Saturday, February 21, 2009
EZE-IGBO, ILOMUANYA'S COUNCIL OF RULERS GOT IT WRONG?
The chairman of South East Council of Traditional Rulers and Obi of Obinugwu Autonomous Community in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State, HRH Eze (Dr.) Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya, recently called for the abolition of the office of Eze-Ndigbo world-wide, in every community where it exists? Icheoku respectfully disagrees with His Royal Highness (HRH) and states, it was probably a product of a seemingly royal-incomprehension of the real purpose of the office of Eze-Ndigbo? Hopefully, it was a mere royal-gaffe, made in the heat of passion due to the intractable Igbo-infighting in matters of ascension and succession throughout their world? The office performs creditably well for every Igbo community in their land of sojourn and hence is too beneficial to be simply waved-off as nonsensical and irrelevant. Moreso the office is merely ceremonial, limited in jurisdiction to the local "foreign" land where it exists and is in no way, a threat or competition to the traditional rulers or their domains in the South East of Nigeria? So, Icheoku asks, why abolish an office of such immense value and which is merely complimentary, and in no way threatening to the traditional stools in Igbo-land? Instead of seeing it as a competition, please see it for what it truly is, - merely holding forth for the Igbos as their "honorary ambassador" in their Diaspora or land of their forced economic/political exile? Icheoku says, such ceremonial office should not be "giving the traditional rulers in the South East sleepless nights" as it means no harm. It merely represents Igbo interest in such foreign lands where it exists and does not necessarily translate into paramount "King of Igbo-land"? According to HRH, “a major desecration of the culture and tradition of Igbos in Nigeria is the rampant and illegitimate installation of Eze Ndigbo, meaning kings of Igbo in foreign lands.” To which Icheoku responds, there is no ground to start questioning the legitimacy or otherwise of the so called Eze-Ndigbo as it lays no claim to any domain, territory, land or subjects in South East Igboland; but exists simply as a point-man for the Igbos in such locality or area of residence outside traditional Igboland. According to the traditional ruler, "most of these parallel traditional rulers are mostly found in the North and South West of Nigeria", adding that, “they are neither recognized by the people of their home towns nor their State governments". Icheoku rebuts this assertion of His Royal Highness and says, there is no parallels between the Eze-Ndigbo and the bona-fide traditional rulers of the South East; they both have different, distinct and defined functions. Further, the Eze Ndigbo does not function at the behest of or for their native local governments or state of origin, but is simply the arrow-head of the Igbos in such territory of their primary residence. He is the alter-ego of the Igbo community. He serves as the go-to-man on all Igbo matters or issues of concern affecting the Igbos in their host community. He is effective and needs to be encouraged, instead of the unnecessary war of superiority currently going on in the minds of certain traditional rulers in the South East. Continuing, HRH said that "the crises which Igbos residing in non-Igbo States are facing today are mainly due to the struggle for the "illegitimate Eze Ndigbo stool". To which Icheoku says, there is crisis in Oha n Eze, World Igbo Congress as well as other organizations and position-fillings in Igboland, so why single out Eze-Ndigbo for a specific mention? If there is crisis in the manner or process in which the Eze-Ndigbo comes into office just like everything else with the Igbos of the World, the traditional rulers as well as other Igbo organizations and parties with interest, should rally round to see how they can best arrest the situation. They can set down "rules of engagement" for interested parties for the office and officially coronate and recognize a duly elected or selected Eze-Ndigbo of the area under advisement, rather than the rancid rancour of the present seeming face-off? There is no such thing, contextually and strictly speaking, as an Eze-Ndigbo and Icheoku stands to be shown one. It is a misnomer to even try to suggest or ascribe real importance to this Eze-Ndigbo office as he has no authority anywhere in Igboland, so why bother discussing a none issue as that? Igbo people are too republican that not even a traditional ruler has such a broad authority, talkless of an Eze-Ndigbo in a foreign land? There is no single Igbo monarch that presides over the entire Igboland, as every traditional ruler have their own respective domains; including Eze Ilomuanya, whose domain apparently is a new creation judging from its name, autonomous community? So why the ruckus? Also there is no one central authority that speaks for the entire Igboland in the South East except if the present chairman of the council could be subsumed as one such speaker of all (Okwulu-Oha/Ora). Nomenclature should therefore not be allowed to create a wedge-issue out of nothing, afterall even Odumegwu Ojukwu is an Eze-Ndigbo and Mommer Gaddafi is "King of the whole Africa"? So now what? Eze-Ndigbo in the Diaspora of Igboland and overseas, represents the Igbos in such foreign geographical area where they reside and does not in any way, pretend to represent the enitre Igbo speaking people of the world or of Igboland of South East. As far as Icheoku understands Eze-Ndigbo as just a title, - like "Ebekuodike", "Ogbuefi", "Omenka" etc, the reason they are so many of them representing the thousands of Igbo enclaves throughout the world. Icheoku says, the office is merely complimentary and not supplementary of the traditional rulers of the South East; and queries why can't the Igbos sometimes disagree without being diagreeable? Why can't the Igbos have different opinions on the way forward without such being interpreted as rivalry? Instead of restraining such ceremonial "foreign" Igbo chiefs, an organised management of the process that springs them forth should be explored to ensure that a befitting Igbo son or daughter is flying the Igbo-flag of identity in such a foreign land? Eze-Ndigbo performs a very important function for the widely traveled, nomadic, easily-settling and highly dispersed Igbos of the world and should be supported rather than despised. This office of Eze-Ndigbo is akin to having a president