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Six years after, Edo community battles installation of clan head

Okpella, carved out of Etsako East Local Government Area, is one of the clans in Edo North senatorial district without a head, six years after…

Okpella, carved out of Etsako East Local Government Area, is one of the clans in Edo North senatorial district without a head, six years after the death of the former leader, Okwokpellagbe of Okpella, Alhaji A.Y.E Dirisu.

Okwokpellagbe died on February 17, 2019, and since then, efforts to get a successor have eluded the community.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that following the absence of a clan head, issues that would have been settled amicably are left unresolved.

Residents of the community said there was an existing gazette adopted in 1979 by the defunct Bendel State Government that unambiguously spelt out procedures to be followed in choosing a new king for Okpella.

It was gathered that the kingmakers had made several efforts to produce a successor but the process was halted by the state government following intrigues and power play by vested interests in the community.

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that the Okwokpellagbe stool was rotated between two ruling houses, namely, Ogute and Otekhu.

It was also learnt that it is the turn of the Otekhu ruling house to produce the next Okwokpellagbe as the late king was from the Ogute ruling house.

Findings also revealed that as part of the succession tradition, when the clan head dies, the kingmakers commence the process of getting a successor after 90 days. However, the inability of the Otekhu ruling house to agree on one person to succeed the late clan head was largely responsible for the vacuum.

A source who craved anonymity claimed that if not for the intrigues and politics introduced by some people for selfish reasons, they would have long installed a ruler.

He alleged that some persons aspiring for the stool were not from Okpella; and therefore, should not be allowed to contest for the exalted stool.

It was noted that despite the politics and intrigues involved in the process, the people submitted three names to the state government to pick from, but the state government is yet to do the needful.

One of the kingmakers, Chief Talib Musa, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday on the development, said the three names were presented to the state government after they were unable zero in on one person following the intrigues that heralded the selection process.

He said the community had its own way of doing things regarding traditional matters.

“Initially, when we got the proclamation letter from the governor through the local government, the kingmakers held a meeting because we were supposed to elect one person that would be presented as the new head of the clan for installation and presentation of staff of office.

“The kingmakers met and discussed the modalities and started preparing to elect one person among the three names that were nominated. But some persons brought boys to disrupt the process and we couldn’t arrive at any decision or pick one person among the three from the Otekhu ruling house, whose turn is to produce the next clan head.

“We decided to write to the governor, asking him to choose one out of the three persons since we could not elect one because the 44 days for the kingmakers to choose and submit a candidate to the state government was already elapsing.

“Since then, it was one problem or another; people were petitioning here and there,” the kingmaker said.

He said the governor was trying to see what he could do,  adding, “I am sure that between now and three months, from the way we are going about it, there is the possibility that before he leaves office he might choose one for us out of the three we gave him.

“The Otekhu ruling house comprises of two villages while Ogute has four. It goes from Ogute to Otekhu, and  it is the turn of Otekhu. I am sure that the governor will be able to pick one for us.”

Lamenting over the situation he said, “Everybody is divided, everyone wants his own person to be there instead of coming together to pick one. It is because of various interests that we are without a clan head.

“Once the stool is popular like this one, politicians would want to politicise everything and make sure it goes their way. For example, if it is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), they would want their man to occupy the position, same with the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

He appealed to the state government to be fast about selecting a ruler for them because a community without a king doesn’t have direction. He called on the people to wait for the decision of the governor.

On his part, Ayuba Giwa, a lawyer, noted that under the traditional rulers and chieftaincy laws of Edo State, the appointment and confirmation of appointment of traditional rulers is the exclusive function of the state government.

He noted that after Nigeria’s independence, natives were allowed to select people and submit to the government, and no matter the number submitted, the decision to pick one had been that of the state government.

He said the three candidates were submitted within the stipulated timeframe, but he didn’t know why the state government had not appointed any of them, neither has the governor told the people the reason behind the delay.

“In the past five years, the kingmakers have done their part; if the state government doesn’t want any of the names submitted, they should tell the people so that they will submit other names.

“I didn’t witness any crisis over the issue and I don’t know if others witnessed, but the government has said there are lots of petitions against all the candidates. I have never seen any petition,” he said. He, however, called on the people to exercise patience.

Also speaking, Chief Kadir Christopher said the non installation of a clan head had affected the community greatly.

“As a result of the absence of a clan head, many things the community is supposed to achieve are left unattended to. One section of the community claims that the company operating in Okpella, like Dangote Cement, belongs to them, just like BUA Cement and others. If we had a king, he would have solved the people because Okpella is one. Most people in the same village are just doing what they like because they know there is nobody to report to. That is the situation we have found ourselves.

“One thing about kingship in Nigeria is that immediately it gets to the state government, it becomes political, and when it becomes political, if you are not in the same party with them, to give you the kingship becomes a problem. Also, even if you are in the party, there will be tension as they will have different candidates.

“I am from Okpella and know that kingship is rotated between Ogute and Otekhu. It is the turn of Otekhu and there is no way Ogunte can force them to do the needful.

“The gazette states that after 90 days, if the Otekhu ruling house is not ready, Ogunte can take over the kingship, but we want peace to rain. We have served ours and they should serve theirs, but they should do it the right way so that everyone will be happy.

“If not for God, the delay would have brought something else to Okpella. So they should present the right person so that we can make progress,” he said.

Another resident who gave his name as Abdulrahaman appealed to the state government to fulfill its part as Okpella has done their part by submitting three names for the vacant stool.

Responding, the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Mr Monday Osaigbovo, attributed the delay to the inability of Okpella community to present one person to the state government for installation.

“It is correct that the kingmakers submitted three names to the state government to choose from.

But at a stage, when the state government decided on one of the three, one of them quickly installed himself, or some people installed him, which created disharmony within the community,” he alleged.

He said that since the state government didn’t want to join them in creating problems, “the person who installed himself  has been informed that what he did was illegal and he could go to jail, going by a section of the chieftaincy law of the state.”

Osaigbove said the state executive would meet after report from various security agents on the matter. He said the issue would be resolved soon as some members of the community, including kingmakers, had visited the governor over the issue.

“The people told the governor that any of the submitted candidates was acceptable to them, saying some unscrupulous people are trying to take decisions that are supposed to be taken in the palace because there is no ruler.

“But let’s say that soon, a decision would be taken by the State Executive Council. If not for their inability to present one person to the governor, by now, their king would have been installed.”

The commissioner appealed to them not to do anything that would jeopardise the peace and security of the community.

However, following the intrigue and politicking that heralded the selection process, only time will tell when Okpella will get a clan head.



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