The traditional institution remains the fundamental foundation of every government, especially in the South-East of Nigeria, but it is on the brink of destruction by politicians.
The Obi Gburugburu of Igboland and paramount ruler of the ancient kingdom of Ihim Autonomous Community in Isiala Mbano Local Government Areas of Imo State, His Royal Majesty, Eze (Dr.) Oliver Ohanweh, disclosed this on a radio program monitored in Umuahia.
He said, “It is the way our people have been taking it that made the traditional institution not to be effective in the South-East in particular, and Nigeria in general.
“Recall that before the arrival of the colonial masters, traditional institutions were in governance, but today, politicians have ruined the traditional institutions.
“First, because we don’t have a constitutional role as a traditional institution, the politicians tend to do things in whatever way they like and undermine the traditional institution.
“And you know, every politician and every personality must have come from a traditional enclave or community. South-East traditional rulers, more so, are also suffering religious problems because, Christianity is an imported religion, an imported sect. Before the religion, there was also a traditional institution. And even if we want to talk about religion, go to the Bible, we have the Book of Kings, the Book of Wisdom and thereabouts. They are all about the traditional institutions, the kings. In the South-East region, the people don’t seem to understand the importance of traditional institutions or traditional stature.”
He noted that the proliferation of traditional institutions in the region was orchestrated by the politicians to ruin the institution, stating, “It is a creation of the politicians. Political interference has made it so that there are so many traditional rulers everywhere.
“When a politician wins a vote, one of the things he will do is to create a unit. I believe that there are traditional rulers and there are traditional rulers. There is always a traditional ruler and traditional rulers. Where I come from, they have over 22 traditional rulers under me, but there is nothing I can do because it was created by politicians. They were given certificates of recognition. But there is a tradition that is tradition.
“So when politicians create all these communities, they are being controlled by the politicians that create them and therefore, you cannot distinguish between politics and tradition, or between politicians and traditional rulers. This is a situation in which an aide to a local government chairman will claim superiority over a traditional ruler. Then, tell me what a traditional ruler in such a situation would do.
“It is the people of the South-East who would understand that they have a traditional institution. The traditional rulers must give us light, prosperity, unity and safety in any nation and any community. These people come in, creating autonomous communities here and there. Go to the entire South-East, we have over 5,000 traditional rulers and most of the traditional rulers are politicians.”
He expressed worry that bastardizing the traditional institutions in the South East makes the traditional rulers impotent, adding, “Politicians have bastardized the traditional institutions in the South East. A governor who has a maximum of eight years in office would come and take over everything and make himself the lord over the traditional institution to undermine the institution and undermine us.
“When they want to become a governor, an appointee or when they want to win the election, they will come before traditional rulers and kneel for blessing and after blessing them and they become what they want to be, they will make you a prisoner and you are under them. It is very annoying. That is why they have not been doing anything perfectly. The politicians will come to our (traditional rulers’) communities, and engage the youths and everybody.
“After using them, the politicians will dump them and leave them. By then, they have already ransacked their brains and then, the people will be anti-culture and tradition. That is our problem. Again, they will not want to do anything for the peace or quality of the masses and they will involve the traditional rulers. Those who recognize their traditional rulers are ruling this nation. It is only in the South-East that we are suffering all these things. Why? The blame goes to our people, and our subjects”.
Eze Ohanwe noted that traditional rulers in the South-East are doing well, but are faced with challenges of non-respect and recognition, stating, “When the spirits are higher in command, the little god will keep quiet. That is the problem. Yes, we are doing well, we want peace, we want the survival of everyone, but the politicians and some of the religions where they will come and preach and the pastor or whoever will make himself lord put his billboard and put his picture with the wife as if they are the God we are to worship. But we have our god before these things. When they are idle, they become politicians, when they are jobless, they become pastors, leaving the origin of creation; the traditional rulers.”
In the area of security, the royal father said that “the cause of insecurity is lack of respect for the traditional institution.
“Therefore, we must look back to what the traditional institution was before all these borrowed politics. Insecurity is caused by one thing or the other, not by the traditional rulers and people have refused to understand or hear us. Every day, we are praying for peace and safety of all and property and we are not known to carry guns to go and force people. This is because our words are our bond. We are deities. We all speak as the oracle. I am a spiritual oracle, a spiritual leader. If I caution and they refuse, it is an offence, it is a sin and every refusal should amount to destruction.”