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Ndieze Imo and Electoral Blessings for Sale

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC1078) declares that “blessing is a divine and life-giving action, the source of which is the Father; his blessing is both word and gift'. As a result of this, to bless is the function of the Father- Biological, spiritual, political, royal and even godfatherism. It is on this foundation and based on the old truth about Royal Fathers as general fathers of all sons and daughters of the land, irrespective of ones provenance and nativity, that the general fatherhood of traditional rulers are founded and fast dwindles today.

By their position as royal fathers, every traditional ruler in Imo State is a universal dad to all the children of the State, especially those seeking for public positions within their political zones. Politicians in a multi-party system as operated in the growing democracy in Nigeria, must certainly come from various parties, each party being like a home from where different sons and daughters emerge, and their crowding about the King, makes for his dignity- A si na 'gidigidi bu ugwu Eze' (It is said that 'synergic thronging is the dignity of the King').

The problem of acceptance and rejection of candidates in the Palace comes with the question if the King by virtue of his polygamous life has begotten sons and daughters from jilted mothers? Or whether the King has in his polypedia (many children), have delight in specific children amongst all his sons and daughters, from specific mothers? Except by rooting, Christopher Okigbo said, one can never harvest tubers from a yam. It is only when there is discrimination that choices and delights are made, and when discrimination comes, segregation and biases are inevitable, which make no room for no fairness, justice and equity that characterise royalty in the local settings.

As the Catholic social teaching teaches, blessing is a life-giving-action, which comes as a word- Declaration and gift- Asserted success. These are precisely what the perennial politicians seek for every four years, and at every electoral period at the Palace and Thrones of the Royal Fathers, who are the earthly universal father, as the Creator is the heavenly. Since their declarations to great somewhat equal, simulate and represent that of the Divine source, every politician- Sincere and insincere, those that disappointed their people and those that really worked, newcomers in the political terrain and the old senescent political landlords, determined political aspirants and notice-me-aspirants, all join, crash down to their Palaces for the blessings of the Royal Fathers.

The problematic here is whether an Eze has any obligation- Social, moral or legal to bless or deny blessings from a benediction-seeker, being a royal father? If he has obligations to bless all, has he right to deny any of such or scurry away to his backyard when politician arrives at his Palace? If he has no obligation, then must every politician be blessed by the earthly universal fathers before he or she succeeds in the political venture? Of what value are the noisy good-sayings and symbolic gestures to the ordained fate of an individual before the Divine eyes that has preordained what everyone will be? I thought that quod scripti scripti (What is written, is written). Quid sera sera (What will be, will be). Nisi Deus dixit, nihil sera (Unless God says, nothing will be). Can a Royal Father's blessing cancel curses on an aspirant whom the Creator has rejected like Saul in favour of His delight in him (David)? Can the blessings turn or overturn events about such a one or vice versa?

I was in a public restaurant over the weekend where several politicians were narrating the ordeals of electoral political office seekers in the hands of the earthly universal fathers- Ndieze Imo, who have politicised their thrones and conscience by gifts and favouritism. Though not all the royal fathers are guilty of these benediction sales, but great many of them are real importers and exporters of earthly blessings from mundane thrones. The innocent ones, understand and call others to order.

A politician from one of the apex three political parties narrated that an earthly universal father proudly told a gubernatorial aspirant in Ezinihite Mbaise LGA that “blessings are not for free. You must pay before service. No promises!” Another from another major party narrated what an Eze did to them at his Palace in Ideato South LGA. It is said that the earthly universal father has been in the habit of running away from his Palace whenever he hears that a political aspirant from a party outside the ruling one in the State is coming to pay him homage. When they reached his Palace, they saw the man descending from the upstairs, entered his car and zoomed off, leaving a Prince to attend to them. One again from another party narrated how in Ohaji, an earthly father said that he needs to see all the 4 candidates in the party from his LG, House of Reps, Senate, and gubernatorial in his house intact to discuss with him whether they will “go” or not. Another added that an earthly father in Obowo was given the sum of #50,000 before leaving and he asked the candidate if the amount is for him or for him and his cabinet, if not- “This is bullshit!” he said. There were tens of tales about the Royal Fathers, which this space would not contain.

