By Uzorma Nathan

This article was published some time ago and is hereby repeated as a result of public demand.

The Igbo man has respect for traditional institution particularly those that have ancient or primordial standing with the ancestors. As a scholar who has just finished and defended his second PhD dissertation at the department of Religious Studies Imo State University whose Doctoral thesis is on ‘Symbols in Igbo Traditional Religion’, I discovered that some Ezes in Igbo land are recognized not just for political reasons but for profound ancestral background linked to the historical foundation of such community.

Such traditional ruler, his words, status and advice are channels of justice, love and peace, thus projects a standard by which a society can be sustained. Governments come and go but such traditional institution remains the same. I am saying this because the duty we owe to history is to write it. Yes, history is philosophy from example. Oh yes, for any Governor in the south east to suspend such traditional ruler is a misnomer occasioned by ignorance of Igbo traditional values.

“No, Gov. Rochas did not do it”. That was my response when I heard in 2015 that chief Rochas suspended four Imo prominent Royal Fathers- Eze Emmanuel Njemanze, Eze Desmond Oguguo, Eze Edward Njoku and Eze E.S Okoro. Their offence was as a result of their romance with Eze Cletus Ilommuanya when they joined the embattled Royal Father to receive the former president Jonathan at the council secretariat despite the fact that Eze Cletus was deposed of his Ezeship status by Gov. Rochas Okorocha.

It should be noted at this moment that 61 other Royal Fathers who went and received the former President Jonathan and attended the meeting conveyed by Eze Cletus Ilomuanya had their problems with Chief Rochas. What a sacrilege! Why should Gov. Rochas be vindictive? Was Eze Njemanze suspended? Yes Gov Rochas did it. However, no right thinking individual could do such. In as much as I am not happy with the role Owerri zone played in the just concluded 2015 guber election, it is still the zone that aided the victory of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Now, the same Rochas appreciated them when he suspended their Ezes. My governor, my governor, is it right in your sight? He did not end there; he also carved out other autonomous communities from Owerri municipal just to deal with Eze Njamanze.

Aristotle says, “We are what we repeatedly do”. You can recall that the moment Gov. Okorcha won the 2011 election, one of the first things he did was to suspend 106 Ezes in imo state. I was highly exasperated by his action and consequently picked my pen and addressed the issue. Gov. Rochas after a long time recalled them and decided to starve them of their salaries. What an abomination!

Today, history is repeating itself. In the words of T.S Eliot, “The historical sense involves a perception, not only the pastness of the past, but of its presence”. How I wish our governor will know the spiritual implication of what he has done. Gov. Rochas may not withstand strong libation (from these Ezes) to the gods of Igbo traditional religion. Our governor who later revisited his decision by realizing that these Ezes did what they were supposed to do in line with the constitution later recalled them and is still dealing with them in one way or the other till date.

My governor, my governor, do remember that you have an opportunity of rewriting all your past ignoble histories. Respect for the traditional institution should be paramount in your new administration. Do not provoke the gods of Igbo land because you are made a little lower than the (gods) angels. Be fair to our Royal Fathers; be just to all because justice consists in doing no injury to men decency in giving them no offence.

Socrates is quoted to have said, “Four things belong to a judge, to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially”. Justice is truth in action. For a Royal Father to have been suspended by a man who was not born by the time the traditional institution began and without fair hearing is a taboo to Igbo custom and desecration of the traditional institution. Again, for Gov. Rochas to deny some Royal fathers of their monthly benefit because of politics is a thing that will attract the curse of the land which his generation may suffer after now.

It has become the character of Gov. Rochas to deal with any Royal Father that refuses to dance to his tone. Horace Greeley says “Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident riches take wings, and only character endures”. Bob Jones infers, “The size of a man is measured by what it takes to upset him.” If the size of a man is measured by what it takes to make him angry, it then means that Gov. Rochas is small. His decisions are influenced by things that may not even provoke a house wife to anger. Yes, small in the sense that what has led to the denial of the monthly take-home of some of our Ezes is not enough to make a sitting governor to react in such a manner. The test of one’s character is what it takes to stop him from an action. Though some governors fall for everything and stand for nothing. This may as well be the reason for Gov Rochas action.

I think His Excellency Governor Okorocha is a ‘good listener.’ He however must reflect on the dialectics between sacredness and respect if he is still to keep the esteem-pace that Imolites have for him. The people’s choice and wish are sacred. Traditional institutions are the exerting spheres of the immaterial aspects of our culture, which are sacred too. The Royal Fathers are the “my people” whose mandate made Okorocha the Governor. It is a sacrilege to remove the Crown on a King’s head. It is oppressive and sacrilegious to refuse the people their heart-felt desire because of Ego-tussle. It is an insult and infringement on the rights of the traditional rulers to be suspended without any tangible reason. Above all it is an abomination to deny them of their monthly take-home.

Certainly, the Governor is no spirit, no god, but human and as such liable to frailties. Yet, it is more grown to accept mistakes and correct them than to play the Shakespearean Roman fool in Macbeth. Defence mechanisms are the weakling’s coverage-tools on qualitative behavioral porosity and ought not to be an administrative tool of leaders d’ haut etat. Gov. Rochas I urge you to think well and act well. You need better advisers to guide you well. The Reformer has spoken.

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