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Royal incursion on political turf

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Traditional rulers are gradually but increasingly getting involved in political activities under various guises, even as they are expected to be neutral.

In the run-up to 2011 general elections, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers put up an action that many interpreted as an audacious incursion into the political terrain. The royal fathers had, in an unprecedented move, openly thrown their support behind the then governor, Ikedi Ohakim, one of the contestants.

Jonathan,-Ilomuanya-and-OkorochaThe traditional rulers, had, at one of their meetings at Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri, resolved to support Ohakim’s second term bid.

In a communique signed by the then chairman of the council, Eze (Dr.) Cletus Ilomuanya; and the Secretary, Chieftaincy, Imo State, Jude Okorie, the members claimed that Ohakim had recorded unprecedented achievements in piloting the affairs of the state that he needed to be encouraged to continue in office for a second term.

The communique added that the traditional rulers in Imo were highly satisfied with the “extra-ordinary and superlative” achievements of the governor. They therefore resolved that all the traditional rulers in the state would stand by him in the 2011 governorship election.

Ohakim incidentally lost the election to the current governor, Rochas Okorocha, who ran on the ticket of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Okorocha has since ditched APGA for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The unusual step by the traditional rulers’ body is yet to be retraced from Imo politics. If anything, the government has built on it, and, in the process, systematically tying the royal fathers to its apron strings, albeit in veiled forms.

For instance, early in the life of the administration, the governor unfolded strategies to stamp out kidnapping and other violent crimes in the state with the traditional rulers placed as Chief Security Officers of his Community Government Council (CGC) initiative.

Apparently to underscore the importance of the initiative, Okorocha vowed to interrogate and withhold the salary of any monarch from whose domain a kidnapper was detected and apprehended.

Even with foot-soldiers of the governor swearing that the move was intended to rid the state of criminals and bring governance to the people, his political opponents, however, saw the arrangement as a veiled attempt at erecting a platform with which to co-opt and coerce traditional rulers into the politics of the state.

They argue in particular that proven loyalty of a traditional ruler to the governor is a major consideration in his participation in the scheme.

Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor’s media assistant, has however denied the charge, insisting that the exercise is merely intended at taking governance to the grassroots

“That is the erroneous interpretation of the waning opposition. The idea (CGC) is to (quicken) development at the grassroots and enhance healthy competition among the communities for development,” he said.

Ideas, he stressed, are bullets, arguing that the opposition in the state has been overtaken by events.

Elsewhere, there have also been actions that have been seen as amounting to involving monarchs in politics. Recently, for example, President Goodluck Jonathan came under attack from the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Odulana Odugbade, over his visit to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, without seeing him.

The Olubadan, who is the current chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas, felt slighted that the President visited his state without first calling on him. Jonathan had, within the period, paid courtesy visits on the Oba of Lagos, the Alaafin of Oyo, the Ooni of Ife and the Emir of Kano in an unprecedented one-day traditional rulers visiting programme.

Incensed that he was ignored during the visit, Oba Odugbade described the trip as selective, and capable of jeopardising the peace and bringing the Ibadan chieftaincy institution to disrepute.

Olubadan and other members of the Oyo State Council of Obas were said to be waiting for Jonathan, hoping he would visit his palace. However, on arriving Ibadan, the President, accompanied by Governor Abiola Ajimobi, drove straight to see the Alaafin.

The action, according to the Secretary of the Oyo State Council of Obas, showed that Ajimobi still recognised the Alaafin as the permanent chairman of the Oyo Council of Obas and Chiefs, stressing that it was contrary to the state’s Chieftaincy Law as amended in 2011, which prescribes that the chairmanship should be rotated among the Alaafin, the Olubadan and Soun of Ogbomosho every two years.

Jonathan has, however, cleared the air on the visit, stressing that he holds the Olubadan in high esteem and had no intention of ignoring him.The explanation appeared to have rested the issue.

Critics, however, fault the gradual but steady co-option of traditional rulers by high officials of federal and state governments into politics under different guises. Some particularly frown at the President’s selective visits to influential traditional rulers, interpreting the exercise as veiled attempt at initiating his 2015 campaigns from the back door. Those who reason along this line insist that the action and the royal fathers’ acquiescence run counter to the role expected of them in stabilising the polity.

Curiously, 1999 Constitution appears silent on traditional rulers’ participation in politics. Lawyers are, therefore, divided on whether the royal fathers should participate in the game in any way.

Monday Ubani, chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja, Lagos, for instance, argued that it is only in monarchical arrangement that traditional rulers have defined role in politics, but not in a presidential democracy as being practised in Nigeria. In the latter system, he said, the role of the royal fathers is essentially advisory.

