There is palpable tension in Nguru, one of the newly created autonomous communities in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State following an announcement made during Sunday Mass at St Anthony’s Catholic Church, Nguru suggesting that the newly elected traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Linus Obayi is insisting on being the person to handpick those who would form the Town Union for the community.
The announcement, it was learnt, has created confusion in the community where the Igwe was also recently accused of frustrating efforts by a group known as Nguru Development Foundation from conducting their 11th annual scholarship awards in one of the Catholic Churches in the community for yet-to-be explained reasons.
Investigations reveal that Igwe Linus Obayi had already favoured one of his allies, Mr Herbert Obinna Obute, a staff of Peace Mass Transit as the President General of the proposed Nguru Town Union and had actually taken him along when he attended a recent meeting between the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the one hand and Presidents General and traditional rulers of autonomous communities on the other.
Although announcements were made during the meeting that those not properly elected and recognized as Town Union presidents should leave the meeting, the Igwe ensured that his protégé remained at the meeting.
The disagreement between the Igwe and his people began some months ago when the heads of each of the 10 villages in the community nominated two people each to form the steering committee of the Town Union. It was alleged that the Igwe kicked against this and unilaterally designed an application form to be purchased for N5,000 and filled by anyone interested in occupying any position in the proposed Town Union.
According to our investigations, the Igwe, who released the guidelines on a Monday, also insisted that the election into the Town Union executive would be held the following day being Tuesday.
This did not go down well with some notable members of the community who wondered why the Igwe should arrogate to himself the power to constitute the Town Union. Following the announcement by the Igwe, a group of people from the community petitioned the Police Area Commander and the Department of State Service (DSS) in Nsukka, a development that compelled the Igwe to postpone what he intended to do about the Town Union elections.
A few weeks later, precisely on Monday, August 19, 2019, the 10 village heads of the community met at the palace of the clan head of Nguru Village, Onyishi Ekete Onyishi, also known Attama Ezoguda where authority was given to the two people they had nominated from each village and settlement to ensure the take-off of the Town Union.
Apparently aware that the steering committee of the Town Union had scheduled their inaugural meeting on Sunday, August 25, 2019 and apparently determined to be the person that would handpick the people that would constitute the Town Union, the Igwe wrote out the announcements that was made in the three Catholic Churches in the community on Sunday claiming that he had suspended all Town Union formation activities in the community.
Those who attended Sunday’s Church service were shocked by the announcement and were seen discussing in groups. One Chief Patrick Eze-Ezema, former President, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universitues (SSANU) and a member of the Igwe’s cabinet was heard lamenting the increased involvement of the Church in what should ordinarily be community affairs.
“How can the parish priest threaten to arrest our people who have been duly nominated to form our town Union,” he was heard lamenting.
Also speaking on the issue, one of the nominated members of the steering committee for the Town Union who didn’t wish to be mentioned because of the sensitive nature of hisposition, regretted the situation in which the Igwe, so early in his reign, was showing tendencies of a high-handed leader.
“I have never seen anywhere in this State where it is the prerogative of the Igwe to form the town union. In fact, if not that ours is anew autonomous community, our town union would have been inexistence long before the Igwe was even born. His father, Igwe Patrick Obayi, who was the very last Igwe of the entire Nsukka town, never interfered in who was nominated as a member of Nsukka Town Union. Our neighbouring village, Isiakpu has had their election and formed their town union; Echara and Umakashi had also done their own and we did not hear that their Igwe handpicked who would be in the Town Union. So why is Igwe Linus Obayi behaving like this,” he stated.
Another member of the community, Mr Chidi Onah, while reacting to the announcement wondered why the Igwe should be against a democratically constituted Town Union?
“I am not resident in Nguru but I was aware that the Igwe went through a democratic process of election before he emerged as the traditional ruler of the community. Why would the same Igwe oppose a democratically constituted Town Union? Why does he insist on being the one to handpick the members of the Town Union and threatening to use the police to arrest those that had been nominated by the people to represent them? I am not sure this is in the best interest of the community,” he stated.
A meeting between the Igwe and representatives of the Catholioc Women Organisation of the community had previously been fixed for this Sunday to resolve the disagreement between the Igwe and some elites from the community that culminated in the botched bursary awards of Sunday August 18, 2019.