In Ika land, when we are referring to our Monarch
(Traditional Ruler), we say “Ledi enyi or Nedi enyi” depending on which
part of Ika land you come from. Ledi enyi means our father or father of all.
The same reverence is accorded to other senior royals such as the Monarch’s
wives, mother and heir apparent. In the same way, we regard the palace as the
proud house of all and the big umbrella that provides shade for all the
indigenes of the kingdom.
Until recently, the aforementioned senior members of
the royal families were insulated from partisan politics. It was therefore
unheard of for these senior royals to identify with or become members of
political parties because the political arena is a leveller. In a democracy,
all members of a political party are deemed to be equal – enjoying freedom of
speech, freedom of association, freedom to aspire/contest for any political
position. Politicians hold regular
meetings, especially late night meetings that could go on into early hours of
the following morning. Some of the normal ingredients of these nocturnal
meetings are eating, drinking, and rude jokes; touching, hugging, kissing
(pecking), bottom-slapping, foul language, quarrelling and even fighting. That
is why women who take part in politics at certain levels involving such
meetings are rightly or wrongly associated with waywardness, infidelity or
unfaithfulness. No loyal royalist who reveres senior royals will be happy and
comfortable to see his king’s wife, mother or heir apparent taking part in such
immoral behaviours and being compromised at political functions.
Unfortunately, today, Ika Monarchs have thrown
caution to the winds and have not only encouraged their wives and mothers to
take active part in partisan politics but have actually lobbied governors and
senior government and party officials to place these senior royals in lucrative
government and party positions. The question that my non-Ika friends have been
asking me and which I have not been able to answer is, “Why are Ika kings
bringing themselves low by going into partisan politics? On my own, I have been
quietly searching for an answer and in the process, asking myself such
questions as “Is it poverty or greed that is pushing our kings into active
politics through their wives or mothers?” I have a problem in finding an answer
to this question because most of the kings in Ika land are my personal friends.
Because of the mutual respect we have for each other, I cannot throw this
question directly to them. Leaving the question unanswered has continued to
embarrass Ika indigenes before their non-Ika friends and associates.
As if allowing or encouraging their senior royals
into the murky waters of partisan politics is not bad enough, some Ika kings
are now throwing their hats into the ring for physical combats between their
feuding subjects who are having normal political differences. It has just been
widely reported that a king in Ika land sent his palace youths (ibiegwai) to
forcefully bring one of his chiefs to the palace or set his house on fire if he
refused to follow them because another subject who is a politician had reported
to him that the chief was entertaining his former political godfather, turned
enemy, who hails from a neighbouring kingdom. What could have pushed this
king to use the people’s traditional institution and instruments for political
thuggery? Did he get carried away by the gift of a car, jeep or cash?
Whatever gift a king receives from his subject, politician or non-politician
should not turn him from being a royal father to a royal errand boy or thug. If
this king had been receiving some wise counsel, he should have known that in
politics, politicians have no permanent enemy or permanent friend but permanent
interest. Politicians engage in verbal and physical fights, even at the state
and national Houses of Assembly. But what the king has failed to realise is
that politicians can fight today and become the best of friends tomorrow. As
the king has taken side in the dispute or fight, he has automatically made
himself a permanent enemy of one of his subjects because he is not a politician
and he is supposed to be father to all.
BEFORE THE SITUATION GETS OUT OF HAND,
SENIOR MEMBERS OF ROYAL FAMILIES IN IKA LAND SHOULD PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM
PARTISAN POLITICS AND BE CONTENTED WITH WHAT THEY WERE BORN AND CROWNED FOR. At
this point, I will like to refresh the memory of senior Ika royals as follows:-
Politics is a leveller and full of
mudslinging. Senior royals symbolise unity and neutrality and should remain so
in order to continue to command the respect they deserve.
Any royal who participates in partisan
politics both directly or indirectly, has thrown away the toga of royalty and
exposed himself to all the mudslinging associated with politics. Any royal
family in politics should not complain of being disrespected, abused or even
being physically assaulted because these are part and parcel of partisan
Royals who want to remain revered
members of the royal family should stay out of politics but if they cannot
resist the largesse of politics, then they should abandon the throne and
play the game of politics according to the rules of the game. THEY CANNOT
EAT THEIR CAKE AND HAVE IT AT THE SAME TIME. IF THEY DO NOT WANT INSULT AND
CRITICISMS, THEY SHOULD NOT PLAY POLITICS.
Royal fathers/wives/mothers/heirs should
receive and give blessing to all political aspirants who seek their blessing.
After political contests or elections, royal fathers should accept whosoever
that got elected by the electorate.
The reason why royal fathers should
remain neutral at choosing political representatives at all levels is so that
they can call politicians to order if they fail to perform to the satisfaction
of their subjects.
Ika land has been neglected and
marginalised in Delta state because our
kings have stooped too low to beg or lobby governors, political representatives
and senior party officials for one personal favour or another, including
positions, money, gifts or contracts.
When Monarchs ask for favours as
enumerated above, they compromise their position as fighter for their people’s
welfare and they become incapacitated when governments deny dividends of
democracy to their people. IT IS THEREFORE NO SURPRISE THAT NOT ONE ROYAL
FATHER HAS HAD THE COURAGE TO QUESTION THE DELTA STATE GOVERNOR WHY IKA LAND
HAS BEEN DENIED THE DIVIDENDS OF DEMOCRACY DESPITE THE UNRELENTING OUTCRIES BY
THEIR UNELECTED SUBJECTS.
I watch with admiration and feel a sense
of loss when kings from non-Ika areas of Delta state command respect from the
state governor when they make demands for their people or when they complain
With all due respects, I think part of
the problems with our traditional rulers is that all of a sudden all of them
developed such high tastes that tend to make them assume the status, high life
and wealth of first class rulers like the Ooni of Ife, the Oba of Benin etc.
What they fail to realise is that some of these first class traditional rulers
are in their 4th or 5th generation of graduate kings who
had retired and had become wealthy people before they became kings.
is advocating for Ika Monarchs to live below standard. We want them to be
comfortable but in a dignified way. Our royal families should concentrate on
getting their heirs to be well educated, to acquire experience in public
administration, industry or commerce before ascending to the throne. In the
process, they should have attained reasonable social status and wealth in their
own right as ordinary citizens.
traditional rulers are fast losing touch with their subjects. Either they are
too busy pursuing wealth/gifts/positions from politicians or they are making
themselves incommunicado for fear of perceived political enemies. Every
week, children and adults from ordinary or well-to-do families are kidnapped in
Ika land and women are killed in their farms. It is a shame that up till now,
Ika kings have not either individually or collectively taken any step to stem
this ugly trend. Pursuit of wealth and social status takes Ika kings away from
seeing to the security and welfare of their subjects which they were crowned
and being paid to do. Any Ika person reading this write-up should please
ask his or her king when Ika council of Obis had their last meeting. Whatever
their answers are, please send them to Ika Weekly, Ika Light or any other local
let me repeat. If you are a traditional ruler, please rule well. If you are a
politician, please play politics well and attract development projects to the
area. However, if any Ika traditional ruler feels that he will be better off as
a politician, he has the fundamental human right to abdicate and opt out for
politics. What is not acceptable is for royal families to use their sacred
position to usurp political positions from career politicians. Any royal family
that decides to dabble into active politics should have no claim to be treated
and respected as royalty. They should be ready to accept any treatment given to
any other politician. Again, you cannot eat your cake and have it at the same time.
You cannot assume the role of king and politician at the same time and fail
woefully in both and expect nobody to criticise you.