Similarly, his colleague, Abdulazeez Ibrahim, who spoke from Kaduna, emphasised that the Constitution does not have provision for traditional rulers’ participation in politics, adding that allowing them to join in the fray would widen the scope of ethnic politics in the land.

Two other lawyers, who asked not to be mentioned, told our reporter that the prescription of traditional rulers’ non-involvement in politics is basically a moral issue that has no constitutional backing. They argued that given that the traditional rulers are held as fathers in their respective communities, they are not expected to be overtly affiliated to any political organisation.

Incidentally, participation of the royal fathers in politics, though under various guises, is not a recent phenomenon. During the colonial era, precisely under the Indirect Rule system, emirs were directly involved in administration of Native Authorities and Emirates, especially in collection of taxes in the North. Warrant chiefs performed similar roles in the East, and Obas in the West. The arrangement, to some extent, obtained even after the country’s Independence. Even without professing alliance to any political affiliation, the royal fathers were known to have allied with the ruling parties in their states. Some perceived to be recalcitrant or of doubtful loyalty were visited with different kinds of punishment ranging from suspension to, in extreme cases, dethronement.

Analysts, thus, see the current romance by traditional rulers with government at state and federal levels as mere survivalist strategy to keep their job.

By: Emeka Alex Duru

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Police Deploy More Personnel To Seaports In Lagos Over Nigerian Students, NANS’ Protest

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Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.

The Nigeria Police Force has announced that it has deployed personnel to adequately secure seaports across the nation following a threat by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to shut down commercial activities at the nation’s busiest seaports ¬¬¬¬¬¬- the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in protest over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.
The aggrieved students who protested on Monday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport also reportedly threatened to ground commercial activities at the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos State.
Disclosing the security beef up to Daily Trust, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Western Port Authority Command, Jonathan Towuru, said security was tightened around the Western Ports to avoid any breakdown of law and order although the student body did not show up as threatened.
The commissioner said, “People went about their businesses while operations at the terminals went on seamlessly, without any hindrance. But if the students eventually turn up, we will engage them in discussions. I must say that they conducted themselves well on Monday at the airport even though you still saw police monitoring the protest.”

 

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Evans The Billionaire Kidnapper Bags 21 Year Imprisonment

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Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court on Monday sentenced kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, and his co-defendant, Victor Aduba, to 21 years imprisonment for kidnapping one Sylvanus Hafia.

They were accused of conspiring and kidnapping Sylvanus Ahanonu Hafia at about 5:30 pm on June 23, 2014, at Kara Street, Amuwo Odofin in Lagos and were alleged to have captured and detained Hafia and demanded a ransom of $2m.

But they pleaded not guilty to the four charges.

The judge held that the sentence would serve as a deterrent to other aspiring kidnappers

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Poverty, Hunger in the Country, Okowa Blames APC

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…says Delta healthcare will curb medical tourism

Delta State Governor and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Okowa, weekend, said that poor management of the nation’s economy by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) caused the rising hunger and poverty in the country.

He stated this at an empowerment programme for the people of Ika Federal Constituency at Boji-Boji Owa, Ika North Council by the member representing the constituency at the House of Representatives, Mr. Victor Nwokolo.

The governor, who commended Nwokolo for his gesture, described the event as “empowerment programme with a difference. He said Nigeria was troubled because people were hungry and out of job due to mismanagement of the nation’s economy.

He added that even students were having lots of challenges because their parents could not meet their needs owing to the level of poverty resulting from ineptitude of the APC-led Federal Government.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to support the PDP, saying it was the only party with clear understanding of the nation’s challenges and had clear solution to rescue the nation.

Earlier, Nwokolo said his motive for the empowerment was to restore hope to the hopeless amid rising hunger and poverty in the land.

MEANWHILE, Okowa, also at the different forum, said the huge investment being made by his administration in the health sector was to improve healthcare delivery and reduce medical tourism in the country.

He disclosed this in an interview with journalists shortly after inspecting facilities at the Advanced Diagnostic Medical Centre and Mother and Child Hospital, Owa-Alero in Ika Council of the state.

He said the twin medical facilities would, on completion, reduce medical tourism as it would provide first-class medical services to people who would have sought medical treatment abroad.

“I am glad we have gotten to this stage. I had high hopes that by today, we would have inaugurated these projects.

“The equipment are fully on site and we are trying to get things fully sorted out and I am sure that in the next one month, it should be ready and opened to the public for use.

“The two projects are obviously very important. The Mother and Child, as it is so stated, is supposed to take care of every illness concerning our women and children,” he said.

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