Re — Between Nnewi and United Kingdom: we should stop this delusion!
By Godson O. Moneke
I was privileged to read a book in which one of the chapters spoke to the above. Although the book was a biography in which case the author ideally does not make much contributions to the contents of the book apart from editorials, syntax issues, thematic focus and other roles expected of the author of a biography. It was a nice work by the author although some wrong and misleading information was given to the author. The reason for this, I do not know but suffice it to say that we need to be careful about what we put down to writing so that we don’t deliberately mislead the younger ones. Let me restate for those who want to hear that I have the highest respect for Nnewi traditional institutions and the Royal Fathers contrary to some people who have nothing to contribute to our history but half truths and praise singing. I want a great Nnewi where there is love, mutual respect, development and honesty. I feel sad when I see deliberate falsehoods being reduced shamelessly to writing for posterity to pick as the gospel truths. The audacity inherent in such beguiling postures amazes me.
Attempting to write on the comparison between the Head of State of the United Kingdom and Obis in Nnewi is unnecessary and reckless. The Queen of England is not a traditional ruler. She is the Head of State of the United Kingdom comprising England, Wales, Scotland and the Northern Island and fifteen other Realms. By realms we mean countries like Canada, Australia and thirteen others who have obtained their political independence but still have the Queen as their titular Head of State. Nigeria was in that category between 1960 and 1963 until she became a republic in 1963. The Queen is still the Head of the Commonwealth of Nations of which Nigeria is a member. The Queen of England enjoys absolute immunity from arrest or criminal prosecution anywhere in the world . We are used to hearing the Mantra THE QUEEN CAN DO NO WRONG. The National anthem of the England has in it the phrase GOD BLESS THE QUEEN!!!! The Queen is a rare living mortal whose portrait adorns the currency of the United Kingdom. No other living mortal enjoys that privilege in the whole world with the exception of may be, dictators of Banana Republics. The Queen does not travel outside the United Kingdom with an International Passport and does not drive with a drivers license. The Queen convokes the United Kingdom Parliament for it to operate legally. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is answerable to the Queen who appoints him/her. In fact, the government is called Her Majesty’s Government. Do all these apply to any traditional ruler in Nnewi including the Igwe?
The Queen does not play partisan politics either openly or discretely. In fact no royal member of the HOUSE of WINDSOR is into partisan politics. They are dissuaded from playing partisan politics because they are deemed to be above it. Contrast this with one of the traditional rulers in Nnewi who some years back openly campaigned for his direct son to be elected member of the Anambra state House of Assembly representing Nnewi North state constituency. The same direct son of this traditional ruler has been the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Nnewi North Local Government for about six years now.. The other day some people from the family of one of the traditional rulers in Nnewi were among those who were EXPELLED FROM the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Nnewi for anti party activities. You can never hear of such DISGRACE from the HOUSE of WINDSOR in the United Kingdom.
I read that Nnewi was ruled by an IGWE in the precolonial era. This is not true. There was no central traditional leadership system for Nnewi in the precolonial era. There were FOUR AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES and each was governed by its own OBI and this persists till today. There was no title like IGWE NNEWI in the precolonial era. The Igwe Nnewi title was given to the OBI OTOLO IN 1956. This was to enable him represent the four communities that were called Nnewi in the Eastern Nigeria House of Chiefs. It never made him the TRADITIONAL RULER OF NNEWI or meant that the OBIS OF THE THREE OTHER COMMUNITIES WERE SUBORDINATE TO HIM. As rightly pointed out in the book, Nnewi came about as a result of the AGBAN’ANO COVENANT. The covenant was like an OATH OF FIDELITY.
The system of government in the United Kingdom is MONARCHY while the system of government in Nigeria nay Nnewi is CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY. The United Kingdom has no written constitution from time immemorial. In place of a written constitution, they use conventions, statutes, rules and regulations as Legal instruments for governance. The Queen can not be SUMMONED by ANYBODY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE WHOLE WORLD while all traditional rulers in Anambra State including Nnewi can be summoned by the state governor if not their respective local government Chairmen. The Queen can not be removed by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom no matter how much he loathes her but the Governor of Anambra State can remove any traditional ruler in the state if he does not like his face.
