By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Erstwhile Nigerian information minister, Prof Sam Oyovbaire, has said that the important role of the traditional institution must be recognized in the Constitution if the numerous challenges facing Nigeria are to be effectively tackled.
Oyovbaire stated this on Thursday during the Book Presentation and 78th Birthday celebration of HRM, Dr Emmanuel Efeizomor II, the Obi of Owa Kingdom and Acting Chairman, Delta State Traditional Council, at the palace ground, Owa-Oyibo, Ika North-East Local Government Area.
He picked holes with the provisions in the Nigerian Constitution for failing to stipulate any specific roles for the traditional rulers beyond the nominal recognition of the traditional rulers and the traditional institution.
The political science professor stressed that most of the problems bedeviling the Nigerian nation and the Nigerian state might continue to defy lasting solution because of the failure to take full advantage of the traditional institution as the traditional rulers remain the custodian of the people’s culture and understand the people better than government agencies.
He lamented that the do-or-die attitude to politics and electioneering in Nigeria was a manifestation of the country’s collective failure to recognize our traditional roots and the fact that the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government at any level could never function effectively without a proper grasp of the values embedded in the traditional institution.
According to Oyavbaire, “although, traditional rulers no longer have or control armies, make laws for good government or wield authority to collect taxes, the government at any level cannot function properly without the traditional rulers.
“The federal and state government cannot effectively govern the people without the input of our traditional rulers as they are at the grassroots and know what the people truly need”.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, revealed that the Owa monarch had always treated him as his own son and actually gave him his first appointment ever as a young secondary school leaver.
He said Efeizomor might have forgotten, he will always remember that he gave his first appointment though he spent just three weeks on the job as a school teacher because he had to go back to Edo College for his Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Okowa, who hails from Owa Kingdom, also revealed that he was born in the same year Obi Efeizomor ascended the throne as the 17th Obi Owa Kingdom, being only two moths old at the time in 1959.
He commended the resilience, humility and focus of the monarch in his almost 57 years on the throne, saying the reign of Efeizomor II “has brought incredible transformation and continuous peace to Owa Kingdom, such that those who knew Owa in those days are simply amazed by the level of transformation.”
Okowa, who led a team of top government functionaries including Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, the state chief judge, Justice Marshall Umukoro, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Patrick Ukah, the state Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof Eric Eboh, and secrets ray to the government, Mr Festus Agas, described Obi Efeizomor as “as a symbol of humility and unity who has impacted positively on his people and Delta State”.
Okowa said, “I thank God Almighty for your life because in your reign and even at your age you have rewritten the history of Owa Kingdom, through your hard work, drive and focus you have continued to grow this land as well as ensured that peace remains across this kingdom.
“As a peace builder you have done your best to positively impact on the development of this kingdom and the state, your humility and friendliness has made you a symbol that is cherished by all who meet you.”
Prof Eric Eboh, Delta State Chief Job Creator, who profiled Efeizomor II, described him as a fine intellectual, a bridge-builder, an institution par excellence, being an author of many books.
Eboh, who noted that he ascended the throne when he was barely 20 years old, noted that Efeizomor’s reign has been a remarkable success because he looked difficulties straight in the face and forged ahead courageously.
“He is an epitome of self-discipline and good manager of self”, he noted, adding, “His scholarly flare for academics and his administrative ingenuity was evident in his commitment to development of his people and Owa Kingdom.”
Prof B.I.G.Ijeoma, in his remarks said, “His Royal Majesty worked with incredible determination to leave a legacy where there was none. He learnt early not to run from obstacles; he rose through difficulties to greatness.”
The reviewer of the the book on Efeizomor II titled, “The Living Legend”, Prof Emmanuel O. Ojeme, chronicled the history of Owa Kingdom before and since the birth and enthronement of the reigning monarch, saying the 11-chapter book appropriately mirrors the greatness of the subject.
“This book is overflowing with sublime evidences of His Royal Majesty’s superior leadership credentials (and) he has been described as an iconic leader, a modernist and a bridge across time.”
Similarly, Prince Benjamin Obaigbena, a nephew of the Owa monarch, told newsmen that God had destined Efeizomor for greatness as he remained longest in the throne of his forefathers in the last 100 years.
He said the event of the 78th anniversary was worth celebrating with pomp because of the “unbelievable peace and transformation his reign has brought to the entire Owa Kingdom.
The occasion attracted eminent personages including notable traditional rulers from across the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones including the Obi of Onitsha, Obi Achebe and members of the traditional councils of Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa and Edo states.
The high-points of the celebration were the unveiling of the book jointly done by Governor Okowa and Prof Oyavbaire as well as the book launch, which raked in millions of naira.