In recent times, clashes between governors and traditional rulers in Igbo land have become increasingly common, often arising from conflicting political interests. An example is the suspension of the traditional ruler of Neni, Igwe Damian Ezeani, by Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo for conferring a chieftaincy title on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.
This action has sparked tension between the monarchs and the government, with the traditional rulers expressing concerns about the perceived dehumanization of their institution by the administration.
The traditional rulers, led by Igwe Nnaemeka A. Achebe, criticized the governor’s handling of the situation, emphasizing the need for sensitivity and respect towards the traditional institution. Another monarch, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu of Abiriba Ancient kingdom in Abia, accused the political class of attempting to control the traditional institution as part of their broader quest for dominance.
The Association of Igbo Town Unions (ASITU) urged governors to refrain from meddling in traditional affairs and treat traditional rulers as representatives of sacred institutions, emphasizing the distinction between politics and cultural heritage.
Various voices, including former government officials and community leaders, called for a reevaluation of the relationship between governors and traditional rulers. They noted the importance of respecting the traditional institution, discouraging interference, and ensuring that decisions regarding dethronement or suspension involve proper consultation with the subjects and traditional rulers’ council.
The debate also touched on the role of traditional rulers in politics, with suggestions to redefine their roles and detach them from partisan activities to preserve the sanctity of the traditional institution.
As monarchs subtly kick against the interference of the political class, observers are wondering if the countless acts of confering chieftancy titles to questionable characters in exchange for financial favours, does not amount to sacrilege and an abuse of traditional institutions.