That era was a dull moment, a dark period in the history of Umuleri. A community without a traditional ruler is like a ship without a captain and therefore rudderless.
UMULERI community in Anambra East Council of Anambra State finally closed the door to a painful past on July 1 when the traditional ruler, Igwe Ben Izuchukwu Emeka, inducted 35 members into his cabinet, in a colourful ceremony held at his palatial palace.
Igwe Emeka might have used the historic event, coming after 22 years of no traditional ruler and seen by many as the start of a new era in the history of the community, to set the tone for his reign.
The 35 members of the cabinet comprising both male and female, selected after a detailed screening of over a thousand nominees were drawn from the academia, media, retired public servants, politicians, entrepreneurs and community leaders.
Igwe Emeka reminded the cabinet members that he will rely on them for advice as he charts the course of the development of the community. He told them that it falls on them to confer on the “challenges facing Umueri and offer solutions that will eventually foster unity in the community.”
The Igwe harped on the need to devise strategies to empower the youths through employment, acquisition of skills or scholarship to students at all levels.
A philanthropist who has several in the university under his scholarship program, he told his cabinet members that education remains a means of fast tracking development and enhancing human capital.
As the cabinet chiefs expressed their readiness to serve the community and pledged their loyalty to the Igwe, Professor Ikpeze said that the enthronement of the Igwe and induction of the cabinet “after over 22 years in the wilderness, is a milestone in the history of the community.”
Most of the cabinet members noted that the leadership of Igwe Emeka is “the best thing that has happened to the community,” and considered themselves lucky to be part of the change looming over the community.
Chief Mike Udah, a former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Peter Obi, and a member of the Cabinet, said Igwe Emeka “had touched lives in the community positively even before he was crowned. I appeal to my colleagues in the cabinet to assist him actualize his laudable programs for the community. With Igwe Emeka, Umueri has seen the light and would be henceforth leading in comity of communities in Anambra.”
On the 22 years without a traditional ruler, Udah said, “we are all happy that the era without a traditional is gone now. That era was a dull moment, a dark period in the history of Umuleri. A community without a traditional ruler is like a ship without a captain and therefore rudderless. We lived in obscurity, life was nasty, brutish and short, to use the words of Thomas Hobbes, the foremost philosopher.
“Nothing was working, there was no movement. Any group, no matter the size without leadership is lost and that was the lot of Umuleri in those 22 years.
“This inauguration shows that light has come to Umuleri; it is over. This is a pointer to what is ahead of the community. Even the elements are in agreement, the weather is so clement today.
“We have left Egypt and we are heading to the Promised Land and by the grace of God we will arrive there. Fortunately, the Igwe has what it takes to carry the community on the journey. He is a seasoned leader and providence has prepared him for this all this while. He is a philanthropist, a seasoned business man, widely traveled and successful. He is highly experienced and knowledgeable and Umuleri people couldn’t have wished for a better Igwe to lead them at this time.
“He is a combination of everything we want, a bridge between the traditional and modern society, versed in the ways of both societies, an eclectic Igwe.
“The way forward now is to put behind us the pains of the past 22 years. We will stay with the lesson as we won’t forget how we got here. The passage of our Igwe, the late Nelson Okoye, triggered a struggle for succession with its attendant crises.
“The situation was made worse because the Igwe-ship in Umuleri is not hereditary. In the crisis and disagreement that followed, the late Igwe was not buried. And in this society, you can’t install a new Igwe when the late Igwe has not been laid to rest. And it was towards the end of 2016 that the late Igwe was buried and the new one, Igwe Emeka installed. And this inauguration can be regarded as the start of official business.”
The emergence of the Igwe followed a process worked out by a committee set up by the President General of Umuleri, Pius Okonkwo led by Chief Godswill Umeadi.
A Woman leader, Mrs. Ngozi Blessing Morah, noted that “Igwe Emeka has changed the narratives of Umueri as a traditional ruler with swag and we women will always support our monarch.”
The traditional Prime Minister, Onowu Iyasele 13 of Umueri, Chief Mike Ekweonu lauded the peaceful means everything went in the community and lauded Igwe Emeka for setting a record unequaled in the community.
Some members of the cabinet include the President General Umueri General Assembly, Hon Pius Okonkwo, Prof Mrs Ogugua Ikpeze of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State; retired AIG Paul Okafor, Justice Charles Okaa and Chief Elder Anakputalu Godswill Umeadi , Senator Emma Anosike.