The April 2011 general elections have come and gone but the indelible marks left behind still remain and will remain for a long time particularly in Agbor Kingdom and Ika South in general. Just before the elections, I wrote that an unstoppable political wind of change was blowing across the country and I urged Ika political class not to resist the change so that Ika nation will not be left behind politically. Unfortunately, the desired change was not allowed to take place in Ikaland. It is bad enough that Ika political class and their hungry agents whom they have impoverished all these years did not embrace the desired change and it is very shameful that Ika Federal Constituency was singled out as the place where the election was most violently rigged in the country. This is how every Ika man and woman will now be looked at outside Ikaland in the next four years.
I am an Agbor man and I want to ask ourselves this question. WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE SO MUCH TOUTED AGBOR AGENDA? How could we have an agenda without a programme or unity of purpose? In all my life, I have never seen Agbor as divided as she was during the electioneering period. In the late 1970s/early 1980s when Agbor Kingdom was being ruled by a Regency Council, it was feared that the kingdom would break up. True to this, some sections or quarters, notably, Oki, Oza’Nogogo, Ekuku-Agbor and Emuhu attempted to take advantage of the vacuum created on the throne, to break away from Agbor Kingdom. Some patriotic Agbor individuals and groups, notably, the Agbor Community leadership took it as a challenge to protect the kingdom and keep it as one indivisible entity until the monarch returned to his seat. This task of keeping the kingdom one was not an easy one and I am making this statement as a person who was in the frontline of the battle because I was then the Secretary-General of the Agbor Community while Chief Philip Igumbor was the President-General. We used every ounce of strength in our body and administrative know-how to get the remaining heads of Agbor Quarters (Ndichien Agbor) to unite with Agbor Community leadership to fight the dissidents.
Thank God we fought hard and succeeded in keeping the Agbor Kingdom as one until His Royal Majesty, the Dein of Agbor returned to occupy his throne. I must confess that during this trying period, we, the major participants in the customary politics, seriously looked forward to the return of the monarch for him to take over the leadership and have firm control of his domain. Today, after over a decade that the Dein came back to occupy his throne; the kingdom is more divided than ever. I can say without mincing words, if it was this period that Oki, Oza’Nogogo, Ekuku-Agbor and Emuhu threatened to secede, many, if not all of them would have gone. Through the combined efforts of the Agbor Community leadership and Ndichien Agbor, the kingdom spoke with one voice. Today, Agbor is speaking with many voices. Why?
The lack of unity and cohesion in Agbor Kingdom was very evident during the just concluded general elections. In the run-up to the elections, majority of Agbor people felt and believed that it was time for an Agbor person to be at the state House of Assembly after Hon. Martin Okonta’s eight years of far below average performance. This common belief gave birth to the so-called Agbor Agenda but there was no acceptable political moderator to chart the course of action or programme to pursue the agenda to its logical conclusion. This leadership vacuum opened the flood-gate for self-styled political leaders and their candidates for Ika South Constituency at the state House of Assembly. This was when the sheep became confused and got scattered and at the time the flock needed a focused shepherd to lead them to the green pastures, there was none available to do so. In the case of Agbor, instead of being there to knock the scattering flock into line, the shepherd joined forces with a rival shepherd to further scatter his own flock. To put it in plain language, when five (5) Agbor contestants threw in their hats to vie for the seat against Martin Okonta alone from Abavo, the establishment that should have proffered unbiased advice to her subjects not only failed to do so but openly endorsed and worked hard for Martin Okonta. As expected, Martin Okonta and other non-Agbor politicians who are bent on bringing the Agbor Kingdom to its political knee in Ika politics took advantage of the fluid situation in the kingdom to sponsor two more Agbor aspirants, bringing the number of Agbor contestants to seven against Martin Okonta. At this stage, as a political analyst/strategist and as an Agbor man, I told Agbor people that they had handed the seat back to Martin Okonta on a platter of gold. I was only slightly proved wrong because Martin Okonta did not get it on a platter of gold but fought the political battle of his life and still nearly lost it.
Typical of the Agbor man who does not start his journey home when the rain starts to shower but waits until the rain starts to rain cats and dogs, less than two weeks to the elections, the combined leadership of Agbor Stakeholders Forum and Agbor Community at home and in Lagos came together in a rescue mission and tried to work with the traditional institution to try and work out a last minute solution. To me, this was the highest display of hypocrisy because they knew that all the players were not moving in the same direction. As expected, the last minute intervention did not, and could never have yielded the desired result because no contestant agreed to step down, three days to the election, after spending lots of money and time on the project.
The outcome of the free-for-all Agbor Agenda is now history and as usual the Agbor man will not only continue to lick his wounds for the next four years but will also continue to blame the Owa man, the Abavo man, the Itsekiri man and others for oppressing him and usurping his powers. The Agbor man never blames himself for his failures but must point his accusing fingers at others. The Agbor man believes that Agbor should get what is due to her, whether the people planned/worked for it or not – it is our turn (enyi ke oru). In politics, if you do not fight for your right, you better forget it. If you are not where they are sharing, nobody remembers you. Nkite eche akpamu ebulu, arahin egun (meaning that the dog that expects to feed on the testicles of the Ram must go to sleep without food).
