Amby Uneze in Owerri
President Muhammadu Buhari has commended traditional rulers in the country over their role during and after the 2019 general elections, adding that the relative peace that existed could not have been possible without the role traditional rulers played at the elections.
The President who spoke Thursday at the post-election peace summit organised by the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, at the Palace of Eze Imo, Owerri, the Imo State capital, stated that the responsibility of ensuring peace rests squarely on the shoulders of the traditional rulers because they are closer to the people than the government.
Buhari who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, remarked: “My Royal Highnesses and Traditional Rulers, the presidency has saddled my office with the very responsibility of overseeing the Post-Election Peace Conference/Summit in the six geo-political zones of our dear country.
“But the most sterling issue about the whole matter is establishing peace, how to bring peace to Sokoto, to Adamawa and others. But we all understand that this responsibility rests rather more squarely on the shoulders of our traditional rulers who are closer to the people than the government.
“This is why my office attends to everything pertaining to this matter with utter dispatch. Also, the team-spirit with which you have carried out your functions has not gone unnoticed. It was also noted that your effort in improving the economy through agricultural schemes in the last four years is also what mentioning.
“I am reassuring you that my office will continue to work in collaboration with the National Council of Traditional Rulers in all their developmental strides. Again, the presidency has not taken for granted, all your efforts towards the management of insurgency in the North-East”.
In his address, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said Igbos are always misunderstood by other Nigerians.
“The problem with our country is that we don’t understand the people called Igbos. Igbos, if I must describe us, are the most misrepresented ethnic group in Nigeria. It is only the Igbos amongst all other ethnic groups that can go to any other culture and settle to develop that culture,” Okorocha said.
He added: “The Igbo man is the one who will hardly come back home to his grassroot without leaving a lasting impression of good development in the place he is living. But Nigerians have taken this for weakness. And that is why at every side they are chased from pillar to post as if they are not part of the entity called Nigeria”.
Also in his speech, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saidi Abubakar, stated: “We are here today to mark the South-East post-election and peace conference of the National Council of Traditional Rulers. One thing I am glad for, is that His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State, made good his promise of hosting us as we left the Enugu headquarters for Imo State.
“We are here also to inaugurate this wonderful edifice, in fact, the first of its kind in the whole of Nigeria, built by the people’s governor. Also, the unity of Nigeria is of paramount interest to all of us. Therefore, this is another reason why we are here”.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, stated: “My fellow Traditional Rulers from across the various ethnic groups of Nigeria, I want us to bear in mind that the reason for this conference is the peace of this country.
“We cannot afford to be seated on our various thrones and see the people we are ruling scattered. So, the peace of Nigeria must cost us something worth sacrificing. All of us seated here have a duty to let our subjects know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Therefore, we must rise up to join our leaders to find lasting peace to our diverse political and cultural situations”.
The host, HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri, who is the Chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers, remarked: “Our joy knows no bound today to see our brother traditional rulers come to have this National Summit in Imo, our dear state. Again, we return all the glory to God Almighty and to our Executive Governor, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha, whose singular effort has brought about today’s development, we say thank you”.
Other traditional rulers present at the occasion were the Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Prof. Alfred Achebe; Obong of Calabar, His Eminence Ediden Ekpo Okon Abasi; Etsu of Nupe, HRH Alhaji Valiya Abubakar; and other eminent traditional rulers across the nation.