as the Chairman (Eze-Imo), HRH Eze Emmanuel Okeke (Eze Udo of Amaifeke Orlu), HRH Eze Chidume Okoro(Ugo Amano) in Ahiazu Mbaise land, HRH Eze Matthew Onweni (Onye Ishiala) as the Orlu, Owerri and Okigwe Senatorial zones Chairman respectively. These zonal Chairmen were equally constituted as Deputy Chairmen of the council. To guarantee effective administrative inputs, the Governor later appointed HRH Eze Igwilo of Osina ancient Kingdom in Ideato South as the Secretary of the council.
It is pertinent to note that the idea of zonal Chairman or three council Deputies as well as Secretary was an administrative innovation from Governor Okorocha as the status quo has been, the Chairman and his Deputy and then council members that are not more than 15 reputable traditional rulers.
Traditional pundits were astonished that as the five years constitutional leadership of HRM Eze Sam Ohiri expires mid last year, that Governor Okorocha instead of re-appointing him as constitutionally privileged or appoint another traditional ruler of his choice, he rather directed that the traditional rulers in the state should hence forth elect their leaders.
This caused a lot of rift and ripples as most of the Royal Fathers were uncomfortable for dragging them into the murky water of undue politics. The tension was high as the clamour to streamline the election guidelines was canvassed. The state government okayed the elections as delegate’s elections of three traditional rulers from each of the 27 council areas of the state to be elected as delegates for the election. These three traditional rulers that constitutes the delegates from each of the local government area, could vote or be voted for either as a Chairman i.e. Eze-Imo or Deputy Chairman i.e. Deputy Eze-Imo, thus abolishing the post of three deputies.
The implication is that the delegates will be 81 in number considering the fact that each of the 27 Local government areas in the State is electing 3 delegates. After the election of the Chairman and his deputy that would serve for five years constitutional tenure. Thus, after the elections, the names of each of the three delegates will be submitted to the Governor who has the veto to appoint one of them as the Local Government Chairman of the council and the other as a member of the State Council of Ndi-Eze.
It is important to inform that the process of election of the three delegates from each of the council area have been concluded since Monday last week. Then the election to elect Eze-Imo and his Deputy has been scheduled to hold on Monday 8th January, 2018 at the Obi Eze-Imo Mbari Secretariat Complex.
The good knows is that the jostling and horse-trading has commenced as the interested aspirants have picked their nomination forms from the Ministry of Community Government Council (CGC) after the payment of N20,000=for Chairmanship interest and N10, 000 for Deputy Chairmanship position.
The campaign and lobbing has commenced as the elected delegates have automatically becoming beautiful brides. Three frontline traditional rulers have declared their interest to run for the plum job while six persons have picked form for Deputy Chairmanship.
Among the aspirants for the Eze-Imo throne is the incumbent, HRM Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri who has spent over 6 years on the position, his strongest opponent and nightmare is HRH Eze Oliver Ohanweh (Gburugburu 1 of Ihim Autonomous Community and HRH Eze Chidume Okoro (Ugo Amano) who won the delegate election of Ahiazu Mbaise while in overseas on a business trip.
It is a battle royal and it is fundamental to do a critical analysis of the profile and chances of the aspirants so as to guide the delegates to vote wisely even though at the end of the day the State government still has over ridding influence. It is equally proper to x-ray their strengths and weaknesses as justified by public opinion.
HRM EZE SAMUEL AGUNWA OHIRI(EZE-IMO)
He is the incumbent Eze-Imo and the traditional ruler of Obi Orodo in Mbaitoli local government area. He is the first traditional ruler of the Autonomous Community. His philanthropy before the creation of the Autonomous Community gave him the throne. He is an American trained scientist. A reputable businessman. An industrialist. A true custodian and promoter of Igbo cultural heritages. From all intents and purposes he is at home with Governor Okorocha and family. He has good financial war chest. His humility is infectious. He achieved a lot in re-positioning the council as the first Eze-Imo. His fluency in Igbo language and culture is enviable.
Recalled that Eze Ohiri having being Eze-Imo for over 6 years, it is alleged that he may unknowingly stepped on so many toes especially his follow traditional rulers. Many of the traditional rulers are now seeing the election as an opportunity to exert their own pound of flesh on him. Secondly, some of the Royal Fathers have not easily forgotten how he doggedly fought his predecessor HRH Eze Cletus Ilomuanya of Obinugwu in Orlu council area for attempting to usurping the turn of Owerri zone as the then council Chairman was eying for second term. His detractors within the traditional ruler’s council are insisting that equity, fairness and natural justice demands that Ohiri as a traditional ruler cannot afford to eat his own vomit. Their sing song now is “Manu akara di uto onye raratu ibe ya araratu”. They equally argued that since he has stayed for over 6 years as Eze-imo as against the constitutional Provision of 5 years that as people considered and known as custodians of Igbo cultural heritages that it will be unfair for Eze Ohiri to be seen as acting another President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe sit tight phenomenon. He should quit now that the ovation is high. They also insisted that traditional rulers in Imo State must jettison tyranny and despot in traditional institution. Moreso, one of the aspirants is from Owerri senatorial zone and may most likely split their votes.