Ika South, particularly Agbor, should wake up from political slumbers. The people have surrendered their political right to the traditional institutions. If these traditional institutions have failed woefully in the traditional duties for which they have been groomed, how do you expect them to succeed in the muddy waters of politics while not wanting their bodies to be stained? If Ika South hopes to start receiving dividends of democracy from 2015, a political movement or revolution must START TODAY, NOT NEXT YEAR, NOT ONE YEAR OR THREE MONTHS TO THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS. If the people fail to start planning now, it means that they have planned to fail again in 2015. In fact, I will want the effects of the revolution to start manifesting from the forthcoming council elections. The movement should be non-partisan. Political parties with reasonable presence in the council area should be invited to participate in the movement. It is only the political parties that will resist the movement that should be brushed aside. The group leadership of the revolution should be untainted, unbiased, credible, bold and devoid of tribal or sectional tendencies. To fish out this crop of leaders is not going to be easy but if the people work with common mind of “live and let’s live”, they will find such people.
At this juncture, I will like to take us back a bit. In the run-up to the 2011 general elections, I advised all senior royals in Ikaland to leave politics if they wished to avoid the mudslinging that is associated with politics because politics is a leveller. Unfortunately, they did not take that advice seriously either because they thought that I was jealous of them or that I was against them. Actually, the reverse is the case because as a firm believer in the monarchy, I will be very sad if the monarchy is insulted and rubbished, all in the name of politics. The people failed to bow out honourably and now the mud has started to fall on them.
Recently, a frontline Ika South politician, using his constitutional freedom of expression and commenting on the actions or inaction of politicians during the electioneering period, stated, “My people, let us pity those who were supposed to be the custodians of our tradition but who for a pot of porridge threw away their reasoning and turned our Royal Palace to a RIGGING SHRINE!” Is this reverence to the Agbor Monarchy or do we need a soothsayer to tell us who is bringing this shame to the Agbor monarchy and her subjects? Any deaf Agbor man or woman can hear this message loud and clear, that the once respected Agbor Royal Palace has lost her sacredness. Onye dan ekpen, si we hun ihien ri ibue. If the Queen Mother did not fall into politics headlong or if she had got out when I advised all senior royals to get out of politics, would the palace be brought down to this level? I saw it coming and as an elder with knowledge of our tradition, I spoke out and I am glad I did. I am sure that God and our ancestors will exonerate me. Anu ekwuni, ya egbu ndichien. Ekwu anuni, ya egbu ikoro. You Ndichien Agbor and Agbor senior citizens like me who have refused to speak out, you should get your answers ready to tell God and our ancestors why you stayed aloof while the house was burning.
Before I end this write-up, I will ask all Agbor people to join me in begging governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to stop insulting Agbor people and desecrating the Agbor Royalty. By giving the highest or any political office to “Our Mother”, thereby bringing her down to the level of partisanship, he has reduced her from the position of the mother of all Agbor people to that of the mother of some Agbor people because all Agbor people do not belong to PDP or her faction of PDP. Not only that, once the mother of Dein has ceased to be neutral before Dein’s subjects, the Dein himself CANNOT claim to be a neutral Royal Father to all his subjects. This is a bitter pill which the palace will find difficult to swallow but the truth must be said. As this is coming from me, I know that I will automatically become an enemy of the palace but where two or more Agbor people are gathered, they grumble and moan about the palace’s involvement in politics but if you see how these same people behave before these palace officials against whom they bitterly speak, you need to pinch yourself to be sure you are not in a dream. This is why I have decided to be expressing my feelings and the complaints of Agbor people in writing so that I will not be quoted wrongly.
I also make bold to say that the appointment of the “Mother” of Agbor people to a partisan political position is a cynical plot of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and some Ika politicians to insult, humiliate and make Agbor people politically irrelevant in Delta state. By making Dein’s mother his political aide; Dr. Uduaghan has rendered the Dein incapable of criticising his government for denying Agbor Kingdom their dividends of democracy. Is it a surprise therefore that for the past four years, the Dein has not commented on burning issues affecting the Agbor Kingdom, including but not limited to, the total absence of infrastructural development, total neglect of Old Lagos/Asaba Road, collapse of the Orogodo River temporary bridge and above all, the non-release of the report of the commission of inquiry into the collapse of the overhead water tank at the model nursery/primary school of the College of Education which claimed the lives of five innocent children? If the appointment of the Dein’s mother is a way of recognising and elevating the Agbor Royal Palace and Agbor people, can Dr. Uduaghan tell the world why he has not extended that gesture to the queen of the Olu of Warri who is also the mother of all Itsekiri people or the queen of the Ovie of Agbon? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Dr. Uduaghan should stop compromising Ika Royal Palaces and their people by dragging senior members of the palaces into partisan politics.