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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Massive Suspension of Traditional Rulers Looms in Anambra over Unauthorized Conferment of Chieftaincy Titles

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Anambra State Government has threatened to suspend traditional rulers who ignore the due process and haphazardly confer chieftaincy titles on individuals without getting clearance from the State’s Ministry of Local Government, Community and Chieftaincy Affairs.

The State’s Commissioner for Local Government, Community and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, disclosed this in an interview with this reporter, Izunna Okafor, on Saturday, during which he condemned the unauthorized conferring of chieftaincy title on people by some traditional rulers in the State.

The Commissioner, who recognized traditional rulers as royal fathers and custodians of culture and traditions of the land, also hinted that Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s administration respects and hold traditional rulers to a highest esteem and acknowledges their good works and efforts in facilitating achievement of his vision for the State, especially at the grassroots.

According to the Commissioner, who also commended the pivotal roles of traditional rulers in the State in facilitating community development; it is known to every traditional ruler in Anambra State and is also contained in the Code of Conduct for Anambra State Traditional Rulers in Anambra State, that any monarch who wants to confer chieftaincy title on any individual must first notify the state government through the Ministry of Local Government, Community and Chieftaincy Affairs, explaining what and what the person has done for the community to deserve such honour and chieftaincy title.

The Commissioner, while explaining that the clearance process will help to ensure that chieftaincy titles are conferred on deserving individuals and also motivate others to do good works, also hinted that the process will equally help to prevent duplication of chieftaincy titles (giving the same chieftaincy titles to two or more different people), as well as guard against potential abuse of traditional stool, among other things it will help stem.

He further noted that the traditional ruler of the hometown of the person to be conferred with the chieftaincy title (if he is from another town order than that of the monarch giving him the chieftaincy title) must also be contacted to attest for the character and integrity of the person before he would be conferred with the chieftaincy title, to ensure chieftaincy titles are not given to people who have questionable characters and integrity problem.

Some relevant portions of Traditional Rulers Code of Conduct and supporting documents read thus: “Igwes can only confer title on indigenes of their community after they must have obtained security clearance from the relevant security agencies and approval from Mr. Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs.

“If the Igwe must confer title on an indigene of another community, he must get the consent of the Igwe of the recipient’s community. The title must be that of the conferring community.”

The Commissioner regretted that many traditional rulers still do not comply with these provisions, despite being aware of them.

“These traditional rulers know these things, and it is even there in their Code of Conduct; but some of them still disregard the process, due to reasons best known to them. But enough is enough. Any traditional ruler who henceforth confers or recently conferred chieftaincy to anybody without our clearance will be suspended,” the Commissioner warned.

According to him, despite the repeated warnings and press release he recently issued against unapproved conferment of chieftaincy titles in the State, some traditional rulers in the State still recently flouted the due process. He however said some careful traditional rulers have been adhering to the process and doing the right thing, such as the traditional rulers of Aguleri, Awkuzu, Obosi, Ifitedunu, and others who recently got clearance from the Ministry for chieftaincy title conferment.

While noting that most of the traditional rulers who disregard the right process do not attend meetings of traditional rulers in the State; Commissioner Nwabunwanne also issued a 48-hour ultimatum to all traditional ruler who recently conferred chieftaincy titles to individuals without getting clearance, to explain to the Ministry the reason behind their action, or risk suspension any moment from now.

“They must explain to my office why they gave those chieftaincy titles without my clearance and without letters from the traditional rulers of the communities of those people they gave the chieftaincy titles, or they risk suspension. We can’t tolerate this arbitrariness anymore,” he concluded.

He also clarified that his Ministry’s insistence on the monarchs getting the government’s clearance as a prerequisite for chieftaincy title conferment was not to witch-hunt anybody, but to ensure that the right thing is done and done through the right process.

“By insisting on this adherence to prescribed process, the Governor Chukwuma Soludo-led administration aims to ensure that deserving individuals are recognized for their contributions to the community, thereby fostering a culture of meritocracy,” he clarified.

Aside the above-mentioned reasons for the Ministry’s insistence, the Commissioner, who underscored the benefit of the process in preserving the sanctity of traditional honours, also explained that in a society where symbols of recognition carry profound cultural weight, the insistence on following due process also serves as a reminder that chieftaincy titles are not mere accolades but reflections of substantial contributions to community development.

According to him, by requiring traditional rulers to articulate the merits of each conferred title, his Ministry instills a sense of purpose and responsibility in the honour, ensuring that those bestowed with such distinctions are individuals who have left an indelible marks on the tapestry of communal progress.

Emphatically, the Commissioner said the approach would also safeguard the venerable tradition of chieftaincy titles from dilution, elevating their significance, as well as perpetuating a legacy of honor intricately woven with meaningful service to the community and humanity at large.

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