Fight against Okorocha’s balkanization of Owerri hots up


Okorocha’s balkanization

The eventual balkanization of Owerri Nchi Ise, which makes
up the municipality, by the Rochas Okorocha administration, started like a tale from moonlight.

The powers that be, at the time and a handful of their indigenous supporters, may have had their reason(s), good or bad, for deciding to create five autonomous communities out of the original entity. A lot more people, were not comfortable with the plan and they showed it in varying ways, which is a story for another day.

Some believed and held as a creed that what Owerri people suffered under that government, was sheer vendetta. They mentioned, among other things, their ancestral market, Eke Ukwu Owerri, which was brazenly destroyed, despite a valid and subsisting Order of Court. Similarly, there is no way the story of how the 10-year old, only son of a family, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, who was sadly killed in the process, will be told without mentioning that administration and the actions of the security chiefs in Imo State, at the time.

Nothing truly lasts forever and so was the Okorocha regime that has no doubt, become history. While a number of his postulations and/or decisions have either been reversed or in the process of being upturned by the Senator Hope Uzodimma administration, the balkanization of Owerri remains a matter for redress by Owerri people and for Owerri people.

Current events have shown that the people of Owerri, who have been angered by the balkanization of the homogeneous community, have further strengthened their resolve to fight what they described as “this anomaly perpetrated by that administration”. And they proffered good reasons for starting the fight.

For these acclaimed patriots, Owerri has a common history and heritage. They operate a common age grade system. Owerri daughters have a single traditional union that cuts across the five villages. The same is also true of the married women. Their annual cultural festival, Oru Owere, has remained one, even after the balkanization of the community.

It must also be recalled that the indigenous Owerri community, has always operated a federation of sort with the five villages. Each village had a Head with considerable power, but under the titular head, Ozuruigbo, the paramount ruler of Owerri.

Beyond the foregoing truisms, serious questions were equally raised about the historical antecedents of all the persons Okorocha recognized and handed over the staff of office, at a time Owerri people were traditionally mourning their late royal father, Eze Emmanuel Emenyonu Njemanze.

Owerri has, from time immemorial, a well laid out process of choosing their traditional ruler. Former royal fathers were never handpicked by external persons, including the colonial administration, government agency, not by sheer administrative or legislative fiat and/or the sitting governor.

Traditionally, the selection of a new Eze Owere, begins by the careful selection of a Crown Prince of Owere. In the instant case, the journey commenced in September 2019.

Two critical meetings were held in the residence of Prince Declan Njemanze, Chairman of Umu Njemanze Royal Dynasty, in September 2019.The meetings recorded over 25 members of the selected unit heads and prominent sons of the family.

On July 17, 2022, the Njemanze family led by the same Prince Declan Njemanze and Head of Njemanze family, Prince Donald Okazi Njemanze, and 20 others at the meeting, selected retired Hon. Justice Ezeohiri Fred Njemanze, as the Crown Prince of Owere. This selection precipitated other traditional processes of selection of Eze Owere.

On July 31, 2022, the Njemanzes presented the selected Crown Prince to Eke na Okorie kindreds, the King makers of Amawom village. This meeting recorded over 300 members of Ekeonunwa, Okorie and Njemanze kindred, who witnessed the presentation.

The kindred heads and oldest members of kindred received the selected Crown Prince and accepted him as such.

The next step was presentation to Amawom community, which took place on August 7, 2022. The Village Head of Amawom, Chief Dennis Dike and the six kindred heads, oldest male members of the kindreds, male members of the kindreds, Mgboto (daughters) of the six kindreds, wives (mothers) and Udokanma Age Grade Owerri. The ceremony recorded over 800 persons, including well-wishers.

Investigations showed that what Owerri people are doing now, was completely in tandem with the age-long culture and tradition of Owerri Nchi Ise people. Conversely, the choice and process adopted by the Okorocha regime, was alien to the people.

Plans are on now, to traditionally unveil retired Justice Ezeohiri Fred Njemanze to Amawom and Umuororonjo Villages, before moving on Azuzi villages of Umuonyeche, Umuodu and Umuoyima. Saturday Vanguard gathered that these processes necessarily precede the eventual coronation of the new Eze.

Careful watchers of events in Owerri, are already of the opinion that the five persons hoisted on the people, by the Okorocha regime, appear stranded, especially now that a Crown Prince has emerged.

A good lesson to be learnt by those in power, from what is happening now in Owerri, is that laws are not supposed to over-reach the cherished and established culture and tradition of a people.

Lebile ThankGod

Blogger, Music Promoter, Producer, Content Creator, Digital Marketer.

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