Since I expressed my opinion captioned, AGBOR: A HOUSE THAT IS DIVIDED, I have received numerous reactions from Agbor sons and daughters and friends of Ndi Agbor from every part of Nigeria, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. In all my political write-ups, I have deliberately avoided giving my contact details because I want to avoid private debates on the issues raised. Rather, I expect people to write rejoinders in support or against my opinions or at the very least, to write letters to the Editors expressing their views. However, people who know me personally and desperate people who have managed to obtain my telephone contacts have been contacting me to express their views one way or the other. I want to appreciate the very numerous people who have been following my political thinking and I want to express my joy in knowing that I am awakening such huge political consciousness among Ndi Ika and most recently, Ndi Agbor. I WANT TO SEIZE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAL TO CONTRIBUTORS TO MAKE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS THROUGH THE NEWSPAPERS BECAUSE POLITICS IS A PUBLIC, AND NOT PRIVATE AFFAIR. I also want to seize this opportunity to thank IKA WEEKLY, ANIOMA WATCH AND OTHER COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS for creating this wonderful avenue for Ndi Ika to wake up from their political slumber.
In this write-up, I have decided to comment on some reactions to the topic AGBOR: A HOUSE THAT IS DIVIDED, ask some salient questions and supply some information to the best of my knowledge. As I do not claim to be MR. KNOW-IT-ALL, I am ready to accept superior arguments or facts from contributors. That is the beauty of freedom of expression and democracy.
What makes Tonnie Egun “privileged subject of the Dein of Agbor Kingdom”?
i. Some people have tried to answer this question by telling me that by this, Tonnie means that he is a superior Agbor man than John Ehikwe. In other words that he is more royal than John Ehikwe. If this is the case, it may interest Tonnie Egun to know that John Ehikwe is a direct descendant of MORKOBIA, SON OF OGELE OF THE AGBOR ROYAL FAMILY. Morkobia left the royal family in Ime-Obi to found Agbor-Alidinma (via Ejeme in Aniocha South Local Government Area) getting his elder brother to join him immediately after that. He should have called the settlement Ali-Morkobia but he chose to call it Anidinma (Ejeme dialect, having spent three years at Ejeme before moving further South). To establish their ancestry, the two brothers named the River that they discovered there as “Umu Ogele” (Children of Ogele). Today, my extended family constitute over 90% of the population of Ime-Obi Quarters in Agbor-Alidinma. This is John Ehikwe’s ancestry which Tonnie Egun can check out and it may interest him to tell us his lineage. For the records, I am a Chartered Accountant of 37 years standing having studied in England where I lived and worked for many years.
ii. Some other people told me that by claiming to be “privileged subject of the Dien of Agbor Kingdom” Tonnie Egun is telling the World that both Agbor political and traditional powers rest in the hands of the Egun family (royal in-laws) of which he is the head. Tonnie Egun should please tell Ndi Agbor which of these answers is correct and if neither, he should state what qualifies him to be “privileged”.
Failure of the Agbor traditional institutions: In this section of his rejoinder, Tonnie Egun asked two questions.
i. Are all the Agbor Community leaders who kept Agbor together during the Regency Council dead?
ii. Who caused the division in Agbor?
My answer to the first question is that the Agbor traditional institutions comprise the Monarchy and Ndichen Agbor who hold hereditary titles (Dukes) and who have specific functions to perform. Collectively, Ndichen Agbor can call the Monarch to order if he was doing wrong or making mistakes. That is why the saying “Obi nwon Agbor, Agbor nwon Obi” and this means that the Obi (Dein) owns Agbor and Agbor own the Obi. They are supposed to be powerful and any one of them could claim the seat hence they are barred from the inner chamber of the palace (mmulor). Yes, most of the Ndichen Agbor at the time of the Regency Council have died. The present Ndichen Agbor have either surrendered their power or have had their functions taken away from them. As for th second question, Tonnie Egun should realise that leading Agbor Community Executive members who played a unifying role during the Regency Council who are still alive or any other Agbor man can only carry out an assigned duty because there can only be one captain in a ship. If some key Ndichen Agbor who are part of the traditional institution no longer perform their functions or go anywhere near the palace, what is more failure or division than that? Tonnie Egun should know whether he or some one else caused the division.
