Soludo, Uzu Awka and Sanitization of the Traditional Institution

Recently, Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, was a guest at the home of an Awka High Chief, Austin Ndigwe, popularly known as Uzu Awka. According to reports, Soludo honoured the invitation extended to him, believing the man was celebrating his birthday.

But the crux of the matter was that Ndigwe, who had been parading himself as the traditional ruler of Awka and had also been holding parallel traditional ceremonies, wanted to use that day to perform his own New Yam Event.

Before then, the Government of Anambra State had issued a strong warning to him against holding the event, threatening to sanction him if he went ahead. The Government reiterated in its warning that it only recognized Obi Gibson Nwosu (Ezeuzu) as the one and only traditional ruler of Awka.

But when Soludo eventually visited Ndigwe, along with his (Soludo’s) wife, and on discovering what was being celebrated, Soludo opened up and in the presence of other guests, told his host point blank that he was breaking the laws of the state by continuing to parade himself as the traditional ruler of Awka.

Soludo minced no words in telling Ndigwe that Awka had only one traditional ruler in the person of Obi Gibson Nwosu and that the long standing friendship between him, Soludo, and Ndigwe, would not stop him from telling him the truth. He therefore warned him to desist from further parading himself as the traditional ruler to avoid the consequences.

It was truly a chastising moment for Ndigwe whose continued claim to the traditional stool of Awka Kingdom had become a huge source of bother to many people in the state who, had also been wondering why the various governors before now had not been able to wield the big stick against Ndigwe.

It will be recalled that last year, Ndigwe had also held a parallel New Yam Event which the state government however dispersed by deploying security agencies to the venue of the event which was Ndigwe’s house.

Soludo’s open confrontation of Ndigwe, therefore, comes as a welcome development as no society can condone such lawlessness. It was indeed becoming as if there was no government in place and the situation was made worse, when in the past, it seemed that security agencies were taking sides and thus refusing to do the needful.

Soludo’s action is more significant, given that both men had been friends for long. Indeed, during Soludo’s first foray into politics in 2010, he had rented Ndigwe’s building in Zik’s Avenue, Awka, for use as his gubernatorial campaign office. Thus, Soludo’s action smacks of a man who does not condone nonsense. We wish many leaders would be acting this way.

While it is expected that sanity will now return to Awka, as long as the traditional institution is concerned, we wish to express disappointment however, with some people in Awka, who supported the whole charade and invariably helped to sustain it. The land spoils when elders either keep quiet in the midst of anarchy or blatantly support evil.

This is also the case in many communities today when many supposed elders, shy away from telling the truth. Such behaviour helps no one and only breeds anarchy.

We salute Soludo for this rare display of courage and hope it will be the precursor to peace in communities in the state where such madness still thrives. No individual or group of individuals can be bigger than the laws of the land.