The Igwe Nnewi said he was born in 1925 (I use this word very loosely because records were not or poorly kept at that time) while the QUEEN WAS BORN IN 1926 (the records are there). Both were not born the same date and do not share the same birthday. The spouse of the Queen, Prince Philips is ninety-seven years old (an age difference of three years from the spouse). Is this so for any of the four Obis in Nnewi? The Queen ascended the throne in 1952 and was coronated in 1953 while the Igwe Nnewi ascended the throne in1963 without any official coronation as was the tradition and practice then. So far, the Queen has spent about sixty-eight years on the throne while the Igwe Nnewi has spent about fifty-seven years on his own throne (eleven years difference). So what is the basis for comparison between the two? Is it as age grades or age mates? The first child of the Queen is Prince Charles while the first child of Igwe Nnewi is a female who is happily married to someone from Umudim-Nnewi. Naming your child Charles does not make you to have something in common with the Queen of England. Many people have done so including my late father who named my immediate younger brother of full blood Charles and in fact the first child/son of that my immediate younger brother is also Charles. Would that make my father and my younger brother to claim something in common with the Queen of England? We need to be serious in the way we behave if people must take us seriously. The comparison is OTIOSE to say the least.
The monarchs in the United Kingdom got the throne through conquests, wars and subjugation dating back to many centuries ago , so that the rest of the citizenry are the subjects of the monarch. In other words, the monarch theoretically owns all the property in the empire including the human beings. The remaining vestiges of this titular monarchy is still respected notwithstanding the changes that have taken place in government over the years. They are called BLUE BLOOD not because the blood in their veins is anything but red but to underline the master-servant relationship that existed between the monarch and the subjects. This explains why no child of WINDSOR is into partisan politics because they consider such actions as INFRA DIG. The people derive the titles to their property from the monarch. This is not so in Nnewi because our progenitors were never conquered by anybody and no community pays allegiance or any form of obeisance to the other. They are equal in all material particular with or without government recognition. What we do in Nnewi is to respect the traditional institutions as we respect our chosen leaders and elders , nothing more. Every true son of Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewi-Ichi is a blue blood because our progenitors founded our respective communities. This EXPLAINS WHY CHIEFTAINCY TITLES WERE UNKNOWN TO NNEWI PEOPLE until recently when some people out of ignorance started shooting themselves in the foot. This is not so with the United Kingdom where the monarchy is long established. When a traditional ruler begged the people of Nnewi to vote his direct son as the representative of Nnewi in the Anambra State House of Assembly as his RETIREMENT BENEFIT, the people obliged him but the Queen in the United Kingdom cannot condescend to that level. There is a saying that goes thus; BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU ASK FOR BECAUSE IT MAY COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU. As a matter of fact, no child of WINDSOR would ever get involved in such entanglement. There is this saying that YOU CAN NOT EAT YOUR CAKE AND EXPECT IT TO BE THERE FOR YOU.
All crown princes and princesses must serve in the Military. Even the Queen did, Prince Charles did, Prince Williams has done so. This is symbolic to show that the leader leads from the front and not the rear. Secondly, it underscores the fact that the Royal Military is Her Majesty’s Military. Besides, the military is a symbol of strength, authority, coercive force and dominance implicit in the monarchy as a system of government. Can we say the same for any traditional ruler in Nnewi or the Crown Princes?. The Queen is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces in the United Kingdom and the military is called the Royal Military to underscore this reality. For example, we have the Royal Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and other Royal departments of the Armed Forces. A visitor to the United Kingdom does not need any lecture to observe the unmistakable presence of the royalty in all spheres of their lives. Can you say the same of Nnewi? Again I ask , what is the basis for comparison between the two if not immanent megalomania?