Besides, among those contesting for Deputy Chairmanship is four of Eze Ohiri’s arch supporters and this may likely cause confusion on whom to support and any attempt to publicly identify with any of them could rob him their support and votes. This again has put his political camp in dilemma.
HRH EZE OLIVER OHANWEH
He is the traditional ruler of Ihim ancient kingdom in Isiala Mbano Council area of Imo State. He has been on the throne for over 15 years and belongs to the lineage of kingship. He is a British trained Chattered Accountant and American trained Public Administrator. Before accepting to ascend the traditional throne of his forefathers as divinely directed, he worked with so many multinational companies like Leventis. He is a business Mogul and the Managing Director of Olinco Groups. He is a bridge builder. A man of indomitable courage. A true custodian of Igbo cultural heritages. He is a man of implicit trust and confidence. An intellectual oracle. A man of the media. He is the Southern Regional Deputy President of Christian Royal Fathers Association. A devout Christian and a friend of the clergies. Governor Okorocha always described him as Rescue Mission complaint. Eze Oliver Ohanweh is friendly and sociable.
He is also an influential Nigerian with intimidating network. He is highly loved by his contemporaries. A team player who is philanthropic par excellence. His supporters perceive him as one who has laboured for the Rescue Mission government and therefore deserves to be compensated.
The zonal arrangement favours his aspiration as the state sits on tripod whilst Orlu and Owerri zone have enjoyed their tenures, Okigwe zone which Eze Ohanweh comes from continues to suffer the weeping child of marginalization, thus he is the only aspirant coming from the senatorial zone. He enjoys cordial relationship with Governor OKorocha and all members of his cabinet. His wealth of experiences in traditional stool is equally an advantage. He is a man of Royal sagacity and oratory prowess. He has age on his side as man of the people. He sees himself as a traditional ruler not as an additional ruler. He seems to be the best man for the job now in accordance with public opinion.
Most of his colleagues were of the view that he may not have the needed financial muscles to prosecute the project to fruition. Other accused him of being arrogant and pompous. Some of his detractors said that as a foremost traditional ruler that they are uncomfortable with his commitment to God and His servants, thus they argued that he may be on vanguard for the abolition of some cultural issues considered to be obnoxious.
HRH EZE CHIDUME OKORO
He is the traditional ruler of newly created Amano Autonomous Community in Ahiazu Mbaise Council Area of the State. A Mechanical Engineer by Profession. An international and nationally recognized business icon. In terms of years of being on throne, he is the youngest among the aforementioned contenders. His experiences in traditional institution is intimidating, having being Chairman Ahaizu Mbaise Council of Traditional Rulers, Chairman Mbaise Ancient kingdom Traditional Ruler Council and Chairman Owerri Senatorial zone of Council of Ndi-Eze. He is a jolly good fellow. A man with swagger. In all ramifications Eze Chidume Okoro is stupendously rich. He is among the founders and the state Chairman and always neatly dressed. He is a renewed philanthropist and a Charismatic leader.
Having chaired traditional rulers from local government area to senatorial zone, he must have stepped on toes, thus many of the traditional rulers from Mbaise ancient division and Owerri zone are not happy with his aspiration. They perceived him as over ambitious dictator and cunning. Some of them lamented how he used his position and took undue advantages of them. Some of the traditional rulers equally accused him of master minding the rift that led to the polarization of Iriji Mbaise cultural festival. Some of his detractors were also of the view that with his commitment in businesses that he may not have the time for the enormous task associated with Eze-Imo position. His greatest nightmare according to sources is a report of investigative committee that was set up about four years ago by the state government, the committee is said to have indicted him of sundry financial misappropriation and recommended for his dethronement but Governor Rochas Okorocha for reasons best known to him is sitting on the report. His efficient mastery of Igbo language unlike other contenders is said to be faulty. He has several court cases that allegedly boarders on shrewd business transactions.
However, it is important to remind our reserved traditional rulers to go about their elections of their Chairman and Deputy with dignity. The world is watching. They must not invoke principalities, spiritualities and powers. Their campaign must be issue based and devoid of rancor and acrimony. It is only Almighty God that gives power, at the end of the day only two persons will emerge as their leaders that is the Chairman (Eze-Imo) and his Deputy.
They should consider the State government latitude in subjecting the emergence of their leaders through democratic process as a litmus test to ascertain credibility, integrity and acceptability.
Therefore, the delegates are expected to vote wisely by ensuring that the best among the aspirants emerged anything short of this will put Imo state on a suicide traditional mission.