Date Published: 11/16/09
IMPEACHMENT OR BLACKMAIL OF OBA OBI AND EMIR By Farouk Martins Aresa
Our rural communities are where majority of our innocent people reside. The only hope is in these communities where our culture is strong and we must defend each of them as our remaining shield from every mode of corruption. Whatever is dirty and sacrilegious must, of course, be weeded out. Every culture must be brought to modern standard to meet constant challenge of the future that allows men and women to compete equally for the opportunity of life enrichment.
The old Oyo Empire had a cabinet form of government known to the students of history. Guess what? We had to go toAmerica to rediscover it during various experimentations with foreign form of democracies as if ours was lacking. We only need to look into ourselves to rediscover our greatness but since we neither respect nor honor it, some of our youths have followed that ominous nod.
The American style impeachment of political leaders has caught so much fire in Nigeria, it has spread to our traditional rulers. Impeachment or abdication of the throne by our traditional rulers is not new. What is surprising is the frequency or the reasons by which these traditional rulers were subjected to humiliation, in some cases from the same people who elevated them to the throne.
After Aristocracy lost universal favor including our traditional rulers, some political leaders have subjected them to some rules in favor of their parties. In the days Jaja of Opobo, he was exiled by the British, the Action Group under Pa Awolowo dethroned Odemo of Isara in Ijebu-Remo. Then came the military, as Abacha dethroned the Sultan of Sokoto; and the kingmakers threatened dethronement of Igwe Okoli in Ekwusigo and Deji of Akure recently.
Youths are just as guilty. Some Oba, Obi or Emir who took to the Christian and the Islamic faiths have refused to take part in some sacred ritual which they think is contrary to their beliefs. The keepers of traditional enthronement have frowned at this divergence from their normal practices and have unleashed youths’ anger clandestinely to achieve their endeavor. We see youths sacking traditional rulers with the full tacit support of the elders initially, taking a different course later.
Nevertheless, we are witnessing a wave of opportunistic infection of our culture in disguise of upholding tradition. There is hardly a ruling house in Nigeria where we do not have controversy about the next traditional ruler. There was a time when the move was in favor of some educated or disciplined prince that can advance and articulate the prestige of that throne. So it was not unrealistic for one brother to step down for another sibling that is better educated.
It may have open a floodgate for moneybags who think they can buy political influence and force their way onto the throne even when it is not their time. If you want to hear your life history, they say, contest for a traditional post. You will get the rumor of how your parents were smuggled in from the neighboring country. They will tell you how your mother was originally a slave brought in to care for the real sons and daughters of the soil and so many more stories.
Today, combined influence of money, politics, popularity and notoriety has polluted our process of selection. So where gratuity and corruption rule the day, communities and villages far away from the capitals have also become infected. When they hear about billions disappearing in the capitals, they wonder if they live in the same Country. If we lose those areas completely to corruption as we did in the capitals, we may as well kissNigeria goodbye.
It does not mean that people from the capitals do not come back and taint those areas with their transgressions. The hustle for money from the big cities certainly filters back to the rural communities. We can no longer trust our brothers and uncles who want a little kid to follow him back to the city only to find out that the village trust has been broken by using that kid for body parts or money rituals.
So their insatiable greed for money, some traditional rulers make themselves rich by selling any chieftaincy titles asked for, by any Lamidi and Okon. No matter the source of that wealth. Many of the traditional rulers may have been business men before rising to the throne, but some never stop asking politicians for contracts thereby diminishing their status and disrespecting their esteemed office.
Believe it or not, we have heard about traditional rulers prostrating in front of military rulers or governors inviting traditional rulers to their offices to tender apology. It is a sacrilege that bore no one any good. This arrogance of power has passed on to many others in our Country who abrogate tradition in their exercise of duty. At a lower level are thugs who demand to be settled or burn the palace.
When traditional rulers had the power in those days, many of them also abused it. Some of those abuses led to taking local communities as slaves which later turned into international slave trade. The irony of it all was that they had never imagined what condition they were sending their people to until they became slaves themselves. This dark history in our past must not repeat itself.
Asking successive traditional rulers to repent for the sins of their fathers to appease the gods they offended may not work, without more. It will take some soul searching, workshops to exchange ideas, retreats without the opportunity for estacode and sincere apologies to their subjects locally and international.
Kingmakers and youths must reserve their anger for politicians not solely for Oba, Obi and Emir. Therefore as some deals went awry or awful, many of us wonder why they can not apply the same punishment to those political and military rulers who misgovern them all these years. Peace will return to Nigeriabut we must be willing to roll up our sleeves towards it. It is not manna from God.