As stated earlier, the United Kingdom is made up of four distinct countries. The three other countries joined England at different times to form the union. It is a voluntary union formed ostensibly for the purposes of defense and protection. All the countries in the United Kingdom accept the suzerainty of the Queen as the sovereign Head of State. There is no other monarch in the United Kingdom except the Queen of England. The flag of the United Kingdom is called the UNION JACK coined from the individual flags of the four countries that make up the UNION. This is not so for Nnewi. All the four communities that make up Nnewi have their own traditional institutions which are independently run. None of the constituent communities is beholden to the other. The Obi Otolo remains the first among equals by mutual agreement only and not by conquest , imposition or coercion. No such thing exists in the United Kingdom where the Queen of England is the only sovereign .
Obi Otolo became the Igwe Nnewi in 1956 purely in a representative capacity to meet the demands of the government at that time and if he decides not to keep to the terms of the agreement, it is for his conscience to grapple and deal with it. To me as a person, NOT KEEPING TO THE TERMS OF AN AGREEMENT IS NOT A SIGN OF STRENGTH. TO ME , IT IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS. Temporary gains do not endure and such a blemish can never be wished away no matter how long it lasts or how hard the culprits try to wish it away with obvious half truths. There was nothing like a central Nnewi traditional rulership structure before 1956 not to talk of the precolonial era. I challenge anybody to prove me wrong in writing not by talking in hushed tones. Government Official Notices are published in Gazettes and official records of events kept accordingly . I challenge anybody who has a contrary viewpoint to come forward with the appropriate gazette instead of making unsubstantiated and spurious claims. I will always submit to superior arguments but I deprecate people trying to play on my intelligence or take me for a ride. Majority of Nnewi people are not happy with the revisionism and false narratives that are being bandied about which have spiritually negated development in the town. Make no mistake about it , people know the truth. People have the facts in all forms but are only being respectful in the hope that commonsense will prevail. No matter how far a LIE travels the TRUTH must catch up with it. History will not be kind to these merchants of lies and instability. The saying that, ONLY THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE is a truism.
You do not compare APPLE WITH ORANGE because both are fruits and edible. It is nonsensical to do so. We should not be making mockery of ourselves by trying to be who we are not. What do they want to achieve by making that funny comparison? Putting it succinctly, the comparison is as needless as it is ridiculous. . One day somebody will compare himself with the President of Nigeria because both are men and one is in charge of Nigeria while the other is in charge of his household. But then THE GODS ARE NOT TO BLAME .
Succession to the thrones in Nnewi is based on the principle of primogeniture but that is not so in the United Kingdom. There, a king can be succeeded by his female child as happened with the queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II but it is not so in Nnewi where the Obi must be succeeded by a male child or the family is erased from the line of succession. In Nnewi when a heir apparent predeceases an Obi, the next eldest male child supplants the line of succession. This is not so with the United Kingdom. For example, we already know that Prince Williams will one day be the King of England irrespective of whether or not Prince Charles dies before the Queen. He is in a higher pecking order than Prince Andrew, the second male child of the Queen. This is not so with Nnewi. I am going to this length to establish that there is no nexus between both thrones. Therefore, comparing the two thrones in order to establish a non existent relationship is nothing but rascality of the highest order. It is superfluous to say the least.
A heir apparent can not marry outside the United Kingdom or outside the Royal blue blood in Europe. Queen Elizabeth 11 became the presumptive heir to the throne when the father’s brother abdicated the throne to marry an American lady in 1936. She wasn’t born the heir apparent. Prince Philips the husband of Queen is Royal blood from Greece and Netherlands. This is not so with Nnewi, so what is the basis of this comparison? It is not mandatory for a heir apparent to marry a royal blood or somebody from his community in Nnewi. So where is the nexus that warranted the comparison in the first place? The Queen inaugurates the legislative houses in all the four countries that make up the United Kingdom either directly or through proxies. The Obis in Nnewi including the Igwe Nnewi do not exercise any jurisdiction outside his primary communities. The Obi of each of the four constituent communities selects and works with his cabinet which also doubles as the legislature without any input from any other Obi. . Traditional Rulers in Anambra State have no responsibilities in the governance structure of either Anambra State or its local governments except as specifically directed by the Governor or the local government Chairmen.
