Awka gets PhD as President General in the person of Chief Amobi Nwokafor. Hear him speak on Awka crisis and Obiano's failure in Awka

Chief Amobi Nwokafor, PhD is the President General, Awka Development Union Nigeria (ADUN). He is a chartered Accountant by profession and also the founder and Managing Partner of a renowned Lagos based accounting firm,  Amobi Nwokafor and Company (Chartered Accountants).

In this exclusive interview with , the Agbako Agbako 11 of Awka kingdom gave an insight into the lingering crisis in Awka community that led to the emergence of two traditional rulers and two Presidents-General in the capital of Anambra State.

We understand that crisis often erupt between the Presidents General and traditional rulers of various communities, especially in Awka, what in your opinion are the causes of such crisis?

A lot of factors could be responsible for that but I can only speak from the Awka perspective where I come from and the one I am involved in. I have the feeling that the Government of Anambra state equally help to fuel some of this crisis. In Awka, for example, we have a President General who at the point of swearing in, took an oath to uphold the constitution of Awka Development Union Nigeria (ADUN).

The position of the President General is a tenured office and in Awka, the terms of office are very clear on that. The former President General, when his tenure elapsed, refused to go and that was just the problem. We went to court to make him go and got good judgment at the lower court, we won. One of the content of that judgment was that state government should set up a caretaker committee and organize election for Awka within three months. A listening government would have carried out that court judgment and if they had done that, there wouldn’t have been any problem in Awka but there are a lot of angles to this matter. One will ordinarily wonder why state government should not carry out court decision. It’s because there are inherent religious interest on the matter.

Somebody was saying that the governor is a catholic, the former Eze Uzu Awka is a catholic and the former President General also a catholic. So, there is a gang up to elongate his tenure for reasons best known to them because anybody that is President General of Awka Development Union Nigeria is under the Anambra state government.

 It cannot be lawless. You can only work with the government to achieve the overall objective of a town in terms of development. Why they decided to push him to continue even after his tenure was expired is best known to them. And the way Awka shares things is also enshrined in the constitution.  It is there for everyone to see. So, the government not intervening at that point caused the Awka problem because before then, there was no problem. There was the issue of the Catholic Church which was really a religious issue but not the kind of problem we have now and that religious problem was also being handled in its own way but when the government refused to take action about the union tussle, it has now enlarged, consuming almost everybody. So, the government should always look at every town and its own peculiarity. Awka is not Aguleri, Onitsha or Agulu for instance, if you are in Awka you look out for one or two things that are peculiar to Awka man.

The issue of President General is a coordinating president of Awka town union because for any where you go outside Anambra state, there are branches of the union. So, the President General is just a coordinating president, making sure that every branch of the union works according to plan.

In what way has your non recognition by this present government affected your stewardship to Awka people?

Not at all. I usually tell people that it is the people that determine who is their President General or not and the concept originally does not envisage government intervention. So, government coming in into town unionism has corrupted the original idea of town union. It has become political so that a leader of the union will always dance to the government whims and caprices and that is not what town unionism is all about. What town unionism entails is knowing what your town wants and standing by it. What government does was to hijack these leaders and made them part of the government in anyway.

So the government does not want to be criticized. Awka is the capital of the state and I want to ask in all fairness the possibility of comparing Awka with Abakaliki which is the Ebonyi State capital. You know in this part of the world, we normally underrate Ebonyi state, especially Abakaliki, their state capital but go there today, they have done a lot for themselves. I mean, you cannot compare that place with Awka now because they are many years ahead of Awka in terms of infrastructural development and road network. If you go there, you will see what a capital of a state ought to be. Awka is just one long capital express way. If you remove the expressway, there will be nothing in Awka again. Just go round and see things yourself.

Do you mean that Awka Capital Development Authority (ACDA) has not designed the template for the development of Awka or that government is not serious with its implementation?