Political Moderator(s): Tonnie Egun is not sure who Agbor political moderator(s) is/are. In his attempt to exonerate his kindred, he blamed all the past political office holders for failing to moderate properly. Tonnie Egun should go on guessing and searching until he discovers the difference between political moderator, political leader and political office holder.
Who is the Shepherd of Agbor Kingdom? In his confused state of mind, Tonnie Egun guessed that this could be his sister, “the Queen Mother, V. Ikenchukwu” while the Shepherd of Abavo Kingdom could be Hon. Martin Okonta. Tonnie, when you are finally sure who the Shepherd of Agbor Kingdom is, please tell Ndi Agbor.
Queen Mother (Nne Obi), Ojeba, Hon Commissioner, (Leader of Ika South PDP), Queen – all personified by one person.
i. Queen Mother or Nne Obi is alien to Agbor tradition because Obi anwon nne (meaning that Obi does not have mother). The moment an Obi is crowned, his mother TRAVELS, NEVER TO RETURN in order to avoid the kind of overbearing influence on the Obi and his queen and to prevent the kind of the controversy Agbor is experiencing now. Modernisation/civilisation now makes the tradition only to demand that the mother of the Oba, or Obi should disappear from public view and from the palace vicinity and not to throw her weight around.
ii. Ojeba – I think was the pet name given to his queen by Obi Ikenchukwu. Such pet names are only used within the palace until Nne Obi travels. It is not a Chieftaincy title because Agbor has the Ojeba as a traditional title.
iii. Queen or Acting Queen – Ndi Agbor do not know whether (Queen Victoria Ikenchukwu) is their queen or acting queen. Tonnie Egun should tell Ndi Agbor when to expect their queen who is supposed to produce an heir to their throne which is now overdue.
iv. Leader of Uduaghan’s faction of PDP in Ika South – A title too many for a person who is not supposed to be seen in public, even in the palace premises.
A House that is divided: Tonnie Egun cannot see division in Agbor Kingdon. Yet,
i. The de facto Queen of Agbor Kingdom is leader of a faction of a political party.
ii. Traditional Chiefs such as the Oweh, Ojeba of Agbor etc are no longer playing their traditional roles or visiting the palace.
Role of Nne Obi: In trying to defend Queen V. Ikenchukwu’s multi-dimensional public functions, some people have told me that it is because she is not gainfully occupied. These people should know that by Agbor tradition,
i. She should have disappeared from public view when The Big Iroko Tree fell but for modern times.
ii. She should have been restricted to background roles such as spending all her time with traditional priests (Ndi Omu) or Christian prophets/prophetesses, making sacrifices and praying for the kingdom to be united and strong; tutoring the queen and the royal household.
Ndi Agbor want their Queen and Heir to the throne:
i. This should be the utmost concern of Queen V. Ikenchukwu, thank God she is still around.
ii. It seems this does not bother Tonnie Egun, the “privileged subject of the Dein of Agbor Kingdom”.
iii. It does bother Ndi Agbor who do not wish to have another crisis of succession or ruler-ship by young and unprepared rulers. Ndi Agbor want their future rulers to ascend to the throne after acquiring life experiences as private citizens outside the palace.
Talking Politics: In his rejoinder, Tonnie Egun confirmed that Queen V. Ikenchukwu was the leader of a faction of a political party and head of its campaign council during the recent electioneering campaigns-
i. Hon. Ezedom defended her that she did not embezzle the money meant for the campaign saying, “….. So anybody accusing her of withholding money sent for the governorship election is not saying the truth”. This shows that some politicians had actually accused her of doing so.
ii. Imagine how proud Tonnie Egun would have been if politicians had pushed for Queen Victoria Ikenchukwu to be publicly investigated, whether subsequently cleared or not.
iii. Politicians should not be gagged when talking politics. Therefore, those who feel that they are sacred and should not be talked about should not play politics.
