Traditional rulers from the Southsouth and Southeast yesterday backed the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The monarchs also said they would support the President’s second term ambition in 2015.
They spoke at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, during the inauguration of the Southsouth and Southeast Traditional Rulers Forum.
According to them, Jonathan had provided effective leadership despite the challenges confronting the country.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and Gbong Gwom, Jos, Da Buba Gyang described him as one of the best leaders to have ruled the country.
Oba Sijuwade, who was represented by the General-Secretary of the Council of Yoruba Monarchs, Oba Aderemi Adedapo. said: “Dr. Jonathan’s emergence as President was a fulfilment of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s prediction that an Ijaw man would rule this country some day in the future.
“We thank God today that we have an Ijaw son as a good and great leader of this country. If you were there on May 29, 2013 in Abuja where I was representing the Southwest, you will agree with me that this man (Jonathan) has surpassed many leaders we have ever had in this country.
“I am not a politician, I’m a traditional ruler. We thank God for giving us this President at this point in this country.”
A business mogul and politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu called on Nigerians to give Jonathan a second chance.
He claimed that there was no time the President pledged to serve a single term.
Iwuanyanwu said: “Today, I have gone round everywhere in this country and I feel a sense of joy and happiness that Jonathan has not disappointed us. He has done well.
“However, I am surprised to hear some people in some circles talking about four years’ tenure when our Constitution allows him to run for eight years, if he wishes to do so.
“Some people even say there is an agreement to that effect, but I am telling you royal fathers, that there was no such agreement”.
But Gyang urged political class to give constitutional role to traditional rulers to enable them contribute to decision-making.
He said: “Let me say with humility that the traditional institution in Nigeria is not asking for any executive powers that will bring us at loggerheads with constituted and elected democratic rulers.
“We are asking for recognition for the obvious reason that governance itself today requires the role and input of the traditional institution.
Besides, the Chairman, Southeast Council of Traditional Rulers, Cletus Ilomuanya, noted that the two geopolitical zones share common heritage.
“Historically, we are one people of the same lineage but for political expediency and administrative convenience, we now pretend to be people from two different zones of Southsouth and Southeast.
“Therefore, it is one of the aims of the Southsouth and Southeast Traditional rulers to re-orientate and galvanise our people to begin to think and act as people of one cultural and traditional identity.
At the meeting were the Sultan of Sokoto, represented by the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar El-Kanemi, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey and former Governors of Bayelsa and Imo states, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Ikedi Ohakim.
They all expressed delight at the formation of the Forum, stressing that it would cement the bond of unity between the zones and promote stability in the country.
Addressing the forum, Jonathan lauded traditional rulers across the country for complementing government’s efforts, especially in the maintenance of peace and order in their respective domains.
Jonathan, who was represented by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, urged them to partner stakeholders in the ongoing effort to build an egalitarian and prosperous Nigeria.
He said:”Traditional rulers occupy a special place in our system. It was so before in the days of our forefathers and it is so up till now and will continue to be.
“You are the critical link between our cherished history and past. You have a duty which of course, you are doing well to maintain our values, traditions and cultures.
“And hopefully, working together with other stakeholders, we believe that you will also successfully transfer these same values to the future generation of our people.
“I thank you all for the support that you have been giving to those of us, who are in secular leadership because you cannot talk of mobilising and influencing our people positively and even maintain law and order without the role of traditional rulers.
However, Dickson advocated the need for the political class to support traditional rulers to enable them perform their duties effectively.”