Umuoji chieftaincy tussle: PG upholds election, says “Constitution is sacrosanct”
The President-General of Umuoji Improvement Union of Nigeria (UIUN) in Anambra State, Chief Silas Onyima (Ogidi) has warned all players in the just-held Umuoji chieftaincy election to stand down as the election to produce the next Igwe of Umuoji is yet to be concluded.
Chief Onyima assured Ndi Umuoji that he will adhere to the provisions of the town’s Constitution as the “Umuoji Chieftaincy Constitution is sacrosanct” and must not be overridden.
The President-General made the declaration on the heels of Chief Kanayochukwu Okoye declaring himself the Igwe-elect of Umuoji following the Igweship election to install a new traditional ruler following the death of the late Igwe, HRH Cyril Enweze.
The election, which was held on Saturday, May 8, was declared inconclusive by the Chief Returning Officer, Chief Chukwuemeka Joe Nsika (Nnanyelugo Siwo).
Three candidates — Chief Anaeto Simeon Muogbo, Chief Kanayo Okoye, and Chief Obiora Stephen Onwuachu — had participated in the election for a new Igwe.
Result showed that Chief Okoye polled the highest vote with a total of 473 votes.
Chief Muogbo was the first runner-up with 459 votes, while Chief Onwuachu was second runner-up with 359 votes, which prompted Chief Okoye to declare himself Igwe-elect against the town’s constitution.
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Following the declaration by Okoye, the Ndichie Eziora Umuoji, the eldest son, paid him what a stakeholder classified as “shameless arrangee solidarity” amidst the town’s chieftaincy tussle at his “palace” in Umuechem Village of the town on Sunday, 16th May, 2021.
According to observers who spoke with ElombahNews, the arrangee solidarity visit was “to give wrong impression to the public” about the election.
Reacting to Okoye’s declaration and the Ndichie’s solidarity visit, the UIUN President General, in a statement he personally signed, dated May 15, 2021, stated:
“Umuoji, let us be calm. The election to produce the next Igwe of Umuoji was held in the eight villages of Dimechem quarter on Saturday May 8 2021.Okodu community is grateful to Almighty God for the peaceful atmosphere which ensured a successful process.
We, in the administration, had put in our best to ensure the success of the election. We will continue to believe the selection of Igwe Umuoji is for the Lord as it is written: “for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” – Romans 13:1.
Indeed, the election was exemplary when compared to similar events in other towns of Anambra State.
We commend the contestants; the Igwe Election Committee; the Anambra State representatives that supervised the process; the UIUN team; the Umuoji Christian Community (UCC); the security agents and the Dimechem quarter for an election well conducted. To the extent the committee covered in the said election, good success was recorded.
The perceived delay of my address to Ndi Umuoji on the post-election issues is regretted. We believed time was needed to get the remaining procedure right before such an address.
The ensuing celebrations or arguments after the declaration of results especially in Dimechem quarter are not an abnormality; all political contests have its peculiar nature. Every electoral contest and the result must have gainers and losers, so it can be called a competition for votes.
Election fanfare, debates and struggles are all tenets of democratic process. As far as we are concerned, all conducts after the election are in line with normal human behaviour and reactions.
Ndi Umuoji should not be bothered about the imbroglio or intrigues emanating from this election; they were expected because so much hatred and division was shared during the campaign.
Brothers denied each other just to garner political position. Dimechem leaders and contestants became torn in the battle for votes to the point of doling out so much fund which some of them could not give for the development of Umuoji.
It was a sore point that the leaders could not come together to agree. We knew from that point that this administration must be prepared to sort the quarter out through the provisions of the Constitution.
The only solace from those sore campaigns was that May 8 was the first Igwe Election in the history of Umuoji and Dimechem was the practical ground for this learning process.
This is the first real test of our 44 year old Chieftaincy Constitution. Whatever the case, our generation is lucky to have led the feelers of this antique of our past leaders.
As we tarry a while, I urge Umunnem to remain calm. We cannot move further than where we are until we receive the official report of the 34 man Igwe Election Committee.
On the other hand, we shall not fail to obey any superior, specific directive from Awka based on its election report or on its own term. We MUST know that the State Government has the final say on this matter.
I will address Umuoji if this directive comes or when the committee report is ready. In the meantime, let us be guided on our utterances to ensure peace is sustained in our community.
Umuoji need to be assured that we will adhere to the provisions of our Constitution. The Umuoji Chieftaincy Constitution is sacrosanct, especially where it is explicit enough.
In case of ambiguities in its provisions, as non-extremists can clearly appreciate, we MUST resort to the decisions of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) which will be convened in due course.
Section 2.3 (c) of the Chieftaincy Constitution provided that; ‘where there is a stalemate in the process of the selection by the quarter, the CEC shall have the power to resolve the issue’.
We may be aware from the positions of the candidates or their supporters of the issues that brought the stalemate. It MUST be emphasised here that the decision of the CEC on this matter will be the final position of Umuoji.
As we promised us, Umuoji under our watch will only record developmental feats, (please note that work is ongoing in Iba Umuoji) there is no room for crises.
Those who are lacing ready for rancor and crises should know that Umuoji is in God’s hand and as such their efforts shall be in vain.
Umuoji loves us all, it is the true motherland we have and in it’s trying times we can only love back and be patrotic. Indeed, unto our hands the goodness of Okodu lies. At this period let us care for this beautiful land handed over to us by our fathers.
Umuoji cannot afford its leaders unpatriotism. Umuoji is all we have; Umuoji is our home; Umuoji is Our Soul. Perhaps, only in Umuoji we have blood relationship so intricately interwoven that we cannot afford to disunite.”
Another indigene, Evang Michael Ibemesi, who observed the election and the attendant intrigues, lamented in a short memo made available to ElombahNews:
“Just wondering if this is necessary at this time when PG has given Umuoji his epoch address and with that I understand none of the Igwe contestants has been declared Igwe of Umuoji.
“I think the best would have been that everyone one should wait and be calm as directed by our PG.
“Why should this continue in utter disrespect to the current leadership in Umuoji? What message is being passed here? If other axis choose to tow the same line what will Umuoji be like?
“This disrespect to PG’s address and authority is very disappointing to me. We must do things that will bind us together instead of things that will separate us.
“The admonition of PG is that everyone should be calm and allow the process to take its full course.
“If at the end the elected is officially announced, all of us will welcome and congratulate him and support him. But for now we have not seen the process completed.”
An anonymous indigene summed it up as follows: “Sychophancy is a thriving industry in ala Igbo. People must respect constitution of a town please.”