Why should you talk about the Royal Family in Public? Some people have asked.
i. Politics is not a bedroom affair but public affair.
ii. There is no immunity granted to the royalty in politics. Eriri puha okpuzor siwe zogbue (meaning that the creeping stem that creeps to the road has asked to be trampled upon).
iii. You cannot eat your cake and keep it at the same time.
Why not blame Ojougboh and Obuh for Agbor political woes? Some people have asked.
i. Some people have told me that because of the selfish rivalry between Ojougboh and Obuh as to who would be or who would produce the commissioner, they played into the hands of the Dein who then high-jacked the position for Queen V. Ikenchukwu.
ii. Privileged Subject Tonnie Egun, should it be so?
In defence of Queen V: In defence of her sojourn into partisan politics, Tonnie Egun described Queen Victoria Ikenchukwu as “an average Agbor politician” before and during her appointment as commissioner.
i. A queen can never be an average citizen or average politician.
ii. Queen V. Ikenchukwu was not a politician before she was appointed as commissioner (see 11 above)
iii. PARTisan politicians are PARTial all over the world. So Tonnie Egun cannot claim that Queen V. Ikenchukwu has been an impartial politician when her loyalty to PDP superseded her loyalty to the Agbor interest in the just concluded general elections.
Tonnie Egun missed some vital points:
i. He made no comments on the non-appointment of the Queens of the Olu of Warri, Ovie of Agbon or even the Oba of Benin into state or national political offices.
ii. Tonnie, please tell Ndi Agbor how many members of the family of the Queen of England (who are all Oxford or Cambridge University graduates) that have ever been appointed into the cabinet of the United Kingdom.
iii. Your sister can help you with the answer as she spent about 30 years there where she acquired all the qualifications and experiences that you have helped her to advertise.
iv. You also failed to tell Ndi Agbor that you are gunning for the position of commissioner in case Queen V is dropped; hence you seized the opportunity of your rejoinder to submit your curriculum vitae.
Her re-appointment into Uduaghan’s cabinet: Tonnie Egun said that I should have come out straight to ask Dr. Uduaghan not to re-appoint Queen V. Ikenchukwu into his cabinet.
i. As a citizen of Ika South and politician, this could have been the easiest statement for me to make and it is my right to ask my state governor not to appoint anybody from my area if I have reason to do so. That does not mean that the governor will be bound by every politician’s demand.
ii. If I could publicly tell Dr. Uduaghan that Ndi Ika were not going to vote for him why could I not ask him not to appoint a person that I feel should not be appointed?
Obika served as a junior minister: Some old politicians who claim to have spent more than 30 years in politics have said that since HRM Obika had served as minister in Old Western Region, there was nothing wrong in Queen V. Ikenchukwu being a partisan politician. These “political gurus” have failed to tell Ndi Agbor that:
i. Obika was a member of the House of Chiefs from where he was appointed as a junior minister in a Parliamentary system of government.
ii. Obika was not a partisan politician and did not stand election.
iii. The present Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) did not provide for political roles for traditional rulers.
iv. The 1999 Constitution only made provision for traditional roles for traditional rulers, for which they are paid.
Political STRATEGIST? I beg your pardon! This was Tonnie Egun’s reaction to my describing myself as a political strategist.
i. I rarely blow my own trumpet, even in politics.
ii. But as State Secretary of the defunct NPN, Bendel State, I won the Ika Nation (Ika Norht-east and Ika South Local Government Areas) for the party from Professor Ali’s UPN. Tonnie, do you think this could have been done without strategy?
iii. I told Dr. Uduaghan that he would lose Ika areas if he failed to reconcile with our own faction of the PDP. Did he not lose in Ika South and did he genuinely win in Ika North-East?
iv. If Tonnie Egun could be a key part of those who achieved the above feats without strategy, I will surely beg him to pardon me.
