Last weekend, traditional rulers in Imo State through their delegate election re-elected, HRM Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri as the new Eze-Imo of the council of Ndi-Eze just as he has spent about 7 years on the same throne.
The build up to the election was high. The traditional institution in Imo State for the first time witnessed real politics. The three man delegates from each of the 27 Council areas over night became beautiful bride. There was no campaign of calumny, blackmail and propaganda.
There was a heated up undercurrent palace politics instigated by the three aspirants to the coveted throne. Royal Fathers that indicated their interest for the plum job were HRH Eze Oliver Ohanweh, Gburugburu 1 of Igboland and the Traditional Ruler of Ihim ancient kingdom in the present day Isiala-Mbano Local Government Area of Okigwe Senatorial zone Imo State, Nigeria.
Others are HRM Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri, Obi 1 of Obi Orodo autonomous community in Mbaitoli L.G.A of Owerri Senatorial Zone, the incumbent maiden Eze-Imo as he has spent about 7 years on the throne following his appointment by Governor Rochas Okorocha in June, 2011 and finally HRH Eze Chidume Okoro, the Ugo Amano in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State. He was Deputy Eze-Imo representing the Traditional Rulers of Owerri Senatorial zone.
Among the three aspirants, Eze Chidume Okoro carried more baggage as traditional rulers from his council area wrote petitions to the Governor against his person and aspiration.
Before the election, every indices point out that Eze Ohanwe will be leading even independent and media opinion poll results equally justified the claim. A day before the election, it was obvious that the battle will be between Eze Ohiri and Eze Ohanwe with the odds seriously favouring Eze Ohanwe.
One thing was observed, among the three aspirants, it was only Eze Ohanweh that had his manifesto with 14 points agenda documented.
The issue raised by Eze Ohanwe endeared so much to the traditional rulers that they saw him as a Daniel coming to judgment on their behalf.
Ironically too, the media was awashed with Eze Ohanwe’S victorious predictions. One other fundamental campaign issue that favoured Eze Ohanwe was the zone from which he emerged. It was certain it was the turn of Okigwe zone. Considering the fact that the other two senatorial zones, that is Orlu and Owerri have of recent presided over the coveted throne. Therefore, equity, good conscience, fairness and natural justice demands that what is good for the goose is also good for the gender.
It is based on this natural principle that mmanu akara di uto onye raratu, ibe ya raratu encapsulated with integrity,dignity, discipline and experience that the whole world sincerely gave it to Eze Ohanwe who was on a high spirit to sit on the golden throne of Eze-Imo and sanitized the institution.
Unknown to the traditional pundits that Eze Ohiri has strategically and secretly laid a land mine against his opponents. He maximized his power of incumbency and gave Eze Chidume a sucker punch while Eze Ohanwe received an uppercut.
Sincerely speaking, it is certain that Eze Ohanwe and Eze Okoro are still in illusion of fantasy, how on earth was Eze Sam Agunwa Ohiri returned back with a landslide victory in an alleged free, fair and transparent election.
Unknown to them was exactly what happened in Eze Ohiri’s camp with Eshi of Nkwere as the arrow head barely 12 hours before the election. Eze Ohiri as a political strategist took over 60% of the 81 man delegates and kept them in Kelvic Hotel New Owerri. hE paid for their accommodation, dinner, drinks and gave them N10,000 each in case of man no be wood. They were really pampered that night by the hotel management as instructed by the financiers that is Eze Ohiri and Eze Chijioke Okwara(Eshi of Nkwere).
Secondly, before the election, Eze Ohiri’s compound was beehive of activities. The atmosphere was festivity amplified as specially decorated canopies were mounted with ROYAL chairs. Musical bands were here and there, with uniformed women cultural dancers from Obi Orodo.
There was equally 42 canon guns salute planted and detonated the moment Eze-Ohiri’s predetermined victory was announced. Food stands were strategically mounted in four places as among other pomp and pageantry indicating an already secured victory.
On the other hand, Eze Chidume Okoro was only able to get less than 30% of the delegates and gave them one night accommodation and sumptuous dinner with breakfast, all expenses paid by him at concord Hotel, New Owerri.
Meanwhile, Eze Ohanwe was banking on the euphoria of his popularity, integrity, credibility and the perceived zoning arrangement. He never knew that in the politics of traditional institution that money can make some of the Traditional Rulers to sell their birthright and conscience.
The real political pitfall was hatched and executed by Ohiri’s camp early morning that day, as the incumbent Eze-Imo late in the night sent a text message to majority of the delegates for them to compulsorily be in his official residential palace on or before 7am for an important briefing from Government House.
The delegates came on schedule as the election was penciled down to commence by 9am with closing of the Obi Eze-Imo venue door by 10am.
On arrival, Eze Ohiri personally took them to his paradise on earth golden residential parlours and gave them a treat that super cedes breakfast. It was there and then that the delegates made a swift u-turn, with a simple promise that “I ga ahucha ebi ana eri oriri ma gawa ebe ana aru agwu”. They were later spoilt with Naira wads that gave them high hopes as most of them where seeing beaming smiles of economic fulfillment and betrayal.
It is at this eleventh hour that Eze Ohanwe’s hope of ascending the throne of Eze-Imo started diminishing with doubt. Though most of the delegates were telling him no problem! No problem!! But the result of the election showed that they compromised and delivered as par the highest bidder.
Yes, Eze Ohanwe and Eze Chidume Okoro may be licking their wounds but they have learnt a lesson, that Imo State Council of Ndi-Eze is now highly politicized and money politics is the only way to go. The fundamental question now is, what will be the place of Imo State Traditional Institution with money politics?.