The Queen is a Super Citizen and is not expected to pay tax. The tax which she pays today is a voluntary decision of hers. There are some natural resources in the United Kingdom that belong to her as the owner of the land and nobody dares to question her title or ownership. The Igwe Nnewi does not have such prerogatives. The Queen is the most respected and honored monarch in the whole world. Is that the person you are comparing with any traditional ruler in Nnewi even if you are joking? The ideal thing is to benchmark our traditional institutions with other traditional institutions in Nigeria and see how they can be respected nationally. That you were born a year apart is not a reason to claim relationship.. Incidentally, birthdays and ages are milestones and can never be approximated . This explains why when a person dies just ONE DAY to his birthday he is credited with the AGE THE PREVIOUS BIRTHDAY because he died a day to the milestone which is the next birthday. It is important that we appreciate that long life and good health are by the grace of God. It is never a qualification because it is only God that determines when we are born and when or how we will die. It is arrogant and vainglorious for anybody to bring the issue of longevity into a discussion as a personal achievement. Jesus Christ in all his sinlessness died at thirty-three years yet he is the only Son of God we know as Christians. Methuselah in the Bible lived close to a thousand years and yet nothing was recorded as his achievements. Yet Jesus Christ who worked/reigned for only three years still lives in all true Christians. It is not how long we live that matters but what we leave behind . This should prick our consciences as human beings. To leave behind a lasting legacy we must think less of ourselves or immediate families and think more of a better society after we are gone. Nnewi must be united based on honesty, truth and justice. MY IDOL IS HE WHO HOLDS FAST TO THESE IDEALS.
As explained earlier,Nnewi was founded on a quadruped following the prescriptions of the AgbaN’ano covenant. Nnewi was governed by four Obis namely; the Obis of Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewi-Ichi. These are four different communities with four different origins. No Obi is subservient to the other and none is superior to the other. What they share is mutual respect for each other and the promotion of the common good of their respective communities in particular and Nnewi in general.
There is nothing wrong in admiring people because of their statuses, achievements, birth privileges, hard work, personality and candor but comparing oneself with such people is unnecessary. After all, the literary genius, Williams Shakespeare reminded us that SOME ARE BORN GREAT, SOME ACHIEVE GREATNESS WHILE SOME HAVE GREATNESS THRUST UPON THEM. It is for you to know where you stand in these divides and chart the way forward. In the final analysis, success is relative and never absolute. What is success to Mr A may not count much to Mr B as we have recently seen with Prince Harry who chose a normal life in another country over a life of Royalty in the United Kingdom . People should be proud of their achievements and happy with their plans. This is what should matter to us. You don’t compare the incomparable. That is an unnecessary frolic, it is sheer absurdity!!!!
Finally, as I said earlier, the circumstances of emergence of the monarchies all over the world differ. Traditional rulers in Igbo land are not monarchs in the true sense of the word. They are different from monarchs who are Heads of State in their countries. While one emerged through conquest, military might, aristocracy and supremacy paradigm and hence the master-servant relationship, the other emerged first as a result of influence and charisma but later by just being the first male child notwithstanding whether the person is an invalid or never do well . The King in Great Britain those days had the power of life and death. The King could be arbitrary in his decisions and nobody could question or challenge whatever he did without fatal consequences. In Igbo land including Nnewi, the leaders who were just primus inter peres had no such luxury. The refrain IGBO ENWE EZE was trite then and still so now. The use of the word SUBJECTS in referencing the relationship between the Obis and the people in Nnewi is SACRILEGIOUS because you cannot be a master or subject to your brother. After all, every descendant of the founders of each of the four communities in Nnewi including the children of ADAMBU OF NNE-EWII fame is a BLUE BLOOD AND A ROYALTY. In the final analysis, we are all brothers and sisters. Let us watch each other’s back and see the glory of God in our lives.