Clannish/Tribal Sentiment: Some known political jobbers who are now benefiting from the situation of things and who think that they are very clever are bringing clannish sentiments into this very important discuss. The issue is not about Agbor or Abavo. THE ISSUE IS WHETHER IKA MONARCHS, THEIR QUEENS (ALASI), HEIRS AND MOTHERS SHOULD SERVE AS POLITICAL PARTY AGENTS/OFFICIALS OR AIDES TO POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS SUCH AS MR. PRESIDENT, GOVERNOR ETC. Trying to play tribal game is diversionary and for the interest of such game players:
i. John Ehikwe is labelled as “MR. IKA” and not Mr. Agbor, in some quarters even though he is an executive member of the Agbor Stakeholders Forum because of his active participation in Ika affairs such as former Secretary-General of Ika Leaders of Thought, present Deputy National Leader/Secretary of Ika Elders Forum and present Auditor of Onu Ika Nigeria just to mention but a few. If John Ehikwe does not care about the well-being of Agbor Kingdom, what moral right does he have to continue to champion the course of Ika Nation?
ii. My closest and most trusted Ika friends are Owa, Abavo and Agbor indigenes in that order – FACT.
iii. Any person who says that Agbor, Owa, Abavo, Ute, Igbodo etc had no AGENDA (PLAN) for the just concluded elections is living in a fools’ Paradise and so, Agbor should not be an exception. COMMUNITIES AND POLITICIANS WHO HAD NO PLANS (AGENDA) FOR THE ELECTIONS HAD THEREFORE PLANNED TO FAIL.
iv. Abavo’s Agenda (plan) was for Martin Okonta to win and one of the means to execute/achieve their objective was for the community leaders to place traditional curses on Abavo indigenes who would vote against Martin Okonta – FACT and this is commendable.
v. It is no news that I said that Martin Okonta had performed “far below average” because Martin Okonta himself had publicly declared that he “deserved to be shut” because he had failed to deliver dividends of democracy in eight years.
vi. The people who used associations such as Youths Associations, Landlords Associations etc to extort LARGE SUMS OF MONEY from each and every one of ALL the candidates for themselves are now defending Martin Okonta’s continued stay in the House of Assembly because they want to be put on his payroll. These people should bury their faces in shame to avoid being exposed for their mercenary activities during the electioneering campaigns.
vii. This issue of Ika Royals in politics that touches on the very foundation of Ika tradition should not be trivialised. WHEN MEN ARE TALKING ON SUCH ISSUES, BOYS SHOULD PLEASE SHUT UP. THEY SHOULD JUST LISTEN AND LEARN BECAUSE THE WORDS OF ELDERS ARE WORDS OF WISDOM AND HE WHO HEARS THEM GETS WISER. NO CHILD SHOWS HIS FATHER WHERE HIS FATHER WAS BORN BUT IT IS THE OTHER WAY ROUND.
My Political Ambition: I am playing my present political role (speaking out), not because I have a personal ambition to become governor, senator, minister or commissioner, not because I cannot be or I am not qualified. My ambition and mission in politics is to see government at all levels giving Ndi Ika good all-season roads, clean and uninterrupted public water, uninterrupted and powerful electricity supply, functional and affordable healthcare delivery system, clean and healthy environment, well-funded educational institutions that will provide quality education for our children and employment for the youths through the organised private sector.
Ndi Agbor to decide:
i. I have observed the politics of Agbor and I have spoken out as an indigene, a citizen and a politician.
ii. Tonnie Egun has defended the status quo (usurpation of functions) which concentrates Agbor political and traditional powers in the Egun family (maternal royal in-law) of which he is the head, making him one of the biggest beneficiaries in Agbor Kingdom.
iii. Now it is left for Ndi Agbor, especially Ndichen Agbor to decide what they want. The consequences of their decision or indecision will be judged by posterity. Anu ekwuni egbu Ndichen, eku anuni egbu Ikoro (meaning , paying of blind eye/silence over wrong-doing kills elders while disregarding elders’ warning over wrong-doing kills youths). Lord Acton said, “England expects every one to do his duty, thank God I have done mine”.
iv. If Ndi Agbor should decide that our Royal Family should remain in politics, I will abide by it BUT nothing will stop me or any politician worth his salt from talking politics to any person, by name, who happens to be in politics.
v. PLAY POLITICS AND LOSE YOUR SACREDNESS. FOR THE ROYALTY TO RETAIN THEIR RESPECT AND GENUINE NEUTRALITY, THEY SHOULD KEEP AWAY FROM PARTISAN POLITICS.