In the dying days of August 2016 and beginning of September of the same year, the Nigerian social media was abuzz with sponsored articles about the so-called election of Igwe of Ogidi in Anambra State. One such article has a heading: “Attampt to stall recognition of Ogidi Igwe-elect foiled.” These semi-literate, pen-for-hire propagandist journalists were undoubtedly carrying out the bidding of their masters.
For those who don’t know much about Ogidi, this writer has conducted extensive research about the town, its people, and past traditional rulers. Ogidi is an ancient community in present Anambra State, with a rich history dating back at least five hundred years. This town is the headquarters of Idemili North Local Government Area. For about one century and two decades the community has enjoyed a peaceful symbiotic relationship between the Amobi traditional rulers and the good people of Ogidi. Ogidi before Amobi Dynasty was an innocuous primitive community comprising mainly of small-scale farmers. Today Ogidi is vibrant community made up of four quarters: namely Akanano, Uru, Ezinkwo, and Ikenga.
Igwe Amobi I: The first Igwe of Ogidi ascended the Ogidi throne in 1904. His name is Walter Okafor Okerulu Nwata Kwochaka Amobi—Igwe Amobi I of Ogidi. Igwe Amobi I was appointed a Native Authority Paramount Chief by the British Colonial Government as a Political Agent. The achievements of Igwe Amobi I has been adequately chronicled elsewhere. After Igwe Amobi joined his ancestors, three other Igwes have served Ogidi contiguously. Igwe Amobi II ruled from 1944 till 1973. Igwe Amobi III reigned from 1975 to 1985 while Igwe Amobi IV served from 1993 until 1998.
Igwe Amobi I of Ogidi married many wives; sixty-two to be exact. He was blessed with more than one hundred and eight children. By all accounts, Amobi family is the largest family unit in Ogidi
Igwe Amobi II: The Igwe Amobi I of Ogidi joined his ancestors on December 18, 1925. After the death of Igwe Amobi I, jealousy and acrimony matured and engulfed the community. Claim to the throne emanated from several misguided persons bent on terminating the Amobi rule.
One Chief Anierobi, of Ajilija village in Uru quarter of Ogidi, presented the fiercest opposition. Anierobi claimed that he was a scion of Ezeobodo in Ajilija. Chief Anierobi ran out of luck and lies when Ogidi people in Court evidence declared that there was nothing like Ezeobodo. Anierobi hailed from Umu-Eziobodo (not Ezeobodo). Igwe Amobi II was crowned and served creditably for 29 years.
Igwe Amobi III: Dr. Benedict Vincent Obiora Amobi ascended the throne of Igwe of Ogidi on November 29, 1975. Dr. BVO Amobi, Igwe III of Ogidi was born on July 15, 1920, to Igwe Amobi II (father) and Eze-ego Okpubili Odoziaku Amobi (mother). Talk about being born with a silver spoon in the mouth! He was indeed born into stupendous wealth. His father an acclaimed wealthy man and his mother equally well-heeled. As a medical doctor of very high repute, Igwe III had very many friends in government, intelligentsia, and traditional ruling class; and this helped him tremendously in attracting development to Ogidi. Professor Chinua Achebe was the President General of Ogidi Union during Igwe Amobi III reign.
Igwe Amobi IV: There was an eight-year vacuum after the demise of Igwe Amobi III. The years of interregnum from 1985 till 1993 witnessed high political activities for those that coveted the throne. First, there was the ambition of Chief Okeke, a high-chief with the title of Ide. The Amobi family filed a lawsuit against Chief Okeke challenging his claim to the throne. Chief Okeke Ide lost. A second attempt was mounted by Chief Ekpechi. Ekpechi was a successful businessman and deployed a lot of his personal resources towards his wild adventure. Chief Ekpechi’s aspiration eventually fizzled out. Another aspirant, a fraudulent 419 mogul, was untimely murdered by armed robbers, thirty-six hours after his declaration, and thus his life was not only snuffed out, perhaps by the gods, his kingship ambition was also extinguished. Soon after this incident, in a sudden whiff of change of heart, opposition from Ogidi people to the Amobi Dynasty also died.
Engineer Walter Ifediora Nnamdi Amobi was crowned Igwe Amobi IV on February 13, 1993. Igwe Amobi IV was royalty personified: he was the grandson of Walter Okafor Kwochaka Igwe I of Ogidi, and also the grandson of Solomon Igwe Ezeokoli I of Nnobi; both grandparents were paramount chiefs in Igbo land. His royal blood flowed from two authentic sources.
The Current Igweship Palaver:
Some Ogidi people became hell bent that the Amobi Dynasty must be truncated. “Anyi ga tolu ndi be Amobi-”-(Must we continue to play second fiddle to Amobi family). This slogan was deployed to sow the malicious and malignant seeds of disenchantment against any Amobi. The campaign of calumny intensified even though no member of the Amobi family had yet declared any intention to vie for the stool. The auxiliary maxim became “Power Must Change Hands.”
Angered and agitated by egregious aspersions circulating against the Amobi family, and to thwart the ambitions of one or two Ogidi Igweship aspirants, the Uru Quarter (in concert with Amobi family) filed a lawsuit. The most important claim in this suit is that Uru quarter has always produced the Igwe of Ogidi, just like other quarters monopolize other governing functions in the community. The Uru quarter in Ogidi holds a widespread view that other quarters perform different functions like kingmakers and custodians of particular deities in the community. The Amobi family has always been expected to shoulder the responsibility of producing the Igwe of Ogidi. Is Igweship in Ogidi hereditary? This is a good question, and the answer depends on which Ogidi man or woman is answering. Many are emphatic that Igwe Ogidi throne is not hereditary. However, if one examines hereditary by customs with the definition “existing by reason of feeling, opinions, or prejudices held by predecessors,” the answer is a resounding yes.
To actualize their power-must- change-hands plot, a secret meeting took place in Abuja sometime in June/July 2016 by the principal actors of “Anyone but Amobi Movement.” A date for the Igweship election was set for August 27, 2016. The chief protagonist of this movement is the President General of Ogidi Union. The so-called election was a sham, at best. Two candidates were supposed to be contesting; one stepped down for the other in the election venue on election day! In an effort to legitimize the election the Ogidi Union invited officials from the Anambra State Government to witness the voting, but the officials cleverly declined and did not show up.
My interview with the principal members of Amobi family revealed that the family resolved to maintain peace and rely solely on the rule of law. They stated that as long as the lawsuit at the Court of Appeal has not been discharged, that they will not field any candidate, even though have highly qualified aspirants. They cited Appeal Court Suit No. CA/E/246/2013. Also mentioned is Suit No. HID/170/2003 on Motion for Interlocutory Injunction filed June 24, 2016, with expected hearing date of sometime in January 2017. Two other Court Cases were also mentioned HID/246/2016 and HID/189/2016.
The Ogidi Union, I understand, has continued to seek recognition for the “Igwe-elect.” Key members of the community have been deployed to lobby their friends in the Amobi family. This is how one Amobi put it: “Nothing can be more idiotic than this stupid move. How can we accept the result of an illegal election that has disenfranchised our family? Our ancestors are bound to bring a devilish curse on any Amobi that succumbs to such a sellout.”
I have also gathered that some Ogidi lawyers have approached the Government of Anambra State seeking recognition for the new “Igwe-elect.” Their effort failed to yield any positive result. As lawyers, one expects they should believe in the rule of law, however long the Court proceedings take. Igweship tussle is not new to Ogidi. There had been Court cases in the past; in all those situations the decision of the Courts was obeyed. Ogidi Community requires a law-abiding Igwe.