Imo State is one of the monolingual-mono cultural groups of the Igbo ethic nation of the South Eastern region of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and has unique features and characteristics that mark it as distinct society or community in the republic.
One of the socio cultural or traditional ways of government and administration of the affairs is the institution of village/community or town unions and age grade system in some parts of the state. These town unions have been in existence since the pre-colonial days and can be found wherever there are Igbo settlements.
Before pre-independence in 1960 there existed Igbo town union in Kano State and same in Aba, Abia State. The union has to do with the unity, safety, security, socio-cultural and economic progress and welfare of the people without distinctions. The union has its norms, practices and mode of selecting leaders with its sanction to protect the members. A few years ago, the “Rescue Mission government of Rochas Okorocha failed in her attempt to modify and perhaps transform the system to form the 4th tier of government under what was known as community government council-an experiment that failed because Imolites as republican Igbo people have their own primordial way of democracy.
As mentioned earlier, town unions are operated upon the peoples own constitution with its own mode of selecting leaders or elders without interference. For certain, there is no law empowering the local government to interfere with the operations of town unions or traditional institutions in Igbo land including Imo. It is a taboo or sacrilege which emperor Owelle committed still awaiting him.
In recent weeks, there have been several reports of meddlesomeness and illegal interference with the composition of the executives or leadership of the unions in the state and their activities by some of the unknown, non elected and unpopular selected/appointed governors, local government Interim Management Chairmen. The popularity, integrity and knowledge of these young men have not been tested.
Their action is ultra vires and a taboo. They are only trying to replicate their mode of appointment in the town unions by imposing their yeomen or surrogates on the various communities as a ploy to form their local political structures, contrary to principles, rules and laws guiding the unions in Imo State by creating factions in the communities and villages leading to chaos and confusion which do not augur well for the people at this period of our history.
These untutored young men have put a knife into the thing that held us together and as Achebe would say “Things Have Fallen Apart”. We would want to use this opportunity to call on the state governor to call his men, the IMC chairmen to order before they set Imo ablaze. Let them study all the relevant Imo State government laws as they affect town unions and retrace their steps. The town unions are so dear to the hearts of Imolites and any attempt to tamper with the natural and lawful means of electing their leaders is chaos and no society progresses in the presence of adversities and troubles.
We hope that the Imo lawmakers would read Law 6 of 2006 as it affects the unions and also educate their constituents, the IMC chairmen for neither the state government, House of Assembly nor the local government has the right or power to dismiss town union executives elected in accordance with the constitution as the unions as a body may approach the court for an answer.