… As Obi Nwaokobia, Obi Ozili Pay Solidarity Visit To Omu Dunkwu
By Patrick Ochei
The Bible said that “Blessed are peace makers, for they shall see God”. This was the basis upon which the duo of Obi Adi Nwaokobia and Obi Abua Ozili (Asagba of Okpanam), both traditional Obis in Okpanam paid a solidarity visit to the Omu of Okpanam/Anioma, Obi Martha Dunkwu, with the intention of reconciling their differences and forging a common front towards peace and unity in Okpanam community.
The Obis recognized that “to err is human, to forgive is divine”. They affirmed that Omu Martha Dunkwu as a generational patriot in Okpanam and Anioma, had always put the interest of the community over and above her personal benefits; the reason she monumentally supported the creation of the Ugoani stool and its sustenance for progress and development of Okpanam.
They averred that unfortunately, her patriotism was ridiculed by the same people she had staked her neck for.
According to the Obis in their address, “We, the Obis in Okpanam have come on solidarity visit to you our Queen Mother, Omu of Okpanam. It has become necessary to show the world that we are behind you as you face manufactured challenge from HRM, the Ugoani of Okpanam and two of his Chiefs, Chief Stephen Okonta and Chief P.K. Obanya.
We are happy to inform you that over the weekend, it came to our knowledge that HRM, the Ugoani of Okpanam has graciously owned up to the people of Okpanam, through Club 40 Okpanam Members that the cause of the whole embarrassment meted out to you is because of your refusal to witness the Chiefs in court against the Obis in Okpanam. What is most troubling is The Ugoani’s assertion that the decision to do the Disclaimer was that of his Chiefs. How can Chiefs determine the fate of the Mother of the Town, who in order not to divide the town further, did what a true Mother will do.
We included you in our suit in 2012 because of your support for the Ugoani and his Chiefs. You helped the Ugoani to get his Staff of Office and the Chiefs to get their certificates. How can a Mother, who is also an Obi and Mother of Ndi Obi testify against her children. We thank you for doing the right thing and we are informing you that we will remove your name from the suit. We are also informing you that the Afor Market Okpanam through Obi Ozili, Asagba of Okpanam, is returned to your custody as ordained by our Forefathers, immediately”.
The Obis explained in their address that Asaba, Ibusa and Okpanam practice rotational Traditional Rulership and multiple Obiship, adding that at the right time, Okpanam people would address the world on the embarrassing Disclaimer on the Mother of the Community and the lies peddled with our tradition.
They further maintained that “Our second mission of coming is to appeal to you as our Mother to bring all your children at home and in the diaspora together. We have always come to you in the past and you have always delivered; whether in the issue of getting the Ugoani Instrument, getting the Ugoani elected, getting his approval and staff of office, boundary demarcations between Ogbeozoma/Amachai, Amachai/Ogbeojie, Ogbeojie/Ogbeobi and others. When there is crisis and we come to you, we have always found succour. It is important to resuscitate Izuani, which is the highest decision making organ in Okpanam and headed by Diokpa-Isi as contained in the Delta State of Nigeria Gazette No. 39 Vol. 19 of 24th September, 2009 – DSLN 10 of 2009 B9-10. We pray God and our Ancestors to grant you long life, good health, peace and more progress”, they submitted.
Responding, the Omu Okpanam/Anioma, Obi Martha Dunkwu said, “I thank the Obis in Okpanam, in particular, Obi Adi Nwaokobia and Obi Abua Ozili for this gracious solidarity visit. My appreciation also goes to sons and daughters of Okpanam at home and in the diaspora, my friends and well wishers worldwide, Traditional Institutions in Anioma and elsewhere. I thank my colleagues in the Media for their painstaking investigation, even when I refused to utter a word. You have all supported me during this period of unprecedented, unwarranted and uncalled for attack on my humble person, the ancient institution of Omu in Okpanam in particular and Anioma in general. An institution that is over 700 years old.
Since the issue is being looked into at various Quarters, I have refrained from making any comments. At the appropriate time, my remark will be made known to all. It is my belief that Okpanam is capable of handling her affairs internally. Furthermore, I will be setting a bad example to the younger generation on conflict resolution, if any. Conflict is natural, its peaceful resolution is maturity. While man is the burning fire, woman is the water that quenches the fire”, she posited.
Omu Dunkwu further revealed her genealogy. “I come from a SOLID Traditional background and cannot ridicule my Forefathers – ‘wadia busi Nze aso’, meaning ‘you don’t spit on the Nze’. Nze is the symbol of Obiship in Okpanam and Anioma. My staff of office as Omu is ‘Nze Omu’. My father is Ogbueshi Adimefe (he was on the verge of becoming an Obi before he joined his Ancestors). My grandfather is Obi Nwaokocha, his brother is Obi Dickson. My great grandfather is Obi Dunkwu. My great great grandfather is Obi Oko, his brother is Obi Onyedi. My great great great grandfather is Obi Eneshie; let me stop this far. I used ‘is’ because in Traditional African Religion, which I adhere to, our Forefathers or Ancestors are living and powerful spirits, concerned about the wellbeing of living descendants, but capable of punitive anger, if displeased.
I am so pleased and honoured by this visit that I will do a return visit today, to both of you, and to our leader and father of the Obis, Obi Nwakpoizu Ndih and the leader of my village, Obodogba, Diokpa Fredrick Ugbene, who put the cap and feather on my head on the day of my presentation as Omu to Elders of the Town, on behalf of the Traditional Ruler, His Royal Majesty, Obi Okonji Okeze of blessed memory.
Okpanam is the only town we have and we must join hands to take this ancient town, the home of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, and Chief Chris Maduaburochukwu Okolie to the next positive level. Once again, I thank you immensely and wish you abundant blessings of God Almighty and guidance of our Great Ancestors “, she concluded.
It was a moment of joy as the three Obis moved from Omu Dunkwu’s palace to visit the senior and head of the Obis, Obi Nwakpoizu Ndih. The highly elated now eldest man in Okpanam, endorsed the peace initiative and prayed for the sustenance of the unity and light which have returned to Okpanam by the coming together of the Obis after over seven years.
More hilariously entertaining was the Diokpa of Obodogba, Ogbueshi Fredrick Ugbene, who had to tell the story of his life, more significant his encounter with a lion and chimpanzee and still survived.
He said that Omu Martha Dunkwu symbolizes focused leadership, unity and peace, praying that anything that would obstruct the peace and unity of Okpanam had seen its end by this reconciliation.
She also visited Obi Adi Nwaokobia and Obi Abua Ozili, who had to present a gift to the Omu as a mark of respect and happiness.
Okpanam has faced series of intra communal disputes in recent times with no leadership position to addressing them. Part of the issues is the wearing of red cap (okpu ododo) by the chiefs, which is exclusively reserved for the Obis. The failure of the Ugoani to resolve the issue, however, made the Obis to file a law suit against the Ugoani, the Chiefs and the Omu.
The case had lingered on in the past six years, climaxing into the invitation of the Omu to testify on behalf of the chiefs against the Obis. It was however, gathered that the Omu’s staunch refusal to go to court to testify against the Obis, in order not to further divide the already polarized community, led the Ugoani and some of his chiefs to issue the embarrassing Disclaimer on the Omu, which was circulated in the media.
Part of our investigation also revealed that the Ugoani did not only goof traditionally, but also allegedly lied in the name of Delta State Government, whom he told the community directed him to write the Disclaimer as a way of ascertaining who is the authentic Traditional Ruler in Okpanam.