Amid tension and ongoing criticism from a section of Akwa Ibom State on the newly amended Traditional Rulers Council law, a socio-political group ARISE Ambassadors has appealed to the people of the state to remain peaceful and united against agents of destabilization.
It would be recalled that the governor had accented the bill seeking to amend the Traditional Rulers CAP 155 Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2022 (as amended) which was presented, deliberated and subsequently referred to the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for scrutiny and finally passed into Law by the state Assembly.
Addressing journalists on Sunday in Uyo, the state capital on the theme: Amended Traditional Rulers Council law: The Dignity of Traditional Institution and Needless Rancour, the National President of the group, Revd. Richard Peters who expressed regrets at the ethnic dimensions the new law is assuming and the threat to the existing peace in the state appeals for support of the new Traditional Rulers law of Akwa Ibom State and an immediate stop to the blackmail and campaign of calumny
Our Correspondent gathered that the amendment which has now elevated the Oku Ibom Ibibio to the position of the President general of the Supreme Council of Akwa Ibom Traditional Rulers for Life was primarily targeted at making traditional rulers in Akwa Ibom State to attain such credibility and integrity of other dignified traditional rulers in other parts of the country.
The ARISE Ambassadors who are disturbed by the tension being generated by the new law highlighted, “Our findings reveal that every aspect of the bill was considered and a public hearing was held where all relevant stakeholders from the 31 local government areas including representatives of the paramount rulers, Oku Ibom Ibibio, Atha Oro, Itai Afe Annang, sociopolitical groups, trade unions, civil society groups among others were represented.
” Contributions and inputs from all the stakeholders were solicited and obtained through memoranda to the committee which added to the final position of the proposed amendment. In the end, after the different stakeholders made their position known, everyone accepted to the eventual amendment”.
The group further added; “We, the ARISE Ambassadors are wholly in support of the amended TRC law because we know that is a good way to take the traditional rulers in Akwa Ibom State to play in the “big league” of traditional institutions in Nigeria.
“We are aware that the role of the traditional institution in Nigeria is crucial to the development and progress of the diverse ethnic nationalities in the country, as well as their strong influence in some political issues in the land even in their advisory capacity.
The traditional institution is highly revered, confers prominence on the various ethnic groups and goes a long way in influencing government policies in their areas of jurisdiction. Indeed, the traditional institution grades ethnic groups.
“This accounts for why the words of the Ooni of Ife, Oba of Lagos, Oba of Benin, Olu of Warri and others are laws. The ethnic groups that own these first-class traditional rulers are able to achieve this status for their kings because of the modus operandis of the tribes including ascension to the throne and duration of their reigns. A common denominator among them is that the kings reign for life, part of which the amended TRC law has taken care of.
“That is why we strongly pitch our tent on the collective decision by the 31 paramount rulers in Akwa Ibom State, apart from those who are sick, and other stakeholders that in order for Akwa Ibom State to play a role in the national traditional rulers council, there was a need to elevate the traditional rulers council in the State to be known as Supreme Traditional Rulers Council headed by the President-General.
The group opined “This is highly commendable. It shows a traditional institution that is concerned about projecting the image of Akwa Ibom State in the comity of traditional rulers in Nigeria with attendant benefits.
“By sharing the offices of the President-General, Vice President-General I and Vice President-General II among the Oku Ibom Ibibio, Nkuku Annang and the Ahta Oro shows that our traditional fathers are sensitive to the components of the State, and want to continue to live in love and unity”.
According to the Ambassadors, “We are highly impressed by the exemplary disposition and mentality of the President-General of the Supreme Traditional Rulers Council and Oku Ibom Ibibio, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk for his contra-myopic leadership style and patriotic actions in all his stations of life.
“We are confident that the new office will not be an exception. The first-class monarch sees himself first and foremost as an Akwa Ibomite and not an Ibibio, Oro or Annang. That is what patriotic leadership entails and Ntenyin is not found wanting”.
The group appealed to the protesters to rethink and advised them not to take the peace and unity enjoyed in Akwa Ibom State for granted.
” We are pro-Akwa Ibom, and want the people to magnify the State and not the ethnic divides. We urge all to see the idea of having a President-General for the Supreme Traditional Rulers Council as a bold attempt to compete favourably with other ethnic groups in Nigeria in the traditional institution”.
“Akwa Ibom State has excelled in different fields under different administrations. We thank Governor Umo Eno for bringing reputation to our traditional rulers through this new law and urge all not to jeopardize the good intentions of the Governor just for their selfish and clannish interests.
“This is not a time to distract Governor Umo Eno through whatever masked guise. Akwa Ibom State belongs to everyone but not everyone can be governor at the same time.
Let us not derail from that path of love, unity and oneness chatted for us by the founding fathers. We are one!” The group concluded”.