The questions come concisely: What of after selling the blessing, the candidate wins; does he have any obligation to listen and respect the royal father? Again, if the candidate that came for routine blessings was rejected by the Eze and finally he or she wins, can the public servant use good eyes to see him or do anything for his community? If he or she fails, will he allude the misfortune to the denied blessings? What of after telling the candidates that they will never win and finally all win, is the royal father not obviously an encaged crown bearer? If the political office seekers all pay through their noses to get the royal blessings and finally succeed, have they not paid the community which the Eze is the head? Are traditional rulers by their status partisan politicians? On the other hand, are they obliged to be slaves of the political party in power or do they have the freedom to choose? Is the Governor of the State, the employer of Royal Fathers or a co-worker with them in the larger State-community? Is the Eze a government worker or a traditional worker- That is, does the traditional rulership entail pure civil governance? Is the Eze suppose to collaborate with his Governor to put the society in good order and development or does he have the “human right” to association and even sabotage the efforts of the governor and government?

Many of these questions come up when the issues of Ndieze Imo and electoral politics is discussed. Back to the initial discussion on royal blessings for sale- The amount of money politicians pay to get these 'paid earthly spiritual gifts,' from where does it come- If it is from the communal bag or from personal pocket? How many Ezes come out during election time to vote or canvass for votes to ensure their chosen candidates win? Or does his blessings and acceptance of a political aspirant be concomitantly same as the general acceptance of the entire community under the Eze, irrespective of their diverse political parties?

Sometimes, our Royal Fathers are being compelled by the blessed political office seekers to be for them alone, meaning that they would not like him to bless any other that comes afterward. What an onus! Is this right? If the blessings are meaningful and positively significant, why must same blessing be for all candidates contesting for same position- “I ga ejeriri nwa, onu m bu onu mmuo, mmadu and chi!” Is this part of the universality or not? Frank Rich on this noted that “when something really comes from the soul, I think it has a truth you cannot find in politics.”

It is high time our Royal Fathers retrace their excesses and obvious partisan politics and political activism, as well as its discriminatory antics and thus weigh the dangers they portend to both the royal throne and customary institutions in the State that are fast dwindling. These and more contribute to the crises some royal fathers have immediately there is a change of government in the State. Tales of unseats of royal fathers and compelled changes of Chairmen of traditional rulers in LG, zonal and State levels rise always, with most of them being fallouts of their obvious segregated partisan politics and manipulative politicking that culminates in backbiting, mudslinging and sabotage of electoral and appointive political office seekers that later succeed.

It is true that the politicians remember the Traditional Rulers mostly only during campaign time, and afterwards, they become gods and shrines in the Land that the Ezes hear about and will never see till another four-years-epoch for votary sacrifices. A si na, e jebe ejebe akonyere ogwugwu, a nowa anowa, akonyere ogwugwu. Who will blame those Royal Fathers that make their palaces supermarkets for blessings, and their palms for sales of blessings when faced with these realities? But must this be condoled and encouraged as it contributes immensely to the debasement of royalty in Imo State? All the politicians are the royal fathers' sons and daughters and must be blessed or armed and good-wished for success. This blessing in reality, is both a courtesy call while in a campaign tour within the King's kingdom, as well as a recognition of the existence and worth of such a ruler in the area. Besides these, the sold blessings are purchased spiritual gifts that are ineffectual for successful ventures, especially when faced with the truth of Divine Ordination. Let privileges not be abused or seen as a conditio sine qua non for political success.

Prince Stanley U. Okoroji (08064378213)

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Articles by Prince Stanley U Okoroji