The Obi of Onitsha and Chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Council, Igwe Alfred Achebe, has attacked the government of Governor Charles Soludo over the suspension of traditional rulers who conferred chieftaincy titles on a politician.
One of the traditional rulers, Igwe Damian Ezeani, had conferred a chieftaincy title on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, and was suspended by the state government, following which the monarch withdrew the title.
Two other monarchs, Igwe Ebelendu from Agulezechukwu in Aguata and Igwe Mbamalu from Ojoto in Idemili South, also apologised to the Governor for conferring titles on Ubah.
Addressed to the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Hon. Collins Nwabunwanne, the letter by Igwe Achebe noted that the government’s action and utterances amounted to subjecting the state’s traditional institution to bullying and public shame.
He wrote: “You publicly visited the sins of an unrecognised self-acclaimed traditional ruler on the entire state traditional institution, to which he does not belong.
“Without providing evidence for your sweeping statement about trading chieftaincy titles for money, you also, wittingly or not, thereby indicted the entire traditional institution of the state.
“Your press release to a global audience put the institution into disrepute when a direct circular letter to all traditional rulers as the parties of interest would have sufficed.
“The tone and language of your letter were, by any measure, a public riot act and pontification to the same majority of traditional rulers that you extolled as acting with dignity and integrity.
“The letter lacked respect and sensitivity in addressing the traditional rulers of Anambra State who, by any standard, are held in very high esteem in the comity of the traditional institutions of Nigeria and beyond….
“Your reference to a second-term Right Honorable Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as ‘one Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’ is most disrespectful, offensive, and unbecoming of one holding a political office as Commissioner.
“It is noteworthy that a person can only qualify to contest elections after scaling through the highest level of security checks at the federal level. Furthermore, Distinguished Senator Ubah holds a chieftaincy title of his hometown, Nnewi, conferred on him by his monarch and Grand Patron of the Anambra State Traditional Institution, His Majesty, lgwe Kenneth O. Orizu.
“He is also a well-known business investor in Anambra State and a generous philanthropist. Thus, assuming that lgwe Neni did not strictly comply with Code of Conduct, would the foregoing factors not be sufficiently extenuating to warrant a far less sanction on him as was meted to some other ‘tiny fen’ that also failed to comply?
“The severity of suspension and threat of withdrawal of Certificate of Recognition suggests that there may be other issues with either lgwe Neni or Distinguished Senator Ubah which are being stealthily ventilated in this circumstance….
“I would like to state very clearly that your handling of this matter of conferment of honorary chieftaincy titles is the apogee of the progressive dehumanisation and dismantling of the traditional institution of Anambra State by the present administration….
Press Secretary to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Christian Aburime, said in a statement that monarchs had since apologised to the Anambra State government and withdrawn the titles conferred on Senator Ubah: the titles of Ikemba Ojoto, Odenjiinji Neni and Dike Eji Eje Ogu.
Igwe Achebe said: “The severity of suspension and threat of withdrawal of Certificate of Recognition suggests that there may be other issues with either lgwe Neni or Distinguished Senator Ubah, which are being stealthily ventilated in this circumstance.
“I would like to state very clearly that your handling of this matter of conferment of honorary chieftaincy titles is the apogee of the progressive dehumanization and dismantling of the traditional institution of Anambra State by the present administration.”