- It’s a tall dream, Yoruba Obas insist
A prominent Igbo kingmaker, Ossai Igwe Onyemerekwe, who is saddled with the responsibility of installing Eze Ndigbo in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, has dared the South-West traditional rulers, saying none of them can stop the Igbos from having their own monarchs in Yorubaland.
An Eze Ndigbo is a title reserved for an Igbo leader outside his homeland.
“I am the one empowered by culture and tradition to crown any Eze Ndigbo anywhere in the world, including Yorubaland,” Onyemerekwe declared. The Omeudo 1(Harbinger of Peace), who spoke with our correspondent in Lagos on Thursday, said the time had come for him to break his silence over attempts by some Yoruba traditional rulers to phase out the title of Eze Ndigbo in their various communities.
Lately, agitations have thickened among some Yoruba royal fathers, who see the Eze Ndigbos as overbearing. The royal fathers are particularly not comfortable with the way many of the Eze Ndigbos now sit on aweinspiring thrones, wear crowns and beads, hoist horse-tails, enjoy obeisance from their people and, above all, collect royalties.
Onyemerekwe, however, said the time had come for the Buhari administration to protect the Igbo monarchs, in various communities across the country, against attacks from their host communities.
“The title of Eze Ndigbo has been in existence for years, and I am the one empowered by tradition to install any Eze Ndigbo in the Diaspora. I have installed Eze Ndigbo in Ghana, Spain, Canada and many other countries that I can’t remember; it’s not only in Nigeria,” he said.
Another popular Igbo trader in Lagos, Mr. Barnabas Njoku, said the Igbos had done a lot to build their resident communities, adding that this should be enough to make them feel at home in the Diaspora.
“We will install kings in Yorubaland or anywhere else. As long as we don’t take over the main traditional rulers’ thrones, it should not be a problem for anybody,” he declared.
THE OJUKWU CONNECTION
Onyemerekwe noted that he derived his powers from an endorsement by the late former Biafran warlord, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, who approved his emergence as kingmaker for the Igbo in the Diaspora.
“Ojukwu’s first son, Chief Debe Odumegwu-Ojukwu, can bear me witness. Even, as for Ralph Uwazuruike, we both started out in Lagos here before he went to start his own agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra,” he explained.
THE AKURE MONARCH/EZE NDIGBO FACE-OFF
In November last year, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo, declared that he had de-robed the Eze Ndigbo of Akure, Chief Gregory Iloehike, over claims that the Igbo leader disrespected the Deji.
A reliable report said when the Akure monarch invited Iloehike to his palace over a problem at Mojere market, mostly occupied by spare-part-selling Igbo traders, the latter was said to have delayed for several hours before honouring the invitation.
The report stated, “Iloehike was alleged to have kept the Oba waiting for hours and when he eventually showed up, he reportedly wore a beaded crown and other paraphernalia of a traditional ruler.
“Members of the Council of Chiefs who were in the palace at the time he came, expressed concern over his behaviour before the Deji of Akureland. He was alleged to have addressed the Oba rudely and the palace aides and some youths protested. The Council of Chiefs, reportedly seething with anger, asked him if he could address the traditional ruler in his home town the same way he was addressing their Oba.”
The report added, “Irked by the disrespectful attitude of the Eze Ndigbo, the Deji reportedly barred him from parading himself as Eze Ndigbo of Akure forthwith. After that, the Eze was manhandled by some youths who reportedly removed his crown and beads. He was said to have been smuggled out of the palace by some policemen.”
Following the incident, however, the Ondo State Council of Obas thus began to initiate moves aimed at banning the title of Eze Ndigbo in the entire South-West, describing the existence of a parallel traditional institution as “a calculated attempt to embarrass the Yoruba traditional rulers and desecrate their traditional institution.”
A communiqué issued by the Ondo Obas’ Council after its monthly meeting described the situation as “an affront on the state’s traditional rulers.”
They, as such, urged that the title should be prohibited in the state and that there should not be any Ndigbo chieftaincy title for leaders of Igbo or any similar title for any other ethnic group in the state.
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