By Emmanuel Aziken
The battle between Governor Willie Obiano and Prince Arthur Eze had long been brewing. Over a period of time, the once cordial relationship between the governor and the billionaire businessman, has turned into a vicious battle that is now taking its toll on the traditional institution in the state.
Fearfully, the battle of two elephants could also stymie infrastructural and other developments in the state.
What started as an agitation for the democratization of the Local Governments in the state turned into security squabbles not too long ago after Prince Eze facilitated the establishment of a police zonal headquarters in the state.
The decision of the police hierarchy to establish the Zone 13 headquarters in Ukpo was received with commendations in some sections of the state. But whether the governor was pleased or not with the facilitator, he did not let out, at least openly.
Even though the governor did not say anything for or against the establishment of the police headquarters in his state, it, however, would not have been lost on him the commendation poured out on Prince Eze, by the traditional ruler of Ukpo Community, Igwe Robert Eze, when the zonal headquarters was inaugurated.
Following that, there were reports of a meeting where Prince Eze hosted traditional rulers where he lamented the failure of the Obiano government to pay the 5% of local government entitlements to the traditional rulers as had been established over time since the time of Gen. Sani Abacha.
Whether it was to spark acrimony between the governor and the traditional rulers, things got to a head last week when Prince Eze led a delegation of traditional rulers to the Presidential Villa to commend the Muhammadu Buhari administration for its gestures towards the Southeast, and notably, for the inauguration of the police zonal headquarters.
Whatever, words soon spread that Prince Eze had taken the monarchs to solicit Buhari’s intervention to remove Obiano.
The Obiano administration moved with dispatch and clamped a one-year suspension on the 13 traditional rulers in the entourage.
Was it a plot against Obiano? One of the 13 monarchs on the trip, the traditional ruler of Eziagulu-Otu, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Peter Udorji Ikegbunam, Oji-Udo 1 of Eziagulu-Otu denied the claim during a session with journalists last Monday.
“I wonder how Abuja can sack a Governor with the visit. He said that the power to sack a Governor lies with House of Aseembly who can impeach if there is a gross misconduct and the people during Election.
“Traditional Rulers have no right to sack a Governor. Also, there is no fair hearing on the part of Anambra State Government, to hear from The Traditional Rulers side of story before taking the so called decision on their purported suspension.”
His denial was on the sidelines of demonstrations by some people from the larger Aguleri community against him.
Though it was reported that day that there would be demonstrations against Igwe Ikegbunam in his community, however, none took place in Ezagulu-Otu.
Asserting the loyalty of his subjects despite the suspension clamped down on him and the 12 other monarchs, Igwe Ikegbunam said:
“No indigene of Eziagulu-Otu Aguleri , Ndi Iche nor youths of Eziagulu-Otu Aguleri were involved in the protest.
According to him, the protest that happened on that day was in Amaeze Aguleri, which is the domain of His Royal Highness, Igwe Mike Idigo.”
“I want it to be on record no Eziagulu-Otu Aguleri indigene nor Eziagulu-Otu Aguleri President-General, Ndi Iche were involved in the so called protest in Aguleri.”
His assertion was backed by some of his subjects including Chief Emmanuel Akorah (Okweslieze Eziagulu-Otu), Hon Chief Chidi Cyril Nnamekwe, Chairman Igwe-in-Council, Mr Chinedu Udealor, The Youth Chairman of Eziagulu-Otu.
According to Akorah ((Okwesilieze Eziagulu-Otu)
“we have no problem with our Traditional Ruler. The good people of Eziagulu-Otu were not aware of the protest and are not in support of the protest because our King is a peace loving King and he has done well for the community. His stewardship is worthy of emulation. We are happy with him.
“We have five communities that make up Aguleri Clan. These communities have their own kings and President-Generals. Whatever they have in Aguleri uno, we have it also in Eziagulu-Otu.
“So how can Aguleri President-General, Barr Hipolite be doing protest with his people on our behalf and in their own town demanding that Our Traditional Ruler be removed from Office.”
“Our President-General Chief Anthony Onwuteaka is here with us and he is not even aware of the protest going on in Aguleri. Our People are not involved and we were not consulted. We have no reason to move against our Traditional Ruler.”
Also speaking, High Chief Chidi Cyril Nnamekwe, the Chairman Igwe-in-Cabinet, said no Chief nor member of Igwe-in-Council from Eziagulu-Otu were involved in the protest,” saying the community does not have any issues with the Igwe.
The same refrain was made by the Youth leader, Chinedu Udealor.
However, while the grass continues to suffer the brunt, the two elephants, Prince Arthur Eze and Governor Obiano are preparing their arsenal for war in another front. That is, the Anambra Governorship election due next year.