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Ogbako-Oha-Nnewi calls for equal recognition of all 4 Obis of the community

NNEWI: STRUCTURE, TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND COMMUNITIES

COMMUNIQUE

The OGBAKO-OHA NNEWI is a socio-economic and cultural forum of Nnewi indigenes both in Nigeria and diaspora.

It is designed to provide the required voice to its members to speak to issues that engender unity, development and growth in Nnewi.

Members of the Ogbako-Oha Nnewi forum discuss such issues dispassionately with necessary intellectual bent and proffer solutions.

Nnewi is made up of four communities namely, Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewi-Ichi.

It is against this background that the forum through the group WhatsApp over the past four days brainstormed on the present Nnewi structure, traditional institutions and the four communities that make up the Nnewi town.

The debates were heated and passions were raised.

This was not unexpected since most of the issues were very sensitive.

While some opined that some area should not be discussed, others believed that to get a wholistic solution would require that all matters be put forward for discussion.

In other words, there should be no ‘demilitarized zone ‘ and nothing was beyond discussion. The latter school carried the day.

The intellectual contents of the debate were amazingly high and the angles through which the participants viewed the issues were as varied as there were faces, thoughts and understandings.

Interestingly the participants showed a good grasp of the subject matter at issue.

Deliberate efforts were made to consider and interrogate all views expressed by participants to ensure that the forum arrived at meaningful and credible solutions.

After the debate which lasted from Tuesday 19 to Friday 22 May, 2020 the following facts emerged, viz:

1) All the four communities in Nnewi do not share a common ancestry and lineage. Their individual traditional heritage is traceable and unquestionable,

2) All the four communities agreed the joint name NNEWI while they retained their individuality. Therefore the four communities answering the name Nnewi was by their mutual agreement. It was not imposed on them,

3) Examples of (2) above were that until recently, each community celebrated its own AFIA-OLU and IKWU-AHU festivals separate from one another and restricted them to their domains ,

4) The fact of the joint Afia-Olu festival celebration as done today was a recent mutual and consensual decision of the four communities in 1977 and It was not imposed on them by any authority,

5) Upon the arrival of the white man led by MAJOR MOREHOUSE IN 1904, the Obis of the four communities in Nnewi were recognized as WARRANT CHIEFS and each given a WARRANT for his community by the white man.

No community/ quarter was under the other community all through the Colonial Administration.

6) No Obi of any of the four communities can perform the traditional function of BREAKING KOLA NUT in the presence of the Obi of the host community in another community. That function is the prerogative of the Obi of the host community in question.

7) None of the four communities pays any TRADITIONAL ALLEGIANCE to anyone of them and no OBEISANCE is accepted from, received from and given to any of the constituent communities by any of the four quarters of Nnewi. NO RETRIBUTION was paid by one to the other.

8) Arising from the above, all the four communities that makeup the present Nnewi are EQUAL from time immemorial and none is superior to the other, the traditional sharing formula for bounties, privileges and responsibilities was mutually agreed based on the number of ISI-OBIs in each community at that time.

Otolo had 9(nine) isi-obis, Uruagu 7(seven) isi-obis, Umudim had 5(five) isi-obis and Nnewi-Ichi had 4(four) isi-obis. This was the origin of the traditional Nnewi sharing formula which subsists and is known to every Nnewi man and woman.

Thus the total number of isi-Obis in the four communities was twenty-five (25).

This number has now risen many folds.

9) What exists in Nnewi is akin to what obtains in larger Federal Republic of Nigeria where the representation in the Federal House of Representatives is based on population and the number of federal constituencies while representations in the Senate is based on equality of states because being the federating unit, all states are equal and all state Governors are equal no matter the size of the annual budget of each state.

All state governors enjoy constitutional immunity without exception.

10) There is a concept known as AGBAN’ANO NNEWI COVENANT upon which most principles that govern NNEWI today are based.

11) NNEWI WAS MUTUALLY agreed as the name of the FEDERATION OF THE FOUR COMMUNITIES and the rights and privileges of these federating communities were also MUTUALLY agreed.

The covenant contained numerous terms on mutual defence, non-aggression, joint ownership of assets, equality of communities etc.

12) Before the Agban’ano covenant, all the four communities were INDEPENDENT and AUTONOMOUS but after the covenant they retained their respective AUTONOMIES but became INTERDEPENDENT on each other.

13) There was a 1956 pact which resulted in the letter in which all the Obis of the four constituent communities of Nnewi forwarded the name of the then Chief Josiah Orizu II, father of the current Igwe KNO Orizu III to the government of the Eastern Region to represent Nnewi in the Eastern House of Chiefs.

Consequently, they gave him the title IGWE NNEWI to go with, though he remained primarily the Obi of Otolo, one of the four quarters that make up Nnewi and recognized as such at home.

It was further agreed that the stipends and allowances received by him in the representation should be shared by all the four communities using the traditional sharing formula of 9-7-5-4 mentioned above.

14) All agreements entered into by the communities were done as equals. There was no senior or junior partner. Hence the principle of EQUALITY of PARTIES was duly observed by the communities in all agreements.

15) The then government of the Eastern Region recognized less than one hundred (100) communities and chiefs in the Assembly. The former Eastern Region has now been divided into nine (9) states while the government recognized -communities within the nine states are now in excess of one thousand five hundred yet the above three communities remain unrecognized since 1956.

The participants failed to agree on whether Nnewi was the name of a human being or something that arose from an event or series of events.

If it was the name of a person, there was yet no agreement as to wether it was a title name, nickname or given name. Further research and deliberation are recommended on this.

Arising from the above findings, we hereby make the following recommendations;

a) The three other communities namely URUAGU NNEWI, UMUDIM NNEWI and NNEW-ICHI NNEWI should be recognized by the Anambra State Government and given all the rights and privileges given to the one hundred and eighty-one (181) communities currently recognized by the Anambra State government. These three communities have been AUTONOMOUS FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL.

b) The demand above is made because these communities individually towers above most of the present recognized communities in all indices and criteria required for government recognition. Their current non recognition by government can no longer be justified. It is therefore seen as an injustice begging to be redressed by government.

c) The Obis of the three communities mentioned above should be recognized and accorded FIRST CLASS STATUS as was done to the Obi of Otolo who is their contemporary and equal.

Signed.
Rapporteur-General

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