Whatever be the case, it is left for the masses to judge and you journalists to move round and tell people your observation so that it will not look as if I am just speaking just to criticize the government. But, personally and in my own judgment is based on the physical infrastructure. If you go round and see any, just let me know about that. The government House where the governor leaves is not in the capital city, we call the place Judges residence and that was where they had stayed since the inception of the state. The governor’s lodge is not Awka per se. When a place is made the state capital, you start developing the place. What has been happening was that any governor that steps in, sees his own town as the state capital. That should be developed rather than Awka. I can name the previous governors and their towns for confirmation. Go there and see massive development and Awka that supposed to be developed is now abandoned.

What of the three flyovers in the state capital, are they not part of the development indices?

I can tell you that without those bridges, the road will still be where it is and with due respect to the present governor who built the bridges, but that type of bridge is not what is expected in this 21st century era. Just move around the state, you will see that the same governor is building bridge elsewhere. Can you compare those bridges he is building there with this one. You find out that there is partiality because you are building a modern bridge to a place that is not a state capital and you come to a state capital to build an ancient bridge. Even though, it is an achievement but history will record all these things. It is an achievement really; I will not take it away from him but is it the kind of bridge that should be built at this time. The governor himself lives in Houston, is that the kind of bridge or fly over that he sees in Houston? Somebody cannot travel to Houston and other countries of the world, see the modern bridges they built in their countries and come back here to build a make shift bridge that is so ancient. The point I am making is that every successive governor that have ruled Anambra state sees his town as the state capital. Go to Aguleri if you are in doubt of what I am saying and see the kind of bridge the governor is building there and apart from these bridges, I wonder what else you can point now that the governor has done in the state capital. Go to Agulu and see what former Governor Peter Obi did in terms of road infrastructure, visit Uli and see what Mbadinuju did there including the Anambra state university Uli, move to Alor where Ngige hails from, you will think you are in London. These are to justify the fact that any governor that comes on board sees his home town as the state capital.

You earlier raised the issue of government interference as reasons for problems in various communities in the state, is that also why Awka now parades two traditional rulers?

That is what I am telling you. The challenge started from the President General issue. We attach a lot of importance to things we desire as indigenes of Awka and we don’t like interference. Our governor did not recognise the President General that Awka produced up till today but Awka people know who they elected as their President General. They told him to either work with me or allow me work for them.

The issue of the traditional ruler is complicated and I will like it to be a story for another day. It is complicated in the sense that Awka traditional ruler institution is not for life but the intention is that it can be for life and on the other side, it cannot be for life. It depends on the ability of the traditional ruler who is occupying that position at that time to abide by the regulations. We are not use to having a traditional ruler but when we started having, we wrote out code of conduct that only the traditional ruler must abide with. It can be regarded as the rules and regulations guiding that office. You can see that if we had designed it in such a way that it will not be for life, we won’t have that code of conduct. Before now, the oldest man (Otochara Awka) is regarded as our Head. But with the coming of traditional rulership in Igbo land, we also adopted that since it has become the tradition of everybody but we have code of conduct. So, our traditional ruler, even though, he is going to lord it over us , must be within the guidelines. And that was why I said it can be for life or not. Others that were there before him were all for life. But he came with his own idea of what he thinks Awka should be and Awka said no and that led to the emergence of another person who is willing to obey the guidelines of Awka traditional institution.

But in our interaction with Eze Uzu 11, he told us that he never violated any Awka tradition or rule, how can we reconcile that what you just said now?

I can only refer you to the publication of the Awka council of King makers because they detailed the infringements. It was in the public domain. All his sins were listed in that publication.

We learnt that it is a taboo in Awka town to crown another while the former is still alive, people loyal to Eze Uzu 11 linked the death of the former chief priest of Imoka to the crowning of Eze Uzu 111, how true is that?

I must tell you that I am not all knowing and I am not equally a spirit of death. If somebody says he knows what killed the former chief priest of Imoka, that person should come out and tell Awak people. It is only the people that are sprit of death that can tell you who and what killed the chief priest of Imoka.

But to the best of my knowledge, the chief priest of Imoka has been working with Eze Uzu 11. Maybe he and his co travelers know what they are saying. The Chief priest is no longer alive to defend himself or tell people what killed him. But I must equally tell you that the chief priest before his death had a prostrate cancer. The one I am aware of. I remembered that somewhere along the line, my attention was called to the issue of his health and I raised some money to help him attend to  that prostrate cancer. If anybody is saying any other thing, I don’t know.

