A journalist and public affairs commentator in Akwa Ibom State, Franklyn Isong, has justified the presence of the Oku Ibom Ibibio, His Eminance, Ntenyin (Dr.) Solomon D. Etuk and other traditional rulers in a stakeholders’ meeting which the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, unveiled his preferred successor.

Isong who holds a prestigious traditional title of OTUEKONG IKPAISONG IBIBIO made the justification in his office in Uyo while interacting with newsmen on Friday, 4th February, 2022, on the heels of reactions trailing the involvement of traditional rulers in the politics of the State.

He noted that Royal Fathers are public servants whose certificates of recognition are signed by the State Governor and issued to them by the Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

He explained that the governor usually presents the Staff of Office to newly appointed Paramount Rulers in Akwa Ibom as part of activities making the celebration of the State’s anniversary on 23 September and they are placed on a monthly stipend by the State government thus making them part and parcel of the government.

The human rights activist maintained that it would have been wrong if the Patriarch of Ibibio people and other traditional rulers invited by the State Governor to the meeting had ignored the Governor’s invitation, even when, the invitation said it was a “private meeting with the State governor” and they did not know the purpose of the meeting.

He stated that if the traditional rulers had boycotted the meeting, their absence would not have changed the outcome of the meeting but instead created unnecessary tension in the State as the governor who convened the meeting would have felt spited by the traditional rulers.

The pro-democracy advocate further cited instances where some first class traditional rulers were dethroned by their State Governors on allegations of working against the State governments.

“For instance in March 2020, Lamido Sanusi, who ascended the throne of Emir of Kano in 2014, was accused of ‘disrespect to lawful instructions’, by the Kano state government and was removed from office. The government said his removal was made to safeguard the ‘sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige’ of the Kano state emirate established more than a millennium ago. The deposed ruler was taken into custody by police in his palace immediately after the announcement was made, and then escorted out of the city to Nasawara state under tight security.

“The only offence of Sanusi was that he disagreed with the policy of the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, as an outspoken and influential traditional ruler in the north. The Governor accused him of supporting the opposition during the 2019 elections.

“After the election and Ganduje won re-election as governor, he quickly ordered the creation of four new emirates in Kano in a bid to reduce Sanusi’s control and influence.

“The pathetic situation is that, the traditional rulers have no constitutional role in Nigeria. They wield enormous king-like influence over their subjects. Their funds come from state government, and politicians rely on their support during elections,” Franklyn Isong explained.

He urged other governorship aspirants to redouble their efforts in their consultations, saying that in spite of the presence of the traditional rulers at the meeting where Pastor Umo Eno was favoured by the governor, the Royal Fathers are nonpartisan and will continue to play fatherly role in the State thus, will not shut their doors against any aspirant or political party that seek their royal blessing.


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