Few days ago the Imo State government repealed the old law and enacted a fresh law governing the choice of the leadership of traditional rulers in the state. Under the new law the government reverted to the practice where the leadership of the traditional rulers were made by the governor. This has since attracted commentary for and against the government decision. Hitherto, the traditional rulers had in the last dispensation appointed their own leaders through an electoral process.
As part of its reform agenda in the state the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha introduced the use of election as a tool in the change of guards in the leadership of the State’s traditional rulers. Much as we would subscribe to the practice of traditional rulers electing their leaders we would not support the practice of what happened in the last election where the traditional rulers suddenly turned politicians canvassing for votes openly in the public sphere using the radio and all available media to campaign.
Edge Express strongly expresses the view that our royal fathers should be given the freedom to determine their destiny over who presides their affairs. In the first place it is an opportunity to deepen democratic practice and processes in some of our institutions. The beauty of democracy is the opportunity it gives the ruled to choose their rulers and this is what is expected.
The traditional rulers know themselves and the capability of each to discharge good leadership. With all their dignity, royalty and respect the expectation is that they ought to in an exemplary manner elect their leadership themselves noiselessly. In the other ethnic groups’ election of their natural rulers this is most often conducted in a manner of conclave by the King Makers without noise, and away from public scrutiny and attention.
This is usually to accord the royal fathers the dignity their revered position demands. Relatively speaking Royal fathers in the other ethnic groups are highly revered, mystified and treated as second only to the Almighty. Their counterparts in this part of the country it is believed sadly do not receive the same kind of attention and reverence.
The zone whose turn it is to produce a traditional ruler at any point in time should be allowed to either chose one Eze from among themselves or any three Eze’s who should stand for elections to be chosen by the other Eze’s. This should be done quietly from among themselves without the noise that characterizes the election of politicians into public office.
Traditional rulers in a typical African community are regarded as more than mere mortals. Little wonder they are not seen eating in the public. Exposing them to the typical Nigerian electoral procedure of campaigning and all the loud noise we experienced in the last exercise are bound to ebb further what is left of their sanctity through possible mudslinging.
Again, if the royal fathers choses their leaders it will remove from government the charge of manipulations and control of the Eze’s. Issues emanating from the group may be perceived as being influenced from the government angle since it will be perceived that the leaders will owe their loyalty to those who appointed them. The public would like to see an independent group of traditional rulers who will discharge their responsibilities without fear or favour. Edge Express would like to remind of the crucial roles of the traditional rulers in governance right from the colonial era and would expect that this be sustained. They should be free of any form of interference and whatever they require to function effectively should be accorded them.