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In some Anambra communities, anxiety currently pervades the air over the chieftaincy tile conferred on Mr. Chinedu Obidigwe, former Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Anambra State on Political Matters.
To some indigenes of Anambra West Local Government Area, the conferment of the title “Amali Ubiam Anaa I of Anambra West” on Obidigwe was misplaced.
From the time the idea to honour the recipient was mooted to the eventual conferment of the title on Obidigwe, who is also the Aka Oma Jide Aku of Aguleri and Egbe Ana Agba Anyanwu of Nteje, indigenes of Anambra West have been debating the appropriateness or otherwise of the title. While some are vehemently opposed to the move, others have steadfastly supported it.
“Amali Ubiam Anaa” translates to “Once known, poverty disappears,” while “Aka Oma Jide Aku,” means “When a good man becomes wealthy, the people benefit.” “Egbe a na agba Anyanwu” translates to “Gunshot at the sun.”
Those opposed to the title, “Amali Ubiam Anaa I of Anambra West,” insist that it is an insult on the people of Anambra West to have such a title given to Obidigwe when there are other illustrious and better qualified sons and daughters of the area. They stressed that Obidigwe did not deserve such a honour, arguing that he could not point to any viable thing he had accomplished for the people. Some of them alleged that the traditional rulers involved might have been compromised.
According to Tessy Unoma Aniesi, an indigene of the area, the Anambra West Youth Political Vanguard, which put the chieftaincy award together, did not represent Anambra West youths. She alleged that the group was illegal and not recognised by either the Anambra West Local Government or leaders in the area, as it was not registered anywhere in the country.
Another indigene, Chukwuemeka Odogbom, said: “I have been able to figure out that the youths are not against Chinedu Obidigwe as a person and they are not against the Igwe either.
“The public outcry against the title does not mean that they have no respect for the king. But it is an indication that our people have come of age, that, united, we can rebuild our cultural value system and upgrade our traditional institutions. That way, it will be more prestigious and respected like the traditional institutions we have in Onitsha, Benin, Ife and elsewhere around the country.
“I wish to also register my disappointment with our elite who supported the views of our youths but have chosen to sit on the fence on this matter because they don’t want to be seen as political enemies.
“I am against the title Amali Ubiam Ana of Anambra West being awarded to Obidigwe, not because I am against him but because I am opposed to the process. I know that no traditional ruler on his own has the right to give a title in the name of Anambra West. So, I see the move as an abuse of our traditional institution.”
Speaking in like manner, Okite, an Anambra West indigene, said: “I regret the demise of Igwe J.C. Emeka. If it were during his era, will anybody try that nonsense in Anam? Who is Obidigwe and what is he doing for a living? When he was serving as senior special assistant to Governor Obiano, how much was his salary? How much did he save to enable him mobilise this army of praise-singers all around him? He ought to be reprimanded for his extravagant showing,” he said.
Similarly, Chief Charles Okafor, a businessman and indigene of Anambra West, said: “Let us not present ourselves as very cheap people who can be bought for a mess of porridge.
“I am not against our royal fathers bestowing titles on deserving individuals. But we must be careful not to insult our collective integrity. There are better qualified individuals out there who are more deserving of the title.”
A communiqué issued by Anam Transformation Movement, at the end of its meetings with Igwe Sylvester U. Nnose, Eze Di Ebube of Ivite Anam, chairman of Anambra West Local Government Area, Mr. Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, stated that: “We acknowledge the legitimate right of individuals or groups of persons to choose what they want. But we should not forget to draw attention when it concerns a community of people, local government or a state. One has to consider also the rights of others to either object or approve what you propose.
“We, therefore, ask the Anambra West Political Youth Vanguard to either change the name or remove the attached Anambra West from the certificate to be issued.”
But Mr. Albert Okeke, a former councillor, said: “Mr. Obidigwe is more than a force to reckon with because at the last governorship election, he garnered 4,756 votes for APGA in his ward alone, making him the best performer in the entire state.”
Former chairman, Anambra West LGA, Mr. Simon Onuora, said what was happening now was not strange, as Anambra West indigenes had taken similar titles in Anambra East: “A couple of years ago, Mr. Ralph Okeke was given the title of Okwusie Obie of Aguleri Kingdom. Many Aguleri citizens who were present at the event feted him and his entourage.
“Since then I’ve not heard that there was any issue in Aguleri and the moment Okeke stepped into a matter as Okwusie Obie, every contentious issue was rested. I am not even sure that if you called him by that name today he would remember to answer early enough. But call him Nze Akajiugo anywhere anytime and you see his instant response.
“Of all the titles bestowed on Governor Obiano prior to the election, the only one people still regard and remember is that same old Akpokuedike. It is always so. So let us not deny people their fun. Everywhere is so tense and dry. So, I think we can do with some comic relief that would accompany the conferment of the title. On the day the title would be bestowed on him, there would be free booze and food for some people. The Igwe will not be disappointed.”
Ojukwu Obakasi, an APGA member, said: “Amalu Ubiam Anaa is a philosophy. It goes to ask Ndi Anambra West to please try me, support me and together we can alleviate poverty (ubiam) of all kinds in Anambra East and West.”
A social affairs analyst, Cliff Nneli, in his opinion, said: “I am surprised that we are reacting the way we are doing to this matter. Has any of us here approached any traditional ruler in Anambra West asking to take such title before now? Instead, what we have been doing is duplication of same name.
“Why this fuss about name? I know of Ndi Anam who went to take titles at Omasi in Ayamelum LGA.”
Political watchers in the area are of the view that the hullabaloo raised by the chieftaincy title has its roots in Obidigwe’s future political ambition. It is alleged that Obidiegwu wants to represent Anambra East/West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
According to Obigwe, the national coordinator, APGA Media Warriors Forum, Obidigwe, “as the special adviser to Governor Obiano on Political Matters, recorded 21 over 21 landmark victories for the governor in the last governorship election.
“I can say that his feat alone is enough proof of his capacity to deliver when given any assignment.”
Obigwe debunked the allegation that Obidigwe diverted Obiano’s campaign fund, noting that there was no iota of truth in “the politically-motivated allegations making the rounds.”
Obigwe equally added that Obidigwe‘s political ambition was a mass movement.
“He is a lobbyist who can help the people of Anambra East and West achieve their desired visions. He has assured us that he would deploy his political savvy to attract Federal Government presence for the benefit of the good people of Anambra East and West Federal Constituency,” Obigwe said.