•It is against Igbo tradition, should be abolished — Chairman, Abia Council of traditional rulers
• Southeast governors should wade into it — Eze Matthew Oweni
• We are the cause of our problem — Imo monarch
• It is belittling Igbo culture and tradition — Igwe Spencer Ugwuoke
• It portrays great disrespect, disservice and bastardization of Igbo custom, tradition
By Anayo Okoli, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinonso Alozie & Ikechukwu Odu
ENUGU—The issue of Ezeigbo in Diaspora has been one issue that has divided the opinions of Igbo leaders and stakeholders.
Some have argued that it has belittled the powers of traditional rulers in Igbo land who sit over the cultural and traditional affairs in the various communities only to hear of one of their subjects being made Ezeigbo in another place outside his domain. This has been embarrassing to many monarchs.
They argued that in as much as there is need for Igbo outside their domain to have leadership for better direction, it is absurd to call such leader Ezeigbo.
According to them, any other name is suffice but definitely, not Ezeigbo. The controversy has been raging. Even some monarchs outside Igbo land have complained and expressed their opposition to such titles in their domain which they believe is illegal and should not be allowed in their domain.
The Chairman, Abia State of traditional rulers, Eze Ndubuisi Nwabeke, sees this practice as illegal and absurd and called for the abolition of the title of Eze Ndigbo for Igbo people residing in other states and cities in Nigeria and abroad. This, he said is completely against Igbo tradtion.
According to Eze Nwabeke, it is against Igbo tradition to have traditional rulers outside Igbo land. The South East council of traditional rulers, he said, had long advised Igbo people residing outside Igbo land to address their leaders as Onye Ndu Ndigbo, (leader of Igbo people) not EzeNdigbo.
Nwabeke, who is the traditional ruler of Eziama Ntigha Autonomous Community, Isiala Ngwa North Council Area, explained that the title ‘Eze’ is reserved for traditional rulers duly elected by a local community, presented to the Local Government Council by the community and recognized by the State Government and issued with a staff of office by the Governor of the State.
“This thing called Eze Ndigbo or Eze Igbo in other states or cities of this country outside their respective states or communities should not be encouraged. It must be abolished. It portrays great disrespect and disservice to the Igbo traditional rulership system.
The South East Council of Traditional Rulers had long ago advised Igbo indigenes residing outside Igbo land to choose the name of Onye Ndu Ndigbo in their respective states or cities where they live.
“An Eze should rule a community that has a map showing the area of his authority and a constitution that guides his rulership. No one can be an Eze in another person’s land or state. You must be a free born of the community you are to rule. Tenants in urban areas should not talk of having palaces in a foreign land where they reside.
“If I may ask, how does an Eze Ndigbo in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna or Kebbi get recognition or staff of office? Who screens or confirms him as Eze Ndigbo? Who gives him authority? How does he determine his area of authority or jurisdiction?
“Is it the Governor or Local Government chairman of another state who doesn’t understand the Igbo custom and tradition?
“Most of the so called Eze Ndigbo have gone on to build palaces in their states of residence. We are not against the building of palaces, but the proper things must be done. In all these, you observe that the Eze Ndigbo title is certainly a bastardization of Igbo custom and tradition as long as our traditional rulership system is concerned.
“There has never been an Emir of Aba or Oba of Aba by any Hausa or Yoruba man residing in Aba. It is therefore reckless of any Igbo man residing in any city in Nigeria or abroad to arrogate to himself a title of Eze Ndigbo. It shows lack of respect to the traditional institution and should not be encouraged”, Eze Nwabeke declared.
He, therefore, urged governors, chairmen of Local Government Areas and traditional rulers outside Igbo land to deny recognition to Eze Ndigbo title, but accept leaders of Igbo groups in their respective areas as Onye Ndu Ndigbo (Igbo Leader).
He also urged Igbo people residing outside Igbo land to have associations for their social interactions while such must have leaders addressed as Onye Ndu Ndigbo in their states or cities.