of a town's union or community outside the primary domain of a group's core habitation. What happens then when there are several of such towns from the same race, in such a foreign land that are desirous of forming one association for projection of strenght in numbers? What is the best name for the head of such association, other than the "Head of the Association" and when the association is of Igbo people it reads "Head of Igbo people"? But the Igbos known to Icheoku would rather "Igbofy" or "Igbonize" such a headship to read "Onyeisi" or "Eze-Ndigbo" of the particular area? But for semblance of power and authority, and to project great presence to the host community, "King or Eze" is preferable. The Jews have Rabbi in every city and country of the world where they live, but that does not water down the powers of the rabbi in Jerusalem? The muslims have their sheiks and Imams in every city and country in the world where they live, but that does not make the one in Jeddah to lose sleep? Nigerian Northerners living in South East have their Sarikis who does not attenuate the office of the Emirs or the Sultan? Americans have in addition to their ambassadors, heads of Americans living in every country of the world, so what is wrong in Igbos having a point-man in every corner of the world where they reside? The name Eze-Ndigbo is very appropraite to reflect their Igbo`ness, period! HRH querried, "Is somebody who claims to be Eze (King) but cannot come home and sleep in his community for just a night, a king"? To which Icheoku retorts, this shows the depth of HRH comprehension of the office of Eze-Ndigbo. The village in the South East is not his primary domain or domicile, and therefore, it will be very presumptous for him to herald his arrival or entry to such his maternal/paternal community with much fanfare since he is not its traditional ruler and in due deference to the community's duly crowned ruler or king or Eze, period! So as often as he can, he queitly returns to be with his kindred and without notice to anyone but that does not mean he does not "come home and sleep in his community"? Icheoku says, it is very condescending for HRH to appeal to the Northern traditional rulers to "help in flushing out these Eze Ndigbo in their domains" because Eze-Ndigbo was not crowned by the Emir; he does not owe allegiance to the emirates and he is not in hiding! Icheoku says, to further solicit denial of privileges by the host government and/or institutions is acrimonious and to say that such Eze-Ndigbo does not mean well for Ndigbo both at home and Diaspora is a royal-denial of the obvious. Whatever HRH may personally have against the office of Eze-Ndigbo should not be allowed to subjectively influence the freedom of association represented in the central authority of an Eze-Ndigbo, which serves to protect Igbo interest all over the world, whereever they may be settled and thriving. If there is a single Eze-Ndigbo, somewhere, who His Royal Highness may possibly have some beef with, let it be an isolated case; but to condemn such a good office for the dump-yard is and should be frowned at by all men of good rationality. One the raised issue security of lives and property of Igbos living in the Northern region and their general welfare, Icheoku asks HRH, around whom should such revolve? Who is to ensure compliance or who will the Emirs go to on matters affecting the Igbos as a people or will he have to come down to Orlu before it can be resolved? Some of the sundry problems enumerated by HRH can better and effectively be dealt with where an organized central "government" of the Igbos is in place such as represented in the Eze Ndigbo? Better protection, love and care for Igbo people in the North and elsewhere, can only be effectively gurranteed where there is one channel of representation of which Eze-Ndigbo factors in and very eminently too. Eze-Ndigbo is the father-figure of such Igbo community wherever they may be found and serves as the chief liasion person for the Igbos. Igbos need a go-to person in their land of domicile and HRH cannot be in Orlu and expect an Igbo resident in Birnin Kebbi to await his personal intervention in a matter which a designated Eze-Ndigbo in Birnin Kebbi would have solved immediately? Finally Icheoku would rather HRH Eze Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya engages his energies in more profitable and productive Igbo-causes that would benefit the Igbo-man in in general. Such causes like who will be the Igbo consesus candidate for Nigeria's presidency come 2015; the continued Igbo marginalization in Nigeria; the problems facing MASSOB; World Igbo congress in disarray; Oha-n-Eze; political harmony and astuteness in Igboland; criminality of bank-robbery and kidnapping in Igboland; corrupt Igbo governors and elected officials who privatize money meant for development of Igboland; River Niger bridge; lack of good roads in Igboland; resuscitation of Oji power station to supply power in Igboland; lack of any international airport in Igboland, disputes-resolution in Igboland; how the Igbos can become much savvy and effective player in Nigeria political terrain etc. The list of such goal-directed prime-endeavour is endless, rather than the present divisive-road HRH wants to travel now? This time in Nigeria is not for the Igbos to be waging war amongst themselves and for no just cause? They need every cohesion they can muster and according to Jesus Christ, he who is not against us is safe with us, so why not let Eze-Ndigbo be? Icheoku says for a race, so mobile and easily setling and very assimilating like the Igbos of the World, not to have a rallying head in their land of sojourn, is simply foolhardy and its suggestion or likelihood, a reflection of a not thought-through outburst by a person who should know better. His Royal Highness Eze (Dr) Cletus Ilomuanya, Icheoku says, please retract your present course of travel as it is very unpopular among the majority of non-power seeking or grabbing Igbos; those Igbo men and women who simply want a fair shake from the society. As for politicians, they can dine with the devil to hold unto power and those of them in Abuja, what have they done for the Igbos lately? Please pick and fight only the good fights in the future! As a potentate ruler and now chairman of the whole South East council of traditional rulers, you must avoid like a plague, very highly-charged divisive subjects like the issue of Eze-Ndigbo and try to be a rallying center of gravity for the entire Igbo race.