Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State yesterday according to media sources, warned traditional rulers to be good ambassadors of the state. Obi told them to avoid making speeches, taking actions and attending occasions that may put their character in question. Implying they should not visit his political opponents or criticise his administration. He said this while declaring open a seminar for traditional rulers in the state at their secretariat near the Government House, Awka.
Coming shortly after one of the governorship hopefuls in the state, Dr. Ifeanyi Uba, played host to 60 of the traditional rulers in Lagos, insiders said the governor was making reference to the alleged visit, which he allegedly disapproved.
Obi, who, however, said he was not against traditional rulers attending social functions, said they should always inform the Special Adviser on Chieftaincy Matters or him whenever they are travelling out of the state. His words: “Today, I cannot travel out of Nigeria without informing the President. If anything happens to me, the President should know my whereabouts. Likewise, it is not good for you to travel out of the state without informing me.
“In spite of their stature and prominence, traditional rulers such as Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe and the Igwe of Ikelionwu, Igwe Peter Ezenwa of Oba, Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike, still inform me whenever they travel out of the state. If anything, which we pray against, happens, they will ask me as the governor about you.
As a mark of the good relationship with the traditional institution and to elevate their pride among their people, Obi added that the government would soon provide SUVs to all of them at no cost, at all.
Inside sources however, said that the visit of some of the royal fathers to Uba in Lagos is already the cause of quarrel between them and Obi. The sources alleged that trouble started when some traditional rulers reported to Obi that the royal fathers who visited Ifeanyi Uba in Lagos came home with 3,000 Dollars each.
They were there to attend the marriage ceremony of Miss Vivian Uju, younger sister of Uba. The traditional rulers, about 60 in number, as well as President-Generals and other professional bodies, attended the wedding at Catholic Church of the Assumption, Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos, on Saturday, April 20.
But sources alleged that Obi was not happy with the manner the royal fathers left Anambra State for Lagos and allegedly directed the chairman of the Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, to find out from his colleagues who embarked on the trip the rationale behind such journeys. They also alleged that the royal fathers have been advised to return the money given to them by their host in Lagos.
Close aides to the governor, however, denied this claim, explaining that the governor never asked any royal father to refund any money. “He only advised them to inform him whenever they want to travel out of the state.”
Reacting to the allegation, however, the traditional ruler of Igbariam community in Anambra East, Igwe Kelly Nzekwe, currently in India for medical check-up, said the state government was getting involved in what he described as an “unhealthy politics,” which would not stand the test of time.
“The state government, through the Obi of Onitsha, who is our chairman, threatened to sanction us for attending wedding in Lagos. Anyway, I am not scared of their threat. But let me tell them that Obi of Onitsha equally went for a wedding in Lagos not long ago. Has he also returned the money he collected from there?
“We also visited Prof Dora Akunyili, why didn’t they threaten to sanction us. What the government is doing is very wrong. The media should help the traditional rulers; this is an unhealthy politics being played by the state government. We only went for a wedding and we were given money for cola-nut, which is customary. Peter did not give us money; it was Uba that gave us money, why must we return it to the council?
“This is a clear case of intimidation and we don’t like it, my colleagues have reported to me. We were accused of collecting stolen money. This is not how to play politics,” the traditional ruler said.
As at press time, Igwe Achebe could not be reached for his reaction as his phone was not picked. Meanwhile, the trouble may have extended to the State House of Assembly as about 26 lawmakers, who were also allegedly hosted at the Golden Tulip Hotel Lagos by Uba, were alleged to have held a crucial meeting with him aimed at impeaching Obi to make way for Uba’s emergence.
Though the rumour all over the state is that they discussed impeachment of Gov. Peter Obi, an insider said that nothing of such was discussed, adding that Uba only told them that he would contest the next gubernatorial election in the state. He earlier took them round his facilities in Lagos and declared that he makes more money in a month than Anambra’s monthly allocation.
But Hon Idu Emeka, representing Onitsha North and House Committee Chairman on Works confirmed that 24 House members were in Lagos on the invitation of Chief Uba but said it was not about governorship of Anambra in 2014 or issues relating to it.
Speaking on the development, Chief Anthony Okeke, a well-known community leader, said there was nothing wrong with attending Uba’s younger sister’s wedding. He, however, condemned the aspect of secret meetings and any move to subvert the government of Peter Obi.