There is something about death, it is a debt all of us owns our creator. And nobody knows when his will come and there must be one cause of death or the other. I am not part of those people that will attribute death of anybody to any reason. This is because a man is born and a man must die and these are the two realities of life.

ADUN recently organised an award day for students of Awka indigenes, what is your aim of venturing into such youth development?

I use to say in the past that the concept of town union, especially in Igbo land is for development because of the fact that Igbo people usually come together as brothers and sisters and that is the original concept of town unionism of Igbos. As the President General, I coordinate the branches because every branch has a president. This program is what we said we will implement. We want to see a situation where we leave a template where anybody that is coming to become a president General of ADUN in future will know that it is the kind of work to be done.

Youth Development is part of it. What we planned this time was to have a seminar where students of post primary schools (JSS1 to SS3) will attend. A seminar where we will tell them about the future so that they know what the future holds for them and begin now to take decisions  on what to be. So we call it career counselling and guidance. The other aspect is to encourage and motivate the young ones to work hard in schools, to read hard so that they will excel. We isolated those who have done very well and congratulated them by giving them awards in monetary terms as well as scholarship.

Our intention was to indirectly fight the students’ cultism because we believe that if we make our future leaders to realize that education is important, they will not have time for cultism or play around like area boys or things like that. We want to make sure that they mind their businesses as young men and women and know that the future is great for them.

Do you intend to extend the exercise to students in tertiary institutions?

Yes, what we are doing is segmented. This is the starting point; this is the program we planned for secondary school students who are Awka indigenes. Then we have another segment that will cover university undergraduates. It is incorrect to say that cultism is only at the university level. What we have noticed in Awka today is the fact that even primary school pupils are members of various cult groups, talk more of post-primary school students. Some people that are being killed on daily basis are students in secondary schools that are participating in one cult activity or another. This is perhaps as a result of the proximity of the university. Today, people who are not even undergraduates and post-primary students are cultists, fighting and killing each other. Hence, we want to emphasize the role education plays in self-actualization and liberating the individual from primordial negative thinking.

The festival of Imoka was held recently and two persons were feared dead while scores were injured, was that what the cultural festival supposed to be?

It was never the intention of our forefathers for things to turn out that way. However, we are trying to maintain Imoka festival because it has become a unifying force for Awka indigenes. A lot of stories have been told about Imoka, stories most of us ignore because of the rabid progression. What is obtainable today isn’t the same as what we had ten years ago in concept and in terms and it will continue to change. The best way forward is to improve it because it serves as a unifying force for all in Awka. We have condemned the violence that usually erupts during the festival as it goes against everything Imoka stands for. The festival is a peaceful one and we want it to remain that way. That was why we made various announcements through the town criers warning non indigenes to steer clear of the festival. Awka indigenes who wished to participate were also warmed to abide by the regulations of the festival that it is not an avenue to for people to beat up people. It is not an avenue to molest or snatch phones or kill others. We also informed the police to arrest people who violate the rule, especially people that are causing problem and making the festival look like a criminal festival. We engaged the police and SARS and ordered them to arrest and prosecute anyone found violating the rules. It is even more criminal for non-indigenes to participate in the festival because they don’t know the rules.

What is your call to the people and government in terms of promoting peace and unity in Nigeria?

My advice and call to the governor of the state is to be a good shepherd. You remember the story of the shepherd and his flocks. A good shepherd from the biblical point of view, loves his flock. I want to refer the governor to that passage in the scripture. I call on him to imbibe the quality of good shepherd and it is only that concept that will bring about peace in the state.
Awka gets PhD as President General in the person of Chief Amobi Nwokafor. Hear him speak on Awka crisis and Obiano's failure in Awka Awka gets PhD as President General in the person of Chief Amobi Nwokafor. Hear him speak on Awka crisis and Obiano's failure in Awka Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, May 26, 2018 Rating: 5

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