Shuns government directive

By Martin Opara

The traditional ruler of Orji autonomous community, HRH, Eze Innocent Opara (Oshimiri), has called the bluff of the state governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma by flouting, denigrating and consistently refusing to comply with most of the directives issued by the state government in respect of the Administration of Autonomous Communities Law 2020.

Some concerned indigenes of the community who expressed reservation about what they referred to as Eze innocent Opara’s excesses, said, “the monarch as if daring or confronting the executive governor of Imo State, went to Oziza FM radio station on 15th April 2021, to denounce, condemn and dissociate his community from the appointment of Comrade Leo Oguike as the President General of Orji autonomous community by the state government. The monarch in the same radio announcement, maintained that Ken Chukwuma Nwosu, who he allegedly  single handedly chose despite protests by a cross section of Orji people who are not comfortable with the antecedents of the latter is the President General”.

It was also gathered that shortly after Governor Uzodinma, accompanied by some dignitaries, including HRH, Eze Opara commissioned toilet facilities and solar powered borehole at Nkwo Orji market on March 17, 2021 and handed the keys over to Comrade Leo Oguike who was recognized at the occasion as the President General of Orji autonomous community, some people, including his stooge, Ken Chukuwma Opara, Akonobi Akakem, Peter Igbokwe, Johnboso Onyenobi, Onyewuchi Philip, Peter Oparaugo and Paul Adiele Onyeneke, at the instance of HRH, Eze Opara forcefully collected the keys from the chairman of Nkwo Orji market, Chidi Anukam on April 3, 20201. They accused the governor of commissioning projects they constructed with the sponsorship from the PDP member representing Owerri federal constituency in the Federal House of Representative, Hon Elezieanya. 

“As if that was not enough, on April 2021 Ken Chukwuma Nwosu, the President General personally chosen and recognized by the Orji monarch, with members of the Eze’s cabinet and others of like mind, exhibited disdain and disrespect for the state government and re-commissioned with fun fare, the toilet facilities and solar powered borehole already commissioned by the governor accompanied by the Secretary to the Sate Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, Commissioner for Water Resources, Barr. Tony Umezurike, and others, in the presence of Eze Innocent Opara.

Eze Ugo II of Orji autonomous was also alleged to have put up a disclaimer in the Nigeria Stateman Newspaper edition of March 3, 2021 where he stated that, “I, HRH, Eze (Dr) Innocent Opara, Eze Ugo II of Orji autonomous community, the President General of Orji Development Union (ODU), the President and Orji Women Organization, Chairman, Orji youth Central Body and good people of Orji autonomous community, write to make this disclaimer. We jointly denounce any person or person parading themselves as appointed President General or selected executives of ODU, Orji autonomous community”.

The President General of Orji autonomous communities, Nze Ihejieto Kenneth Chukuwma, Akanwu III of Orji. Any other person or group of persons parading themselves to the contrary are hereby advised and warned to desist”.

“The purported disclaimer was signed by Eze Innocent Opara and his group who are diametrically opposed to virtually all programmes and policies of the Hope Uzodinma administration which they flout and shun with ignominy”.

According to Engr. Richards Opara, former President General of Orji Development Union, who officially handed over to Leonard Oguike in compliance with the directive of the state government, “some time in 2014, former Governor Rochas Okorocha dissolved all town unions in the state and replaced them with the Community Government Council (GCC). The action of the former governor did no go down well with the Association of Town Unions in Imo State, hence they went to court and got a favourable judgment in 2016. Consequently, most town unions in the state reverted to the traditional town union structure and terminated the CGC structure in their respective communities”.

He further said, “sequel to the above, the traditional ruler of Orji, HRH, Eze Innocent Opara, reconstituted the Orji Development Union on November 3, 2018 and election of executives was conducted on November 13, 2018 at Orji Youths Cultural Association OYCA hall, where Engr. Richard A. I. Opara emerged unopposed as the President General of ODU”.

“The new executive was inaugurated on November 30, 2018, by the HRH, Eze I Opara for a 4-year tenure that should, under normal circumstances, elapse at the convention of December, 2022”.

“Surprisingly, and unfortunately, too, at the meeting of the Eze-in-Council held at the palace of the traditional ruler on June 13, 2020, Eze Ugo II of Orji, who personally inaugurated the exco under my watch, for a 4 year tenure, unilaterally pronounced the dissolution of the same executive when it was barely 18 months in office. He went further to single handedly replace the elected town union exco with his hand picked stooge and surrogate, Ken Chukwuma Nwosu led caretaker committee”.

“A stage managed election was held few days later for two of his stooges, namely Ken Chukwuma Nwosu and Chief Johnbosco Onyenobi who emerged as President General and Deputy President General respectively”. Engr. Opara also noted that the election of the Chukuwma Nwosu led caretaker committee elected by members of the Eze’s cabinet in the Eze’s palace violated instead of among the members of the representative council, comprising chairman, secretary and 3 members from each of the 10 villages in Orji and 2 representatives of all registered associations in Orji autonomous community, violated the stipulated procedure and guidelines, hence there was massive protest by the people. It was further gathered that the Orji Town Development Union, in a letter dated 6th July 2020, addressed to the Interim Management Council chairman of Owerri North LGA and signed by representatives of all the villages and registered associations in Orji autonomous community, stated that, “it is pertinent to state that the Representative Council of Orji Development Union, comprising the chairmen, secretaries and three members from each of the 10 villages and 2 representatives from all registered associations in Orji autonomous community, after extensive deliberation, on the action of our traditional ruler, HRH, Eze Innocent Opara, hereby state that, the Town Union dissociates itself from the dissolution of the Engr. Richard Opara led exco of ODU and also from his attacks on your person and that of our elected President General, Engr. Richard Opara. We also pass a vote of confidence on all the elected officers of ODU, led by Engr. Richard Opara as President General”.

We also affirm that there is a clear distinction between the responsibilities of the traditional ruler (Eze Ugo) and that of the town union (ODU)”. “It is evident that HRH, Eze Innocent Opara of Orji autonomous community has vehemently rejected your directive and that of the state government as exhibited by his unilateral and illegal dissolution of the town union and replacing it with his hand picked cronies as “caretaker committee”.

“The union hereby appeals to you to use your good offices to ensure that Eze Ugo II of Orji autonomous community complies with your directives and that of the state government in the interest of peace and progress in our community”.

A source in the community who spoke on condition of anonymity alleged that the Orji monarch fell apart with the Engr. Opara who he inaugurated because, “the latter as a highly principled person refused to do or play some of the roles expected of him by the monarch which he felt were not in tandem with the dictates of his conscience, hence the latter, aggrieved and disappointed, unlawfully cut short his tenure”.

When contacted, the recognized and authentic President General of Orji autonomous community, Leonard Oguike, said, “I don’t want to join issues with my revered traditional ruler, HRH, Eze Innocent Opara who I respect and hold in very high esteem”.

“I was President General of ODU, Lagos branch for 7 years and peacefully handed over to my successor, Ogueri Udunna without controversy. I am not one who thrives in crisis. My mission is to reposition Orji and take it to the next level of industrial infrastructural and socio-economic development. I intend to achieve this through result-oriented leadership.

All I ask is for your individual/collective and institutional support. Give me only one year and watch us complete the ODU block in the Orji Comprehensive Secondary School site. Give me just one year, and watch us link Orji to 33 KVA power source. Give me just one year and watch us bring back the glory of Orji Community and Orji Constitution. Give me just one year and watch if we will not conduct an Orji Convention. I can’t remember when last Orji people had a convention.