“The monarch maintained that the age long Igbo tradition of Ezeship must be accorded the respect and support it deserves, stressing that people are addressed by how they portray themselves among other ethnic groups.
“Ndigbo should respect and support their age long tradition of Ezeship as the name you call your dog is what it answer. Let us for once respect our traditional title of Eze as other ethnic groups do to their Oba, Emir, among others”, the monarch further admonished.
Also, a prominent monarch in Enugu State and the traditional ruler of Obimo Autonomous Community in Enugu State, Igwe Spencer Ugwuoke, has condemned in strong terms the conferment of Eze Ndigbo in Diaspora on Igbo indigenes.
Ugwuoke said any Diaspora community recognizing another Eze Ndigbo in a foreign land is belittling Igbo culture and tradition.
He, however, commended the efforts of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, in fighting for Igbo agenda, but insisted that he needs to carry the traditional rulers of different Igbo communities along in seeking solutions to some issues plaguing the Igbo nation.
“How can any Igbo man who suckled his mother’s breast milk go out to any foreign land and be crowned Eze Ndigbo? What sort of thing is that? We now have Eze Ndigbo in Malaysia, Germany, Lagos and what have you. This is very embarrassing and a tragic disservice to our culture and tradition.
“Have you ever heard of Emir of Kano in Enugu or Sultan of Sokoto in Dubai or are the Hausas not living in those places? It has reduced our respect as traditional rulers from the Igbo extraction.
“In old Anambra State, you cannot wear red cap unless you are a titled man but look at what is happening today. Everybody wears it without any regard to the traditional Igbo institutions who own it. These days, I don’t wear red caps anymore because it has been devalued.
“There should be chairmen of Diaspora Igbo associations, not kings. How can you go to someone else’s country and claim to be a king?
“A king in another person’s home and you expect him to be happy with you? Why don’t the English people crown king of England in Nigeria? I think we should give a second thought to our actions so that we don’t fall victims of some situations”, Ugwuoke said.
Describing it as an “abnormal development”, the monarch noted that “the positive impacts of Ohanaeze Ndigbo have been felt within and outside Nigeria. The group resolved to stop it but you know that money takes precedence in anything an Igbo man does.
“Until the functions of Igbo traditional rulers are gazetted and brought into the laws of the states, things like this would continue to happen. Again, when you say Ohanaeze, it then means, there is an ‘Oha’ and ‘Eze.’ What we have in Igboland is ‘Oha’ because the ‘Ezes’ being the traditional rulers of different communities are not carried along in the scheme of things.
“The traditional rulers do not take priority seats in any function being organized by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo. This needs to be amended because it is when the ‘Oha’ and ‘Ezes’ meet that issues concerning Igbo nation such as this would be addressed”, the monarch said.
For the traditional ruler of Ogbor ancient kingdom in Isiala Mbano council area of Imo State, Eze Matthew Oweni, the issue of Ezeigbo in Diaspora has continued to cause disaffection between the Igbo and their host communities.
Eze Oweni said allowing such amounts to having two kings in a community. He advised the governors to collaborate with the traditional institutions and send delegations to the various states to speak to the Igbos on how to resolve the issues.
According to him, they (monarchs) had made such move some years back to Lagos and introduced to them a new title of ‘ Ochiora’ (leader) instead of using Eze Ndigbo.
“We are the cause of our problem. We have rectified this matter for a very long time for over five years ago. This issue of Eze Ndigbo, took us to Lagos State and we met Chief Ralph Uwazuruike at his Iri ji (New Yam) festival.
“At that ceremony, we advised the Igbo leaders at the occasion and told them to avoid this problem by using the title, “Ochiora” Ndigbo or “Aka na elekota Ndigbo instead of the title Eze Ndigbo. We have rectified all these issues and anybody you see going with that Igbo title of Eze Ndigbo wants to use it and cause problems.
“The present Southeast governors should invite the traditional rulers in Igboland and send them to go and talk to our brothers in the various parts of the state that are not of Igboland”, Eze Oweni suggested.
In the view of a member of Dunukofia Ozo Titled Men in Anambra State, Chief Ozoh Anaekwe, traditional rulers in Igbo land should stop further desecration of traditional rulers stools by not recognizing people who go outside Igbo land to answer Eze and Igwe of Ndigbo, resident in such areas.
Describing such people as those who want to rule in hell than to serve in paradise, Chief Anaekwe, who holds the title of Ezeana in the Ifitedunu Igwes Cabinet, also urged the traditional rulers, kings, Emirs of the communities where such people parade as Eze Ndigbo to stop them because they are also desecrating and making nonsense of their own traditional stool as according to Anaekwe, two kings cannot be in one town or throne.
“Their so called Igbo King or Eze Ndigbo in Ibadan, Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Sokoto and other states as the case may be, is telling people that there are two kings in one town is an insult to Igbo culture and the culture of the host community or state.
“If it was the time when we had Igbo Union, nobody can try that nonsense? It is because of the type of politicians we have in the country today. If not, they cannot be recognized as traditional ruler or Eze Ndigbo or Igbo King or whatever they call themselves, anywhere in the country.
“Those who are aspiring to be traditional rulers in other kingdoms, domains or states are the people that are causing problem in their communities. When they vie for Igweship or Ezeship positions in their communities and fail, because they are not wanted they will leave for another state to go and start answering the traditional ruler. Nobody elected or selected them to be, in another state and country.
“They should not be taken seriously, they are supposed to be sanctioned and penalized because what they are doing is not part of Igbo tradition. We do not recognize them and will never recognize them; that their title stops at the state, country or community they reside and operate the fake Igwe and Eze Ndigbo.
“We are also calling on the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to start the processes of abolishing that nonsense they call Eze Ndigbo or Igwe Ndigbo in states of the federation because that is not part of Igbo culture and tradition. We do not recognize them and will never recognize them because it is a slap and a desecration of our culture and tradition to Igweship and Ezeship stool in Igbo land.
“You see, when you have bad politicians and leaders all over the country, that is what you get. It started with the people the North imposed on us as our rulers after the Civil War. They never allowed us to chose our leaders, they rather, imposed leaders on us who were their stooges and slaves and they started allowing those titles because many of them never wanted any good thing from Igbo land. They wanted us to not only desert our area, they wanted to help us destroy our cultures and tradition”, Anaekwe said.
“We are urging traditional rulers in Igbo land to ban it and ban any of their sons who will go outside Igbo land and be parading as Eze or Igwe Ndigbo in any community, state or country. It is desecration of the traditional rulership stool in Igbo land.
“Traditional rulers in Igbo land should swing into action and ban that nonsense if they must get respect from us. The host communities that are allowing them should also ban it in their communities and states because it is also an insult to their own traditional rulership stool. There can never be two Kings in one community. Any king that allows it is disrespecting himself and desecrating his traditional stool”, he further said.
Continuing, Anakwe said: “Most of the Igwe who allow their sons to go to Lagos, Kano and Abuja to answer Eze and Igwe Ndigbo, do not know their culture and traditions. Most of them are not elected and crowned by their people. They may be those imposed by the government on their people.
“Any community elected and crowned Igwe or Eze will never accept his subject to go outside his domain to answer Igwe or Eze Ndigbo.
“What that means is that even his traditional ruler at home is under him because he is answering Eze or Igwe Ndigbo there while his traditional ruler at home is just for his community.
“The people answering Eze Ndigbo are politicians registered and working for respective political parties, giving fake endorsement to parties and individuals against the wish of Ndigbo.
“They want to rule in hell than to serve in Paradise, at their communities. They are people causing trouble and confusion and they are the people who oppose all the developmental projects because of their selfish interests.”